Turks and Caicos: Country and Foreign Investment
Entry and Residence
The Government is keen to encourage inward investment and this is reflected in its immigration policy. The immigration authorities welcome qualified persons wishing to establish business enterprises or undertake employment in the islands and as such it is relatively easy to obtain a work permit. However the policy of Government is to promote the employment of local islanders as much as possible and to this end a list of reserved activities has been published to ensure the hiring of Belongers.
The right to reside and work in the islands can be obtained by:
- Applying for an annual work permit under the Immigration Ordinance 1992;
- Applying for permanent residence certificate under the Immigration Ordinance 1992;
- Applying for naturalisation under the British Nationality Act 1982
Work permits are granted for up to 3 years at a time and are given to those applicants who can establish that they meet the Government's good health and good character requirements, are capable of financially maintaining themselves and their dependants throughout the duration of their stay on the Islands and who have available for their use a house or apartment. Annual fees vary depending on occupation.
A Permanent Residence Certificate remains valid for the lifetime of the holder, but it can be revoked in certain circumstances. To obtain a certificate an applicant must satisfy the Government he intends to make the Turks and Caicos Islands his principal home, that he is of good character.
To apply for citizenship one must have held a Permanent Residence Certificate for at least 12 months and have been resident in the Islands for at least 5 years. It is unlikely such status will be granted to large numbers of persons primarily because of the very real concerns of the indigenous population that they may become a minority in their own country.
In May 2010, The Turks and Caicos Islands government announced that it had relaxed immigration rules on short-term visitors to the island, the Ministry of Border Control announced that the maximum period that businesspeople and tourists can visit the island without seeking an extension to stay was being extended from 30 days to 90 days.
The change in rules was made in an amendment to the Immigration Ordinance, which was altered to enable immigration officers to allow entry to visitors to "enter and remain for a period not exceeding 90 days." Effective since May 1, 2010, the amendment allows immigration officers to determine the length of a visitor’s stay, but the use of a 90 day tenure is at the discretion of the government. Strict measures will still be in place to deal with any abuse, the Ministry said.
On making the announcement, Clara Gardiner, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Border Control and Labour, said: "As we look to bring on economic recovery, it is key that we make it clear that the Turks and Caicos Islands welcome genuine visitors and investors to the islands. Our new 90-day policy is intended to reflect that.”
She added: "For instance, a retired couple from abroad who own property in the islands, who wish to visit for a long vacation, or an investor supervising the setting up [of] a new business, should not be required to reduce their stay, nor apply for multiple extensions. Such visitors are not competing in the local job market, nor do they place a burden on public services, but they do contribute significantly to the local economy and give generously to local charities and community events.
Gardiner concluded: "People like these should be welcomed to these shores. The islands should be encouraging them to plan for an extended hassle-free stay."