The expatriate labour force has expanded to include nationals from 112 different countries, according to Chief Immigration Officer Franz Manderson.
The nations representing the largest contributors of the work force, however, have remained the same, although the Philippines has now passed the United Kingdom and United States in the number of its citizens on work permits here.
As of 23 February 2005, there were 12,956 people on valid full work permits, and another 4,992 people on valid temporary work permits, for a total of 17,948.
In addition, there are thousands of people who are either in transition between temporary permits and full permits, or awaiting disposition of work permit grant or renewal applications.
‘Our figures show that there are some 8,800 persons whose temporary and annual work permits are being processed,’ Mr. Manderson said. ‘It should also be noted that many of the temporary work permits that are currently waiting to be processed will not transition to annual work permits.’
Mr. Manderson said the Immigration Department puts the figure of workers legally here at about 22,000.
The numbers of work permit holders now compared to 12 September 2004, the day Hurricane Ivan hit, is virtually the same.
However, Mr. Manderson said the backlog of permit applications would have been much smaller then, meaning there are more expatriate workers here now than then.
The make up of the expatriate work force by nationality has changed some since Hurricane Ivan.
Leading the way with nearly half of the foreign work force are Jamaicans, who hold 6,179 full work permits and another 1,939 temporary permits, for a total of 8,118 permits.
Jamaicans had even more permits in 2004, when there were 7,252 on full work permits and 1,842 on temporaries.
There is a big drop in the number of the next highest nationality of work permit holders, which is Canada, the same as it was in 2004. There are now a combined 1,522 Canadians on temporary and full work permits here, just 22 down from the figure in 2004.
Filipinos now make up the third largest group of work permit holders with 1,339 in total, up 220 from 2004.
They are followed by the United Kingdom with 1,262 (down 54 from 2004), the United States with 1,246 (up 38 from 2004), and Honduras with 1,113 (up 91 from 2004).
There is another big drop off from there, with India next with 482 (up 91 from 2004), then Columbia with 254, Nicaragua with 172 and Ireland with 164, rounding out the top 10 countries.
A couple notable increases in other nationalities include Mexico (from 26 in 2004 to 129 in 2006) and Romania (from 1 then to 39 now).
Some of the many new countries with people working here on work permits include Kenya (15), Poland (12), Uruguay (5) and two each from Estonia, Latvia and Uganda.