Instead of watching the snow pile up outside your window while you are working away at home, why not dramatically change the scenery to a beach as you work remotely from The Bahamas? After all, the Bahamas isn’t just that place to retire after hitting the big slots jackpot, it’s also a place to study and work! What may seem like the impossible dream is more achievable than you think, thanks to The Bahamas Extended Access Travel Stay (BEATS) one-year residency permit which gives both students and professionals from overseas a chance to work or study remotely (online).
How to get a work visa for the Bahamas?
“The Bahamas announced its extended stay/work visa program, BEATS, in October 2020, at a time when COVID-19 brought unprecedented flexibility to the traditional work from home environment,” says Joy Jibrilu, Director General, Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation. “The BEATS program was introduced for students and professionals eager for a change of scenery following months spent at home due to office and school closures.
“The one-year residency program offers participants the opportunity to discover The Bahamas’ unique geography, while also exploring and diving deep into the culture of The Bahamas in ways they have not experienced before,” says Jibrilu.
The Bahamas is an archipelago of over 700 islands and cays, 16 of which welcome visitors. This means you could live on a different island every month during your one year stay, or at least visit the many islands there are to discover. Visitors can choose the metropolitan vibe of Nassau and Paradise Islands or a more laidback life in The Exumas and Cat Island. The fantasy island of your dream awaits!
How long does it take to get a Bahamas work visa?
All you need to do to start living the dream is to complete an online BEATS application which will be reviewed by Bahamas Immigration. Approval takes up to 5 days at which time the applicant will receive confirmation and a request for payment.
How much does it cost to get a Bahamas work visa?
Approved applicants receive a confirmation QR Code to show upon entry into The Bahamas. Professionals are required to pay both an application and a permit fee which costs a total of $1,025 USD for an individual applicant ($25 USD application fee per applicant and a permit fee of $1,000 USD per person). Families pay $25 USD each per applicant or dependent along with $1,000 USD per adult applicant and $500 USD for each dependent. (Married couples are required to submit separate applications if both parties intend to work from The Bahamas, however only one of the applicants needs to apply on behalf of mutual dependents.) The permit is valid for one year and applications for annual renewals will be considered for a maximum period of up to three years. Applicants require a valid passport, proof of medical insurance as well as a letter from a current employer or proof of self-employment. Students are required to provide proof of enrollment in an accredited learning institution as well as proof of sufficient funds to cover living and travel expenses.
“During the ongoing pandemic, The Bahamas is open to all international travellers,” says Joy. “Travellers are not required to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival; however, they must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 RT PCR test taken no more than 5 days prior to travel and obtain a Bahamas Health Visa. Additionally, visitors will be required to complete a short, daily online questionnaire for the first 14 days of their stay beginning the day they arrive All participants are also required to take a rapid COVID-19 antigen test on the fifth day of their stay. When apply for the Travel Health Visa prior to travel, all those entering The Bahamas regardless of their planned length of stay, are required to opt-in to COVID Health Insurance provided by CG Atlantic. We encourage everyone to review the most up-to-date information on COVID travel protocols by visiting our website at Bahamas.com/TravelUpdates.”
Now where to stay. The Bahamas offers a wide range of accommodations including hotels and resorts offering extended stay programs, along with home rentals and Airbnb’s to suit most any budget.
“While the BEATS program is not linked with any one hotel, a number of Bahamian hotels and resorts have introduced their own extended long term stay,” explains Joy. “The Graycliff Hotel recently launched The Graycliff Workation initiative, while some resorts offer travelers their own extended stay programs including Grand Hyatt Baha Mar’s Work From Hyatt; Atlantis Paradise Island’s Schoolcation and more. We are seeing a mix of visitors choosing an extended stay with us in The Bahamas as every island offers a different experience for travelers. Nassau Paradise Island is perfect for families with easy access and kid-friendly resort amenities, while the seclusion of the Out Islands is the perfect destination for a romantic escape. The adventures that can be found on Long Island, Cat Island and more are perfect for those indulging in a solo trip.”
Asked to name the top things to see and do while visiting The Bahamas, Joy responds: “We recommend that visitors experience all of our islands at some point in their travels, but a few recommendations include:
- Harbour Island–known for its pastel-hued buildings and famous pink sand beaches, it is perfect for those looking for a more intimate, laid-back island affair.
- Andros is a must-visit destination for those seeking time out on the water as it is the Bonefishing Capital of the World! The island features areas of wetlands that create channels perfect for bonefishing.
- Long Island is an adventure-seeker’s paradise. The island is home to the world’s deepest blue hole, Dean’s Blue Hole, the limestone caves of Cape Santa Maria and the largest cave system in The Bahamas, Hamilton’s Cave.
- Cat Island is the ideal destination for those looking to truly unplug. Visitors can certainly make a trip to Mt. Alvernia to hike the highest point of The Bahamas.
- Nassau Paradise Island is one of the most well-known islands in The Bahamas. The island is the perfect stop for history buffs looking to learn more about our rich history before jetting off to another island.”
In 2020, other islands in the Caribbean introduced extended visitor programs geared to attracting “digital nomads”. Aruba offers a One Happy Workation program aimed at attracting U.S. visitors for a 90-day stay, Barbados offers a popular 12-month Barbados Welcome Stamp program, Bermuda offers a One Year Residential Certification Program and children are permitted to enrol in the island’s private or public schools. The Cayman Islands offer The Global Citizen Concierge Program whereby qualifying visitors can work remotely on the islands for two years. Some of these islands however require proof of a guaranteed yearly income to apply for their work remotely programs. Due to ever changing travel and COVID safety regulations and border closures/restrictions, please check with your travel agent and host country website for current information and border/travel/safety restrictions.
As Director General of The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation, Joy worked closely in the development of the BEATS program. Although the number of applicants are not available, Joy says the program is proving to be very popular.
“We are thrilled to be welcoming visitors to The Bahamas for an extended period so that they can experience all that our islands have to offer,” states Joy. “And BEATS gives travelers the opportunity to take their time to uncover the hidden gems. We would love to show travelers that it’s still ‘Better in the Bahamas!’”
Bahamas quick facts:
Bahamas is a Commonwealth country which gained their independence from Britain in 1973. The government is a parliamentary democracy like Canada’s system with a Prime Minister, Cabinet and Members of Parliament. The market economy is primarily dependent on tourism and financial services. Residents do not pay tax –no property, income, or GST taxes. The population is about 400,000 with the largest city being Nassau with a population of almost 270,000.