Any suggestions?

Hi, I'm a new member to the TCI forum. I have moved here with my spouse 1 month ago from Ontario Canada for his new employment. I am looking for work. It is very difficult to find work here b/c of the work permit situation. I have many years (20) in retail banking & am a finance professional but am told that it is almost impossible for me to obtain a work permit. I also have some hospitality experience from 8 years working on yachts. Any suggestions?

Hi Wendy,

I am just about to do the same with my partner. I have nowhere near as much experience as you, so I am quite interested to hear about your experience out there at the moment. My partner flew out to Provo on a fact finding trip recently and spoke to his new colleagues about the prospects of me getting a job. They seemed to think that I'd be able to find something. What difficulties are you having? Is it that there are no jobs or that when you apply you don't get the job because you are not a belonger?

Kind regards

Hi Candice,

Sounds like you are a banker?
There are lots of jobs but just for belongers only.
I was warned from the beginning that it would be very difficult for me to find work for many reasons;
- the most problematic; labour dept. wants belongers to have work before anyone else. That means that you must have a degree/education/experience that no other belonger has or can learn (even over a span of years). Even with all of my experience the financial institutions that I met with explained that they would love to hire me as they don't get a lot of people with my level of experience etc. on island but they do not want to pay the cost for a work permit (which can be very expensive) nor do they wish to go into beauracratic battle with a backwards thinking ministry.  many companies have been burned badly in the past trying to do this.
- And, if you managed to obtain a work permit that you might be told you must train a belonger to do your job so that in a years time when you work permit is up for renewal it won't be renewed so that the belonger you just trained can take your place.
- work permits renewals aren't just "processed". Your employer has to explain each year why they should keep you on and post an advert. in the papers and prove that there isn't anyone that can do that job. It makes it hard to make TCI home. We were going to buy a house but now will just rent for fear that in a year my partners permit doesn't get renewed and we must leave.
- work permits are super expensive. Some ex pats have bought self employed work permits (I think they are $10K per year) so that they can work. You will want to make sure you make enough money to offset this in your line of work. But this is one way to get work.
- next, (I must be delicate about this), if I approach some belonger owned business I will have zero chance of finding work but might have someone who would be interested in at least talking to me in a business owned by a ex pat etc company. Do you get my drift?
Apparently their was a brain drain when this law was introduced 6 or so years ago. Many ex pats felt they would no longer be able to keep their jobs (rightly so) and so moved away. This further depressed the economy. It is starting to get better and I have been told to be patient that new laws are coming (when?) and that more proactive minded individuals want to make changes in gov't. I have only been been here 6 weeks now and so am trying not to get discouraged. The more people I meet, the more contacts I have, I am sure something will come up. In the meantime it is a great opportunity to enjoy myself.
I am open to the fact that the work I eventually find might not be in banking and I am very okay with that. I also have lots of hospitality experience from years working on private yachts. maybe some hybrid position?
I  don't want to discourage you. Nothing good comes easily so be patient and open to new experiences. A lot of people here told me it takes at least 6 months before you feel settled.
Anyway, heading out to the beach now with a cooler full of beer and sandwiches! keep me informed and let me know when you get here. Best, Wendy

Thanks Wendy, for your response it was very informative. I am not a banker, I have experience in accounts, HR, and merchandising and a degree in Economics. I guess I'll just have to see how it goes when I get to TCI, my other half has got a decent job out there so there is not an urgent need for me to work straight away. I wanted to work more for the social aspect, to help meet new people as we don't know anybody in TCI. Anyhow I hope you enjoyed your day at the beach, we are heading to TCI towards the end of September, so I will let you know when we've arrived and are settled .


There seems to be a lot of CA jobs so you might not have a prob. check out and read the e-paper version. That's where a lot of jobs get posted. Fortunately, we are okay if I don't work but like you was hoping for something to keep me busy and to meet people. It will happen in time.
Let me know when you are here we can get together for a coffee/wine.

In order to hire a non belonger for a position you must first advertise the position for two weeks in a local paper.  A large percentage of the jobs you see listed are work permit renewals.  Should a belonger apply for the job then you are obligated to hire them if they meet the requirements of the job.  The application process is burdensome and time consuming.  Your work permit will have a stamp that says that you must find, train and  hire a Turks Islander within a specified time (usually one year).  You can usually renew for up to three years. 

The policy of hiring belongers was not implemented six years ago.  It has been in place for decades.  Our economy crashed along with the rest of the worlds.

I know of quite a few belonger owned companies that have expat employees and have had for many years.

Self employment permits can be difficult to get.  First is the 10K cost plus additional fees; second it the large categories of reserved and restricted businesses.  Any business in those categories require a majority ownership by a belonger.  The number of businesses restricted to belonger ownership has recently been greatly increased.

While opening a restaurant here in the Turks & Caicos Islands is not impossible--it is very difficult and requires patience.   It was hit and miss getting ours open but we finally did it.  A Turkish restaurant sounds lovely.