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VI immigration laws unreasonable/unjust to expats - Magistrate Richard G. Rowe

Attorney at law and substitute magistrate Mr Richard G. Rowe said a large number of expatriates have been unfairly treated following the hurricanes of September 2017 and the Virgin Islands Immigration Laws did not help their cause. Photo: VINO/File
Mr Richard G. Rowe was a guest on Fresh Radio Vybz with host Paul A. Peart aka Gadiethz on January 7, 2018. Photo: Facebook
Mr Richard G. Rowe was a guest on Fresh Radio Vybz with host Paul A. Peart aka Gadiethz on January 7, 2018. Photo: Facebook
A number of expatriates working in the tourism industry were forced to go home without redundancy pay following the hurricanes of September 2017. Photo: VINO/File
A number of expatriates working in the tourism industry were forced to go home without redundancy pay following the hurricanes of September 2017. Photo: VINO/File
ROAD TOWN Tortola VI - An age-old concern has had its most visible effect on hundreds of expatriates who worked in the British Overseas Territory of the Virgin Islands (VI) and a prominent attorney at law and substitute magistrate, Jamaican Richard G. Rowe, has no problem calling a spade a spade.

Mr Rowe was a guest on Fresh Radio Vybz with host Paul A. Peart aka 'Gadiethz' on January 7, 2018 when he spoke candidly of what he termed the unfairness of the territory's immigration laws toward expatriates.

'Unreasonable equates to unjust'

"In the BVI three months for leaving is unreasonable. If it is unreasonable I think you could easily equate that to unjust," said the attorney, who has been practicing law in the territory for more than a decade. 

Mr Rowe was at the time addressing questions posed to him by Mr Peart as it relates to expatriates made redundant by companies in the VI.

Following the devastation of hurricanes Irma and Maria on September 6 and 18, 2017 hundreds of expatriates were left jobless as their places of employment were ravaged. Some businesses were able to bounce back on a much smaller scale while there are those whose doors remain closed.

However, in some cases, there was no questioning the need to let employees go but the issue was how most of these places handled their expatriate employees, by sending them home without their due redundancy pay.

"Expatriates take up most of the lowest paid jobs and don't have money to fight employers in the court for them to respect the law that says they must be paid redundancy after three months of employment."

Breaking it down, Mr Rowe explained, "let's say you are made redundant at a restaurant, you are paid a low wage…you are told by immigration that you have to leave the country. How then that person would be able to employ the service of a lawyer to go through two to three years of legal protest to obtain the benefits that the law provides for redundancy? Fifteen weeks per year.... very unlikely."

He also said the cost of hiring a lawyer is usually out of reach for the low paid expatriate worker.

Mr Rowe alluded to the fact that the High Court has not had a sitting since the hurricanes of September, which means many persons laid off would not have even had the opportunity to attempt to seek legal justice.

Legal reform

Asked if he thinks there needs to be a reform of the legal/judicial systems/laws in the territory, Mr Rowe said the aspect he would like to see address is the slow pace of justice in the courts, largely because there are too few judges and magistrates.

There are only two permanent magistrates and judges in the Virgin Islands.

"There are only two permanent magistrates and the work they have is tremendously large. The work that comes before them far outstrips their capacity to deal with them in an effective way. So that's a major problem that requires some change."

On the part of the High Court, Mr Rowe said the two judges’ work is divided, where one deals with civil matters and the other criminal matters.

"Two are inadequate to meet the needs of the territory. There should be at least in the Magistrate’s Court, room for family court and traffic separately and in the High Court there is need for at least another two judges to deal with the heavy load that the judges have there."

See links below to radio show, Fresh Radio Vybz with Paul A. Peart aka ‘Gadiethz’: Freshradiovybz-s297104/ and

37 Responses to “VI immigration laws unreasonable/unjust to expats - Magistrate Richard G. Rowe”

  • Mr. Justice (08/01/2018, 10:35) Like (8) Dislike (15) Reply
    I wish to say I agree with the learned Attorney, however, under this National Democratic Party Administration, Justice and Security on a whole is on the back burner. All they interested in is how much more millions they can make through their corrupt practices in the money making industry. Governor not seeing this either.
    • @ justice (08/01/2018, 11:17) Like (17) Dislike (0) Reply
      Please stop the nonsense, this has nothing to do with NDP, this has been the way in BVI for decades and we only give a shit when it comes to our doorstep. If Government mistreats you, refuse to pay you for services, you go to court and it takes YEARS! There is no swift justice unless you're held for a bit of weed and they throw the books at you! People have been experiencing issues with the legal system in the BVI for decades and it will not change with a little bit of lip service and blame game!!
  • ... (08/01/2018, 10:49) Like (1) Dislike (1) Reply
    deep thinking
  • wize up (08/01/2018, 10:53) Like (19) Dislike (26) Reply
    why some people go elsewhere and comply with their laws but want the BVI laws to fit to their personal criteria: leave here go USA and must complete to the letter of the law go to Europe and complies......why big man to have the same level of conversation with the now US Leader.....home boy up in here for over many years why cuss about it now; where were you over the years(just a question and cussing or blogging your usual piss won’t change it): BVI must be free for all; the gun man and killing get the once tranquil territory in a mess: we need tuffer immigration laws
    • True (08/01/2018, 11:53) Like (11) Dislike (9) Reply
      I am an expat and I agree with you, the problems Tortola have now and lets face it, it is Tortola that has most problems is due to the influx of expat children, low earning parents sending their children to school with high earning parents and it causes jealously in the children , they want what their parents can't afford and see an easy route to get it, crime. They should never change the law in regard to expat children born in the BVI. This is why the school system is so overcrowded and overloaded as well as the hospital which has put the country into severe debt.
      • @True (08/01/2018, 13:36) Like (2) Dislike (1) Reply
        What are the statistics up at the Prison and in the court house for crimes, expat vs locals? According to stats the split is about 60% expats to 40% locals right? Get the stats for the criminal population and report back to this board.
        • Stupes (09/01/2018, 06:36) Like (0) Dislike (3) Reply
          Locals are left to commit crimes to survive while businesses are now recruiting out of Asia to do unskilled work. Handicaps and all are recruited.
    • Flatbush USA (08/01/2018, 12:55) Like (16) Dislike (0) Reply
      @wize up I really do not under all that you said. Having said that let me say this. The world have become globalized. My territory (the BVI) in order to conduct and compete in business with the rest of the world have to adhere to laws and othet human rights issues which means that some laws we have from years back would have to change even if it bruise us a little bit. Here is something.As a BVI Islander living and working in the US, the company is made up of different race and nationalities. The thing is the company sees only employees. No one is called let me say "you Guyanese" or "you Chinese " that is not allowed by law . The US citizens with us are governed by the same ruled and laws as the "outsiders". No exception. Or the company could end up paying someone millions of dollats for discrimination. You learn quickly to leave your biases at home. The BVIs have to legislate laws that protect its people and should not be swayed to do otherwise. However, to do business with the outside world it has to appear fair and transparent and a purveyor of justice to all.
  • Looking wuk (08/01/2018, 11:28) Like (12) Dislike (9) Reply
    The High court been sitting yes. Stop misleading the people. Plus isn’t it the Labour tribunal you have to go to bout these things. This lawyer looking wuk and talking rubbish. Best I come forward as a Street lawyer.

    Also what are the laws in Jamaica and other countries Mr lawyer. You all like talking bout unfair when the rules and laws in your country worst. I could speak from experience.

    My question. If you loose your job and can’t get another one, how you goin afford to stay on that country. If you want to fight you employer you could still do that from wherever you go. Better to fight while you have a job than without one.

    • @Looking (08/01/2018, 13:14) Like (12) Dislike (13) Reply
      The man is practicing law in the BVI and has been doing so for over 10 years. He also acts as a Magistrate for BVI courts, he live in the BVI so where does Jamaica come in? He wasn't asked to compare laws, he was speaking specifically on the BVI laws as it pertains to expats, what's wrong with that? I'm sure he is still on a work permit but isn't afraid to speak out and call it how he sees it. You can disagree with him but make your points without reminding him of where he is from. I'm sure his passport says where he's from.
      • Unapologetically Tortolian (10/01/2018, 05:46) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply

        Don't you all remind virgin islanders about how their country is all the time just as this lawyer is doing?

    • Doubled standards (08/01/2018, 15:43) Like (9) Dislike (9) Reply
      Why is he allowed to speak like this as a civil servant?
    • @Lookin wuk (09/01/2018, 01:15) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
      How could the High Court have been sitting when the judges have relocated and have not worked here since hurricane Irma?
  • LAW (08/01/2018, 12:14) Like (17) Dislike (10) Reply
    If they cannot abide by our laws they know exactly what to do . When we go to other countries we abide with their laws even if we do not agree. They always coming here and want to tell our law makers what to do .
  • Notonmywatch (08/01/2018, 12:41) Like (9) Dislike (0) Reply
    The Labour code only addresses the law under normal circumstances, if you choose to voluntarily close your business or sell it. It does not address what happens after a category 10 hurricane disaster. No matter the size of your business I am quite sure not a single owner was prepared to loose their business, worry about how they are going to handle outstanding invoices and on top of that be faced with a severance bill like this was created on purpose.
    This is an area where the ball was dropped for both the employer and the employee because this is definitely not normal times or a usual situation.
  • Just Me (08/01/2018, 14:09) Like (7) Dislike (10) Reply
    I grew up in Sea Cows Bay but moved to the US a few years ago. Everyone in the community knew each other, you could leave your doors and windows open and unlocked day or night. Now there are all type of different people from other Islands living in Sea Cows Bay. These people children is the ones who messed up everything with the bad behavior. I was their for a visit 2 years ago and I was culture shock to see so many outsiders living in Sea Cows Bay. My thing is you move to someone's Country, you have to respect another persons Country. Dont move to another man's Country and bring your mess with you. Most of these people is criminals and thief's. Their own Countries dont want them so they run to Tortola.
    • @JustMe (08/01/2018, 20:10) Like (7) Dislike (5) Reply
      Do you known how many BVI Islanders were deported from the US back to Tortola in recent years because they are criminals? You moved to the USA a few years ago right? You sure sound proud. Do you believe you earned the right to go into another person 's country because you are from here but you dont want someone to come to yours? Guess you will say that yoi were born in the USA. If you have lived in the USA , has anyone ever told you were not from there and go back where you from?. There is a saying that comes to mind "Do onto others as you would have them do to you"
    • @JustMe (08/01/2018, 20:20) Like (6) Dislike (4) Reply
      And I can add to that that what goes around comes around. Some of these same expats got up right after Irma passed and looted the hell out of businesses in Road Town just because of their greed and stealing nature. So you worked Scrub or Peter Island or somewhere else that laid of, and guess what if some of you didn't help damage or loot say Rite Way for instance you could have applied there for a job or even Vanterpools, but no. Let us run around Town with our crowbars and break and destroy. Now Mr. Rowe complaining about unfairness on being laid off. I think Immigration slack because a lot of BVIslanders were laid off and they need work in their country. Neither Jamaica, St. Kitts, St. Vincent or anywhere else will take them
      It is not at all being mean. We are in crisis and locals have nowhere else to run. We need work at home. So there is a flipside to all this. BVIslanders being laid off by the Trust companies, law firms, banks and the expats are still working in these institutions and have to wait months and months and months to find something else to do while labour permits are being issued. Do you see us on here crying foul? No we keep going. But Mr. Peart has left us but don't want to stay out of our business. Makes me wonder why he left at all. Hmmm. I wonder. Mr. Rowe you know better.
  • rock (08/01/2018, 14:35) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply

    As to Grandma "pass you *$& go from here"

  • Easy (08/01/2018, 15:09) Like (10) Dislike (1) Reply
    The BVI need to start VETTING anyone who is coming into the Country. Anyone can get into the Country. Agree, most people come into the Country, obey the laws, stay out of trouble, don't. get caught up in any trouble and mind their business. Those are the ones that should be able to stay. The ones that is here Illegal, causing trouble and not doing anything productive or positive NEEDS TO BE SHIPPED OUT.
    • Lord o (08/01/2018, 17:05) Like (1) Dislike (3) Reply
      People are getting brave. Smart people can see the injustice.. Godly people speak of it....Preachers are scared.. Or dont care.. Everyman has an opinion.. We are voicing our opinion behind the darkness of blogging. He voice his in light of day....He is the real deal. The fearless warrior..
  • List 521 (08/01/2018, 15:42) Like (7) Dislike (3) Reply
    I say deport all their backsides
  • street reporter. (08/01/2018, 16:59) Like (1) Dislike (9) Reply
    Such courageous act of truth.... This is it... The Immigration laws are anti immigrants... The Labour laws are very good we have some of the best labour laws in the Caribbean but the application, the enforcement is the problem. How can a company lay off. Non work permit holders and keep permit workers... Rite way knockimg us about because they are in bed with rite way and is afraid to offend them...The labour laws are good. Just need enforcing...The immigration laws need to get more humane.. After 20 yrs no criminal record, 20 yrs of constant employment resident status should be automatic. A Nurse after 5 yrs of satisfactory service Resident Status should be Automatic.. Stop picking and chosing and giving who you like and oppressing who you dont like...
    • Roadtownrebel (09/01/2018, 14:58) Like (10) Dislike (1) Reply
      at street reporter..."After 20 yrs no criminal record, 20 yrs of constant employment resident status should be automatic. A Nurse after 5 yrs of satisfactory service Resident Status should be Automatic."
    • Keeping it real (10/01/2018, 01:44) Like (4) Dislike (0) Reply
      Please name a country where a person is there for a particular number of years and they atomically get status in that country. Keep in mind automatic means there is not process for denial.
  • Just Me (08/01/2018, 17:22) Like (1) Dislike (13) Reply
    Since the hurricane a lot have changed..
    We have to realize that the BVI.. is a small territory.
    Why is it that children are still coming in our school.
    Over here in Anegada the school is full. But still I see children coming in from other countries.
    • Common Sense (09/01/2018, 00:38) Like (2) Dislike (2) Reply
      I couldn't agree with you more. It is like we are afraid yo tell people we only have space for our own. Send home your children. And for those who evacuated out keep them home.
    • ReX FeRal (09/01/2018, 02:21) Like (9) Dislike (0) Reply
      Kinda makes you go Hmmm. Who is zooming who.
    • @Just me (09/01/2018, 11:59) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
      That is a blatant lie!!! You are just posting to stir up trouble or for likes. Shame on you!!! No "new" children are coming into the territory in fact a number of children have left here and been accepted in schools in the Caribbean and US..
  • Yes (09/01/2018, 00:35) Like (11) Dislike (2) Reply
    I have resided in many Caribbean countries and their laws are worst than ours. In fact the BVI is one of the most generous and lenient jurisdiction. But the problem with people when they get here is they want everything that belongs to Bvislsnders. They are never satisfied. It is like they want us to turn over our whole country to them. If you don't like our laws..GO HOME!
  • wow (09/01/2018, 04:32) Like (2) Dislike (3) Reply
    Mr. Row could not say these things in his Jamaica they would have stone him...only in the BVI
  • BRAD BOYNES (09/01/2018, 06:45) Like (5) Dislike (0) Reply
    This article goes from onevtopic to the next. Seems Ile the learned Attorney has deep seated problems with the country that has allowed him to make a comfortable living over The years. But I won't delve into whether the immigration laws are this or that towards expat people. I'll ask the former acting Chief Mr. Hill a question. He gives you straight talk and answers always. I'll be back on this article.
  • Forbidden Truth (09/01/2018, 15:01) Like (8) Dislike (1) Reply
    I would like for the Attorney to identify the "Unreasonableness and Unjustness of the immigration laws of the Virgin Islands towards expats. And the com[pare them to where he came from for a minute.
  • Chucka (09/01/2018, 16:50) Like (7) Dislike (0) Reply
    @ Forbidden Truth. A criticism of lawyers is the public’s perception that lawyers as a group do not have the same regard for the truth as the public supposedly has. Sometimes the criticism focuses on some lawyer’s willingness to hide behind legalisms to bend the truth Often lawyers are said to even encourage falsity by consciously shaping a witness’ recollection. Seize the time.
  • off white (09/01/2018, 20:41) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    if you're 'white' generally speaking you have no rights. if you're from DR or SVG or Jam, you're cool here. Can
    come and hustle for money and cheat Americans. Some Americans here are bad and use their money to control
    and manipulate, but you seem to be OK with those ones. Unfortunately you have gone too far and this commenter
    is not at liberty to tell you what is coming, but it will suck bad. You deserve it. Racist scum.
  • Keeping it real (10/01/2018, 01:40) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    First, persons who come here on a work permit to work are coming for just that, if there is no more work they have to leave. The problem is work permits need to be only renewed for 5 or 7 years max, then there would not be this sense of entitlement from expats. Now, whether you are an expat or local does not matter when it comes to fairness, persons should be paid what is due to them. I find expat want privilege in the VI that they can't even get in their own country and no Virgin Islander could dare try to seek in their country.

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