How to Work in St. Kitts and Nevis

These two English-speaking islands in the Caribbean are the perfect destination for those seeking a quiet beach life overseas. They’re beautiful and exotic, and if you’re interested in the citizenship by investment program, the process to make either of them home is pretty straightforward. What if you want to work while you’re there, though? The process for getting your work permit overseas in St. Kitts and Nevis is surprisingly simple.

Documentation

If you choose the citizenship through investment approach, you of course will not need a work permit to work on your new home island. The citizenship will put you on a level playing field with St. Kitts and Nevis locals. However, if you are not a citizen, a work permit will be necessary. It’s mandatory that you already have a job lined up when going to apply for the permit. Your employer will likely help you with the process from that point.

You’ll have to fill out an application form and also provide the following:

  • Birth certificate
  • Passport
  • Police certificate
  • Passport-style photograph
  • HIV test results
  • Employment offer
  • Proof of financial status/funds

There’s a chance you might also need a military record, marriage or divorce certificate, or birth certificates for any children you have under the age of 18, depending on your individual circumstances.

Work Permit

Obtaining a work permit overseas in St. Kitts and Nevis can take from 3 to 6 months, so be prepared for this wait. Based on your job type, your work permit can be valid for up to one year. Fees are based on the term of the permit, but can be up to $2,500 USD.

Many who’ve been through the process would advise having the assistance of a local lawyer to help you apply. The reason is because the process requires that you have a unique skill, and your employer must prove that no locals could fill the position. Your permit will be valid only for this job, so if you must make a career change, you’ll have to go through it again. You can renew the permit annually.

Starting a Business

The government of St. Kitts and Nevis highly encourages foreign investment into the country. You can start your own business there by submitting the following: a proposal outlining the business, a fiscal incentives application that goes along with the proposal, work permits for all those working for the company, an Alien Landholding License, and an application for lease or rent on the building being used to conduct business.

Thanks to the government’s willingness to attract more overseas investors, the incentives for starting a business in St. Kitts and Nevis are highly attractive and competitive. For example, you get full exemption from import duties on parts, raw materials, and production machinery. You get a repatriation of profits, protection of investment, and even an extra perk if Consumer Resource Guideyour business happens to be a hotel. The Hotel Aids Ordinance provides relief from customs duties and pier duties on items brought into the country for construction, business extension, and for equipping a hotel with at least 10 bedrooms.

Job Landscape

Tourism is a large sector in the St. Kitts and Nevis economy, as is agriculture, fishing, forestry and mining. In the 1970s, tourism overtook sugar as the leading industry here. Sugar was once a major crop for the country, and there is even an active railway that was originally built to move sugar cane around, and it is now used for tours. Since 2005, the government has worked to diversify the agricultural industry, and to focus more on other forms of income and other jobs, like export-oriented manufacturing and offshore banking.

The country is growing and has an English-speaking, well educated workforce. An advanced telecommunication infrastructure, stable currency and economic stability make the job market competitive, not to mention the unemployment rate is low. If you want to work overseas in St. Kitts and Nevis, your unique skill should be a very competitive one. Here are some facts about the current job economy:

  • Unemployment rate: 4.5%
  • Minimum wage: EC $9.00 per hour, which translates to $3.33 USD
  • Major Industries:
    • Agriculture: crop and livestock production and fisheries, sugar cane, tourism, information technology (St. Kitts and Nevis is working to develop the IT sector), export-oriented manufacturing and offshore banking
  • Labor Force:
    • Agriculture 26%
    • Industry 22%
    • Services 52%

The government of St. Kitts and Nevis is focused more on building up investment potential and opportunities than it is on creating job opportunities for attracting a foreign population. While it is possible to gain an overseas work permit in St. Kitts and Nevis and join the labor force, you might find that investing in this country is the way to go.

Image credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:St._Kitts,_Karibik_-_Marina_in_Basseterre_-_panoramio.jpg