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Immigration and Work Permit

By: Judy Haycraft | Last Updated: October 24, 2018

How to get a Work permit in the BVI

In order for you to work in the BVI, an employer must first offer you a job. The same employer must also prove that he or she has taken the necessary steps to find a qualified BVIslander or Belonger to fill the position, through two consecutive weeks of advertising the vacancy in one of the territory’s print newspapers.

If no suitable local applicants are available, an employer may seek a work permit for an expatriate worker.

BVI Work Permit Timeline

This process takes on average 4-8 weeks from when the application is submitted to the Labour Department to when the immigration clearance forms are issued.

BVI Work Permit Forms and Supporting Documents

The BVI work permit form consists of five documents to be completed by both the employee and the employer.

These required documents are:

  • First schedule (in triplicate)
  • Second schedule (in duplicate)
  • Notice of employment
  • Additional information
  • “How may I contact you”

In addition to the required work permit forms, your employer must submit all the following:

  • Two passport photos
  • Your Curriculum Vitae
  • A certified copy of the photo and signature page of your passport
  • Certified copies of academic degrees and professional qualifications (these should be translated and notarised if the original is not in English)
  • One professional reference on company letterhead
  • One character reference written by a professional person or academic that has known the individual for at least five years. Relatives not accepted. 
  • A copy of the employer’s current trade licence
  • The job description of the vacancy being filled
  • A copy of the newspaper recruitment advertisement for each week advertised
  • $50 Processing fee [As of July 1st 2017]

Submitting the Forms

Once you and your employer have completed these forms and you have collected all supporting documents, you will need to mail them back to the BVI so they can be submitted by hand to the Labour Department along with a $50 submission fee.

Since you shouldn’t be in the BVI at this time, your employer will be taking care of it. Once the forms are submitted, your employer will be given a receipt which you will want he or she to hold on to or even send you a scanned copy.

Once forms are submitted

The work permit application is initially vetted by the Labour Department. The average time for approval can vary and you may need to provide additional documents as requested by the labour department. The processing time is ofter 6 – 12 weeks.

When permit is approved, it is then sent to the Immigration Department where the average processing time is 7-10 working days.

BVI Immigration Medical Tests

After the Immigration processes the paperwork, you will be mailed an official packet of medical Tests. You will be required to complete several tests by a physician in your current country of residence, no more than one month before arrival. Be sure to complete the original medical document which was attached to the clearance forms.

These tests include:

  • a blood test
  • VDRL test
  • Tuberculosis or Mantoux test which can take up to 72 hours to process.

Note: that some doctors do not provide TB testing in which case you can request a quantiFERON test as an alternative.

In the event that you are able to obtain a Mantoux TB test – MAKE IT ABUNDANTLY CLEAR TO YOUR PHYSICIAN to state the number of millimetres of your test reaction. Even if there is no reaction they must stipulate ‘0 millimeters’, as opposed to ‘no reaction.’  If they do not, you will have to take the test again in the BVI and shell out more money.

Be sure that all your medical paperwork is stamped and signed by your physician, so you can bring them with you, to the BVI.

Before you Depart for the BVI

Once you have a departure date, you will want to get in touch with the Labour Department to schedule your appointment. They offer 2 time slots morning and afternoon. They will specify which day they process new work permit applicants and indicate a time slot.

Make sure you have all the following documents with you to show upon your arrival in the Territory:

  • Passport
  • Approved and stamped immigration clearance, plus medicals
  • A clean police report no more than six months old
  • A return airfare or ferry ticket to your country of origin valid for 12 months (or as near to that date as the airline will allow you to book)
  • An address where you’ll be staying when you first arrive
  • A visa if one is required for you to reside in the BVI (a list of countries that require this can be found at http://www.dgo.vg)
  • Completed enclosed medical form 

When you arrive

When you get to the BVI, file into the “Visitors” line, you will now be greeted by BVI Immigration. As with any immigration officer, they take their jobs seriously, be curious and provide them with all of the required documents, medical forms and be sure to have your return trip ticket handy, because they will ask for it.

If your Passport is confiscated

Don’t freak out if your passport is confiscated, you will get it back. Typically this happens if there is missing paperwork or you don’t have a return ticket. If it happens, Immigration will send your passport to the Road Town office, which is where you will pick it up anyway, after paying for your work permit. Let the Immigration Officer know when your appointment with Labour is.

Labour Appointment

Arrive 30 minutes, to and hour early, to your appointment at the Labour Department. Grab a seat and wait for your name to be called.

When your name is called, go in and pay for your permit and get your receipt and work permit forms with the stamps of approval. If you’re curious how much your permit will cost, you can approximate your work permit fees and taxes using our work permit and tax calculator.

Bond Letter

Next, before you go to Immigration Department, be sure to have a bond letter from your employer for $1000. The bond letter serves as a promise from your employer to pay for your return ticket home.

If you have dependents, you will have to pay $1000 cash for each family member who will be residing with you in the territory.

Read More about dependents moving to the BVI.

Whether you are single or have dependents moving to the BVI, this letter is required by the BVI Immigration Department and in the case of dependents, the cash amount is refundable when your contract expires or you and your family leave the territory

Immigration Appointment

After you have paid for your permit, rake your receipt, stamped forms and bond letter to Immigration. If there are numbers being drawn, grab one!

Then, go to the counter and tell them you’re here for your new work permit, if they tell you to take a seat, do so. Otherwise hand them your documents and follow their instruction from there.

You may or may not be able to schedule an appointment in advance for your Immigration Interview. You can always try by calling 284 468 4700 or 284 468 4705.

Provide the operator with the following:
Full Name

Preferred Time Slot

File Number – Tell them you “don’t have one.”

Type of Services – Tell them “new work permit.”

In 1 to 2 hours you’re name should be called, you will then be brought before an Immigration Officer and may be asked a few questions. After the interview you will be asked to have a seat and wait for your named to be called.

When your name is called, approach the small cashier window and pay via check or cash for $25. You will then receive your Work Permit forms stamped by immigration, a receipt for your payment, a newly issued Entry Permit with one of your passport photos stapled to it, and your passport. The passport, by now, should contain permission to reside in the territory for as long as your contract states.

Last Step

Go back to the Labour Department. Hand the receptionist your receipt from Immigration. At this time you will be asked to take a seat to wait for your photo to be taken so you can get your work permit card.

If the card machine isn’t working you will be told to come back at a later time for your card. The card machine isn’t working about 50% of the time so don’t worry if it isn’t. You have all of the stamps in your passport if anyone questions it.

That’s it, now its time to set up a bank account, visit social security and fill out your NHI forms.

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