Immigration & Investing
IMMIGRATION AND INVESTING IN THE BAHAMAS
The Bahamas’ tropical climate, island living lifestyle and low tax regime give incentives to many investors from all around the world to purchase a piece of this paradise. It is a perfect place to be whether you want to call it a second home, primary residence or a favorite vacation destination.
The government gives consideration to work permits, residency and citizenship for non-Bahamians provided there is compliance with the immigration laws of The Bahamas and policies of the government.
The Government’s stance on immigration is to protect jobs for Bahamians while recognizing the needs of international firms, individuals and families to import talent with specialized skills and expertise which are not available locally.
In order for a foreigner to work in The Bahamas, a Work Permit must be obtained, which is only valid for that specific person and position. The cost of a Work Permit varies from $500 to $12,500 depending on seniority of the applicant. Work Permits usually are granted for one year but they may be granted for periods up to three years for senior personnel.
It is possible to obtain Permanent Residency with the right to work; this arrangement usually is suited to the individual with a family office or who wants to manage investments or a business that doesn’t interact with the Bahamian economy, and may be of particular interest to those who desire to establish a second home.
Investors interested to become legal residents can apply for the residency at the Department of Immigration. The application process is typically handled by a local law firm. Here is a bit more information about how that process works.
ECONOMIC PERMANENT RESIDENCY
The criteria for an economic permanent residency is as follows. The applicant:
- Cannot have a criminal record;
- Must purchase property valued at more than $750,000; or
- Own or have a beneficial interest in a business in The Bahamas which is in a growth category and which supports the employment of Bahamians;
- Must demonstrate sufficient resources in cash, investments or salary, to be self-supporting without the need to be employed in The Bahamas;
- Must show that property tax payments are current.
Persons with Permanent Residence and their spouses and children (with the appropriate government permit) have the same rights as Bahamians, except for the right to vote. They may pass freely through immigration and have the right to stay any length of time.
Permanent residents may bring their own personal assistants or household staff with them to The Bahamas subject to government clearance and the issuance of work permits.
Accelerated consideration is given if the subject property is valued in excess of B$1,500,000.00.
There have been unofficial statements made which suggested that the minimum threshold was going to be increased to B$1,000,000.00, however no formal policy has been published and no timeframe for implementation has been provided to date. The expectation is that purchasers under contract prior to the implementation of the new policy will be grandfathered in. These criteria are not the subject of legislation but rather a matter of policy of the Government and the Department of Immigration.
The application for permanent residence is comprised of a Government form which must be notarized by a Justice of the Peace or a Notary Public and submitted to the Department of Immigration together with the following supporting documents:
- A copy of the bio-data page of the applicant’s passport
- Two passport-sized identical colour photographs of the applicant, with the applicant’s name printed on the reverse side (photographs must not be more than six months old)
- An original police certificate (issued not more than six months prior to the submission of the application) together with a complete set of fingerprints. The fingerprints can be obtained in Nassau if need be. The police certificate and fingerprints are also required from spouses.
- Certified copy of birth certificate
- An original medical certificate dated not more than thirty days prior to the submission of the application
- Two original character references, written by persons known to the applicant for at least five years
- Certified copy of marriage certificate (if applicable)
- Certified copy of spouse’s birth certificate (if applicable)
- Certified copy of child’s birth certificate (if applicable)
- Financial statements from applicant’s financial institution citing a figure range, and verifying economic worth
An authenticated English translation must be provided for all non-English documents.
For purchases in excess of B$1,500,000.00, the Department undertakes to provide an accelerated response but this is not guaranteed. Approval is at the discretion of the Department of Immigration. In circumstances where the application does not fall within the category for accelerated consideration we recommend that a contemporaneous application is made for Annual Residency.
As part of the application process the Immigration Department will invite the applicant and spouse to attend the Immigration Department for an interview. If the application is approved, the spouse of the primary applicant and children under the age of 18 can be endorsed on the Certificate.
There is a non-refundable processing fee of B$200.00 per application (primary applicant and eligible endorsees). Upon approval the Government one-time only fee for the permanent residency certificate is B$15,000.00 plus $25 for each endorsee. The legal fee for attendances to an application for permanent residency is $5,000.00 plus $250 for each endorsee plus disbursements.
ANNUAL RESIDENCE PERMIT
Another option for residency status in the Bahamas is an annual residence permit, also known as Homeowners Resident Card, which is issued to successful non-Bahamian applicants who wish to reside in the Bahamas for any purpose other than employment. This permit to reside is an annual permit which is typically issued for one to three years in duration but may be issued for up to five years in certain circumstances at the discretion of the Department of Immigration. There is no requirement to purchase or lease a home but it is generally understood that this will facilitate the application.
The application is comprised of a Government form which must be notarized by a Justice of the Peace or a Notary Public and submitted to the Department of Immigration together with the following supporting documents:
- A copy of the bio-data page of the applicant’s passport
- Two passport-sized identical colour photographs of the applicant, with the applicant’s name printed on the reverse side (photographs must not be more than 6 months old)
- A police certificate (or certificates if applicable) covering 5 years’ previous residence (issued not more than six months prior to the submission of the application)
- A medical certificate dated not more than 30 days prior to the submission of the application
- Two written character references
- Marriage certificate (married persons)
- Spouse’s death certificate (widowed persons)
- Divorce decree (divorcees)
- Financial statements from the applicant’s financial institution showing proof of financial support, indicating a figure range
- $10.00 Bahamian Stamp affixed to application
For the annual residency permits there is a non-refundable processing fee of B$200.00.
Upon approval the Government fee for the permit is B$2,000.00 and $25 for each dependent. The legal fee for attendances to an application for annual residency is $2,500.00 plus disbursements.
The Bahamas Constitution and the Bahamas Nationality Act, 1973, detail the acquisition and loss of citizenship. Persons born in The Bahamas before July 10, 1973, or outside The Bahamas to a Bahamian father became Bahamian Citizens on Independence Day, July 10, 1973, as did most persons registered as a citizen of The Bahamas under the British Nationality Act of 1948. Persons born in The Bahamas after Independence are citizens if either parent is a Bahamian citizen and are entitled to register as a citizen if born here, subject to interests of national security or public policy, by making application within 12 months after his or her 18th birthday. Persons born legitimately outside The Bahamas after July 9, 1973 to a Bahamian mother and illegitimate children born outside The Bahamas to Bahamian women are entitled to apply between the ages of 18 and 21 years subject to interests of national security or public policy. Any woman married to a Bahamian is entitled to be registered as a citizen upon application provided she is still married to that person and subject to interests of national security or public policy.
Others who are not entitled to be registered or naturalized by virtue of an existing status may apply for citizenship under the Nationality Act. Residence for a period, English proficiency and the intention to make The Bahamas a permanent home are among the qualifications.
For more information you can visit Bahamas Real Estate Association