Moving to the Bahamas?
The Bahamas: Visa Requirements
For a first fact-finding trip or a first visit for business purposes (like negotiating your work contract) you may need to apply for a visitor visa, depending on your nationality— check the list here to find out if you need one to enter the Bahamas, and how long you may stay as a short-term visitor. It is a good idea to contact the nearest Bahamian embassy for the exact visa requirements and to find out about the paperwork you will have to submit. If you are planning to take up employment in the Bahamas, a visitor visa will most likely not be sufficient — a work permit (either short- or long-term) will be required.
Getting a Long-Term Work Permit
If you wish to work in the Bahamas for more than 90 days, you need to secure a long-term work permit. As is often the case, you are only eligible to receive a work permit if you have an employment contract, and you must apply with a statement from your future employer containing details of your application and role. There are multiple other documents required, from passport-sized photographs to proof that no Bahamian was able to fill your position. However, this may be subject to change, so for the most accurate information visit the official Bahamian Department of Information website or contact your nearest Bahamian consulate or embassy. It can take three to four weeks for your application to be processed.
Immigration Laws of the Bahamas
The immigration laws of the Bahamas are known for being rather strict. Although the country is very welcoming to tourists, visitors, and investors, it is by no means easy to secure a work permit. In general, it is not possible for a foreigner to secure a work permit for a position which can easily be filled by a skilled Bahamian citizen. Thus, it is virtually impossible to land any job that does not require higher education.
Bahamian employers must advertise open positions locally before they can search for employees outside of the Bahamas. When you have been accepted for such a position, you will have to provide proof of your special qualifications. This proof can be a college degree as well as different language certificates. Always keep in mind that it is not so easy to just pack your bags and move your life to the Bahamas — unless you are a serious investor.
Becoming a Permanent Resident
Do you dream of moving to the Bahamas to get away and living off the grid for good? There are a few options for you to apply for permanent residence, the most obvious one being marriage to a Bahamian citizen. Other ways of qualifying for permanent residence are:
- purchasing a residence in the Bahamas
- legally working or living in the Bahamas for more than 20 consecutive years
- working in the Bahamas in a specific profession for a certain period of time (see here for details)
Permanent residence is issued to the applicant for a lifetime. Unless your permanent residence status is for some reason revoked, you are free to work and live in the Bahamas as long as you wish, although you do not have the right to vote. There is also a nominal fee of 100 BSD attached to your application — for the most up-to-date information, see the relevant Department of Immigration page.
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