Cabinet approves remodeled extended stay visa program
The Economic Recovery Committee (ERC) has recommended an extended stay visa program for anyone wanting to work or study from The Bahamas for one year and the Cabinet has approved it, a statement from the ERC revealed.
The country has been waiting on final recommendations by the ERC and the statement noted that a complete list will be available next month.
According to a statement, the extended stay visas are a “remodeling” of the existing annual residence regime. Like several other countries hoping to take advantage of remote working protocols caused by COVID-19, the ERC’s recommendation allows those who come in under the visa to carry on their remote company operations and not engage in local work.
It also targets university students, which the statement contended is not highlighted in similar initiatives.
Co-chair of the ERC Kenwood Kerr said the ERC simply decided to expand on the country’s annual residency program in order to take advantage of the unique situation the world finds itself in because of the global pandemic.
“The Bahamas has had an annual residency program for some time. However, given the move to remote work and study from home protocols in response to COVID-19, the ERC saw an opportunity to recast the program and to expand it to accommodate university students whose schools will be offering remote learning for the upcoming academic year,” said Kerr.
The statement further noted: “Successful applicants will have to demonstrate financial means to support themselves while in The Bahamas.”
According to the statement, the program will be rolled out when the country reopens to international commercial traffic.
“If we get to 1,000 successful applicants and they spend $30,000 on average within the economy on rent, food and entertainment, that is equal to a much needed $30 million injection into the economy,” said Kerr.
“Moreover, our marketing will showcase our Family Islands, where the potential impact on those smaller island economies will be even more pronounced.”
Co-chair of the ERC and Acting Financial Secretary Marlon Johnson said the ERC’s first set of recommendations were relayed by Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis during the budget exercise in June.
“In addition to the visa initiative, the ERC will be providing recommendations to the government regarding the next phase of the reopening of the economy,” Johnson said.
“It will also submit an interim report by the Orange Economy Subcommittee, with recommendations on how the government can boost the viability of the creative and cultural arts as a direct contributor to the economy.
“We recognize that people are anxious and eager to see the final recommendations of the ERC. We want to let the public know that the ERC and its sub-committees are hard at work, gaining feedback as broadly and as comprehensively as possible. We remain confident that the ERC’s final report and recommendations will represent well-considered positions that will be able to contribute significantly to the government’s plans for robust and sustainable economic growth.”