By AVA TURNQUEST
Tribune Chief Reporter
HEALTH insurance and proof of adequate housing could be mandatory requirements for employers seeking permits for foreign labourers, Immigration Minister Fred Mitchell revealed yesterday.
Mr Mitchell said officials were giving serious consideration to including these two caveats as the government works to “tighten” a new immigration policy that was introduced on November 1.
He explained that the new policy was a “work in progress” during a guest appearance on radio talk show Let’s Talk Live with host Carlton Smith.
“Here is the direction we’re going in, this is the next stage,” he said. “In future, it seems to me that each employer who brings in someone who is a non-national will have to be able to provide evidence of two things.
“First, adequate housing for the individual, and secondly, health insurance, so that that person is never a charge on the public health care facilities, irrespective of the category of work.”
Mr Mitchell added: “So if you bring a labourer in here because you say you need a gardener, or live-in maid, or caregiver, you have to provide two things: housing and health insurance.”
The new policy mandates that persons who are applying for a work permit for the first time without legal status will need to be certified by a local embassy or nearest Bahamas mission in their home country. Certificates of identity previously issued to persons born to foreign parents legally residing in the Bahamas will not be renewed; instead a passport of their nationality with a resident stamp will be required.
Legislation drafted to support the new immigration policy is expected to be tabled next year.
The new legislation will reinstate the Belonger’s permit, an identification card for two categories of people: persons born to non-Bahamian parents, and children of Bahamians who are unable to automatically pass on their citizenship.
Yesterday, Mr Mitchell also suggested that there needed to be “signature” prosecutions of landowners that charge rent for shantytowns on their property.
He also called for public officials and wider society to demonstrate a level of discipline and consistency on the issue.