I rise today to announce that the Ministry of Labour (“the Ministry”) will amend the eligibility for a One (1) Year Residential Certificate to allow persons who are able to work remotely from Bermuda, such as Digital Nomands and to allow Non-Bermudian Post-Secondary Students to complete their higher education from Bermuda starting August 1, 2020. The cost of this Certificate is $263. Additionally, the Ministry will also adjust its policy for visitors to the island by extending the maximum period a visitor may stay in Bermuda from 90 to 180 days.
The COVID-19 health crisis had a significant impact on the local economy resulting in mass unemployment and decreased economic activity. The Government seeks to offer this new One Year Residential Certificate to qualifying persons to extend visitor stays in Bermuda and by doing so:
- increase the residential population;
- increase economic activity;
- provide greater job security for Bermudians;
- and to enhance the marketability of Bermuda as a place to reside, visit, or do business.
There are persons who are location-independent, using technology to perform their job no matter where they are. Such persons work remotely, telecommuting rather than being physically present at a company's headquarters or office. Remote working has been a growing trend for some time and is something the Bermuda Government has been examining as part of its technology-focused economic diversification strategy. The trend towards remote working has been accelerated by COVID-19. These visitors can reside in Bermuda without seeking employment on the island and will promote economic activity for our country without displacing Bermudians in the workforce.
Allowing Non-Bermudian Post-Secondary Students to complete their higher education from Bermuda represents an opportunity to build an international student community in Bermuda and enhance Bermuda’s digital perception by travelers worldwide, which will produce benefits to the local economy.
The Government expects the economic benefits to Bermuda of introducing this One Year Residency Certificate include additional economic activity in restaurants, hotels and accommodations, leisure businesses, and government departments. It is a step to strengthen the economy that will benefit Bermudians.
As the Minister with responsibility for Immigration I have the authority to issue Residential Certificates under section 32 of the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Act. The policy will require applicants to be:
- over the age of 18;
- demonstrate good character and not have conviction for an indictable offence;
- possess valid health insurance;
- demonstrate employment with a legitimate firm or their own company registered and operating overseas, which does not operate in Bermuda, in the case of a remote worker;
- provide evidence of enrollment in a Research, Undergraduate, Graduate or Doctorate Program, in the case of a Student;
- demonstrate sufficient means and/or continuous source of annual income without the need to engage in gainful employment in Bermuda.
The Ministry of Labour will collaborate with the Bermuda Tourism Authority (BTA) and the Bermuda Business Development Agency (BDA) to communicate this opportunity to the world.
The Ministry is working diligently along with the Department of Immigration to launch this One (1) Year Residential Certificate during the first week of August 2020. It is anticipated that the form will be available for electronic submission, along with all relevant documentation, via the government portal at: www.gov.bm on or before August 1, 2020 and that the process will be swift.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.