The topic of living and or staying in the Bahamas,especially Eleuthera,comes up quite frequently in questions that people ask us. You must remember this is a foreign country. That being said there are various rules that apply for foreigners that are visiting and those that would like to live here on a longer term basis. We’ll start with visitors that would like to have a longer stay- say 3 months.
Longer stay visitors
When you first arrive in the Bahamas you will be asked how long you will be here. Now Immigration at the airports has some flexibility but generally they will allow you up to 30 days with no problem providing you have a long term rental or place to stay. If you plan on being here longer because you are with or staying at a family member’s home or renting a property for longer than the 30 days, then all you need to do is find the local Immigration Director and ask for an extension. Generally if you can provide where you are staying and such the extension will be granted.
Living and Staying
Now this gets a little bit harder unless you own a home here. If you do own a home, then you are allowed to be here for a total of 180 days. Now where it gets tricky is on the particular Immigration offers view of the 180 days. Is that within the last calendar year? Since you last left? A total of all your visits during the last year to date? It’s really a topic of discussion and one of the ways around it is to get a yearly homeowner’s card. I believe it’s $500 a year and good for all immediate family members. With this card you are allowed to come and go as you want, as much or as little as you want. Now getting it can be a bit tricky and I’m not going to go into all of that here.
Living full time
To live here full time there are a few ways without getting a homeowner’s card. The first is to invest over $1.5 million in a property and ask for permanent residency. That gives you the right to come and go as you please and does not confer any citizenship or voting privileges to you. When you spend that amount or more you get expedited service for being considered for permanent residency, not the guaranteed right that you will get it.
The next way is to get a work permit. Work permits are hard to get and have fees from a couple thousand dollars a year to over $10,000 per year depending on the occupation and job. A Haitian gardiner might be $1-3,000 and an accountant or managerial position could be $10,000 or more PER year. With work papers you are given residency for the period that the papers are valid and as such you can come and go as you please. Work papers generally are valid for a period of one year at a time. On occasion you can get them for longer periods but that is a bit rare.
So these are the only ways that I know of for living or staying in the Bahamas for more than a short visit. If anyone has any other information, please let me know!