Laid off work permit holders must leave once borders reopen

Employers of work permit holders, who have been laid off as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, will have to find a way for their employees to return to their home countries once the borders reopen, Assistant Director of Immigration Keturah Ferguson said yesterday.

“The employers are responsible to see them home the earliest they can travel out, as soon as practical,” Ferguson told The Nassau Guardian.

“The borders are closed so they can’t fly out, so they’re here like anybody else until the circumstances of the country change.”

Between January 1, 2019 and April 14, 2020, the Department of Immigration issued 11,276 work permits, according to Ferguson.

She was unable to say how many of those individuals have been impacted by recent layoffs that stem from the pandemic.

“Unless the employer advises us, we don’t know that they are laid off,” Ferguson said.

In recent weeks, thousands of Bahamians and residents across the country have been laid off.

The layoffs came as tourism in The Bahamas was halted and as Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis implemented nationwide curfews and lockdowns.

Labour Director John Pinder said yesterday that the Department of Labour has processed 12,000 unemployment applications since the start of the health crisis.

He said the department is preparing to process another 5,000.

Pinder said those figures include people who work in the tourism industry as well as people who are self-employed.


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