British Virgin Islands

Tuesday, Sep 22, 2020

Gov't Lifts Entry Ban On Work Permit, Exemption Holders; Adds $2,500 Quarantine Fee

Gov't Lifts Entry Ban On Work Permit, Exemption Holders; Adds $2,500 Quarantine Fee

Following days of intense criticisms, the Government has announced plans to lift the entry ban on work permit and work permit exemption holders from September 1 as part of a new wave of measures under phase 2 of the restricted border reopening plans.
Premier and Minister of Finance, Hon. Andrew Fahie made the announcement last evening, August 15 following two-days of intense Cabinet meetings.

While the new phase begins September 1, the Premier announced that effective October 1, all category of persons except for Virgin Islanders, Belongers, Permanent Residents and Naturalised Citizens, will be required to contribute towards the costs for government quarantine accommodation, 24-hour security and meals in the amount of $2500.

According to Government, under phase 1 to date, there were 994 re-entry registrations and 783 of them have been verified by the Immigration Department and cleared for processing. Eighty-one registrations did not meet the requirements established for individuals to re-enter the Territory during Phase 1 of the Restricted Border Re-Opening Plan.

A total of 597 of these individuals have completed mandatory quarantine, including one person who had tested positive and remained in isolation until subsequently released following their recovery testing.

Full Plans That Take Effect September 1 As Announced By Premier Fahie

* We agreed to continue Phase 1 of the Protocols for the Controlled re-entry of persons (Virgin Islanders, Belongers, Permanent Residents and Naturalised Citizens) and approve Phase 2 of the Restricted Border Re-opening Plan, as amended, to take effect from 1st September, 2020;

* We decided that Phase 2 of the Border Re-opening Plan will accommodate persons in the following categories with requirements for entry:

* Work Permit Holder or Work Permit Exemption Holder on the basis that the employer must provide evidence of:
valid Trade Licence;
valid employment;
good standing Certificates (Social Security, Inland Revenue and National Health Insurance);
employees' certificate of earnings; and
valid COVID-19 operational certification.

* Immigration Status: Residing
Persons who have been granted permission to reside in the Territory for a definite period (i.e. people who are permitted to reside but not seek employment and individuals with Land Holding Licenses) must possess a valid:
permit to reside in the Territory of the Virgin Islands; and
Non-Belonger Land Holding Licence for those who own property in the Territory.

* Students of locally based Medical Schools and H. Lavity Stoutt Community College students must possess a valid:
acceptance letter from the institution;
permit to reside in the Territory, if already enrolled;
visa or visa waiver for persons travelling from countries requiring visa entry into the Territory;

* Exceptional approval for persons employed by the Government of the Virgin Islands and its Statutory Bodies, Agencies and Boards; and teachers (public and private) must possess a:
valid permit to reside in the Territory of the Virgin Islands;
employment letter or contract;
visa or visa waiver for persons travelling from countries requiring visa entry into the Territory;

* Dependents (spouses and children) of Belongers, Permanent Residents, work permit holders, work permit exemption holders must possess a:
valid permit/documentation to reside in the Territory of the Virgin Islands;
documented proof of being a spouse or child of a Belonger, Permanent Resident, work permit holder or work permit exemption holder;

* Persons desirous of conducting business in the Territory must possess proof of a:
valid letter of invitation from the Government of the Virgin Islands and its Statutory Bodies, Agencies or Boards;

* As a Cabinet, we decided that for all of the categories above, the approved COVID-19 entry into the Territory, measures must be adhered to such as:
mandatory quarantine;
social distancing protocols;
sanitisation and hygiene protocols; and
approved face covering (masks and shields)

* We also decided that the following special category of persons be allowed in the Territory for no longer than five days:
aviation crew:
must possess an Entry Certification issued by the Ministry of Health;
must possess a valid work permit;
must possess a negative COVID-19 test result within 48-hours before entering the Territory;
must be subjected to a COVID-19 test upon arrival in the Territory; and
if found positive, be in a secured quarantine for a period of 14 days or the duration of stay before departure from the Territory;
maritime crew:
must possess an Entry Certification issued by the Ministry of Health
must possess a valid work permit;
must possess a negative COVID-19 test result within 48-hours before entering the Territory;
must be subjected to a COVID-19 test upon arrival in the Territory; and
if found positive, be in a secured quarantine for a period of 14 days or the duration of stay before departure from the Territory;
healthcare practitioners/medical staff:
must possess a valid work permit;
must show proof of a negative COVID-19 test result within 48-hours before entering the Territory;
must be subjected to a COVID-19 test upon arrival in the Territory;
if found positive, be in a secured quarantine for a period of 14 days or the duration of stay before departure from the Territory; and
must adhere to the respective established medical protocols;
emergency maintenance, repair and other technical personnel must:
possess a valid work permit or letter of invitation from the Government of the Virgin Islands and its Statutory Bodies, Agencies or Boards;
show proof of a negative COVID-19 test result within 48-hours before entering the Territory;
be subjected to a COVID-19 test upon arrival in the Territory; and
adhere to the respective established medical protocols;
other essential specialised workers, not mentioned are subject to approval by the Minister responsible for Immigration and Labour and the Minister for Health;
diplomats must possess a:
valid letter of invitation from the Government of the Virgin Islands and its Statutory Bodies, Agencies or Boards.

* Cabinet decided that for emergency medical procedures, approval will be granted by the Minister of Health;

* Cabinet further decided that the following special categories of persons will be allowed to enter the Territory by application to the Minister responsible for Immigration and Labour and Minister for Health with effect from Saturday, 15th August, 2020:
dependent (spouses and children) of Belongers, Permanent Residents, work permit holders, work permit exemption holders;
persons employed by the Government of the Virgin Islands and its Statutory Bodies, Agencies and Boards; and teachers (public and private);
persons who departed the Territory for medical purposes and those who accompanied those persons;
all other category of persons must apply from 1st September, 2020.

* We decided that, with effect from Saturday, 15th August, all qualified persons regardless of immigration status, who may be required to quarantine in private accommodation upon return to the Territory, would be required to contribute toward the cost for 24-hour security and other administrative expenses of $3500 per household, except for reasons such as medical or as otherwise exceptionally authorised by the Minister for Health; and that is if you select your private quarantine.

* Additionally, we decided that all qualified persons, regardless of immigration status, required to quarantine in government accommodation upon return to the Territory, will be required to contribute towards the cost of quarantine as of 1st October, 2020;

* We also decided that all qualified persons, except for Virgin Islanders, Belongers, Permanent Residents and Naturalised Citizens will contribute toward the costs for government quarantine accommodation, 24-hour security and meals in the amount of $2500, with effect from 1st October, 2020;

1. We decided that the Ministry of Health and Social Development instruct the Attorney General's Chambers to draft a new Immigration and Prohibition Order for the period from 15th August, 2020 to 31st August, 2020;
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