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BVI Eases Visa Rules For Job Seekers, Dependants

by Mike Godfrey, Lowtax.net, Washington
16 August, 2016

Work permit holders who have worked in the British Virgin Islands for five years and are changing employers will no longer be required to leave the territory while they secure work.

Beginning September 1, changes made to the Immigration and Passport Regulations will allow the Chief Immigration Officer to grant a permit for persons to remain in the territory for the purpose of seeking employment.

Acting Chief Immigration Officer, Ian Penn, said only persons who have worked in the territory for a period of five years will ordinarily qualify. The cost for the permit to remain in the territory while seeking further employment will be USD250 and only one application during a five-year period will be considered.

Penn said that persons who have held entry permits for one to four years will not be considered unless they can demonstrate exceptional circumstances, including: persons who are married to a "belonger" (a person deemed to belong to the territory); persons with work permit exemption status; persons who have been laid off because the employer is renovating; persons who have invested or contributed in some meaningful way to the territory within the stated period; persons affected by poor working conditions, with supporting evidence provided; and persons who may have been subject to verbal and sexual abuse in the work place, with supporting evidence provided.

Penn said each exceptional circumstance will be handled on a case by case basis, and a thorough investigation will be conducted before a decision is made as to whether a person qualifies. All decisions will be communicated to the individual within one week from the date the matter was logged with the Immigration Department.

In addition to the changes allowing work permit holders to remain in the territory, spouses and dependents who have resided in the territory for at least three years without being employed are now allowed to change their immigration status to seek employment. The cost for the change of status permit is USD250.

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