Although some countries have been requesting persons on work permit, who have lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic, to go back home, the Government of the Virgin Islands is not adopting this practice at this time.
Instead, it is informing persons residing in the Virgin Islands, who have been terminated and would like to seek alternative employment, to apply to the Acting Chief Immigration Officer for the option to receive a Conditional Permit under Section 31(1)(c) and 31(1A) of the Immigration and Passport (Amendment) Act, 2016.
The section of the Act allows an eligible person, (that is, persons residing for a period of five years, and not having a previous Conditional Permit within the last three (3) years) to remain in the VI while seeking employment for a period of three (3) months.
Minister for Natural Resources, Labour and Immigration, Hon Vincent O. Wheatley noted; however, that Government is mindful that not all employees who have been terminated will qualify for such a permit.
Not everyone will qualify for Condition Permit
“I am cognizant of the fact, that this may require some non-BVI employees to leave the Territory if no viable job opportunities are readily available to them,” Hon Wheatley said today, May 3, 2020, in a statement on radio and social media.
“I; however, want to state, that while we know that other jurisdictions are already asking persons on work permits, and not currently working, to leave during this time, the BVI Government is not requesting anyone to leave at this [time],” Hon Wheatley clarified.
He said Government will continue, for as long as it can, to assist its brothers and sisters of the wider Caribbean, mainland US, Europe and other parts of the world, during this unprecedented and unpredictable time.
“I am also working with my team, to give assistance to workers who may want to return to these beautiful Virgin Islands, to reestablish your healthy contributions to our Territory,” Hon Wheatley added.
Information collected by the Department of Labour and Workforce Development has so far revealed that approximately 33 businesses have had to close due to the effects of the COVID
-19 pandemic. Approximately 683 persons have been laid off and some 72 persons have been terminated throughout the Territory.