Mitchell announces new regime for visas


Tribune Staff Reporter


IMMIGRATION Minister Fred Mitchell said yesterday the Department of Immigration is introducing “a new regime and pricing structure” beginning February 1.

Mr Mitchell said the revamping of the department will include new state of the art equipment and fee increases for visas. The government is also considering increasing the fees for permanent residency and citizenship applications and will soon implement stiffer requirements for those seeking to live in The Bahamas.

He also said beginning in September, every foreign person enrolled in school, even children born in the Bahamas to immigrants, will be required to have a student permit.

He made his comments at the 2015 Bahamas Business Outlook Seminar at the Melia hotel.

Mr Mitchell said “regular migrants and their would-be employers” complain of slow services by the department. He said the only way to rectify the service is to upgrade the equipment, which costs money. Money, Mr Mitchell said, that will come from fee increases.

“We have received recently in this direction permission to increase the visa fees which will more accurately reflect the cost of the service with effect from February 1. That is the point to which we ought to get with regard to all government services. The price ought to accurately reflect the cost of the delivery of the service. You will then be able to fund all the inputs and there can be no excuse for the lack of timely and rational delivery of the product or service,” he said.

“Indeed, one easy example is to be able to charge a premium for a rush or emergency service. Today, sad to say if you pay your fees to get a work permit application it often takes six weeks before you have the actual work permit in your hands....Most advocates say that the offer to live here at a price, should stop at the level of permanent residence with the possible right to work, and that as presently priced, the right to live here as a permanent resident is underpriced and therefore undervalued. Considerable work has already been done on rectifying this pricing structure as we speak and the question is when we can convince the exchequer and the wider government that this is a sensible direction within which to move.

“The present $10,000 per year fee for permanent residence is considered too low. I am certain that you will hear more on this subject from the new Trade Minister Hope Strachan as she finds her way in her new office. However, I am confident that there is a new regime and pricing structure coming in the not too distant future with regard to the various resident products of the financial services sector.”

Mr Mitchell said new rules are also going to be implemented that will make it easier for the government to keep track of immigrants who work and live in the Bahamas and also those who attend our schools.

“For example, all schools will be asked to be sure that any foreign national in a Bahamian school has a student permit to be in the Bahamas as of the opening of the fall term. The annual permit costs 25 dollars with a 100 dollar processing fee and every non-national should have one, including those born here to non-national parents,” he said.

“In a few months, we hope to attach conditions to the work permits which will say that if you get a work permit you also have to have health insurance for the worker and adequate housing. If you cannot demonstrate that, then the work permit will not be granted. This is being put out for discussion but it is near to completion.”

Mr Mitchell said none of these policies can be successful if they do not have the broad support of the Bahamian people. In that vein, Mr Mitchell said he is seeking to establish a public affairs unit within the Department of Immigration and appoint a department official to handle the public’s questions and concerns.


Economist 7 years, 8 months ago

This method of waiting till the last minute to tell anyone is very negative.

Government must have been considering this for sometime or did they just think of it on the 28th and announce it on the 29th?

If you just thought of it then announce it with an effective date of at least 90 days out.

This, "last minute" approach make us look like we don't know what we are doing.


MonkeeDoo 7 years, 8 months ago

And just what makes Economist think that we do know what we are doing ( as a country much less a government ) As my late Pa used to say, you could set your watch when certain things happen. Whenever any of the PLP hierarchy are in the news, you can count on Mitchell to shoot his mouth off even if it is just crap ! He's a lonely soul who feels left out easily.


licks2 7 years, 8 months ago



Economist 7 years, 8 months ago

My point is that there is a right way and a wrong way. The new FATCA laws that the US imposed were passed over 4 years ago. Everyone had plenty of time to discuss them and do something about it.

If they had done as you propose The Bahamas would be out of business as no hotel or restaurant could take a US credit card. No bank would be able to do a US transaction and therefore no one could buy goods.

We must grow up. The world does not begin and end at the boarders of The Bahamas.


TheMadHatter 7 years, 8 months ago

I wonder if the new rules and the new fees will be posted on the immigration website? I have been asking for that for years. No matter what they are, they should be posted - otherwise we will continue in the mode where it depends on who you talk to "at the window" as to what you need for your application. I always tell people, whenever you are applying for something from Govt get the name of the person who you deal with the first day. Every time you come back see that same person. If he/she is out to lunch or off that day, best you come back tomorrow because otherwise you will have to start your whole process over again from the beginning. Even if you've been at it for 7 months. Ya gats to start from the beginning because now you are being told of some other thing you need, that likely takes quite a while to get.



ohdrap4 7 years, 8 months ago

the costs are usually diseeminated in the house of assembly and you can probably buy some booklet at the printing office to verify.

some law firms publish the costs of residency and work permits on the internet.

i think permanent residency depends on the nature of application and time residing in the country on sliding scale.

i believe permanent residency is a one-time fee tho, and work permit annual.


DEDDIE 7 years, 8 months ago

Mr. Mitchel is a master at publicity. His intent is to be in the public eye all the way up to convention when the new leader of the PLP is chosen should Perry leave. He is the most capable but the question of his sexuality is a barrier not easily overcome.


TheMadHatter 7 years, 8 months ago

Yes, it is a shame that more than half of Bahamians will focus on what MItchel might do in the privacy of his own home, and then go ahead and vote for someone else, and then continue to complain about the price of bread, the cost of education, the potholes in the roads, the immigrants, the fights in schools, etc. etc.

After the next election ...

Shouldn't they then say "Hey, yes my life sucks and times are tough and I can't afford nothin' - but at least I am happy because I don't have to worry about what might be going on in the Prime MInister's residence while I'm sleeping at night."

But, no, they will still complain and keep putting money in the plate.



Economist 7 years, 8 months ago

Yes TheMadHatter, you are correct.

We, as a nation, need to start looking at these matters on a "What is best for The Bahamas?" basis. To often we let politics get in the way.

We live in a country that has tremendous potential. We have a people who are much more capable than there current performance.

Our politics and xenophobia is dragging us down. We need a mental shift.


TheMadHatter 7 years, 8 months ago

No, Economist. It is not xenophobia I was discussing, but homophobia. My point was that if Mr. Mitchell is gay (and I say IF because I have never been in his bedroom like most Bahamians claim to have gone), that it should not matter regarding his potential as a PM. If he were PM I would be happy for him to work on making this country better for me to live in, and I would not want to install spy cameras in his home.

As for the xenophobia you mention, I found the following definition: "Xenophobia is the unreasoned fear of that which is perceived to be foreign or strange. "

Our so-called xenophobia about illegal immigrants in this country is not xenophobia because it is not "unreasoned." If you drive by any of the shanty towns, you will see one reason. If you are in the area where a crowd of them are speaking and refusing to use English, you will hear the reason. If you go to pay for your child to be in private school, because of the crime levels in the public schools, your wallet will feel the reason. And as the economy continues to go down due to the need for VAT and other higher govt fees to pay for "free" clinics and schools for immigrants and as a result you can no longer afford to buy the kinds of foods you are used to - but are more and more forced to live on "breadbasket items", you will taste the reason.

Therefore, it cannot be xenophobia - because it is not unreasoned. It is a palpable fear, demonstrated to be based on tangible results over many years now.

These particular immigrants are like the Muslims in France and England and other countries in Europe. They do not wish to be European. They only wish to come to Europe and set up their own way of life there, taking up more and more square miles every year until Europe is simply an extension of the middle east. They do not want a better life. They come claiming hardships in their own land, hunger, war, disease, unequal rigths for women, whatever. They make the U.N. feel sorry for them and say "Oh, can't we help these poor people?" The answer is NO we cannot. Because they do not want help. They want to live HERE exactly the way they live THERE. If they want to live that way, they can do it quite well in their own country and save the fuel for the trip.

They don't want to be Bahamians. They want to be Haitians in the Bahamas. That is why they call themselves HAITIAN-Bahamians. That is why they come out in full force to celebrate Haitian Flag Day. That is why they got our Govt to create Majority Rule Day on Jan 15th to remind us that our time remaining in charge of this country is very limited - because soon they will be the majority, and they will rule.



BahamianAway 7 years, 8 months ago

It's about time a government started taking the matter of immigration in The Bahamas seriously. Whether it is a politcal stunt or not the fact remains measures needed to be taken a long time ago to address the over abundance of non-Bahamians milking the system.

Now what will happen after these grand plans and schemes are announced is another matter entirely. I for one personally hope that the government (and it doesn't matter which one) can finally get the immigration situation under control.


Sign in to comment