The country is seeing a heightened interest from the international community over the government’s recently launched extended stay visa program.
Vigorous screening protocols and measures are being beefed up at the country’s immigration department for visitors seeking to do business and stay in the Bahamas for an extended period. Minister of Immigration the Hon. Elsworth Johnson providing an update to ZNS news on the extended visa initiative.
“We’ve gone cashless in the immigration department. We are at the point now where we are trying our best to create an environment where if you make an application to the immigration department, you can do it from your home or from your job, that’s how it should be done” he said.
“And then in order to iron out the kinks, we have started a mystery shopper program that is ongoing in the department right now.
Johnson says that they have selected people from financial services, independent from those who have had experiences in their department.
“People in the immigrant community are participating in it. So, at the end of the day that professional independent group will give us a report.
“The intent is to work along with UB, to fashion something to better the quality of service that we give because the ease of doing business and giving quality service is paramount if we want to remain internationally competitive” he said.
The extended stay visa program allows persons from abroad to apply for a visa online and be granted permission to live in the Bahamas for remote work or study purposes for one year. The program has similar features to the one launched in Barbados this year. Johnson believes the Bahamas will benefit greatly from this investment.
“Our value proposition is great. There are upheavals in different parts of the world. Hong Kong, Latin America; and you would be surprised to know how many people want to come, live, work or bring their business to the Bahamas.
“When you look, we have a very stable economy, a stable country, when we talk about crime, as in Brazil, next to none, we have a stable judiciary. And the other thing is the tranquility of the islands and moving away from metropolitan cities” he said.
Johnson added that the success of this program also depends on the cooperation of all Bahamians to adhere to the Covid-19 protocols and measures now in place.