As one of the wealthiest nations in the Caribbean, the Bahamas is a popular destination for international businesses and expatriates alike — and the island chain’s tropical climate makes it all the more desirable. You probably won’t have much difficulty finding a team of talented employees who are willing to make the move to the Bahamas with your business. The real challenge comes when you have to learn how to get the necessary work permits and visas for every employee.
Partnering with an experienced global PEO is one way to ease the transition and mitigate the risks of your company’s international expansion. At Globalization Partners, we’ll make sure your company is compliant in the Bahamas from day one — starting with work visa support.
What Types of Work Visas Are Available to Foreigners in the Bahamas?
The government in the Bahamas issues several different types of visas to foreign nationals. Anyone who wishes to travel to the Bahamas for employment purposes will need one of the following permits:
- Short-term work permit: This permit allows foreign nationals to work in the Bahamas for up to 90 days.
- Long-term work permit: This permit is the one foreign employees will need to stay in the Bahamas for more than three months and work for your company.
These permits also function as visas, so employees will not need to obtain a second document to enter the Bahamas.
Bahamian Work Visa Requirements
According to the official website of the Bahamian government, the following documents are required in support of a long-term work permit application:
- A letter from the prospective employer in the Bahamas stating the reason for the application and details of the position
- A copy of the first page of the applicant’s passport, containing bio-data
- Two identical passport photos, which must be in color
- A police certificate confirming that the applicant has no criminal history
- A medical certificate demonstrating that the applicant is in good health
- Up to two written references from the applicant’s previous employers
- Proof that the employer advertised the position in local Bahamian newspapers before hiring a foreign national
- A certificate from the Department of Labor in the Bahamas confirming the lack of eligible Bahamians to fill the position
How to Get a Work Visa in the Bahamas: The Application Process
It can be challenging for expatriates to obtain a Bahamian work visa, as the government tries to ensure that eligible job seekers in the country have priority over foreign nationals when it comes to employment. However, the visa application process is relatively simple for foreign workers who have already secured a job with a company based in the Bahamas.
In the Bahamas, the Department of Immigration is responsible for the issuance of work permits. Work permit applications are available online as well as at the Department’s offices. Prospective employees should take the following steps:
- Complete the application form and get it notarized.
- Attach the appropriate stamp.
- Submit the completed form along with all supporting documents to the Bahamian Department of Immigration.
Applicants should remain in their country of residence while the work permit application is being processed. Processing times may vary, so it’s a good idea to apply well in advance of the planned departure date. Within three to four weeks, applicants should contact the Inquiries Unit of the Bahamian Department of Immigration for an update. Once the permit is issued, the prospective employee can travel to the Bahamas and begin working for your company.
Other Unique Considerations for Foreign Workers in the Bahamas
It’s typically up to the employer to make arrangements and obtain work permits for foreign employees. Employers also pay associated fees.
In the Bahamas, work permits are typically issued for an initial period of one year. After a year, the permit can be renewed, but employees should be aware that it can be challenging to renew a work permit after five years of working in the Bahamas.
Bolster Your Expansion With Globalization Partners
When you join the Globalization Partners team, our global experts will work hard to ensure that your transition to operating in the Bahamas is as smooth as possible. We’ll manage the risk so that you can focus on managing your business. To learn more about the benefits of our Global Expansion Platform™, reach out to us today.