Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Tortola, Ho! Part 8: Work Permit

It's been a while since I've written anything in the Tortola, Ho! series, but I realized the other day that, aside from the Medical Certificate, I never really discussed what's involved in getting a work permit to come to the BVI. The process can vary a little, depending on where you're coming from, but is a pretty simple deal overall.

The first step in getting a work permit is getting a job. Before you even begin to make an application, you have to have a deal with your employer, as it is actually the employer who is applying for the work permit on your behalf.

Ideally, your employer has already been running an ad for your position in the BVI Beacon, and at this point you can go ahead and get started on your work permit paperwork. Many employers, though, will wait until they find the right candidate before they run the required advertisements. If this is the case, the employer will need to run ads for two consecutive weeks in the Beacon. After these have run, you can get started filling out your paperwork.

The full application can be found here. It's a pretty simple fill-in-the-blank form. It's mostly asking for your personal details (name, address, date of birth, etc.) and details of the employment. Part of the key to filling this out is to be as detailed as possible about your job qualifications, to make it clear to the Department of Labor that only YOU can fill the position. You should also attach a resume, any awards and college transcripts, etc. to the application. Most employers here in the BVI are familiar with the process, and will help you fill out the forms appropriately.

The forms are then submitted for processing. It used to take about 4-6 weeks to process a new work permit application, but the recent change in government has seen new work permits taking about 3 months to process, so be aware.

Depending on where you're coming from, you may also have to apply for a Visa with the Department of Immigration in order to enter the country. Most Europeans and North Americans do not need to apply, but a full list of countries requiring an immigration Visa can be found on the Governor's website. If you are a national of a country for which a visa is required, the full visa application is also available online. You'll want to submit this at the same time you submit your work permit. Again, your employer can help you with any questions you have.

Once your work permit has been approved, congratulations! Get your medical certificate and police records in order, and come to the BVI!


  1. Would you have any idea of how one proceeds to get a work permit if they are self-employed/private contractor? Thanks!

    1. If you are self-employed, but not doing business in the BVI (e.g., all your clients are in the U.S.), you just use the same work permit application as I linked above. You would just need to include the required paperwork listed under 2. on the cover sheet.

      If you're going to be doing business in the BVI, you will have to apply for a business permit as well. I am not knowledgeable about that process.


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