An amendment to the Bahamas Immigration Act will outline and better define the process for investors wishing to obtain “economic permanent residence” (EPR) in the West Indies nation.
The Immigration Amendment Bill of 2021 would introduce a new section, 17A, into the principal immigration act, highlighting the requirements for any non-Bahamian citizen who does not hold a Bahamas permanent residency card but wishes to apply for an EPR.
The key amendments are highlighted below:
(1) Any person, who is not a citizen of The Bahamas or the holder of a permanent residence certificate, and who —
(a) has —
(i) purchased a residence in The Bahamas for such an amount as may be prescribed from time to time by order of the Minister;
(ii) made investments in The Bahamas of such a kind and of such an amount as may be so prescribed; or
(iii) purchased a residence and made investments in The Bahamas; and
(b) shall reside in The Bahamas for a cumulative period of no less than ninety days per year, IMMIGRATION (AMENDMENT) BILL, 2021 may, upon application to the Board in prescribed form and upon payment of the prescribed fee, be granted an economic permanent residence certificate permitting him to reside permanently in The Bahamas and to engage in gainful occupation where that gainful occupation is in his own business.
Applicants must maintain their property or qualified investments for ten years and file a declaration every decade confirming that the information contained in the application they relied upon to obtain EPR remains unchanged. This period coincides with the time needed for permanent residents of the nation to become eligible for naturalization, should they reside at least six years in the Bahamas before applying.
Another consequential effect of the amendment is that it would enable the investor to endorse his/her spouse and dependent children below 18 years of age for permanent residence, reports the Nassau Guardian.
The amendment also highlights that the EPR shall remain in full force for the entirety of the holder’s lifetime unless the government revokes it under section 18 of the immigration act.
A chance to specify hitherto vague investment criteria
While the new bill, expected to take effect on the 1st of July, 2021, goes further in defining economic residence than previous versions of the law, the most significant change is the specification of the required investment amount applicants must meet to be considered for EPR.
The amendment itself does not set an amount but clarifies that the amount will be prescribed from time to time by the Minister’s order. The current law states no amount whatsoever and two different government websites offer inconsistent information on the matter.
While both the Bahamas Department of Immigration and the Bahamas Government websites list no minimum amount, they provide differing amounts for “speedy consideration”; U$750,000 and US$1.5m, respectively.
EPR holders can apply for citizenship by naturalization after ten years if they meet the conditions. Under the current law, they would have to first apply for a Home Owner’s ID Card, which allows them to get annual residence in the Bahamas, whereupon they can apply for permanent residence.
To speak of a Bahamas residence by investment program, however, is premature; the competent Ministry must still articulate specific investment amounts and designate eligible forms of investment. This amendment would give the government the necessary mandate to do just that. Whether it will is an altogether separate question.