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A deep dive into Bill Gates’ net worth

Worth more than $123 billion, the Microsoft co-founder-turned-global philanthropist has promised to part with “virtually all” of his money in his …



At one point considered a “tyrannical technocrat,” today Gates is known as a philanthropic icon.

Hollie Adams/Bloomberg via Getty Images

It might seem easy to wax philosophical when you’re sitting on more money than most people could ever dream of, but, in a blog post published shortly before the birth of his first grandchild, Bill Gates took stock of his life’s achievements and concluded that money wasn’t really that important, after all.

“Being wealthy makes my life much more comfortable, but not more fulfilling,” wrote the co-founder of Microsoft  (MSFT) - Get Free Report and perennial placeholder on Forbes’ list of World’s Billionaires. He added that there were only three things in life he needed to feel satisfied: His family, his friends, and doing work that mattered.

After spending much of his life dominating the “world’s richest” lists, Gates has vowed to give away 99.96% of his wealth through his charity, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which advances education and public health initiatives around the globe. His goal is to make the world better for future generations, including his young granddaughter, Leila — and he has given away an astounding $59 billion in the process.

What is Bill Gates’ net worth?

Bill Gates is a millionaire thousands of times over: As of February 2024, Forbes reported his net worth at over $123 billion, most of which came from his position as the largest individual shareholder of Microsoft, which he started with Paul Allen in 1975.

Gates still holds a 1.38% stake, or roughly 103 million shares, in the tech giant. Microsoft's price has soared in the last few years due to its visionary ventures into artificial intelligence, cloud computing, and the gaming industry —thanks in large part to the leadership of its current CEO, Satya Nadella

Microsoft finished 2023 with a gain of nearly 57% and now boasts a $3 trillion market cap, ahead even of rival Apple  (AAPL) - Get Free Report.

If Gates had held onto his 45% initial stake in Microsoft after the company’s 1986 IPO, he would be a trillionaire today.

But hindsight is always 20/20, and back in 1987, when Microsoft’s star was still on the rise, Gates became the world’s youngest self-made billionaire at age 32 — which was not too shabby, either. Gates has been ranked atop the list of world’s richest people a whopping 25 times since.

Who is richer than Bill Gates?

Despite his entrance into the three comma club, Bill Gates is not the wealthiest person in the world. As of February 2024, that distinction goes to Bernard Arnault and family, which controls the LVMH empire, including brands like Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co. and Sephora. Their fortune is  currently estimated at $211 billion.

In fact, Bill Gates doesn’t even make the top 5 anymore —here’s where he stands, and who’s ahead of him:

Top 10 richest people in the world


RankNameNet WorthCompany


Bernard Arnault & family

$212 billion



Elon Musk

$197.5 billion



Jeff Bezos

$194 billion



Mark Zuckerberg

$168.4 billion



Larry Ellison

$143.8 billion



Warren Buffett

$128.5 billion

Berkshire Hathaway


Bill Gates

$124.1 billion



Steve Ballmer

$120.7 billion



Larry Page

$118.2 billion



Sergey Brin

$113.3 billion


Gates, pictured here in the 1980s, was a ‘lovable nerd’ with a revolutionary idea that minted him billions.

©Doug Wilson/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images

Who is Bill Gates?

Bill Gates probably doesn’t mind where he stands among his fellow billionaires — after all, he’s not trying to hold onto his money. In 1991, five years after Microsoft’s IPO, Gates made his first major gift, a $12 million donation to the University of Washington that endowed a molecular biology research lab. 

In 1994, he and then-wife Melinda sold $94 million worth of Microsoft shares and started the William H. Gates Foundation. (In 2000, it combined forces with the Gates Learning Foundation to become the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the entity we know today.)

In 2010, Gates, along with his buddy, famed investor Warren Buffett, made the Giving Pledge, vowing to give away half of their wealth to charitable causes. And just where does Buffett send the bulk of his money? The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, naturally. Aside from the Gates’ themselves, Buffett is the foundation’s largest contributor, donating a whopping $35.7 billion to its initiatives since 2006.

Related: Halloween Squishmallows: How these holiday collectibles are making Warren Buffett rich

Coincidentally, Gates believes that his philanthropy is very similar in nature to his work at Microsoft. “[As a philanthropist,] I get to use 80% of the same type of thinking that I exercised at Microsoft,” he told Village Global, noting how both roles involve teamwork, supporting engineers, and figuring out what needs to be added to make the greatest possible impact. 

The only difference, he says, is that through the Gates Foundation, “our profit is lives saved, as opposed to a monetary measure.”

Bill Gates’ early life

Little would the skinny, often-bullied boy know the tremendous impact he would one day make in the world—both through his business and charitable ventures.

Born on Oct. 28, 1955 in Seattle, Gates’ first introduction to digital technology was in the form of a Teletype Model 33 ASR machine at his prep school, the Lakeside School. The rudimentary machine sent and received typed messages and was connected to a mainframe by a telephone line.

When he was 13, Gates wrote his first software program: A tic-tac-toe game that pitted the user against the computer. Noticing his talents, his math teacher allowed him to leave class to work on it. 

Later, Gates and a group of friends, which included Paul Allen, Microsoft’s co-founder, started the Lakeside Programmers Club, where they studied different coding languages and, in return for free time on the computer terminal, helped to automate their school’s scheduling system.

Microsoft’s co-founders Bill Gates and Paul Allen in 1984.

©Doug Wilson/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images

Did Bill Gates go to college?

Gates received a near-perfect score on his SATs of 1590 out of 1600 and enrolled in Harvard University in 1973, although he famously would never graduate.

Gates took math and computer science classes and lived in Currier House, which is where he befriended Steve Ballmer, who would later lead Microsoft as CEO from 2000–2014.

In 1974, Paul Allen dropped out of Washington State University and moved to Boston, taking a job as a computer programmer with Honeywell. 

One day, as Allen walked through Harvard Square he saw an Altair 8080 computer on the cover of Popular Mechanics magazine — it would become a pivotal moment for the two. Allen bought the magazine and raced to Gates’ dorm room. Both knew that the time was nigh to develop their software ideas.

Together, they sent a letter to the MITS, the computer’s manufacturer, offering their consulting services to write software using the BASIC programming language. MITS responded favorably; Gates took a leave of absence from Harvard, and they packed up and moved to Albuquerque, where the company was located. In the process they founded Micro-Soft, and the rest, as they say, is history. 

Windows 2000 was the next generation of Microsoft's operating systems in 2000.


Why is Microsoft so important?

Micro-Soft, a blend of the words “microcomputer” and “software,” would soon lose its hyphen — and Gates would never make it back to Harvard.

The company’s early products were variants of the BASIC programming language found in computers of the era; Gates was responsible for reviewing every line of code they made. But as the company grew, Gates’ role changed into that of a manager, and later, a chief executive.

In 1980, Microsoft forged a game-changing partnership with IBM, which had requested an operating system for their home computers. Gates and Allen created the PC-DOS for only $50,000, but the notoriety they gained from the project was priceless. 

Soon, other computer makers would roll out their own PC models, and the version of the DOS operating system Microsoft made for these systems, known as MS-DOS, would generate $430,000 in 1980 alone. 

In 1981, Gates and Allen officially incorporated Microsoft and relocated their business to Washington. Gates became president and Allen vice president (he would retire in 1981 after a Hodgkin lymphoma diagnosis).

Through Microsoft, Gates and Allen were not only savvy businessmen; they also became leaders in a technological revolution. The U.S. Census reported that as of 1984, only 8% of U.S. households owned a computer. By 2000, half of all households owned one — 90% of which were powered by Microsoft Windows’ operating systems. Gates’ dream to put “Windows everywhere” had become a reality.

Sales of MS-DOS would exceed $60 million in 1986, and Microsoft would go public that year, on March 13. By the end of the decade, it would become the largest PC software company in the world. 

Through the years, Microsoft rolled out subsequent generations of operating systems, like Windows, Windows 95, and Windows XP; in addition, Microsoft wisely spread its wings into other digital realms, such as the Xbox video gaming system, which it launched in 2001; Microsoft Office (the earliest version came out in 1988); and the Azure cloud computing platform in 2008.

Each new innovation added to Gates’ net worth.

Bill Gates’ net worth through the years


YearNet worthNotable events


$315 million

Microsoft goes public


$1.25 billion

Microsoft releases OS/2; Gates becomes the world's youngest self-made billionaire


$2.5 billion

Windows 3.0 launches


$14.8 billion

Windows 95 comes out; Gates' first book, "The Road Ahead," is published


$39.8 billion

Windows Explorer 4 launches and Microsoft invests $150 million in Apple, ending a years-long feud


$85 billion

Gates steps down as chief executive, naming Steve Ballmer as his successor


$63 billion

The U.S. government rules that Microsoft violated the Sherman Antitrust Act and ordered the company to be broken up; this ruling is overturned in 2001


$58 billion

Gates announces he is stepping down from his full-time role at Microsoft in order to devote more time to his charitable projects

Gates weathered some major storms at the helm of Microsoft, including the bursting of the dot-com bubble in 2000, which had caused many technology-related startups to go out of business. 

In addition, Microsoft faced an antitrust lawsuit in the late 1990s: Federal regulators charged that the company had violated the Sherman Act by illegally monopolizing the computer market and using unfair business practices against competitors. A federal judge agreed and ordered that the company should be broken apart, although an appeals court later overturned that ruling in 2001. Microsoft shares dropped 63% in 2000 — only to regain 50% in 2001. 

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How much is Bill Gates’ foundation worth?

In 2008, Gates stepped down from his role at Microsoft to focus full-time on his philanthropic efforts.

You could say he has been doing a terrific job at emptying his pockets—there have even been several video games devoted to the theme of spending Bill Gates’ money.

Since inception, the foundation which bears his name has provided $71.4 billion worth of grants to initiatives that reduce poverty and enhance healthcare in some of the poorest communities around the world. The foundation has a specific focus on Africa; Gates has said that by the year 2050, 90% of the poorest populations will reside on that continent.

Its recent projects have included a $100 million effort to raise awareness and combat HIV, Tuberculosis, and malaria in 2023. It has also funded maternal and child health projects in Africa, and committed more than $2 billion to fight Covid-19 since 2020.

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation 10 largest projects funded 

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

SizeGranteePurposeAmount Committed


GAVI Alliance

Increasing equitable and sustainable use of vaccines



GAVI Alliance

Increasing equitable use of vaccines in lower income countries



The Rotary Foundation of Rotary International

Global Polio eradication 



United Negro College Fund, Inc.

The Gates Millennium Scholars Program



GAVI Alliance

General operating support to the GAVI Alliance for their strategic goals



The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria

Supporting the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria



Gates Medical Research Institute

Developing transformative therapies, biologics, vaccines, and biomarkers that will improve the lives of the world’s poorest populations



The GAVI Campaign

Supporting the immunization of children in 74 countries through the purchase of new vaccines



The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria

Providing financial support to country-driven prevention, diagnosis, treatment and education programs working to free the world of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria



The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria

Supporting the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria


Bill Gates’ divorce

After 27 years of marriage and 3 children, Bill and Melinda Gates announced they were divorcing in May 2021. The couple had a marriage contract, and details of their divorce settlement remain private, but speculation abounds as to who got to keep what.

The settlement reportedly included a $76 billion payout for Melinda, which cemented her status as one of the most powerful women in philanthropy today — she ranked #66 on the Forbes “Billionaires List” in 2023.

The couple also split an incredible array of assets, such as their $124 million art collection, which included works by Leonardo da Vinci, Winslow Homer, and Childe Hassam. They also sliced up a spectacular portfolio of global real estate properties, including an oceanfront mansion in Del Mar, Calif., an equestrian ranch in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., and a horse farm in Wellington, Fla..

Gates reportedly kept his main residence, a $131 million waterfront mansion in Medina, Wash. that he affectionately named “Xanadu 2” after the mansion in the movie “Citizen Kane.” The sprawling, 66,000-square-foot compound is replete with a spa, a trampoline room, and climbing gym made out of real stone from a mountain in the Pacific Northwest. Its lushly landscaped property has a stream brimming with salmon and trout, and a private beach with sand imported from Hawaii. 

Gates also got to keep his private plane, a Bombardier Challenger 604 business jet, which he purchased in 1997 for $21 million — although he has received criticism from climate change groups due to the pollution he causes by flying private.

What is Bill Gates doing now?

In addition to his work with the Gates Foundation, Gates has admitted that as he has gotten older, he has been taking more vacations than he used to (the famous workaholic once boasted that once Microsoft was off the ground, he "only" put in 8-hour days at the office on the weekends). He spends time with his family and now his grandchildren, and continues his love of books: The voracious reader has said that as he handed the reins off at Microsoft, he started educating himself on world issues, fomenting his charitable bent.

“Reading fuels a sense of curiosity about the world, which I think helped drive me forward in my career and in the work that I do now with my foundation,” he told Time magazine.

His Gates Notes website devotes a section to his current recommendations, which he frequently updates.

Related: Veteran fund manager picks favorite stocks for 2024

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Four burning questions about the future of the $16.5B Novo-Catalent deal

To build or to buy? That’s a classic question for pharma boardrooms, and Novo Nordisk is going with both.
Beyond spending billions of dollars to expand…



To build or to buy? That’s a classic question for pharma boardrooms, and Novo Nordisk is going with both.

Beyond spending billions of dollars to expand its own production capacity for its weight loss drugs, the Danish drugmaker said Monday it will pay $11 billion to acquire three manufacturing plants from Catalent. It’s part of a broader $16.5 billion deal with Novo Holdings, the investment arm of the pharma’s parent group, which agreed to acquire the contract manufacturer and take it private.

It’s a big deal for all parties, with potential ripple effects across the biotech ecosystem. Here’s a look at some of the most pressing questions to watch after Monday’s announcement.

Why did Novo do this?

Novo Holdings isn’t the most obvious buyer for Catalent, particularly after last year’s on-and-off M&A interest from the serial acquirer Danaher. But the deal could benefit both Novo Holdings and Novo Nordisk.

Novo Nordisk’s biggest challenge has been simply making enough of the weight loss drug Wegovy and diabetes therapy Ozempic. On last week’s earnings call, Novo Nordisk CEO Lars Fruergaard Jørgensen said the company isn’t constrained by capital in its efforts to boost manufacturing. Rather, the main challenge is the limited amount of capabilities out there, he said.

“Most pharmaceutical companies in the world would be shopping among the same manufacturers,” he said. “There’s not an unlimited amount of machinery and people to build it.”

While Novo was already one of Catalent’s major customers, the manufacturer has been hamstrung by its own balance sheet. With roughly $5 billion in debt on its books, it’s had to juggle paying down debt with sufficiently investing in its facilities. That’s been particularly challenging in keeping pace with soaring demand for GLP-1 drugs.

Novo, on the other hand, has the balance sheet to funnel as much money as needed into the plants in Italy, Belgium, and Indiana. It’s also struggled to make enough of its popular GLP-1 drugs to meet their soaring demand, with documented shortages of both Ozempic and Wegovy.

The impact won’t be immediate. The parties expect the deal to close near the end of 2024. Novo Nordisk said it expects the three new sites to “gradually increase Novo Nordisk’s filling capacity from 2026 and onwards.”

As for the rest of Catalent — nearly 50 other sites employing thousands of workers — Novo Holdings will take control. The group previously acquired Altasciences in 2021 and Ritedose in 2022, so the Catalent deal builds on a core investing interest in biopharma services, Novo Holdings CEO Kasim Kutay told Endpoints News.

Kasim Kutay

When asked about possible site closures or layoffs, Kutay said the team hasn’t thought about that.

“That’s not our track record. Our track record is to invest in quality businesses and help them grow,” he said. “There’s always stuff to do with any asset you own, but we haven’t bought this company to do some of the stuff you’re talking about.”

What does it mean for Catalent’s customers? 

Until the deal closes, Catalent will operate as a standalone business. After it closes, Novo Nordisk said it will honor its customer obligations at the three sites, a spokesperson said. But they didn’t answer a question about what happens when those contracts expire.

The wrinkle is the long-term future of the three plants that Novo Nordisk is paying for. Those sites don’t exclusively pump out Wegovy, but that could be the logical long-term aim for the Danish drugmaker.

The ideal scenario is that pricing and timelines remain the same for customers, said Nicole Paulk, CEO of the gene therapy startup Siren Biotechnology.

Nicole Paulk

“The name of the group that you’re going to send your check to is now going to be Novo Holdings instead of Catalent, but otherwise everything remains the same,” Paulk told Endpoints. “That’s the best-case scenario.”

In a worst case, Paulk said she feared the new owners could wind up closing sites or laying off Catalent groups. That could create some uncertainty for customers looking for a long-term manufacturing partner.

Are shareholders and regulators happy? 

The pandemic was a wild ride for Catalent’s stock, with shares surging from about $40 to $140 and then crashing back to earth. The $63.50 share price for the takeover is a happy ending depending on the investor.

On that point, the investing giant Elliott Investment Management is satisfied. Marc Steinberg, a partner at Elliott, called the agreement “an outstanding outcome” that “clearly maximizes value for Catalent stockholders” in a statement.

Elliott helped kick off a strategic review last August that culminated in the sale agreement. Compared to Catalent’s stock price before that review started, the deal pays a nearly 40% premium.

Alessandro Maselli

But this is hardly a victory lap for CEO Alessandro Maselli, who took over in July 2022 when Catalent’s stock price was north of $100. Novo’s takeover is a tacit acknowledgment that Maselli could never fully right the ship, as operational problems plagued the company throughout 2023 while it was limited by its debt.

Additional regulatory filings in the next few weeks could give insight into just how competitive the sale process was. William Blair analysts said they don’t expect a competing bidder “given the organic investments already being pursued at other leading CDMOs and the breadth and scale of Catalent’s operations.”

The Blair analysts also noted the companies likely “expect to spend some time educating relevant government agencies” about the deal, given the lengthy closing timeline. Given Novo Nordisk’s ascent — it’s now one of Europe’s most valuable companies — paired with the limited number of large contract manufacturers, antitrust regulators could be interested in taking a close look.

Are Catalent’s problems finally a thing of the past?

Catalent ran into a mix of financial and operational problems over the past year that played no small part in attracting the interest of an activist like Elliott.

Now with a deal in place, how quickly can Novo rectify those problems? Some of the challenges were driven by the demands of being a publicly traded company, like failing to meet investors’ revenue expectations or even filing earnings reports on time.

But Catalent also struggled with its business at times, with a range of manufacturing delays, inspection reports and occasionally writing down acquisitions that didn’t pan out. Novo’s deep pockets will go a long way to a turnaround, but only the future will tell if all these issues are fixed.

Kutay said his team is excited by the opportunity and was satisfied with the due diligence it did on the company.

“We believe we’re buying a strong company with a good management team and good prospects,” Kutay said. “If that wasn’t the case, I don’t think we’d be here.”

Amber Tong and Reynald Castañeda contributed reporting.

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Petrina Kamya, Ph.D., Head of AI Platforms at Insilico Medicine, presents at BIO CEO & Investor Conference

Petrina Kamya, PhD, Head of AI Platforms and President of Insilico Medicine Canada, will present at the BIO CEO & Investor Conference happening Feb….



Petrina Kamya, PhD, Head of AI Platforms and President of Insilico Medicine Canada, will present at the BIO CEO & Investor Conference happening Feb. 26-27 at the New York Marriott Marquis in New York City. Dr. Kamya will speak as part of the panel “AI within Biopharma: Separating Value from Hype,” on Feb. 27, 1pm ET along with Michael Nally, CEO of Generate: Biomedicines and Liz Schwarzbach, PhD, CBO of BigHat Biosciences.

Credit: Insilico Medicine

Petrina Kamya, PhD, Head of AI Platforms and President of Insilico Medicine Canada, will present at the BIO CEO & Investor Conference happening Feb. 26-27 at the New York Marriott Marquis in New York City. Dr. Kamya will speak as part of the panel “AI within Biopharma: Separating Value from Hype,” on Feb. 27, 1pm ET along with Michael Nally, CEO of Generate: Biomedicines and Liz Schwarzbach, PhD, CBO of BigHat Biosciences.

The session will look at how the latest artificial intelligence (AI) tools – including generative AI and large language models – are currently being used to advance the discovery and design of new drugs, and which technologies are still in development. 

The BIO CEO & Investor Conference brings together over 1,000 attendees and more than 700 companies across industry and institutional investment to discuss the future investment landscape of biotechnology. Sessions focus on topics such as therapeutic advancements, market outlook, and policy priorities.

Insilico Medicine is a leading, clinical stage AI-driven drug discovery company that has raised over $400m in investments since it was founded in 2014. Dr. Kamya leads the development of the Company’s end-to-end generative AI platform, Pharma.AI from Insilico’s AI R&D Center in Montreal. Using modern machine learning techniques in the context of chemistry and biology, the platform has driven the discovery and design of 30+ new therapies, with five in clinical stages – for cancer, fibrosis, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and COVID-19. The Company’s lead drug, for the chronic, rare lung condition idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, is the first AI-designed drug for an AI-discovered target to reach Phase II clinical trials with patients. Nine of the top 20 pharmaceutical companies have used Insilico’s AI platform to advance their programs, and the Company has a number of major strategic licensing deals around its AI-designed therapeutic assets, including with Sanofi, Exelixis and Menarini. 


About Insilico Medicine

Insilico Medicine, a global clinical stage biotechnology company powered by generative AI, is connecting biology, chemistry, and clinical trials analysis using next-generation AI systems. The company has developed AI platforms that utilize deep generative models, reinforcement learning, transformers, and other modern machine learning techniques for novel target discovery and the generation of novel molecular structures with desired properties. Insilico Medicine is developing breakthrough solutions to discover and develop innovative drugs for cancer, fibrosis, immunity, central nervous system diseases, infectious diseases, autoimmune diseases, and aging-related diseases. 

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Another country is getting ready to launch a visa for digital nomads

Early reports are saying Japan will soon have a digital nomad visa for high-earning foreigners.



Over the last decade, the explosion of remote work that came as a result of improved technology and the pandemic has allowed an increasing number of people to become digital nomads. 

When looked at more broadly as anyone not required to come into a fixed office but instead moves between different locations such as the home and the coffee shop, the latest estimate shows that there were more than 35 million such workers in the world by the end of 2023 while over half of those come from the United States.

Related: There is a new list of cities that are best for digital nomads

While remote work has also allowed many to move to cheaper places and travel around the world while still bringing in income, working outside of one's home country requires either dual citizenship or work authorization — the global shift toward remote work has pushed many countries to launch specific digital nomad visas to boost their economies and bring in new residents.

Japan is a very popular destination for U.S. tourists. 


This popular vacation destination will soon have a nomad visa

Spain, Portugal, Indonesia, Malaysia, Costa Rica, Brazil, Latvia and Malta are some of the countries currently offering specific visas for foreigners who want to live there while bringing in income from abroad.

More Travel:

With the exception of a few, Asian countries generally have stricter immigration laws and were much slower to launch these types of visas that some of the countries with weaker economies had as far back as 2015. As first reported by the Japan Times, the country's Immigration Services Agency ended up making the leap toward a visa for those who can earn more than ¥10 million ($68,300 USD) with income from another country.

The Japanese government has not yet worked out the specifics of how long the visa will be valid for or how much it will cost — public comment on the proposal is being accepted throughout next week. 

That said, early reports say the visa will be shorter than the typical digital nomad option that allows foreigners to live in a country for several years. The visa will reportedly be valid for six months or slightly longer but still no more than a year — along with the ability to work, this allows some to stay beyond the 90-day tourist period typically afforded to those from countries with visa-free agreements.

'Not be given a residence card of residence certificate'

While one will be able to reapply for the visa after the time runs out, this can only be done by exiting the country and being away for six months before coming back again — becoming a permanent resident on the pathway to citizenship is an entirely different process with much more strict requirements.

"Those living in Japan with the digital nomad visa will not be given a residence card or a residence certificate, which provide access to certain government benefits," reports the news outlet. "The visa cannot be renewed and must be reapplied for, with this only possible six months after leaving the countr

The visa will reportedly start in March and also allow holders to bring their spouses and families with them. To start using the visa, holders will also need to purchase private health insurance from their home country while taxes on any money one earns will also need to be paid through one's home country.

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