Expats who return to their homeland due to unemployment that came as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Virgin Islands (VI), will get an opportunity to be rehired once the pandemic period subsides and their old job is available.
This is according to Minister for Natural Resources, Labour and Immigration, Hon Vincent O. Wheatley (R9) speaking at the Friday, July 10, 2020, House of Assembly (HoA) sitting.
On Friday, Hon Wheatley announced sweeping changes for work permit renewals, noting that only expats with good NHI and SSB payments will be allowed renewals.
Further, only those living in the territory for 5 years or more, and not having a previous Conditional Permit within the last three (3) years, will be able to take advantage of a conditional permit option to remain in the VI for up to three months to job hunt before they have to leave the Territory.
Gov't still committed to expat workers - Hon Wheatley
However, according to Hon Wheatley, while the measures are meant to protect jobs for Virgin Islanders, "Be that as it may, as Minister for Labour, I intend to work diligently in keeping this Government’s commitment to our brothers and sisters of the wider Caribbean, mainland US, Europe, and other parts of the world."
He assured that those expelled as a result of job loss from the pandemic will be given the opportunity to return to the VI and regain employment.
Speaking on the economy, Hon Wheatley said, "After this time of transition and change has subsided, and we move into our transformation, we will give the necessary assistance to employers wishing to re-hire their loyal employees."
"We intend to do so by giving preference in the work permit process for these employees so that they may return to these beautiful Virgin Islands to re-establish their legitimate employment that was affected by the pandemic, as smoothly as possible."