Obtaining work in the BVI

Updated 2010-05-18 10:49

There are lots of arenas for ex-pats to work in the BVI, but the BVI Government  seeks, wherever possible, to ensure that top jobs are filled by BV Islanders.  That notwithstanding, there are a couple of key areas in which ex-pats can normally find employment.  These are the fields of law, accounting, corporate administration & yachting.  In all instances you are going to have to provide extensive proof of your qualifications and experience.

It isn't a good idea to travel to the BVI in search of work as, assuming that you find work in the BVI, you can't actually be in the BVI while the work permit application is filed and processed; a process that takes at least 6-8 weeks. However, if you're interested in joining the yachting sector things are a little different, as how you present yourself and your personality are of vital importance to getting a job in this sphere. Once the Labour Department has done its bit in processing your work permit application your papers are handed over to the Immigration Department for it to run its checks on your name. Assuming that all is approved, the Immigration Department will issue your propective employer with a clearance that will detail its requirements for you to be permitted to enter the Territory. These normally include, but are not limited to:

  • A return ticket to your country of origin

  • A medical (BVI Specific and issued on Government stationery) that includes VDRL, TB and a stool sample

  • A police certificate of good conduct (if you have ANY convicitions you'll not be approved)

  • 2 passport sized photos.

Work permits are normally issued for 1 year (valid from the date that they are approved, not the date that you arrive and commence work). There is new legislation that is currently before the Government that will limit one's ability to renew a work permit for a maximum of 7 years, after which you will have to leave for a period of at least 2 years. All work permits are isssued with a caveat that states very clearly that "No change of employer is permitted". However, many people do successfully switch employers after their first year in spite of what is stated on their permit.

As a general rule you will find that the working environment and dress codes are fairly relaxed here, but that does't mean that expecations of output and professionalism are any lower. Most of the people who come out to work in the BVI do it for 2 reasons - firstly, professional development and, secondly, a lifestyle change. The crowed of ex-pats working here tend to range in age from their late 20s - mid 30s. They work hard and play hard.

A word to the wise ....... while not publically admitted, the Goverment does keep tabs on how many nationals are in the BVI from any country and there are unofficial quotas in place. This is particularly pertinent if you are from other Caribbean countries (notably Jamaica & Guyana), or from South Africa.

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