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Bringing a Family (AKA Dependents)

By: Nick Cunha | Last Updated: March 23, 2017

If you are moving to the BVI with a spouse, partner, or family members that do not plan to seek employment (AKA Dependents), you will need to seek permission from the Immigration Department once your work permit has been approved.

A request for dependents to enter will only be processed once you have entered the BVI and regularised your status. Families and partners should therefore be prepared to wait for this permission to be granted before they enter the territory; unfortunately, they can not apply for a tourist visa to visit you during this time. The request should be presented as a letter from you requesting permission for your dependents to reside with evidence of financial support and relevant documentation such as a marriage certificate, birth certificate and passport copies for each dependent.

Once approved for entry, you will receive a letter from the Chief Immigration Officer detailing what will be required for entry for your dependents along with the same medical form that was attached to the work permit clearance form. Once on island, the process starts for dependents as yours did, at the clinic. Medicals must be checked and approved after which the dependent may proceed to the Immigration Department, where a bond will need to be completed and paid for by the sponsor (generally you—the newly employed spouse or parent).

The cost of the bond varies depending on where your dependent is coming from as it is supposed to easily cover the cost of their return airfare. In general, Caribbean or US dependents will cost between $500 – $800 and UK/European dependents will cost at least $1,200 and possibly up to $1,700. South African/Australian or Kiwi dependents would easily cost more. You are required to pay that amount for each of your dependents. You can then claim that sum back when they leave.

A stamp will then be placed in each dependent’s passport regularising the dependent’s status. Note that once dependent status is granted, it is generally frowned upon for the dependent to request a change of status to seeking employment. It’s best to wait for a period of three years for this to be considered by the authorities. This is based on the law that took effect September 2016. Once permission is granted, a period of time is given when a dependent may officially seek employment.

If you have children who are aged 5 and over, their entries will need to be approved by the Ministry of Education before securing them places at school.The deadline for applying for the fall term is usually April, but some exceptions are made to ensure that children are able to continue their education.

Changing status from “Dependent” to “Seeking work”

If you or a family member intend to come into the BVI and quickly change your status to seek work in the territory, you will be disappointed to hear, it’s not that simple. The immigration law actually states that a dependent must reside in the territory for at least 3 years before they can change their status to seeking work. However, in the past, due to the inconvenience for BVI employers to recruit people who often intend to bring their family, BVI Immigration has been more lenient and have approved requests in durations as little as 1 year of residence. 

There is no guarantee that after 1 year your request will be approved but if they decline it, you can always reapply and plead your case.



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