Bahamas ‘needs to open up to skilled immigration’

The Bahamas could become a more welcoming destination for skilled immigrants, if the island’s Chamber of Commerce can convince the government to ease its strict immigration requirements.

Speaking at a meeting earlier this week, Edison Sumners and Gordon Bowe, the Chamber’s CEO and chairperson, revealed that Bahamian businesses have expressed concerns about the challenges the current immigration policies are having on their ability to secure foreign talent when local talent is unavailable.

They believe that the current immigration policies make it difficult for companies to hire skilled foreign workers in a timely manner, and have called on the government to do more to distinguish between skilled workers and unskilled workers so that the application process of skilled workers can be expedited.

“The issue with regards to importing talent and skilled people into the country should be a little more flexible,” said Sumners on Friday. “If companies need to import certain people to work in their organisations because the skill set those people have cannot be found locally, the government should be a little more lenient and flexible with their approach to this to allow us to bring people in.”

He continued: “We support the fact that we should be developing as much talent as we can in the country. We understand that there are times when the talent and skill set that you are looking for are not available so in those cases we would like to see an easing of restrictions and the process for bringing people in for specific periods of time.

However, both Sumners and Rowe were keen to point out that a more flexible immigration system would not necessarily be to the detriment of Bahamian workers.  “We also want to ensure that with the immigration policy, we are able to promote education and skill sets so that it would make it more appealing for local business to be able to find local talent rather than having to search for it outside the country,” Sumners said.