Cabinet approves Extended Stay Visa Programme – one year for work or study

Cabinet approves Extended Stay Visa Programme – one year for work or study
Courtesy of the Bahama Out Islands Promotion Board

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — A recommendation for the introduction of an extended stay visa programme has been approved by Cabinet that will allow individuals to work or study from The Bahamas for a year.

The Extended Stay Visa Programme recommendation was made by the Economic Recovery Committee (ERC), and is a revamp of the country’s annual residency scheme.

It appears to be similar to a programme launched by Barbados last month.

The “Barbados Welcome Stamp” program targets remote workers to reside in Barbados visa-free for up to one year with tax incentives.

The details of the Bahamas programme are still being finalized, and will be fully launched with the re-opening of the country to international commercial traffic, according to a statement.

Kenwood Kerr, ERC co-chair, said: “The Extended Stay Visa Programme is a remodeling of the current annual residence regime, to expand its qualifying criteria and to make it easier and faster for persons to get consideration and approval.

“Under the revamped programme, persons from abroad will be able to apply for a visa online and be granted permission to live in The Bahamas for remote work or study purposes for one year.

“Persons will not be able to be engaged in work locally while resident in The Bahamas.  The initiative will be marketed to small firms who may want to shift operations for the full year.  It will also target university students – a segment not highlighted in other similar initiatives. Successful applicants will have to demonstrate financial means to support themselves while in The Bahamas.”

Kerr continued: “The Bahamas has had an annual residency programme for some time.  However, given the move to remote work and study from home protocols in response to COVID-19, the ERC saw an opportunity to recast the programme – and to expand it to accommodate university students whose schools will be offering remote learning for the upcoming academic year.

According to the statement, the ERC will be working with the key stakeholders and public agencies to ensure a seamless and rapid application process, where applicants will be able to get a response in a matter of days.

Kerr said: “If we get to 1,000 successful applicants and they spend $30,000 on average within the economy on rent, food, and entertainment, that is equal to a much needed $30 million injection into the economy.   Moreover, our marketing will showcase our Family Islands where the potential impact on those smaller island economies will be even more pronounced.”

The statement added the ERC continues its work toward its September deadline to submit its full set of recommendations.

Marlon Johnson, co-chair of the ERC, said: “It will also submit an interim report by the Orange Economy Subcommittee, with recommendations on how the Government can boost the viability of the creative and cultural arts as a direct contributor to the economy.

“We recognize that people are anxious and eager to see the final recommendations of the ERC. We want to let the public know that the ERC and its sub-committees are hard at work, gaining feedback as broadly and as comprehensively as possible.”

Johnson said: “We remain confident that the ERC’s final report and recommendations will represent well considered positions that will be able to contribute significantly to the Government’s plans for robust and sustainable economic growth.”