“The Extended Stay Visa Programme is a remodeling of the current annual residence regime, to expand its qualifying criteria and to make it easier and faster for persons to get consideration and approval”, noted Kenwood Kerr, co-chair of the ERC.
Under the revamped programme, persons from abroad will be able to apply for a visa online and be granted permission to live in The Bahamas for remote work or study purposes for one year. Persons will not be able to be engaged in work locally while resident in The Bahamas. The initiative will be marketed to small firms who may want to shift operations for the full year. It will also target university students – a segment not highlighted in other similar initiatives. Successful applicants will have to demonstrate financial means to support themselves while in The Bahamas.
“The Bahamas has had an annual residency programme 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 programme - and to expand it to accommodate university students whose schools will be offering remote learning for the upcoming academic year,” noted Kerr.
The details of the programme are being finalized, and will be fully launched with the re-opening of the country to international commercial traffic. The ERC will be working with the key stakeholders and public agencies to ensure a seamless and rapid application process, where applicants will be able to get a response in a matter of days.
“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. Moreover, our marketing will showcase our Family Islands where the potential impact on those smaller island economies will be even more pronounced,” said Kerr.
The ERC continues its work toward its planned September completion of its full set of recommendations.
“It is important to remind the public that the ERC’s first set of recommendations came through the budget exercise, as was highlighted by the Prime Minister in his contribution to the budget debate 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. 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,” said Marlon Johnson, co-chair of the ERC.
“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,” said Johnson.