The Bahamas was one of the pioneering nations to join the phenomenon of Digital Nomad Visas in 2020 with their Bahamas Extended Access Travel Stay (BEATS) program. However, a recent newsflash and at least one personal experience unveiled that BEATS is now a dead-beat, aka suspended.
Originally launched through the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, nomads wishing to temporarily settle in the Bahamas through BEATS simply had to apply online, potentially do some follow-up with their application to secure timely approval, and then pay a fee of $1000 USD plus an additional $500 USD for each dependent for the 365-day digital nomad visa. Overall, a minimal process to set up home in a Caribbean Island for one full year.
As residents of the Bahamas, digital nomads were also free to enter and exit the country as any other lawful resident. A common pastime to not only experience the country they’re residing in, but other nearby destinations as well. Additionally, they can secure local housing, potentially rent a car and settle into their new home. (Though not open a bank account....)
In a previous article announcing the opening of Brazil’s digital nomad visa, I wrote that digital nomad visas appear to be a win-win for everyone—nomads and host countries. In full transparency we must be reminded that Digital Nomad Visas are still very much untested waters. This uncharted world of visas may turn out to have some negative implications after all. The suspension of the Bahamas BEATS may be showing us the first signs of potential downfalls.
BEATS suspension flyer released on Facebook
What does this suspension mean?
The announcement of this suspension only consists of a vague single page flyer released through Facebook. The key detail to note is that it has a stamp from the Ministry of Immigration rather than the Ministry of Tourism, who originally launched the program. Furthermore, the flyer was unclear whether the suspension was for new applicants, or also affected those currently living in the Bahamas on the BEATS program. Unfortunately, it appears to be suspended for both new and existing applicants.
If someone currently living in the Bahamas on a BEATS Digital Nomad visa leaves and tries to re-enter, they will now be given a 90-day tourist stamp. Not only is this unsettling, but not all passport holders are eligible for a visitor’s visa upon arrival. In addition, folks who held a Digital Nomad Visa, and left the country, were not given prior warning that this suspension was to occur. The news came as they tried to re-enter on paid for and secured Digital Nomad Visa only to be told it was no longer valid. What happens then? Considering the logistics those on digital nomad visas have secured in their host country — rental home, car, etc. — this could potentially leave some digital nomads astray, unexpectedly costing them significant amounts of money and a logistical nightmare. Beyond this, a fee of $1000+ was paid to secure the visa which now turns out to be invalid.
So, what happens now?
It seems the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism and Ministry of Immigration are still sorting this out. Hopefully the problem will soon be solved without much backlash, if not we can speculate nomads will be seeking out new destinations with a hint of skepticism related to the security of a Digital Nomad Visa. Nonetheless, the Bahamas is still the beloved Bahamas, known for beautiful beaches and open hearts, so the love affair between the islands and digital nomads shall carry on despite these current murky waters.
Stay tuned as we dig deeper into the matter to provide you with the full story.
This article is a Relocate Community Article written by Kathryn Funk, Content and Community Director at Relocate.