GETTING A RESIDENCE PERMIT
A practical guide
Residence Permits holders have the right to reside in the islands for the duration of the permit (either 1 or 3 years). Residence Permits don’t give holders the right to work in the islands and are principally of interest to retirees or international clients who need a residence of convenience that they can point to. Getting a Residence Permit in the Turks & Caicos involves a bit more work than in times past. Immigration Department’s procedural requirements change without notice either to the general public or the professional businesses that assist with applications. The following sets out the current position and requirements.
The current Government fees:
Government fees have been increased. Because getting a residence permit takes time and effort if you expect to be resident in the islands for more than 3 years it is worthwhile applying for the 3 year permit.
(a) non-refundable administrative fee of US$50.00;
(b) prescribed fee ~ US$1,000.00 one year/US$3,000.00 ~ three years;
(c) accompanying dependants US$150.00 for spouse and US$50.00 per child (per annum – multiply accordingly for a 3 year permit).
Getting the blood test:
The blood test is essentially an aids test. The test must be carried out in the islands at an authorized clinic in advance of submitting the application. On Providenciales (the most accessible of the islands) this means dropping into Biomedical Services on airport Road, Providenciales. It takes about 15 minutes from start to finish and costs US$50 per test. It is advisable to ring ahead (# 649-946-4447) to make sure that the nurse will be in when you arrive.
In the past the results of the tests were sent directly to the Immigration Board and applications were submitted attaching the blood-test receipt only. Now the Certificates showing the results are made available for collection, typically on a same day basis.
Showing financial capacity:
Government need to know that residence permit holders will be able to support themselves for the duration of their stay without engaging in gainful employment. The current requirement is that applications enclose a reference from a bank in the islands, which means that applicants need to open a personal or corporate account before making the application. In our experience it is not necessary that the Turks & Caicos account hold a significant amount of money, providing that the applicant can produce a recent account statement from another bank showing a balance which satisfies the Board that the applicant will not run into financial difficulties while resident in the islands.
The main banks in the islands are First Caribbean International Bank (formerly Barclays Bank and CIBC); the Bank of Nova Scotia; Belize Bank and Turks & Caicos Banking Company. In circumstances where there is no prior banking relationship and an applicant would like to maintain a bank balance, initially at least, of less than US$10,000, First Caribbean and the Bank of Nova Scotia are usually the best option.
It saves time to decide on a bank at the front end so that you can organize your due diligence materials and start the process of opening an account when you visit the islands to take your blood test.
The remaining requirements are unchanged. While certain requirements are not clearly spelt out in the legislation we recommend that applicants provide the following with their completed application forms:
1. Copy of passport – include ID page – also a copy of the page with the stamp showing the last date of entry.
2. Undertaking in writing that the applicant will not engage in any gainful occupation while resident in the Islands. The firm processing your application for you will in the usual course provide you with a format of letter that covers this point.
3. Passport photographs (x2);
4. Police clearance certificate or similar;
5. Character references (x3);
6. Notarized copy or original marriage certificate (if married) or other evidence of relationship (passport);
7. Copy birth certificates (for spouse and dependent children).
What you can expect from your attorney:
(a) to provide you with the application documentation which needs to be completed and provide guidance regarding what information is required and to answer necessary related questions;
(b) to assist you in opening with opening a Turks & Caicos bank account (if required) including helping you to select the right bank for your purposes; providing you with the bank’s due diligence requirements in advance; answering related queries; and introducing you to the bank personnel who will have responsibility for your account;
(c) to advise in relation to what evidence Government will accept as evidence of financial capacity, and what information should be omitted;
(d) to advise in relation to the amount of time a permit holder is required to reside in the islands and the nature of the obligations entered into as part of the application process;
(e) to assist you in arranging the blood test;
(f) to review and organize the completed application documentation and supporting information prior to submission;
(g) to submit the application on your behalf; liaise with the Immigration Department; and to collect the Permit for you when it is issued.