Saturday, May 25, 2019
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New visas could contribute more than $50 mil. to economy

The issuance of the BH-1B visa and BH-4S work permit is expected to have an economic impact of more than $50 million if the government is able to attract those specific technology firms being incentivized under the Commercial Enterprises Act.

Starting debate on amendments to the Immigration Act to provide for the new visas, Minister of Immigration and Financial Services Brent Symonette said the idea behind the BH-1B visa is to recruit those tens of thousands of people in technology firms in the United States that may be denied H-1B visas due to U.S. President Donald Trump’s crackdown.

“The idea was to recruit U.S. companies, where America has an H-1B visa, so we’re trying to recruit those companies in particular in the United States or elsewhere in the world, whose visas are about ready to expire and also brand the BH-1B visa as a Bahamas tech visa,” Symonette said.

“The U.S. issues about 65,000 to 85,000 H-1B visas per year. The president says he’s going to restrict that number. In 2017 approximately 199,000 people applied for those visas and were gobbled up in four days.”

Using rough estimates, Symonette said tech companies that relocate their employees to The Bahamas would inject about $300 million to $325 million in investment annually through housing, transportation, education and food, which could turn into about $24.4 million per year in value-added tax (VAT).

“So, if you take that projected economic impact over a 12- to 18-month period, and let’s say we attract 250 companies at 500 people, alone that would result in $10 million approximately in income from immigration fees for the predominate work permit holder and some $2.5 million for the spouse and/or children. If you took an annual salary of $86,000 as an average it would mean some $430 million in salaries which would be generated in The Bahamas and if you took that down to the level of national insurance, it would be some $16.5 million in national insurance alone,” he said.

“It is against that background that the government decided to debate this bill today, so that the BH-1B visa would apply in those industries to attract tech companies in Grand Bahama and by extension Nassau, and create new industries that we do not currently have and grow the economy, which was the purpose of the Commercial Enterprises Bill.”

 

Paige McCartney

Business Reporter at The Nassau Guardian
Paige joined The Nassau Guardian in 2010 as a television news reporter and anchor. She has covered countless political and social events that have impacted the lives of Bahamians and changed the trajectory of The Bahamas.
Paige started working as a business reporter in August 2016.
Education: Palm Beach Atlantic University in 2006 with a BA in Radio and Television News
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