Information Officer I (Ag.)
Department of Information and Public Relations
The Government of the Virgin Islands will be providing assistance to persons who have lost from their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic and are desirous of returning to their home countries.
Minister for Natural Resources, Labour and Immigration, Honourable Vincent Wheatley in a statement at the Twelfth Sitting of the Second Session of the Fourth House of Assembly, said the Departments of Immigration and Labour and Workforce Development have been faced with an escalation in the number of persons who have been laid off or released from their places of employment because of COVID-19 over the past three months.
Honourable Wheatley said he addressed the matter in a previous statement that persons residing in the BVI who had been terminated and were interested in seeking alternative employment had the option of applying to the Acting Chief Immigration Officer for the option to receive a Conditional Permit under the Immigration and Passport (Amendment) Act, 2016.
This process he said, allowed a qualifying person residing for a period of five years or more and not having a previous Conditional Permit within the last three (3) years, to remain in the BVI while seeking employment for a period of three (3) months.
Honourable Wheatley said the Government is however mindful that not all employees who have been terminated will qualify for a Conditional Permit but persons were still invited to submit an application to the Chief Immigration Officer for his review and discretionary decision if a viable alternative job was available,.
The minister added that the reality is that some persons will not be able to find alternative jobs and without financial or family support will be required to leave the Territory.
Honourable Wheatley said, “With a reducing job market and the Government’s commitment under the Labour Code 2010 Section 2(b) which states “the legitimate employment interest of Virgin Islanders and Belongers shall be paramount ….”, we therefore ask that persons falling within this category of being released from permanent employment, being unable to find alternative work and unable to obtain a Conditional Permit begin to make the necessary arrangements to return to their homeland or an approved receiving jurisdiction of their choosing.”
Meanwhile, Acting Chief Immigration Officer, Mr. Ian Penn is inviting persons who are interested in repatriating to their home countries to contact the Immigration Department to receive assistance.
Mr. Penn said persons should submit the necessary documentation including the biography page of their passports, the number of persons they are planning on traveling with, and the country destination in an email to foster a more efficient process.
Mr. Penn said, “Persons should register with the Immigration Department by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org stating the particulars of their departure to allow for their exit to be properly recorded, thus assisting in a smooth re-entry when the opportunity presents itself.”
Persons on Virgin Gorda can contact the Immigration Department on Virgin Gorda at 468-6520/6521 or 468-6606.
NOTES TO EDITORS
Photo 1: Honourable Vincent Wheatley’s Official Photo
Photo 2: Acting Chief Immigration Officer Mr. Ian Penn’s Official Photo
(Photo credit: GIS/File)