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 need to apply for a visitor visa. 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 suffice. Instead, you need to secure a long-term work permit.
Long-Term Work Permits
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. In order to apply, you require a statement by your future employer with information on your application, position, and duration of the employment. Other required documents are:
- a letter of request for the application from your employer
- a copy of the bio-data page of your passport
- 2 passport sized photographs
- a police certificate of character
- a medical certificate, not older than 30 days
- written references from your previous employers
- a notification of vacancy from the department of labor, proving that no Bahamian was available to fill your position
- copies of certificates of examinations referred to in the application form
- copies of applicable job vacancy advertisements in the local newspaper
Make sure to get in touch with the Bahamian consulate or embassy nearest to you before submitting your application, as visa requirements may be subject to change. It can take between 3 and 4 weeks for your application to be processed.
Becoming a Permanent Resident
Are you one of those expats who wants to move to the Bahamas to get away and live 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
- working in the Bahamas as a police officer or other law enforcement employee for at least 10 years
- working in the Bahamas as teacher or nurse for at least 10 years
- working in the Bahamas as a pastor, priest, or doctor for at least 20 years
- legally working or living in the Bahamas for at least 20 years
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. However, you are not allowed to vote.
Immigration Laws of the Bahamas
The immigration laws of the Bahamas are rather strict, if not nationalistic. 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. However, you should 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). After all, bartending, cleaning, or gardening jobs are happily taken by Bahamians.
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