British Virgin Islands

Wednesday, Jun 16, 2021

Gov't evaluating the number of unemployed expats before issuing departure deadline - Wheatley

Gov't evaluating the number of unemployed expats before issuing departure deadline - Wheatley

Minister of Labour & Immigration Vincent Wheatley said government will be assessing the number of unemployed expats currently in the territory before it issues a deadline for them to leave the territory. 

Wheatley gave that indication during a radio interview on Tuesday, July 14.

He said: “It can’t go on forever. Last Friday, I didn’t really state a deadline that anyone must go. I will be evaluating the numbers during this week here to see exactly how many persons we are speaking about. Once I am sure how many persons we are talking about, then I could say, ‘well, two weeks seems like a fair time for you to make up your mind on what you want to do’, or ‘three weeks seems to be a fair time’.”

In explaining the rationale for the evaluation, the minister further said: “Even if we have 200 persons, how quickly can we get them out of this country? It cannot happen very quickly. Those planes don’t take too many persons right now. Even the biggest planes that come in may take 75 persons, so if you had a few hundred, it will take you a few weeks to get those persons moving under the COVID-19 rules.”

Wheatley’s statement comes days after announcing that expatriate residents who lost their jobs since COVID-19 and have no means to support themselves must leave the territory.

Task force

Meanwhile, during the aforesaid radio interview on the Honestly Speaking with Claude Skelton Cline talk show, the minister said a previously-implemented task force is ‘in place’ at his ministry to tackle specific issues such as the one in question.

As for expat residents who have been unemployed long before the coronavirus pandemic, Wheatley said his ministry has already given them notice to leave.

“We know who they are for the most part … We hear street people [saying] we’re trying to catch and round them up, put them on a plane. We don’t want that. That, to me, is very inhumane treatment. We want people to come forward. Let’s have a conversation. If you do need some kind of assistance to get back to your homeland or someplace else, let’s have a conversation.”


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