The Welcome Stamp visa for remote workers was Tuesday declared a resounding success by Minister of Home Affairs Wilfred Abrahams attracting residents from more than 100 countries.
The special visa allows foreign nationals to live and work remotely here for up to 12 months. The House of Assembly Tuesday introduced the Remote Employment (Amendment) Bill to extend the visa’s length.
As he piloted the bill, Abrahams said the thousands of visa applications and the millions of dollars in revenue generated in fees had surpassed all expectations.
He said: “To date, approximately 109 nationalities have expressed interest in working remotely from Barbados; the UK and Canada represent 70 per cent of the total applications, about 2,810 applications were received, and 1,891 were approved.
“This represents 3,303 persons overall, 699 families have been approved, and the sum of revenue collected to date, is $4,034,000, and this is simply in the fees.
“The extent and the impact on the economy of Barbados provided by the Welcome Stamp is not limited to fees, you would hear that the fees made $4,034,000, but it’s not just the fees that were paid. These people became 12-month tourists in Barbados, doing all of the things that tourists did.”
Abrahams added that the Welcome Stamp was not only a welcomed success for immediate economic gains but also acted as a gateway for several people who work in variety of technical fields to give citizens a chance to learn from these industry professionals.
He told the House: “The importation of highly skilled professionals, who can bring a cross-fertilization of skills and ideas, individuals who may help position the country’s human capital on the cutting edge of technological development.
“Persons who add significantly to the value and quality to the human capital in Barbados, skilled professionals who have skillsets we actually do not have here.
“There are a lot of tech people in Barbados, who are bringing skills to Barbados that we actually do not have, so the opportunity now exists for us to try to keep those people here, to train Bajans in emerging and evolving skillsets that we do not have any concept of in Barbados.”
The Minister of Home Affairs insisted that with the extension to the programme, more benefits will continue to be seen on the island, given the response and reviews given by the remote workers so far.
He said: “When we brought this into play, it was intended to provide a haven for persons for a year, we did not at the time contemplate the success of the programme, though we wished for it, we did not contemplate the success of the programme and the overwhelming response from persons who actually wanted to stay on in Barbados.” (SB)