Government is moving proactively to initiate the changes necessary to facilitate more substance-based economic activity in the Territory as part of the BVI Forward campaign.
Cabinet has approved the exemption for work permits under the Labour Code 2010 which will enable various classes of business visitors, including those for arbitration and mediation to enter the BVI without the requirement for a work permit.
The exemption is based on recommendations in the Financial Services Consultancy Report approved by Cabinet in 2015 which set out a roadmap for repositioning and diversifying the financial services sector. The change allows the BVI to compete with other jurisdictions globally.
Premier and Minister of Finance, Dr. the Honourable D. Orlando Smith, OBE said Cabinet’s approval illustrates Government’s commitment to fostering economic growth and supporting the creation of more substance-based economic activity in the BVI.
Dr. Smith said, “By creating a more business-friendly environment, we will be supporting the work of the BVI International Arbitration Centre, facilitating easier entrance requirements for scores of persons involved in international arbitration. As the demand for the arbitration centre grows and the persons utilising its services similarly increases, there will be a ripple effect in the local economy as they would require goods and services while here.”
The Premier added, “The exemption of work permits for business visitors is one of several measures to be implemented in the coming months designed to reposition our economy for future sustainable growth.”
The work permit exemption will also be granted to persons visiting for meetings/conferences, those receiving training from BVI businesses, persons attending meetings as Directors, those conducting research with the required approval, persons making purchases from BVI businesses, those visiting clients for negotiations and business deals and those who are expert witnesses in dispute resolution cases.
Persons participating in amateur sporting activities and students attending the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College, Financial Services Institute or other academic institutions for training will also be eligible for a work permit exemption.
Deputy Premier and Minister for Natural Resources and Labour, Dr. the Honourable Kedrick Pickering welcomes Cabinet’s approval of the work permit exemptions saying it will help to improve the Territory’s competitiveness globally.
Dr. Pickering said, “The work permit exemptions for business visitors demonstrate the Labour Department’s commitment to facilitating the Territory’s economic agenda and making the changes required to provide more efficient and transparent processes.”
The work permit exemption will be granted for 60 days in the case of arbitration/mediation and seven days for all other business visitors. Extensions to the initial work permit exemption will be considered upon request.
Persons requesting exemptions under this provision are required to present the Immigration Officer at the port of entry with a letter issued by the management of the registered BVI entity inviting them. The letter should state their work title, date of expected arrival, the duration of stay and purpose of their visit and the fees charged or to be paid to the person requesting a work permit exemption. The inviting business is obligated to collect and pay to Inland Revenue, the tax payable on such fees.
In the case of events, conferences or other activities involving large groups of persons to receive waivers, notification must be given to the Immigration Department of the activity and a list of participants provided in lieu of individual letters.
BVI registered entities found to misuse or abuse this exemption provision would be subject to administrative penalties of up to $5,000 at the discretion of the Labour Commissioner.