BVI News

Do work permit holders have grounds to sue gov’t for entry ban?

Work Permit holders as well as exempted permit holders affected by the indefinite ban on them re-entering the territory may have grounds to take legal action against the Government of the Virgin Islands.

“They would have a case but they would have to have the Constitution and the Ordinance to see what is a work permit, what grounds is it given on, what grounds can it be blocked on and so forth. On the other side, the government may use the pandemic, but there is a legal argument to be heard,” a locally-based attorney who requested to remain anonymous told BVI News in an invited comment.

The attorney’s comments come amid a call on social media site Facebook for affected expatriate residents to sue government.

The post suggested litigation in the form of a class action lawsuit which, effectively, happens when a group of persons who are wronged by the same entity collectively take legal action against that accused wrongdoer.

When BVI News contacted former Attorney General Dancia Penn–Sallah to also give a legal opinion on the matter, she said: “I would have to look at the circumstances so I cannot give an opinion on it at this stage.”

Suing as ‘resident’ versus as ‘permit holder’

Our news centre further reached out to a government-employed attorney who said any potential lawsuit on the matter would be stronger if affected persons approached the suit as ‘residents’ and not necessarily as ‘work permit holders’.

The legal practioner also requested anonymity.

 “I’m not sure a class action (lawsuit) would work. I definitely think it was a reckless move by the government and they (expats) can definitely sue them but on a different ground because persons have the right to family and that might be a stronger basis,” the attorney told our news centre.

“You (government) are telling a work permit holder they cannot come back in, they would have been married to someone here and that is a breach of the constitutional right on the local person because you would have broken up their family without the proper foundation to do so,” the attorney further reasoned.

The local lawyer, however, said COVID-19 cannot be ruled out because government could argue that the territory is being affected by a major public health emergency.

During a national address Sunday night, Premier Andrew Fahie said one of the reasons for the ban was because many expats were unwilling to pay for their mandatory two-week quarantine.

Copyright 2020 BVI News, Media Expressions Limited. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or distributed.

70 Comments

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  1. Belonger says:

    The Government’s blanket prohibition on work permit holders is outrageous. The caller should sue!

    Like 35
    Dislike 14
    • tolian says:

      they should sue you from holding a diploma in being a stupid mumu.i hope you not the rhymer dude from cgb cause like you catching feelings like one them expact have you cooked to .

      Like 11
      Dislike 32
    • sue says:

      The landlord can arso file a complain before the court demanding payment lost its time to address this Donald Trump Attitude .

      Like 4
      Dislike 1
    • MJ says:

      It is discriminatory and unfair by any standard. Perhaps the UK will tell you that.

      Like 1
      Dislike 1
  2. Property says:

    This lawsuit is coming and not only by work permit holders but by people who own property such as yachts and villas that aren’t able to get to and use their property. The pandemic can be used as an excuse for keeping all of these people out only for so long but people have a right to the use of their property. This lawsuit will happen because the present government is inept and has little or no experience in governing especially during a crisis. The Premier is definitely beyond his capacity and the people of the Territory will end up paying the cost of his misdeeds.

    Like 69
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    • Not yours says:

      This is not you guys country. If you don’t like the laws and cant abide, see you. Shoot man.

      Like 16
      Dislike 53
      • @not yours says:

        be careful what you wish for, that could have an awful effect on BVI

        Like 33
        Dislike 10
      • @not yours says:

        This is youall biggest defense. Yes we can leave, but let us leave in peace. We know BVI is not ours. There is a way to do things. Covid will be gone one day and I will see which country don’t need another to build it up. Look at how your country handled the Irma crisis. The U.S$ is what make youall feel unique and why people like me live there. The exchange rate. Its ‘us’ who came in and help youall get to where you are now. Karma really is a b***h.

        Like 22
        Dislike 6
    • It won't fly says:

      it won’t work no matter which way u put it. The bvi have a way of blocking things on an effort to not incriminate themselves.

      Like 8
      Dislike 1
      • BVI says:

        BVI will be taken to the world court. If they allow nationals in and keep out workers and property owners, the BVI will lose. There are no separate categories of humans. If you allow one set in you have to allow all in that are justified in wanting entry. Property owners not being allowed in is the same as inverse condemnation of their property. Thus, the government can be forced through court proceedings to pay property owners damages and even the value of the property. As the government is broke this will be the final straw. Fahie hire yourself some real legal advice not the island lawyer clowns and see what’s in store for you.

        Like 26
        Dislike 7
    • @Property says:

      Soooo what.

  3. Local says:

    These so call attorneys better look at the immigration ordinance along with the labour code and see what it says about a person on a work permit The chief immigration officer or the minister responsible for immigration which is the premier can cancel any work permit and refuse entry of person not deem belongings to the territory. A person with a permit is here on a bond with permission from the chief immigration officer which states that the individual cannot seek or change employment with the permission from the chief. Persons on exemption is still under immigration control their only exempted from obtain a work permit but are given time from immigration to be allowed to be in the country under that condition. Sueing or trying to sue government would be a waste of time, person married to a belonged have no status unless it a female married to belonger can get status on the section of the ordinance.

    Like 16
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    • @Local says:

      Legally everything they are empowered to do must be within reason and considering human rights under the Constitution. If you are going to talk, then talk sense, the people have a right to be treated humanely regardless of their nationality. If we don’t them working here then we need to allow them in to deal with their affairs then leave. My heart bleeds as a local when I see some people speaking as if in order to prove our level of patriot we have to bring down someone else. The BVI was built on immigration and working together and if we do not stop the nonsense we will pay dearly for it.

      Like 74
      Dislike 6
  4. TAKE NOTE says:

    A worshipper of the Most High, Creator of Heaven and Earth must not go before the court of men. Make suite before God of Heaven and Earth. The judge of all flesh.

    To Mr. Wheatley for Immigration: on your interview with JTV
    https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=2706305996319292&id=143732108506
    You stated you hold on to two things. God and conscience. Does your conscience tell you it is ok to take away the daily bread of your stranded work permit and exempted workers and give it to your locals? It is written “Give us this day OUR daily bread.” NOT give us this day the daily bread of our neighbour.

    Like 11
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    • @ Take Note says:

      It seems evident that God is cleaning up some situations all over the world. Note: no one rules over God. What is happening God has allowed.

      Like 12
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  5. BVI lawyer says:

    There are presumably two possible angles under which a claim could be brought against the Government arguing that the ban is unreasonable and/or disproportionate.

    Firstly, the claim can be brought by the expatriate workers themselves claiming that they are being excluded from the country where they have homes, jobs, children in school, etc. That could be argued either on the basis of judicial review (what we lawyers call “Wednesbury unreasonableness” after a famous case), or under the Constitution relying upon articles 18 and 19.

    Secondly, the claim could be brought by employers. Businesses are unable to have the employees do the job which the business has hired them to do because of the nature of the government restrictions. And in many cases the businesses are still under an obligation to pay those persons under the terms of their employment contract. Although employers are not able to deploy human rights arguments, they can still bring claims alleging unreasonable arbitrary response. After all, if the reason for the exclusion is public health grounds, it is very hard to justify it for one type of humans (expatriates) and not another (Belongers). As best anyone knows, Belongers have no special resistance to Covid-19.

    It will certainly be interesting to see how this plays out if someone does decide to bring proceedings.

    Like 25
    Dislike 8
  6. Well says:

    Can I sue for kidnap because i cannot get to go back to my young children.

    Like 12
    Dislike 9
  7. NDP says:

    This is what NDP cause by nationalizing all these people. NDP made a mess of this place.

    Like 11
    Dislike 25
  8. I said it before says:

    My beautiful people of the virgin islands and my government please put restrictions on work permit as of the end of September. Please do it now and don’t forget all those that came after Irma and hiding away in the territory. Put your task force in effect immediately and start in east end .so many of them in the east end area without work and without work permit. Some for yrs without work permit. When you call the immigration department to inform them of the illegals they want to find out the colour of the clothes they wear. What a bunch of time wasters getting paid my tax dollars. Well its better you spend that tax dollars on pay for the accommodation for work permit holders instead of paying a bunch of lazy incompetent immigration officers. Waste of time and money.

    Like 17
    Dislike 7
  9. Covid is out of the window says:

    The government already confirmed the reason for the ban is not the health of the people.

    So this argument will not hold up in court.

    People paid for their work permits and now can’t exercise the right that comes with it.

    The government has the be very careful, they will go broke if they mess with the people like this because of the legal fees and damages they will have to pay.

    They can’t lie themselves out of this forever.

    Like 18
    Dislike 5
    • Comment says:

      You all are sooo afraid to return home, and some are at home and afraid to stay, send for your children. Now you are trying to bully our people with lawsuit conversation. None of this will work, but the lawyers will gladly take your hard earn money as they milk you month after month, because that’s the type of educated serpents they are.

      Like 13
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    • 007 says:

      Everyone who considers a lawsuit should remember that if you lose there is a good chance that you will have to pay the lawyer fees for the defendant, yourself and for the cost of the trial so instead of being rich you can become indebted. Government can also stall, causing further delays leaving you with hefty lawyer fees. They lose nothing personally but you May get stuck with bills with nothing to show for it. Based on the law the government have the power over it’s border, work permit holders are not deemed to belong to the territory. Work permits have conditions and doesn’t give you rights as a BVI citizen. Non BVI citizens are not entitled to be in the BVI. They may have a case if they write to government seeking the return of their property and based on the government’s response they can take it from there but I suspect more people are interested in returning to work more than getting their property and leaving.

      Like 14
      Dislike 3
  10. Crazy says:

    The VIP has turned the BVI into an all out social warfare state and it will not end well. Mr. Premier please show some leadership and get involved here to stop this because it will get out of hand. I am very concerned especially since Ministers are getting involved in the issue without thinking beforehand.

    Like 13
    Dislike 8
  11. This says:

    is what happens when the grass in the other pasture is or appears greener.

    Every cow, horse, donkey and goat wants to cross over and eat from that pasture at the expense of the others that belong to that pasture.

    The BVI has become to rich and prosperous for its size. Hence, every other nationality wants to come in, claim it, take it and make it theirs.

    Everyone wants to negate and usurp the rights of the local citizen. Everyone wants the BVI to be a free haven for them. Everyone wants to deny the local his ligitimate and birth rights in favor of them.

    How selfish is that?

    Ahhhh, the power of greed, badmindedness and selfishness.

    Like 20
    Dislike 19
  12. 1st district says:

    Don’t worry, we just had WHO and CDC emancipation. We still in slavery, been bought and sold our souls for an Otter Box phone case and the comfort of a lemur. Them can go and come as them please, foreign boats and air crafts in our air space. WE, THE TAX PAYERS, LAW ABIDING CITIZENS HERE LOCKED UP LIKE A SET AH DARM MONKEYS IN FETCHING CAGE. Well look a thing.

    Like 4
    Dislike 7
    • Comment says:

      If you want to call yourself a locked up monkey that’s on you. Nothing to do with us. You started good, but then you faltered.

  13. Start the Suit says:

    Somebody needs to start the ball rolling on the lawsuit

    Let’s see what the Law will do here. I’m betting the pay will have a case. Time for us to stop being so naive and hateful in this place. If you don’t want them here, then there is a proper way to do things.

    We are all humans after all. The Golden Rule applies all through life.

    Like 10
    Dislike 9
  14. idk says:

    What would Trump do?
    We need a real leader like DJT

    Like 8
    Dislike 7
  15. Wow says:

    Imagine if Canada, usa, or EU will do the same.
    The word is up side down. Nothing belong to nobody, we all have the same wright’s

    Like 8
    Dislike 4
  16. Matt says:

    The govnrnor as been very quite. I would like to hear from him the legal and human right issue as to how BVI government has bean treating the extratritate coummunity

    Like 5
    Dislike 8
  17. 2cents says:

    government is not god so they can’t prevent corona 100% but they can destroy economy 100%. They will destroy investment in tourism. Who can trust this government. They will put in ruins business who can’t survive with no tourism -ie ferries, hotels, villas, taxis, restaurants, cleaning services etc. This employs a large part of the country and if no income for tourism it will impact the rest of the country that works for the government. Are the rich government folks trying to reduce property values to zero so they can buy them for cents on the dollar? Are they trying to turn the islands back to the stone age? This is what Cuba did in the 50s. They seized the assets of foreign investors and turned the place into a communist shit hole. Is this the future of BVI?

    Like 5
    Dislike 5
  18. Oh ho says:

    I would be interested in hearing the credentials of the lawyers consulted, their areas of speciality and whether they have ever been involved in human rights related cases. I am pretty sure this area is neither of their specialties so they are simply making guesses. I am going to do my own research and I see what legal precedent there is for persuing and winning a case such as this.

    Like 2
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    • BVI National says:

      I see a simple solution. Mandate that all work permit holders and residents wishing to come in pay their own quarantine expenses in full at a Government approved facility.

      Ensure they take a rest for Covid one week before arriving in the BVI which must be certified by the appropriate medical authoritY in the departing country.Test them upon arrival at their expense and repeat the test on day 14 of their arrival.

      Lastly, make sure their employers are up to date with taxes etc. and carry out unannounced spot checks to ensure their are actually employed with the individual holding their work permit and levy a charge of an excessive amount on the employee or whomever holds their permits.

      Lastly deport the if they don’t have any gainful employment. Look at the number of Dominican nationals outside Riteway and Virgin Queen daily, seven days a week.

      As for residents who own property in the BVI, let them pay for their own quarantine expenses as well.

      • @BVI National says:

        Why should tax paying permit holders have to pay for quarantine when there are many locals, including students who do not work that got theirs for free? That is not fair at all.

  19. We too smart says:

    Where would this place be if all of us who born here leave this little island that is not good enough for us to go live in the bigger and faster state, what have they contribute to this country, some of us leave and never look back, God is good our country still here for you and not those who been there for the country!

    Like 1
    Dislike 3
  20. Expat says:

    It is time for the BVI islander to stand up because when all these companies decide to take their investment money elsewhere because they can’t find the experienced help they need in some top level roles to continue their business; no local jobs will be available!
    Your Government is doing this because they think they will get the votes to stay in power but wait and see how it will backfire on them.

    Like 11
    Dislike 6
    • To expat says:

      Listen, if you all really wanted to leave BVI you would have. There was no shortage of opportunities to leave. Irma came, expats ran and chartered planes out of here any way they could, on a leaf even. We said good thing. Let’s start afresh with all those nice and so much better folks who came in offering aid because these are decent human beings. We finally got rid of the takers, and selfish leeches. When reality hit those that left, outside in the ‘real’ world that they bragged about so much, you should have seen them scrambling back to the BVI like ants to sugar. And cussing our Immigration Department to let them in and didnt even have the manners to say, please. All this talk of leaving, getting our hopes up when we want you all to leave so that the place is freed up for deserving people to replace you all,and not leaving, nor wanting to leave, stop letting your mouth write cheques that your — can’t cash.

      Like 3
      Dislike 6
      • Expat says:

        Funny, we cannot find qualified people to fill the roles and have to bring in Expats. Shame on you for letting all these Expats in and taking your supposed jobs. Are you qualified for these jobs, most are not!
        But wait as I said you are killing tourism with your attitudes. If you did not have the investment of the expat businesses where would you be? NOWHERE.

        Like 1
        Dislike 1
  21. Oriely says:

    Ok. Really. You are going to sue me to come into my house? Go ahead, make my day. Someone will pay.

    Like 8
    Dislike 4
  22. East Man says:

    Have them sign a petition then put all of them on a non entry list. Only in the BVI the want to bite the hands that feed them. Over and out.

    Like 9
    Dislike 7
  23. lol says:

    Yes big time . They should sue them for being too wicked.

  24. :) says:

    People have gotten so comfortable in the BVI that they now think that they have a right to be here regardless of what BVI law might say. They think because they and their expat friends outnumber the locals their biased opinions on work permit issues carry more weight than the Premier or voters. They only choose to quote lines “like do unto others” and “we are all humans” in the BVI. These lines shouldn’t be selectively used when seeking stay in the BVI, Start in your home country.

    The BVI is only 24 square miles. We are a mere speck on the globe. We cannot accommodate everybody. It’s just a fact. It’s not about discrimination. Don’t unfairly compare our immigration laws to the US and Europe that are many times bigger than us and have the capacity to accommodate millions of people. We are seeing the effects of immigration already. We are so small it appears that we have so many cars on the Island when we actually dont. Our roads are too small. The infrastructure was never designed for so many people. The population grew rapidly from 10,000 to 30,000 in just about 15 years and the spurt wasn’t because the locals were having more babies. Now locals have to compete with people on work permit for jobs selling ice-cream. No other place in the world would tolerate that.

    Like 11
    Dislike 5
  25. Yawn says:

    The author of that post on the real community board is the biggest j@ck@$$ that ever lived. Imagine he keep bashing VIP. He complain about bad spending and the negative effect of the lockdown and curfew on the economy. Now tell me if the BVI get sued and lose who do he think will have to pay the cost. Nobody in VIP will have to dip in their personal funds. The people that will lose is BVI people. The fool dont care about the economy. He dont care about losing money. He just some j@ck@$$ with a chip on his shoulder. I’m actually curious to know his story because he really hate the government. I wouldn’t doubt if he is VIP heckler.

    Like 8
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  26. Hmmmmm says:

    Board after board, post after post. I have yet to see any strong argument for keeping WP holders out.

    As for jobs. Every job that a WP holder holds, is by law advertised for 2 weeks.

    This is sillyness. This is Socialism at the heart. Look out BVI, Wake up BVI – we will all be mindless drones under Fahies thumb.

    Like 5
    Dislike 7
    • :) says:

      You just choose to ignore any argument that you dont like. We are only 24 square miles. Over 30,000 people. You are aware that the High School just held graduation. That’s 127 people from ESHS that now need jobs. Government reported that over 700 jobs were loss due to Covid19. I’m not sure how many were BVIslanders and Belongers but I’m sure they also were affected. Why should we at this time accept any work permit holders at this time when they are so many unemployed here in the BVI. There are jobs available in the countries where these people are coming from. We only want persons with exclusive skills that cannot be found locally. A lot of those job advertisements are only for show. The employers will say stuff like we couldn’t find anybody suitable.

      Like 7
      Dislike 1
  27. Stainlessbloke says:

    Dictatorship now. I am a belonger with a BVI passport. Children belongers also but this n**ter is keeping my wife who is work permit exempt out!
    There is no excuse, she live here 22 years.
    St Lucia that is also part of commonwealth allows arrival then tested immediately and results in 24hrs.
    I knew all the premiers since Lavity Stout and I have never ever sean such of an inhumane decition from any one of them such as this and Govenor Jasper needs to do his duty now before this turns ugly.

    Like 5
    Dislike 4
    • Anonymous says:

      So she here for 22 years and while everybody including those that were here for 15 yrs rushed out to get their belongership what were you doing? Nobody in the world had to deal with anything like COVID-19 before. I guess you were cheap and waiting for the 3 years of marriage to get her status.

    • Why says:

      if she was here for 22 years she did not have the money saved to pay to expedite her citizenship application like many others? Why didn’t she apply two years earlier? She was expecting you’ll marriage and kids to allow her a foothold in the territory. Because she had her plans and I guess you were a part of those plans. Well you still are!

  28. Comment says:

    She will be fine, you take care of your children until her return. I am sure a little extra parental responsibility will not hurt you. Women have been taking on both roles for centuries.

    Like 3
    Dislike 1
  29. MJ says:

    It is discriminatory and unfair by any standard. Perhaps the UK will tell you that.

    Like 3
    Dislike 2
  30. P says:

    I spend all my life here and work for Government for 40 years and i was out for 3 months without medication. Call Malone he refuse to return my call now he making noise about Nurses got send back. They gone to their country. But i could not come to mines. But time longer than twine.

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