Government has implemented special measures for work permit holders whose entry permit into the British Virgin Islands expired while trapped abroad because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Immigration Minister Vincent Wheatley made that statement during Thursday’s sitting of the House of Assembly.
He said: “I’m aware that many work permit holders who are currently outside of the territory due to port closures are becoming worried as their entry permits may have expired during that time.”
“Cabinet has considered these types of persons and have approved the reentry of persons with expired entry permits, once the borders are open and allows the work permit holders to return. These persons would be expected to return no later than one month following the opening of the borders,” Wheatley explained.
The minister said leniency will also be given to persons who are currently in the territory but possess an expired entry permit because of COVID-19.
He said those persons will not be penalised as they will be allowed sufficient time to regularise their status.
Provisions for terminated permit holders of 5+years
Meanwhile, Wheatley who is also the Labour Minister, added that government has implemented provisions to facilitate persons who have been residing in the BVI for no less than five years, who lost their jobs due to COVID-19 and are seeking new employment.
He said: “Persons residing in the BVI who have been terminated and would like to seek alternative employment, would have the option to apply to the Acting Chief Immigration Officer for a conditional permit under Section 31, 1C, and 31, 1A, of the Immigration and Passport Act 2016.”
“[It] will allow a qualified person – that is a person residing for a period of five years and not have a previous conditional permit within the last three years – to remain in the BVI while seeking employment for a period of three months,” Wheatley further stated.
Employees affected by COVID-19
As at May 27, some 4,259 employees from 337 businesses have been reported to the Department of Labour as being affected by COVID-19.
Of that sum, 1,140 are BVIslanders or Belongers, 2,130 are work permit holders, 289 are persons granted work permit exemption and 700 of those persons are still being classified.
A total of 767 persons have been reported as laid off and 165 persons have been reported as terminated.