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WP exemptions to end with divorce unless domestic violence involved- Hon Wheatley

- says new exemption policy is to protect employment for Virgin Islanders/Belongers
Minister for Natural Resources, Labour, Immigration Honourable Vincent O. Wheatley (R9) has announced that persons who receive work permits by marriage, will be able to keep their status after divorce once domestic violence is involved, otherwise, the exemption ends. Photo: Internet Source
Hon Vincent O. Wheatley made the announcement during the September 13, 2021, episode of The Big Story with Cathy O. Richards while discussion the work permit revision policy. Photo: Facebook
Hon Vincent O. Wheatley made the announcement during the September 13, 2021, episode of The Big Story with Cathy O. Richards while discussion the work permit revision policy. Photo: Facebook
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI - Minister for Natural Resources, Labour and Immigration Honourable Vincent O. Wheatley (R9) has said that persons who receive work permits by marriage will be able to keep their status after divorce once domestic violence is involved, otherwise, the exemption ends.

The Minister made the announcement during the September 13, 2021, episode of The Big Story with Cathy O. Richards, while discussing the work permit revision policy.

“So, you marry to someone today, you get your exemption in two weeks, if you break up next year, the exemption breaks up too,” he said.

Hon Wheatley said unless certified domestic violence is involved, that is, certified through the court, only then will persons be able to keep the exemptions.

As previously announced, the revised policy provides for work permit exemptions that could also be retained, if the holder has at any time obtained a protection order against their spouse. 

Sweeping changes to policy 

With effect from August 23, 2021, the policy also states that if a married couple is divorced, legally separated or residing outside of the Territory, as per Section 16(9) of the Immigration and Passport Act, for over 90 days without previous permission, the awarded exemption is to be considered revoked, Cabinet said.

Cabinet on August 18, 2021, also warned that work permit exemption applications from spouses residing outside of the territory will be denied and noted that the marriage category of work permit exemption will be linked to a specific employer 

Hon Wheatley said the policy, “Will avoid from persons getting the work exemption and treating it like belonger status and you can work anywhere they want,” he said.

“It’s to help protect our people from somebody doing four and five jobs when somebody else has none,” he said.

37 Responses to “WP exemptions to end with divorce unless domestic violence involved- Hon Wheatley ”

  • Clearify (14/09/2021, 15:23) Like (71) Dislike (3) Reply
    Mr.Minister please tell me how would you deal with this problem when a good respectable brother from oversease marry a BVI female and she cheat on him with her BVI old boy friend and she want to divorce to go back to her old fire stick but the outsider who now has his exemption behaved and take his licks with no voilence?
    • Sweet sweet c...y (14/09/2021, 16:30) Like (5) Dislike (15) Reply
      Well de good respectable brother from overseas better lay low because he food getting eat. Panah from de east eating it, the one from the bay trying to run from it. Well if she gee it to me, I teeaking it.
    • Simple Answer (14/09/2021, 16:30) Like (10) Dislike (11) Reply
      The usery is done as we all know half these marriages ain out of love but for status. She probably cheat cause her man coming up "short". Let's be real!!
      • @Sweet Sweet & Simple Answer (15/09/2021, 11:57) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
        Do you all think that the government should still tek way he exemption for getting licks?
    • herman (15/09/2021, 16:15) Like (4) Dislike (0) Reply
      Why don’t they just go for it and get foreigners to live in cages and wear pyjamas and yellow stars?
    • Bongo (15/09/2021, 16:19) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
      So if I divorce my spouse cause she nasty an physically abusing our kids but not me I lose my job, my friends, my life of over 25 years?
  • hmmm (14/09/2021, 15:48) Like (13) Dislike (1) Reply
    BVI nature's little secrets uncovered.
  • So (14/09/2021, 15:57) Like (12) Dislike (1) Reply
    Domestic violence that is publicised and certified through the courts is the only circumstance sufficiently serious to to justify leaving a spouse in order to avoid losing a WP Exemption? There is so much wrong with this that I have no clue where to start. What about those spouses who are victims of domestic violence who are so afraid of the spouse that they dare not make a report to the authorities. I guess the antidote here is that they will be also be so afraid that they cannot leave. I admit that it is a complex issue but this is so clumsy and obviously determined without discussions with professionals in the domestic violence context. Clearly the Minister not getting he behind cut by his spouse. Further, what of infidelity and other reasons that would justify divorce so that no reasonably sensible person should be required to stay in the marriage?. There must be other ways to determine whether a marriage is a sham. The Americans do it all time and very well. They will go as far as asking for a description of the spouse's nether parts. Not advocating as it is not the most elegant solution, but it is definitely better than requiring persons to stay married except for publicised domestic violence in order to maintain a work permit exemption.
  • Jones (14/09/2021, 16:31) Like (14) Dislike (5) Reply
    Encouraging cousin with cousin is never a good thing
  • Wrong (14/09/2021, 17:23) Like (24) Dislike (5) Reply
    What is wrong with this guy with these draconian policies.
    True colours is shining through.
  • crazy (14/09/2021, 17:59) Like (13) Dislike (2) Reply
    This minister needs to take it to the lord in prayer he makes some statements that you cannot figure out
  • Rodney (14/09/2021, 18:06) Like (10) Dislike (0) Reply
    Mean while, those of us that been in the same job 15 years plus can go jump. This is so wrong.
  • next (14/09/2021, 18:12) Like (25) Dislike (0) Reply
    What law next for expat?
    Everyday is something new.
  • legal (14/09/2021, 18:36) Like (7) Dislike (4) Reply
    This minister is infringing in people constitutional right. Please someone advise him accordingly. This minister policy supersedes the constitution. Just now he is going to stop persons to exercise their civil rights to choose their partners . No foreigners should marry any locals if this is the way it is. If they have a house together and they divorce this should go automatically to the local party. No need to go to court for a divorce. Mr. Minister slow down you are exaggerating.
    • Peng (16/09/2021, 02:41) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
      This is done around the world. Same thing in the US. You don’t even have to be divorced, if the partner says she want to end it that’s it. Know who you getting into a relationship with if it’s only for a free pass to live & work then you better think that sh*t through.
  • legal team (14/09/2021, 18:44) Like (13) Dislike (1) Reply
    This policy is a way to promote domestic violence. Psychological abuse through work permit exemption. I advise the minister to read the domestic violence act and he will understand the damage he is instigating.
  • musa (14/09/2021, 19:31) Like (9) Dislike (2) Reply
    this is bvi love 1 time leader
  • XYZ (14/09/2021, 20:10) Like (39) Dislike (4) Reply
    Abuse of the system and Virgin Islanders is why this law was created. Marry for love not opportunity. Some people do not like laws that will restrict their wickedness.
  • daffy duck (14/09/2021, 20:55) Like (5) Dislike (1) Reply
    So the Minister made a blanket statement that once the marriage is over your exemption is over.Has he taken the different grounds of a divorce and the ancillary orders such as custody, maintenance of minors, and matrimonial property?
  • Talk up (14/09/2021, 21:05) Like (3) Dislike (1) Reply
    Well mr minister there will be more cousin and cousin boil good soup now .
  • Norris Turnbull (14/09/2021, 22:13) Like (4) Dislike (1) Reply
    Vincent have an affair with putting his foot in his dam mouth.
  • dumb (14/09/2021, 23:01) Like (6) Dislike (0) Reply
    Stupid stupid and more stupid, Lord help the BVI
  • @ dumb (15/09/2021, 09:23) Like (5) Dislike (1) Reply
    Nothing dumb about that. It is not a joke that people pretend they love someone and rhen when they achieve their goal they realize they do not love that person again. Laws have to be in place to protect those who cannot protect themselves amd since Virgin Islands are too bllind to see when they are being taken advantage of then this law will protect them.
  • SMH (15/09/2021, 09:48) Like (6) Dislike (1) Reply
    Only when Person or Persons unknown want to create animosity against the Minister, they quick to point out the relevant Facts that affects them. I said it before and will continue to say it! People from the BVI cannot assume residency in another Country and disrespect, put down and bewittle that Country's Goverment or it's People. I know People who came here from Young and consider here home as well without disrespect or misconduct. Why some always feel that they have entitlement?
  • Thoughts! (15/09/2021, 10:38) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    WHAT!!!!!! So now the male or female has to go to the labour department to prove that their marriage ended in divorce because of domestic violence? Now, allll your business have to be out here, there, and everywhere just so that you can continue not paying for a work permit? WHAT?????? Divorce is a sensitive issue and should not be weaponized against an expatriate accessing a work permit exemption or not. COME ON MAN. Who is this guy?
  • Concerned Young Citizen (15/09/2021, 10:59) Like (6) Dislike (1) Reply
    There are those persons who received WP Exemption by Marriage Indefinitely and I hope Hon. Wheatley knows he cannot touch these spouses with just policy usless the legislative changes are made.

    My spouse and I have been married for more than 10 years with children and this is the only status he has here, WP Exemption. He does not care to obtain Belonger status, just the freedom to work to support his family. It is hard when work opportunities are not so easily found when there are limited positions in your profession, especially one that should be in high demand and is much needed but in the VI market it is too small to have sufficient positions open. One is forced to leave and come back multiple times because of many unplanned circumstances (Irma happened/now Covid/loss of work). A person who has paid their dues in society with WP exemption should be given certain privileges such as residency status, not to be tied to an employer if that person has family connection here, such as a spouse and children. There are husbands and wives who did not stay here 5 years consecutively to be given the opportunity to apply for Belonger status according to the law. Your WP exemption policy does not take that into account. A spouse with WP Exemption may have been married to a person for more than 10 years but worked in VI for at least 5 years but not consecutively and has a clean criminal background. etc. He or she will not qualify to apply for Belonger status based on your new WP Exemption policy of applying on the 6th year. I believe you need to go back to the drawing board on this policy.

    You will soon find that some young VIlanders who wish to stay in the VI will have to leave to keep the family together to continue to prosper peacefully.

    The laws should not be contributing towards divorce/separation/domestic violence rates. If a spouse married to local loses work he or she should have the freedom to seek work with a new employer. Frustration with the system would cause the aforementioned rates to go up. A person's criminal background, years married, profession, ties to the VI, written request from VI local(spouse), etc. should be considered to grant residency without the right to vote/own land unless he or she meets other stringent requirements. In my spouse's country abroad I can easily apply for residency status to seek employment without all the hurdles we have here.

    Our laws need to be encourage togetherness, not to create more confusion and uncertainty in an already uncertain time like this that we are living in now.
  • RedStorm (15/09/2021, 14:11) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    I have heard worst, and more of it will come to light of the things that is been dreamt up to keep the expat abase. It is just a paper to give the people some level of freedom, not their soul salvation. All the expat if they return to their country with their BVI wife and husbands, they will never have to be subject to this policy/law/regulation or what its referred to. I know a few BVI men who now hold Vincentian passport and are working more than two jobs in St. Vincent.
    It got nothing to do with how many jobs a person hold, because their is no way you can try to keep an expat from doing so. It have two foreigners who holds two jobs in the BVI and they don't live here, each October they come to renew their work permit, and return to their homeland. But it is not much person if any at all who are in this same field of work, they do. So how are you going to eliminate people from holding more than one jobs? they are people also who hold one job from American and one job in BVI as a WP holder, how you are going to stop them, there are not much man power to manage a Labour department. Now you want to have investigators for Work Permit Holder. Get the youth the jobs they needs, so many creative people sitting on the roadside and all you can come with is this foolishness. Get them to Farm, Fish and eat local food. Then you will see how your economy will grow, you don't have all the answers to manage this department. Youth are missing out in earnings, when each year they get nothing to invest in themselves or their country.

    Imagine five years out of their life they earn nothing, it would mean they will have to double up their work, with another job , which increase to two jobs, just because their life span for working is 65 years, if they start at 18 or 19 years in working it means they have 46 or 47 years to work and its going to limit them further if they start late in life or get sick, some people barely get 25 years with the government 8 hours ,only to realize their is nothing saved and they got to now seeking another job after they retired. This is just not productive strategy. Keep focus on improving the youth.
  • Wives (15/09/2021, 14:46) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply

    What about those who come here form their countries, breaking up people married homes and living with their spouses and want to fight the husbands or wives for their own spouse, especially that Jamaican girl living *****’s bay. And all she does is having the man charging expats $2,000 to sign their work permit then running them down for the NHI and social security money but yet still they don’t pay any of these money to the government. That man was a good police officer until she break up the couple home. Something need to be done about these home wreckers.

    • RedStorm (16/09/2021, 08:10) Like (4) Dislike (0) Reply
      I understand your point of view, but it got nothing much to do with the woman. Many of the BVI men drop their values when they see these expat girls. You as wife , need to let them go, there are too many fishes in the sea. If a man cannot keep himself to you as the wife, and you cannot convince him of the quality of life he should live then let am go. Those girls , would perhaps become women some day on the hard work of another man money.

      Level you self up and move on, do things that will help you shine in life, if you speak one language it now time to learn another language. If you were cutting the budget so he can get a better designer pants, now find you self a stylist, work on you.

      If you were dreaming about a business venture start putting your plan together and networking with people in your area of business, its about you and the child/children now. He just give you the time to work on you. Most often the husbands run right back to the wife with nothing, when he is empty he knows where to find fulfillment.

      Hey, its an opportunity to lay your card on the table if you want him back. You always will have the power to do or not to do.
  • What stupidness (15/09/2021, 15:08) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    So if my husband is on a work permit or exempt but is having an affair with a local woman, you are telling me I have to file a divorce on grounds of violence to keep my own exemption and I'm not doing anything wrong?

    I'm about to send the divorce papers with her name in there so let me know if I can add the bit about losing my exemption to garner more court support.

  • others waiting (15/09/2021, 16:20) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    imagine you here working contributing to society for over 15 years. hoping to get a little break with exemption after all those years, now they telling you, you have to marry to get that break. so now all the year of hard work gone down the drain, cause now anyone can come in find a wife or husband and have what some has been waiting for, past 15 years..just not fair
  • $hi¥ (15/09/2021, 16:56) Like (1) Dislike (3) Reply
    Them wicked tolians will do anything to keep island people down! they go to the states etc..... to make their children an get american rights for their children bout have a problem when it hits home.. some migrate to the states bout yet still have a problem when someone else come to their country to work, now this $hi# ,, God is not asleep his incontrol
  • Rise (16/09/2021, 08:22) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    No matter what we rise... Look around u see people want to stay here? We've got somewhere to go tiktoc tictok....
  • what if (16/09/2021, 15:05) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    so what if i marry a local to get exemption.. i still laugh everytime i think of this nonsense.. but what if i marry a local to get exemption.. i get it and she and i divorce after 2 years. if i find another new spouse that means new exemption again? boy we will have fun with these laws making in this

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