Now that going abroad is no longer associated with jumping through endless hoops and excessive bureaucracy, travelers are eager to explore the world, preferably at their own pace. When looking for some sun, sand, and culture, their best bet may be the beautiful Seychelles, where all foreigners can stay for a whole year, irrespective of nationality.
Long-term travel is one of the top trends in the post-Covid scene, closely related to digital nomadism, though not all long-term tourists could be classed as nomads themselves. Regardless of the trend’s nuances, one thing is for certain: more national governments are warming up to the idea and adapting migration laws to fit in with the times.
That is the case with this beach destination off the East Coast of Africa, commonly known as the Pearl of the Indian Ocean:
Africa At Its Finest
Although relatively unknown by the American public, Seychelles is one of a handful of high-income countries in Africa, as per data released by the World Bank, and the second-highest ranking country in the African Human Development Index, behind Mauritius. In terms of population, it is the least populous, home to only 98,462 residents as of 2020.
Beyond the accolades it has earned as a well-developed society and economy, it is a paradisaical archipelago consisting of 115 islands scattered in the Indian Ocean. Home to white sand beaches, turquoise waters, and virtually undisturbed tropical jungles, it is one of the world’s top destinations for natural world experiences, despite its lack of notoriety.
Additionally, it is entirely visa-free, which means all foreigners are welcome to visit irrespective of the state where their travel document was issued: Americans, Canadians, the British, Europeans, Mexicans, and everyone else. Unlike the U.S., which maintains a strict policy of requiring visas of certain nationalities, Seychelles is fully open.
Landing in Seychelles, all tourists* will be warmly received by border guards as long as they fulfill four simple requirements:
- They are not a persona non grata, meaning they have not been banned from entering the territory previously
- They are able to present a valid return ticket or proof of onward travel
- They have confirmed accommodation for the duration of their stay
- They have sufficient funds**
*There is an exception for Kosovo passport holders, as this travel document is not recognized by Seychellois authorities (learn why here)
**The official Government website explicitly defines ‘sufficient funds’ as being US$150 or higher per day
Tourists Can Stay For Up To A Year
Upon arrival, visitors are normally issued a three-month-long single-entry visa for free. This might be enough for vacationers looking to escape the harsh wintery conditions at home for a week or two ahead of returning to the States or Canada, but for digital nomads, three months may feel rushed, especially when there are so many islands to explore.
Even before Digital Nomad Visas (DNVs) were a ‘thing’, this country had its own version of a remote worker visa, though it is slightly different than the permits offered by other states. For instance, applicants do not need to obtain authorization in advance: they can enter as a tourist and submit their ‘visa extension‘ application before the three months are up.
The Visitor’s Permit, as it is called, can be renewed for successive periods of three months up to a maximum of twelve months, without requiring a new entry into the national territory, ‘provided that the person still meets the criteria of a bona fide visitor‘. In other words, unless you have committed a crime or you’re a threat to national security, you’re good to go.
Further renewals must be requested within the current three-month period, not after its expiration, and authorities may expect to see proof of accommodation once more and your revised travel plans for leaving Seychelles once the year elapses. It is worth noting that while the initial period is free of charge, renewals incur a fee of roughly US$73.
Filling out the renewal form, applicants must provide:
- Their full name
- Passport number and expiry date
- Full residential address in Seychelles
- Reasons for requiring a visa renewal
- Expected date of departure following renewal, accompanied by a valid ticket
- Proof of funds
Applications must be made at an Immigration Office, usually in the capital city of Victoria.
Why Extend Your Stay In Seychelles?
Seychelles is a surprisingly eclectic country, whose influences, cuisine, and customs draw heavily on French culture – who became the first inhabitants of the previously-deserted islands, alongside enslaved Africans brought to the territory — but also British and then Chinese and Indian, due to its strategic position on the Indian Ocean.
Still to this day, the colonial heritage is evident in the smaller Seychellois towns straddling the coast, particularly the capital city of Victoria, where a clock tower modeled after London-Vauxhall’s and an English-inspired Botanical Garden can be found. Other than a cultural melting pot, French-speaking Seychelles is simply the perfect sunny spot:
If you want to unwind and distance yourself from the crowds and chaos of the outside world as you bury your feet in the sand and admire the breathtaking Indo-African nature, it truly doesn’t get any better than this. Did we mention already temperatures rarely drop below 80 degrees in winter as well? Trust us, it is really quite warm all year-round.
Some of the top attractions in the archipelago include:
- Eden, an artificial island where most of the luxury resorts and leisure complexes are centered
- Victoria, the charming colonial-era capital
- Anse Lazio, a sandy beach with some of the clearest water
- Valle de Mai (Praslin), a recluse nature reserve brimming with wildlife
- Morne Blanc, a hiking trail boasting panoramic views of the Seychellois coast
- Curieuse, a tiny island famous for its giant tortoises
- Domaine de Val des Pres, a quaint craft village
Still not convinced? In case you need further encouragement, Seychelles is one of the 16 safest destinations in Africa, with a very low crime rate and rated a Level 1 country by the U.S. Department of State – the lowest risk category a foreign state can achieve. More information about Seychellois visas, including the Visitor’s Permit, can be accessed here.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com