Expatriates who work and study in the BVI will no longer be eligible for work permit exemption now that the territory’s existing Labour policies have been revised.
Persons are now only eligible for a permit exemption by marriage, exemption by the Labour Minister’s discretion, or exemption by tenure.
Under the revised policy, an expatriate qualifies for work permit exemption by tenure if he/she has resided in the Virgin Islands consecutively for 15 years or more. This 15-year tenure requirement is down from ’20 years’ which existed under the previous policy.
The introduction of new fees which are non-refundable is another change within the revised policy.
All persons applying for a new work permit exemption or a renewal are now required to pay a $100 application fee. Persons successful in their application for a new or renewed exemption will now have to pay the $400 for the Exemption & Card Fee.
Labour Minister Vincent Wheatley told BVI News that government will still be losing income despite the introduction of the new fees.
“The exemption fee is lesser than the work permit fee you would have paid so we are losing revenue. But it is the humanitarian thing to do,” Wheatley stated.
Exemption period now lasts up to six years, possibly less
With the revised policy, the indefinite approval periods previously enjoyed by persons who were granted a permit exemption have also been eliminated.
This means successful applicants will now be informed of how long their exemption period will last. Persons can only get a maximum approval time of six years.
Minister Wheatley said that the new changes are part of the Labour and Immigration reform process aimed at tackling several long-existing issues, which he described as ‘problematic’.
“These things that we are doing will help avoid a backlog. That is the intention. This is part of the process to help prevent it from happening again,” the Labour Minister added.
He also said: “There are people in the territory who are here and still not sure what options they have for a change of status. This information is very, very clear about what the options are for when you want to change your status.”
Persons are being reminded that applying for a work permit exemption does not mean that applicants will automatically qualify since several factors have to be considered.
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