Information Officer I (Ag.)
Department of Information and Public Relations
Minister for Natural Resources, Labour and Immigration Honourable Vincent Wheatley has addressed what he said is persons who have been misinterpreting the work permit exemption as a permanent status.
Honourable Wheatley while delivering a statement titled “Work Permit Exemption” during the Seventh Sitting of the Third Session of the Fourth House of Assembly said the process is undergoing review so that it could achieve its initial intended purpose.
Honourable Wheatley said, “I want to bring awareness to the public on the reason for such a policy, as it has become more evident that a policy such as this can easily be misused whether unintentionally or otherwise. The Work Permit Exemption Policy is one that has grown immensely over the years in the number of persons that apply and are successful.”
Honourable Wheatley said after taking up office in 2019, the policy was revised with the most substantial change being where a term limit was added to the exemption, resulting in the ceasing of the issuance of indefinite work permit exemptions. He added that it is his belief that this change has allowed for the correct intent and purpose of the exemption to be realised.
Honourable Wheatley explained the difference between a work permit exemption and permanent status, and addressed employers who advertise misleading statements that contribute to the misconception about work permit exemptions.
He said, “I have reduced, once more, the categories of persons eligible to qualify for work permit exemption by removing the category of tenure. Therefore, persons are no longer eligible to apply for work permit exemption if employed for any specific number of years within the Territory.”
The minister said this will fall in line with the pending immigration reform. He said the aim is to formalise both immigration and labour policies as it relates to the number of years a person can reside in the Territory while on work permit, prior to their possibly transitioning into a permanent resident.
“The categories of Work Permit Exemption by marriage and Minister’s discretion will remain, albeit with new guidelines,” Honourable Wheatley said, adding, “I would also like to point out that a grading scheme has been introduced to the minister’s discretion category that will allow for a more streamlined, consistent, and fair approval of applications. The Work Permit Exemption issuance in this Territory will move from a situation of subsidy to one of substance.”
The Department of Labour and Workforce Development continues to promote good Labour/Management practices at workplaces to ensure stable and harmonious labour relations between employers and employees, and to protect the rights, wages, working conditions, safety, health and welfare of workers through enforcement of the British Virgin Islands Labour Laws.
NOTES TO EDITORS
Link to full statement: http://bvi.gov.vg/media-centre/statement-honourable-wheatley-work-permit-exemption
Photo 1: Official Photo of Minister for Natural Resources, Labour and Immigration Honourable Vincent Wheatley