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By Keith Archibald Forbes (see About Us) exclusively for Bermuda Online
Bermuda's Department of Immigration offices for the purposes shown. Royal Gazette newspaper photo.
Bermuda does not issue Work Visas for those seeking employment in Bermuda. Instead, a Work Permit from the Bermuda Government, issued to a Bermuda Immigration-approved Bermuda-registered and Bermuda-operating employer, not employee, is required by all non-Bermudian applicants for the specific full time or limited period or consulting or representative or pastoral (religious) position they accept from a specific local employer - and every time they change jobs. All part time and seasonal positions are unlikely to be approved. Since 2007, most work permits for non-strategic employment have a maximum 6 years duration and are not guaranteed for that period of time because the Bermuda Government reserves the right at all times to revoke or shorten the period of a Work Permit in the event a Bermudian is available, willing, qualified in every employable way and competent to take over that job. Newcomers who are not Bermudian or married to a Bermudian must be prepared to leave Bermuda when a Work Permit expires and/or is stopped or revoked.
Anyone who is not a Bermudian and seeks employment in Bermuda needs to first find a prospective Bermuda-based employer. Do so at http://www.theroyalgazette.com/section/jobs. (Note that this link for advertised employment is not available via FTP, only when the newspaper's web server is active, generally between Monday to Friday 1-8 pm GMT); Then, if/when employment is offered by that specific employer as a result of a successful reply to that specific advertisement, the employer, not a prospective employee, obtains a Work Permit application from Bermuda Immigration, sends it abroad to the home address of that prospective employee, who completes it and sends it back to that employer who then formally submits the Work Permit application. It's always an employer, not any prospective employee, who submits a Work Permit application to Bermuda Immigration - usually at considerable cost to the employer concerned. A prospective employee must therefore be very sure to select only one prospective employer to make that application.
Bermuda is very small - less than 21 square miles in total area - with a resident population of 66,900 and isolated, more than 600 miles east of the USA. With a population of about 3,400 per square mile - one of the highest populations in the world per square mile, higher than in Bangladesh and Bahrain and exceeded only by Gibraltar, Hong Kong, Macau, Monaco, Singapore and Vatican City - and very crowded compared to all other islands - it is also a place where most Bermudians have far better employment opportunities and at higher salaries than almost everywhere else, due to Bermuda's long-established role as both an international business centre (some would say tax haven) and tourism resort. So restrictions apply here for non-Bermudians that don't apply anywhere else. These aspects must be appreciated as factors in limited upward mobility for many non-Bermudians. Bermudianization of their jobs in Bermuda is something most imported employees have to expect at some point. Many Bermudians have two or three jobs, to make ends meet. But this is not allowed for people who are not Bermudian.
Because Bermuda is not in the European Union (EU), nationals of all EU countries (including British UK citizens) have no automatic right to live and work in Bermuda and must apply in the same way as citizens or residents of Canada, USA, UK and all other countries.
All guest workers and work permit holders in Bermuda irrespective of rank or seniority are required to sign a declaration acknowledging that they are not entitled to permanent residency on the Island. Those already in Bermuda were required to sign the declaration by April 30, 2013. The declaration policy was introduced to allay fears of a potential surge in permanent residency applications from guest workers who can, if their work permits to do so are renewed, now remain employed in Bermuda indefinitely. But not if they are not in work-permit approved employment or if their work permit is revoked.
British laws do not apply in Bermuda, Bermudian laws do. Note how the work permit and term limit policies work, because they are not the same thing.
Non-Bermudians - sometimes known as expatriates - are only allowed a Work Permit for one employer, not several. This is a Bermuda-only stipulation that is not in effect in the USA or Canada or Europe or most other places. It means that non-Bermudians are not allowed to work for more than one employer, so cannot act as employers of or consultants to any other Bermuda-based employer or entity.
Non-Bermudians and their families are usually required to leave the island if/when they lose their jobs.
Non-Bermudians allowed Work Permits in Bermuda are not allowed to emigrate to Bermuda. Instead, they come for as long as they are approved for a Work Permit, then must leave unless they marry and co-habit with a Bermudian and are permitted to stay because of that and can wait 10 years to become a Bermudian as the direct result of that same enduring marriage.
Work permits are granted for anywhere from one year to a current five-year maximum for most, subject always to the prior approval of the Bermuda Work permit authority. They are not long-term international assignments often given to professionally qualified staff and their families.
When a work permit comes up for renewal, the employer must advertise the job and give full consideration to qualified Bermudian applicants. If there are no qualified Bermudians, non-Bermudians can be rehired, assuming they have not exceeded their six-year term limit or any extension granted to it. But even a person who had received an extension (or a full waiver) of the term limit is not exempted from having his or her job re-advertised and being replaced by a non-Bermudian. That's because the sole purpose of term limits is to avoid creating a situation where Bermuda has a large population of non-Bermudians who have been on the Island for decades demanding more rights. Thus the ten-year work permit, if and when ever granted (considered in March 2010 and approved in principle, for a fee of $20,000, but highly unlikely to be issued except perhaps in special cases) is fairly limited in its scope, although for those who have a waiver already, it will give some security to them and to their employer.
Do not enter Bermuda as a tourist but then look for employment while here. If you are not Bermudian by birth (with at least one parent a Bermudian) or by written status, apply for a job outside Bermuda directly to an employer, in response to a specific written newspaper (not in any other way) advertisement in a Bermudian or American or British or Canadian newspaper and quote the advertisement's specific reference number for the vacancy well as the newspaper in question. Telephone applications or general enquiries will not be accepted or acknowledged.
Newcomers - prospective employees living beyond Bermuda - with no prospective Bermuda employer yet should consider buying a subscription to the Electronic Edition of Bermuda's only daily newspaper The Royal Gazette, Bermuda's only daily newspaper, to reply directly to specific advertisements issued by specific employers that match their qualifications. Only send resumes in reply to specific advertisements, those with a reference number and "reply-by" date.
All non-Bermudians seeking professional employment are expected to hold at least a graduate degree from an accredited university, or an appropriate Masters degree, or a PhD, and based on academic and professional qualifications and current relevant work experience will already be earning at least £50,000 to US$100,000 a year in gross salary - much higher with a Masters or PhD degrees. Without these basic academic and professional qualifications, you are either extremely unlikely to be allowed to come.
Under no circumstances can you start your own company in Bermuda to get employment in Bermuda, not even if you buy a home.
Work Permits apply to all non-Bermudian guest workers, regardless of rank or seniority or professional or other qualification, when approved after due consideration by the Bermuda Government and their respective employers - in that order - to live and work in Bermuda.
Britons - those from the UK who are not Bermudian by birth or status - as a foreign as any other foreigner from any other country and need a Work Permit. It should be noted carefully that all expatriate non-Bermudians including Britons who are not also Bermudian who come here are not "immigrants" but on Work Permits for no longer than a Bermuda-permitted period of time (see below). They have no automatic right of abode after 4 years as they do in Britain. Britons and European Economic Community (EEC) citizens do not have any of the same rights to live, be domiciled, be employed and retire here as they do in the United Kingdom or EEC.
In general, the following apply:
For all companies/employers, Government's general work term-limit policy limits most imported non-Bermudian work permit holders to an absolute maximum of six years providing no qualified-in-every-way Bermudians are available and apply for their jobs.
The term-limit policy was first implemented in 2001. It limits guest workers to a maximum of five or six years of employment on the Island unless they are deemed key workers, married to someone deemed a key worker or married to a permanent resident certificate holder. That policy was introduced by the former Progressive Party (PLP) government which was defeated in the December 17, 2012 General Election. The new One Bermuda Alliance (OBA) government which assumed office the next day, has changed this, at least in part. Term limits have proved to be one of the more controversial policies of the former Progressive Labour Party Government. Its original purpose was to discourage the growth of long term residents who would then have an expectation of being given Bermudian status, but critics said that it discouraged foreign investment and stifled economic growth, while doing little to reduce unemployment of Bermudians. However, as before, the overall emphasis is on protection and growth of Bermudian jobs, not those of non-Bermudians. On the other hand, when there are clearly no Bermudians available for a job there is the need for a guest worker. In many cases, international business in Bermuda has creates many jobs for Bermudians.
Work Permits are issued solely by the Bermuda Government's Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs/Department of Immigration and solely to employees if/when/once their application for a specific position to be filled has been officially approved. Under no circumstances should any resumes or specific questions about employment or salary scales or expectations be sent to to this author. Send them solely to your prospective or actual Bermuda-based employer. Only you, your current or future employer and the Bermuda Department of Immigration have the right to know such personal and confidential details.
When issued, a Work Permit is always for one job only with one employer, at one location. Non-Bermudians are never allowed to have more than one job, to freelance or advise other employers.
Former non-Bermudian employees who once worked in Bermuda, left the island but wish to return should note their past Bermuda experience does not exempt them in any way from having to go through the same or similar Work Permit procedures as newcomers. They will be treated as new applicants because Work Permits, if/when granted for a specific period or any renewals thereof, are never issued in the individual names of employees but their employers.
All work done in Bermuda, even for a British or US or Canadian or any-other-country firm, must be done either by a Bermudian individual, or if not Bermudian then someone on a Work Permit approved in advance by the Bermuda Government for a particular term. This will be the responsibility of the Bermuda client or Bermuda-based representative or contact to arrange. To avoid the severe problems that will certainly arise if this is not followed, all non-Bermudian firms or businesses or individuals must wait until the Work Permit is approved before they send anyone to Bermuda. Your Bermuda client, especially a law firm, will be aware of the procedure to apply, the fact that some Work Permits can take months to approve, who and what and where it covers and the process thereafter.
If/when your application is approved by the employer and the employer - not you - is issued a Work Permit to employ you, enter Bermuda with your copy of the Work Permit issued to your employer showing your name. If you enter as a married non-Bermudian couple, don't assume that only one of you needs a Work Permit. Both of you will need to find employers and obtain Work Permits unless one of you will not be employed, period.
2019. July 4. Bermuda’s bipartisan immigration reform plan is to be tabled in the House of Assembly next Friday, the Minister of National Security said yesterday. Wayne Caines said that the plan would take into consideration the needs of business and the needs of Bermuda as a whole. Mr Caines said he yesterday heard a panel discussion on the findings of a Business Confidence Survey conducted by the Bermuda Chamber of Commerce and HSBC across 198 companies. The survey found that restrictive immigration policies were among the biggest concerns for Bermuda-based businesses. Mr Caines said: “This is something that our ministry, in fact our government, realizes is a significant challenge and it is something that is being worked on as a priority. The interesting thing about listening to the business community talk today was that they were just focused on the business part of it. The government has the responsibility to include the social elements, to include Bermudians. We believe that this outlines the challenges that we have in Bermuda, highlights a plan that we have going forward and we believe it is a robust plan not just for business but for every element that is required in Bermuda. It just doesn’t focus on the needs of the business community, it focuses on the opportunities for Bermudians to be given training and development opportunities in Bermuda.” Walton Brown, a former Minister of Home Affairs, formed the Bipartisan Committee on Immigration Reform in 2017. Mr Caines said it was “myopic” for businesses to only focus on the immigration problems that they faced. He added: “We have to have the right conversation, we have to have a historic conversation, we have to look at past inequities and how people have been treated in this country. Of course we will look at ways to make the processes and procedures in immigration work better, that is a part of it. But we can’t allow the business community to go away and be the only beneficiaries of immigration reform. We believe that high tide raises all boats.”
2019. May 28. Bermudians must come first in any changes to the immigration law, the national security minister said yesterday. Wayne Caines said: “All reform must centre around the premise of Bermudians having a place of primacy in their homeland. We believe any and all immigration reform should increase opportunities for Bermudians.” He was speaking after the Supporting Fair Immigration Reform group questioned the pace of change last week. Mr Caines said in January that he hoped to have “key elements” of immigration reform debated and passed in the House of Assembly by the end of July. The advocacy group, which formed during 2016 protests over the One Bermuda Alliance government’s plans for changes to immigration law, criticized the “endless consultation” over immigration. Mr Caines has vowed to introduce legislation this summer on mixed-status families — a pledge from the Throne Speech last November. Cases of mixed status include families where one parent holds Bermuda status or a permanent resident’s certificate, while a spouse or children do not — despite being born on the island. Mr Caines said the ministry was now “in the data-gathering phase and legislation for this amendment will be presented to the House during the summer session”. He has also unveiled plans to make changes to work-permit categories to strike “the right balance between the legitimate expectations for Bermudians and the labour needs of businesses”. Mr Caines said yesterday that he appreciated the concerns raised by the group and that he wanted to “assure Bermuda that Government recognizes the importance of immigration reform”. He added the bipartisan parliamentary committee for immigration reform, set up in October 2017, was still examining “policy issues around reform”. The committee, headed by Mr Caines, is made up of Progressive Labour Party MPs Renée Ming and Christopher Famous, and OBA MPs Ben Smith and Leah Scott. Mr Caines said the committee looked at “the various immigration efforts” and Cabinet would decide on “all-new policy and legislative changes”. He added the review of work permits was aimed at tightening restrictions on categories “where it appears that there may be Bermudians capable of filling those posts”. Mr Caines said comprehensive immigration reform was “a work in progress” that would be “phased in and executed systematically”. He added: “The timetable will be announced when it is practicable.”
2019. May 27. A lack of progress has been made on promised immigration reform, a pressure group has claimed. A spokeswoman for Supporting Fair Immigration Reform said that group members were concerned over the lack of headway. She said that Wayne Caines, the Minister of National Security, said in January that the latest report from the bipartisan Immigration Reform Group would be considered by Cabinet. The spokeswoman added that Mr Caines had said that key elements of immigration reform would be debated and passed in the House of Assembly by July. She said: “As of today, we have yet to hear what the Government’s plan is for immigration reform other than looking at the categories of work permits. If the Minister expects to keep his word and have the key elements passed by the end of this parliamentary session, it should be public knowledge by now of what is expected of immigration reform, especially if there is to be public consultation. All that is ever mentioned is that they are in the consultation process.” The spokeswoman said that the consultation process had taken place for years. She added: “In 2016, the first consultation group was put together. Now in 2019, we are still in the consultation process. There is only so much consultation that can take place before our leaders need to commit to resolving an issue. Endless consultation on the same topic and ideas will become repetitive and contributes nothing to advancing the debate. If we do not move on from consultation there will never be a resolution.” The spokeswoman said that the group had expected the Government would have made “much more progress” on immigration reform given “the activities being planned to commemorate the arrival of Portuguese immigrants. The best way to honour this community is to embrace substantive action on such an important policy file. It is surreal that the Government can mark a holiday to celebrate a group of immigrants but fail to expeditiously resolve the issue of divided immigration status within families, which affects that very community so disproportionately. This holiday for many Portuguese is seen as a consolation prize when it should be a celebration of their inclusion into our Bermudian community. We once again implore and urge the Government to fulfil its own stated promise of comprehensive bipartisan immigration reform to correct the injustices and divisions that exist within many families in Bermuda and to not let this holiday pass without concrete action.” Mr Caines said last month that changes to legislation to tackle the problem of mixed-status families will be tabled this summer. He said: “We believe that by the end of this parliamentary session, we will definitely be able to have legislation that will go through the parliamentary process on mixed-status families.” Mr Caines added that the Government would also be “looking closely on dealing with the belongers issue. We will be looking at the issue, specifically on this occasion, of children that are born to Bermudian parents overseas. So we’ll be looking to pass legislation on those things specifically this parliamentary session.”
2019. May 20. Wayne Caines, the national security minister, has given the public extra time to comment on work-permit policy. Mr Caines told the House of Assembly Friday that policies would be changed to seek “the right balance between the legitimate expectations for Bermudians and the labour needs of businesses”. Closed categories have been established to cover airline ground agents, retail floor supervisors, general laborers, office receptionists, painters, salespersons, tourism retail spokesmen, taxi drivers, wallpaper technicians, grocery packers, cashiers and couriers, pot washers and kitchen assistants. The deadline for public opinions at www.forum.gov.bm has been extended to May 24. Mr Caines replied to a question on mixed-status families from Sylvan Richards, the Shadow Minister of Home Affairs and Environment, and confirmed that the problem would be tackled this parliamentary session.
2019. March 19. Work permits could be fast-tracked for two companies in a pilot programme designed to tackle delays in application turnaround times, MPs heard yesterday. Wayne Caines, the Minister of National Security, said that some steps may be dropped from the vetting process, which would be carried out electronically rather than the present paper system, which was cumbersome and more prone to human error. He revealed that Liberty Mutual and Sompo International, both insurance companies, were selected for the trial thanks to their “corporate citizenship” credentials. Mr Caines told the House of Assembly that discussions between the immigration department and business bodies including the Bermuda Chamber of Commerce, the Association of Bermuda International Companies and the Association of Bermuda Insurers and Reinsurers had taken place. He said: “They have shared with the ministry staff that there is a significant waiting period that is causing deep concern with reference to processing work permit applications. We are looking at a pilot programme with two companies — Sompo International and Liberty Mutual.” The minister explained that “key performance matrices” in each company would be considered to decide if they were suitable for the accelerated permit programme. He said factors such as training and development for Bermudians and how much annual revenue the firms brought to the island would be taken into account. Mr Caines added: “We believe that this is an excellent opportunity for us to fast track a number of the applications, but when we say fast track it should not be misconstrued for not going through the necessary rigor of the process.” He told MPs during a debate on the Budget: “The ultimate aim for the Department of Immigration is to make sure that Bermudians are being given opportunity, that the processes are fair, that there are no road blocks and that there is a level of accountability.” Patricia Gordon-Pamplin, the shadow health minister, asked how the two companies were chosen. Mr Caines said Liberty Mutual had a “firm and deep commitment to Bermuda” with a track record of progressing Bermudians through the company and a leadership team that understood the “tapestry” of the island. He added that similar principles were found at Sompo. Mr Caines said: “If we are indeed going to balance what this new process looks like, we have to be brave. We have to balance what is best for making sure that Bermudians get opportunities but look at two companies that we believe are leading luminaries in this particular avenue and work through a pilot programme. We’re not going to be getting rid of the checks, the balances, the abilities for them to be held accountable for everyone that is within their organisation. It’s simply a pilot programme looking at how do we make the programme less cumbersome and if a person is a good corporate citizen, if they do have training and development for Bermudians, if they do have a number of internship programmes both locally and abroad that give Bermudians the opportunity to train and develop in Bermuda ... we have two lines.” Mr Caines said one avenue included steps like newspaper adverts and on the Government’s job board as well as the production of solid evidence for every application. He said, in the alternative route, a meeting would have taken place with the applicant company’s human resources director in advance and its commitment to Bermuda would be verified. This could result in the firm skipping some of the “overt vetting procedures”. Mr Caines said the programme was “not etched in stone” but that if the pilot was successful the department would then look at how to extend it. He added that the work permit process had to move towards a more “risk-based approach”. But he added: “It cannot be that we are opening up the floodgate to allow companies to just do whatever they please in Bermuda.” Mr Caines said that a public consultation was expected to be launched soon to canvass opinion on open, closed and restricted work categories. He added information would be provided about which jobs were in which brackets and there would be opportunities for people to suggest what roles should be moved.
2018. December 20. Complaints to the Department of Immigration about suspected breaches of immigration law have reached 115 to date in 2018, Wayne Caines, the national security minister, revealed yesterday. There were 150 tip-offs to the department in 2017, Mr Caines added, as he issued a reminder on procedures for reporting immigration violations. “I recognize there has been a level of sensitivity about reporting breaches,” Mr Caines said, emphasizing that anonymity was part of the process. It takes two to three months to investigate a legitimate complaint. As well as relying on the public, the department uses tip-offs from other government departments as well as the police. Anonymous calls can be made to 296-5202, and the department can be e-mailed at email@example.com. The public can visit the department at 30 Parliament Street in Hamilton to speak with a compliance inspector, or send in details on a suspected breach. Mr Caines said: “If you see an individual or company in breach of the law, take on the responsibility to do the right thing, and file a report.”
2018. October 3. A proposal to test the English language skills of foreign workers could come into effect later this month, The Royal Gazette can reveal. A Ministry of Home Affairs spokeswoman yesterday confirmed a draft policy is now under review. The spokeswoman added the proposals were “in circulation for consultation”, and that Walton Brown, the home affairs minister, would discuss the move at a press conference today. The Department of Immigration posted the draft English Speaking Work Permit Policy online on September 21 and gave an “effective” date of October 19. The policy document said that some employers were “finding it more and more difficult to recruit from English-speaking countries”. It added that “it is unacceptable to have foreign nationals serving persons, whether it is in a restaurant, a hotel or a rest home, who cannot communicate effectively in English”. The Immigration department said: “It is dangerous in a job where one has to also read prescriptions or the labels of dangerous chemicals. Consequently the following policy is being put into effect.” Job categories cited cover industries where the employee has contact with the public or where lives could be put at risk. These include:
Workers from countries where English is not the first language will be required to show evidence of a pass in an English as a second language course under the new policy. The statement added the department could not police proficiency in English. However it said it would act on “complaints from members of the general public that work-permit holders cannot speak or understand English or if public officers witness this deficiency themselves”. Workers already employed on the island will be given a language test at the Department of Immigration. The statement said: “If the language test results indicate that the person is deficient — they fail the test — in their understanding of and/or ability to speak English, the natural justice process will be administered and the employer and employee will be advised that the minister is considering revoking the work permit. Both parties will be given 14 days to provide a written response as to why the minister should not revoke the work permit.” Bermuda’s immigration policy already has regulations on English proficiency. But they are restricted to nationals who fall under the Portuguese Accord and who work in the construction industry. The restriction is a standard stipulation on Bermuda work permit applications and part of a 1982 agreement between the governments of Bermuda and Portugal, which covered terms for residence and employment for Portuguese contract workers. The new policy set proposes denying entry to Bermuda in cases where Customs or immigration staff observed first-time work permit holders who arrived and showed an inability to speak or understand English. People judged to not be fluent enough in English would not be cleared through customs and would be sent home at their employer’s expense. A source close to the Consultative Immigration Reform Working Group said the proposal did not originate from them. The working group drew up a report last year which has now gone to a bipartisan committee of the House of Assembly for review.
2018. July 20. An immigration policy for entertainers in Bermuda comes into effect on July 30. The move, intended to strengthen opportunities of local entertainers, will mean Bermudian musicians and entertainers must be included in promotional campaigns featuring non-Bermudian entertainers. Non-Bermudian entertainers will also be required to maintain membership with the Bermudian Entertainment Union before work permits will be granted. Home affairs minister Walton Brown gave the announcement at the House of Assembly today on the pre-election pledge from the Progressive Labour Party. Mr Brown said the Bermuda Festival will get a special exemption from the enhanced policy. The policy was drafted in tandem with the BEU, which will have input in the vetting of work permits for entertainers. The policy was circulated for feedback during June and July.
2017. August 25. Police certificates will now be required with work permit applications, the Minister of Home Affairs announced today. In a statement issued yesterday, Walton Brown said: “As we move to carefully scrutinize applicants, the request to submit police certificates is with immediate effect. “For work permit applications for first-time residents, which have already been submitted but where no decision has been rendered, employers will have one business day from today’s date to submit original police certificates which display the original seal, stamp or other display of authorization.” Under the current Work Permit Policies 2015, employers are required to provide confirmation that applicants who are first-time residents have been thoroughly screened. Until now, employers were required to have a police certificate on hand should the Department of Immigration wish to view it. Police certificates must be valid for six months from the date of issue. For work permit applications not yet submitted, employers must submit the original police certificate. Applications affected by the policy change include global entrepreneur, global, new business, and standard work permits. Mr Brown reminded employers it is a criminal offence to make statements containing false information. For information on police certificates, employees should refer to the checklist details available at www.gov.bm.
2017. February 3. Prospective guest workers in certain categories must satisfy minimum qualifications before a work permit application will be considered, according to then-home affairs minister Patricia Gordon-Pamplin. The qualifications apply to welders, automotive services, electricians and landscape gardeners. Current work permit holders are required to register with the Department of Workforce Development by March 31, and those unable to successfully complete the process will not have their permits renewed. For health and safety reasons, prospective guest workers are also required to demonstrate a good level of proficiency in the English language, MPs were told at the House of Assembly today.
2016. January 21. Improvements to the Bermuda Job Board website will go online this Saturday, the Minister of Home Affairs said yesterday. Michael Fahy explained that information on expiring work permits would now include the job title, details from the original job posting and the permit expiration date. “This will allow for candidates to prepare themselves for upcoming potential jobs by ensuring their skills are relevant to the required skills needed,” he added. Mr Fahy said a new “resources” tab would be added to the board, which has 1,113 employers and 6,530 clients registered, and 150 jobs listed. “This will link users to relevant and current information on resume development tips, cover letters, interview skills, dressing for success and general employment information. As well as receiving a software upgrade, Mr Fahy said the board would also require employers to report on their recruitment activity, thereby improving overall feedback. Last week, Mr Fahy told The Royal Gazette that the Bermuda Government was attempting to adopt a “more transparent” approach to immigration, after the Bermuda Digest of Statistics revealed that 9,767 work permits were issued in 2014, the lowest number since 1998. He anticipated a “slow and steady” rise in the number of work permits in 2016, but added that employment opportunities for Bermudians would increase thanks to hotel developments. Responding to a question about Bermuda’s lack of a minimum wage, a matter discussed in The Royal Gazette on Wednesday, Mr Fahy said: “It’s certainly something that has been on the radar of this Government for some time, in terms of what we can do to see more equitable opportunities for pay in the community. It’s certainly being looked at, and you’ll hear something in due course.” To view the site and its job listings, go to www.bermudajobboard.bm.
2016. January 11. Bermudian jobseekers will be able to apply for work-permit positions coming up for renewal under an initiative being launched this month. The scheme, which is designed to help locals equip themselves with the skills to take advantage of job opportunities, will involve details of the post being put on the Jobs Board. Senator Michael Fahy, the Minister of Home Affairs, told The Royal Gazette the move was part of the Bermuda Government’s “more transparent” approach to immigration that has recently seen scores of immigration appeal decisions put online. He said he expected the number of work permits issued to rise “slowly and steadily” in 2016, but maintained that employment opportunities for Bermudians would also increase as a result of major hotel developments. His comments came as the latest Bermuda Digest of Statistics revealed that 9,767 work permits were issued in 2014: the lowest number since 1998. “We have seen an uptake in work permit applications in 2015,” Mr Fahy said. “With the low birth rate recently reported we need to have more immigration to be able to sustain our economy and our services because most are paid for by payroll tax. We are cognizant of tailored job adverts and under phase two of the Jobs Board people will be able to see details and qualifications required of work permits coming up for renewal. This will help Bermudians put themselves in a position to get the job and will be incredibly useful. For 2016 we will continue to see a take-up of work permits especially as we see the various hotel projects come to fruition but these projects will also provide opportunities for Bermudians. Work permits for international business will continue to go up slowly but surely as small start-up businesses set up in Bermuda.” The Government implemented a raft of immigration reforms in April 2014, including establishing new regulations for work permits and civil penalties for employers that flout the rules. Mr Fahy said he had been “surprised” by the number of offences reported and admitted it was challenging for his department to keep on top of the present caseload. He added: “The intent of the legislation was to change a mindset, and I was hoping it would change a little faster. That is obviously bad for someone’s business, but good for Government coffers. Since the new legislation was brought in we have about 130 ongoing matters, while around a dozen have been resolved. As everyone knows we have had a hiring freeze in Government and these cases take a long time. We are working on fixing the situation and continually look at how we can restructure the department’s work and reallocate staff. At the height of business opportunity in 2008 we had 55 members of staff. Now we have 37, with a budget for 43 and we had to fight hard to get that additional staff on. With this new regime people are actually being caught, whereas previously you heard about this going on but nothing was done. It is as successful as we could have hoped and has been well received.”
2014. December 31. Government's new work permit policy will come into force from March 1 2015, Sen Michael Fahy, the Home Affairs Minister, announced today. The implementation of the policy was delayed after unexpected problems arose with a specific category of permit called the Bermuda Employment Visa, which has since been abandoned. The new rules include the introduction of the Global Entrepreneur Work Permit to allow individuals who are planning start-up companies in Bermuda to apply for work permits. Permit holders can live in Bermuda while conducting their business planning. The changes provide for a Business Work Permit for new companies to Bermuda to obtain work permits without advertising during the first six months of their existence. The permit will be available for new exempted companies on a limited basis. The new policy also requires employers to advertise all jobs on the Government Job Board for at least eight consecutive days. Under the new rules, businesses may be asked to participate in initiatives led by the National Training Board to boost the number of Bermudians employed in job categories where there are high numbers of work permit holders. "It was about finding the right balance between assisting international business in getting the best employees they can in a competitive marketplace, while also ensuring that qualified Bermudians are given the opportunities we deserve," Sen Fahy said. "A balance which I believe has now been found due to the extensive consultative process. The policy was put together after widespread consultation with industry leaders as well as a raft of stakeholder groups. Overall, we believe these changes will demonstrate to the local and international community that Bermuda continues to be open for business as we continue to cut down on the red tape which hinders our growth as an international business domicile. I believe that the policy changes will make employers even more responsible and cognizant of their responsibilities to the local workforce. The new policy is available for viewing at the Ministry of Home Affairs web page at www.gov.bm.
2014. October 1. An overhaul of work permit regulations which will “reduce red tape and demonstrate that Bermuda is open for business” could come into effect by the end of the year. According to Home Affairs Minister Michael Fahy, the revisions, compiled by Government after extensive consultation, have been drawn up to attract foreign businesses to Bermuda and include the creation of new categories of work permit for exempt companies. A new Bermuda Employment Visa (BEV) will allow exempt companies to employ some foreigners without needing to advertise or to apply for a standard work permit, although companies applying for a BEV will have to be accredited. A new Global Entrepreneur Work Permit will allow entrepreneurs looking to start up a business in Bermuda to obtain a work permit — and the right of residency on the Island — while they are setting up their business. And a new Business Permit will allow brand new companies to Bermuda to obtain work permits without advertising during the first six months of setting up. At a press conference this morning, Mr Fahy stressed that the changes also brought in tough compliant measures for companies including satisfying Government that they have informed all unsuccessful Bermudians, spouses of Bermudians, and PRC holders of the outcome of their applications, prior to the submission of a work permit application. “Overall, we believe these changes will demonstrate to the local and international community that Bermuda continues to be open for business as we continue to cut down on the red tape which hinders our growth as an international business domicile. For example, employers will now only need to produce chest X-rays for TB for employees coming from high risk jurisdictions and will be able to complete work permit forms in Microsoft word. However there are quid pro quos as identified above which we believe will give opportunities to Bermudians whilst assisting business in their goals.” The Minister’s full speech was: "One of the Government’s main goals is to restore economic health to Bermuda, to create new conditions that enable Bermudians to find work and career opportunities. The Ministry of Home Affairs plays a critical role in achieving that goal. Specifically its mission is to improve the economy by addressing the needs of the local and international business community and the career aspirations of Bermudians. This morning, I would like to review a new Draft Work Permit Policy for Bermuda, which I believe will greatly further our efforts in this regard. The revision was undertaken to keep Bermuda current in an ever-changing, highly competitive world. And it has been developed over the last year through consultation with stakeholders and the community at large. The work was led by the Work Permit Stakeholder Group, which is comprised of representatives from employer and employee groups. Their work will continue as we seek feedback on the draft policy. As Minister I am also continuing this consultative process, having already presented major changes to the Labour Advisory Council, the BIU, the Association of Bermuda Insurers and Reinsurers (ABIR) and The Association of Bermuda International Companies (ABIC). I will be making further presentations this week and next to the Chamber of Commerce, the Bermuda Employer’s Council, the Bermuda Hotel Association and the Bermuda Human Resources Association. These meetings have been extremely helpful to us, as each organization has provided excellent feedback on the proposals. We also look forward to receiving feedback from the public before finalizing this document. People can view the document on the Government website www.gov.bm and have until October 17th to send us their views. They can do this by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org I’d now like to run through some of the principal changes in the draft policy. New categories of work permits are proposed, such as the Bermuda Employment Visa and the Global Entrepreneur Work Permit. A Bermuda Employment Visa (BEV) will make it possible for exempted companies to employ a limited number of foreign nationals without needing to advertise or to apply for a Standard Work Permit. The total number of BEVs issued to an exempted company will be limited to 20 percent of the total Bermuda-based workforce of that exempted company. Companies that wish to participate in obtaining a BEV will need to be accredited. Accreditation will include a process requiring the creation of workplace opportunities for Bermudians in the form of training programs and succession planning. BEVs will essentially replace ten year work permits and can be applied for one to seven years. The new Global Entrepreneur Work Permit has been created to enable individuals who are planning new start-up companies in Bermuda to apply for work permits. This will enable that person to live in Bermuda while conducting their business planning. Other changes proposed in the draft policy include the New Business Permit. These would allow brand new companies to Bermuda to obtain work permits without advertising during the first six months of their existence. If ten or more permits are required, then information will be asked of the new company regarding their growth strategy and how they intend to employ Bermudians. This information will be taken into account when further permits are applied for. Our aim with this policy is to attract companies to relocate to Bermuda. The knock on effect, of course, is more people on the ground, renting homes and apartments, paying taxes, eating in our restaurants and generally contributing to Bermuda’s economic well being. I must reiterate that this will apply to new companies coming to Bermuda with new staff coming, not as a vehicle to shift employees already in Bermuda to a new subsidiary. Other policy changes include the requirement for employers to do the following: They must satisfy Government that they have informed all unsuccessful Bermudians, Spouses of Bermudians, and PRC holders of the outcome of their applications, prior to the submission of a work permit application. They must ensure that all jobs are advertised on the Government Job Board, with their advertisements running for eight consecutive days. They must ensure that where an established graduate training programme or an established exchange internship programme exists, that Bermudians, spouses of Bermudians, and PRC holders are given equal opportunities to participate in related programmes. They may be asked to participate in initiatives led by the National Training Board to boost the number of Bermudians employed in job categories where there are currently high numbers of work permit holders. Employers who employ more than five work permit holders may be invited to participate in such initiatives. Other policy changes will require businesses to provide additional information to the Department of Immigration. Restaurants, for example, will need to outline the minimum weekly take-home pay for their workers, and beauty salons will need to include sick and holiday pay information in their contracts of employment. The draft policy also proposes to end the practice of giving refunds to unexpired periods of work permits. This will remove more red-tape at the department and encourage employers to apply for the length of permit they actually require. These new policies will complement the powers already given to the Chief Immigration Officer in terms of levying civil penalties for rogue employers and employees. Overall, we believe these changes will demonstrate to the local and international community that Bermuda continues to be open for business as we continue to cut down on the red tape which hinders our growth as an international business domicile. For example, employers will now only need to produce chest X-rays for TB for employees coming from high risk jurisdictions and will be able to complete work permit forms in Microsoft word. However there are quid pro quos as identified above which we believe will give opportunities to Bermudians whilst assisting business in their goals. Bermuda must be seen to be competitive. However, being competitive does not mean selling out on opportunities for Bermudians. By ensuring our Immigration Policies are transparent and fair we aim to attract new business to Bermuda to stimulate continued growth. These policies will make Bermuda more competitive but also go a long way to encouraging employers to train Bermudians and put them on a career path that meets their needs and ambitions. The Department of Immigration is often on the front line and often catches the blame when things go wrong. I wish to make it clear again those complaints are taken seriously, whether anonymous or not. However I must take this opportunity to also say that most employers do want to hire Bermudians. Whilst there are some rogue employers out there, most want qualified Bermudians. It is better for their business planning and growth strategies. I believe that the policy changes will make employers even more responsible and cognizant of their responsibilities to the local work force. The intent is for the new policy to come into effect on December 1st, 2014. As there will be new fees associated with the new work permits, this will require legislative approval, which we plan to Table into the Legislature in November. New work permit application forms will be available online only as will further information on the accreditation process for BEVs. I have given today just a small snapshot of the proposed changes to the policy given the natural time constraints of a press conference. The aim of these policy changes is to help turn around the economy in ways that benefit Bermudians directly and indirectly, to cut red tape, to make the system more user friendly and transparent and to provide new training and career opportunities for Bermudians. Again I invite members of the public to read the policy document so that you are well informed going forward.”
Listed below are what are believed to be the 2013 work permit term limit categories that allow expatriate workers to stay beyond one year. Non-Bermudian employees on Work Permits, in their best interests, should note these carefully and ask their employers how they, as employees, stand and in what category their employers are.
The first phase of revised work permit policies, with a series of changes to work permit fees, went into effect on April 1, 2013 under the authority of the Ministry of Home Affairs. Legislation modifying the cost of fees was passed in the House of Assembly, applying to all businesses and organizations that employ guest workers.As a result of the changes:
One-year work permit fees have increased from $721 to $800. This lower-rate increase is hoped to encourage businesses to seek shorter permits and increase the frequency of jobs being advertised — giving Bermudians an opportunity to apply for the post.
Two-year work permit fees have increased from $1,442 to $2,000.
Three-year work permit fees have increased from $2,163 to $3,000.
Four-year work permit fees have increased from $2,884 to $4,000.
Ten-year work permit fees have decreased from $20,000 to $15,000.
The changes also establish new ‘special categories’ of work permits including the global work permit and the new business work permit, which will be the regular rate, but with an additional $750 processing fee.Home Affairs Minister Michael Fahy stressed that the changes are the first in a broader revision of the policies, with the second phase commencing following a wholesale review of the current policy by the Work Permit Stakeholder Group. “We are working very hard to grow the Bermuda economy so that there is opportunity for all. It that regard, preserving, protecting and providing jobs for Bermudians is our top priority. And we see these reforms in the work permit policy as key in protecting Bermudian jobs. As I’ve said previously, ensuring social and economic equity for everyone is a critical goal for this Government. We understand that the amendments to the Work Permit Policies will not solve all of our current unemployment issues, but we genuinely believe it is a step in the right direction.”
Home Affairs Minister Michael Fahy announced plans to strengthen the Department
of Immigration's enforcement powers on work permit violations. The Chief
Immigration Officer now has specific authority to impose civil administrated
penalties. The objective is to introduce progressive disciplinary measures for
employers who violate the Act. Two specific civil penalty regimes now apply.
This includes the establishment of absolute offences which will be dealt with as
ticketable offences and also non-ticketable offences wherein civil penalties
will be pursued by the courts. Fines for less serious offences will be up to
$5,000 for work permit violations. The courts however, have the authority to
issue fines up to $25,000.
Other factors relating to
Children limitation. If you and your spouse, both as non-Bermudians, have more than two children, or you are single parent with more than two children, you will not generally be considered for private-sector employment - and probably not for public-sector employment either in Bermuda unless under very special circumstances deemed acceptable to the Bermuda Government. This makes sense for an island of only 21 square miles in total land area, with the third-highest population any per square mile or square kilometer. From the environmental point of view, there have to be some restraints. Further, since 2003 some work-permit holders - for example, waiters - are no longer allowed to bring in their spouse or any children. One of the Immigration Department's concerns is that a 2-children family of a newcomer brought in to do a job not in the highest of professional categories would use accommodation that should be available to working-class Bermudians. On an island already with probably the highest accommodation costs in the world for all classes of Bermudians - see Cost of Homes in Bermuda - Immigration has advised that further restrictions may apply to more newcomers.
Citizenship limitation. There is no chance whatsoever of becoming Bermudian by citizenship Be aware there is no chance for citizenship (namely, becoming a Bermudian) unless you marry a Bermudian, stay married and live together and then wait ten years to apply.
Film companies. If not Bermudian and planning to film in Bermuda, the company will need to register with the Bermuda Department of Immigration & Labor; have a local (Bermudian) agent; and secure Work Permits for all non-Bermudian personnel coming to Bermuda.
Importing workers from developing nations is difficult or impossible because of a requirement that the UK, US or Canada must first issue a transit visa, even after they are granted work permits by Bermuda Immigration. Without transit visas they cannot come. Neither the Governor nor Deputy Governor can help as issuing transit visas did not involve Government House and that they have no influence over it. The USA is also withholding transit visas for some workers bound for Bermuda. The US Immigration Department states that in order to get a transit visa via the USA applicants must demonstrate strong social, economic and/or family ties outside the United States.
Those from overseas who arrive married and with their spouses and any child or children should note that when one spouse is offered employment, the employment contract applies only to the person employed. The other spouse must make his or her own arrangements with his or her own employer if they wish to be employed - and if - which can be a big if - they are allowed to accept employment locally. All spouses should be aware that if they do not have a degree - sometimes not just a degree but a good, relevant degree - it is extremely unlikely they will be able to obtain any remunerated employment in Bermuda. One of the many problems with recruiters or head-hunters - including some used by Bermuda-based banks, insurance companies, accounting firms and law firms - is that they are untruthful or evasive, instead of being forthright and honest, to both new work-permit holders and their spouses who also hope to get employment in Bermuda. They advise - wrongly - that spouses will have no problems finding employment. Its a ploy to have a new recruit say "yes" to on offer of employment. They don't say, as they should, that under no circumstances will any non-Bermudian be allowed to get any kind of employment in a "proscribed area" and that in all other areas, Bermudians take preference, in the priority order shown above, then the 5 other priority orders apply. This evasiveness or outright deception serves no purpose in the long run, because if the spouse is unhappy in Bermuda, and unable to find employment, chances are that the contract will be broken and both employee and spouse will leave the island. As it happens so frequently, it should be built in to the contract of employment that in the event a spouse is unable to find suitable employment for which she or he is qualified and able, the employee should be allowed to break the contract for cause, claim damages and compensation and leave the country without any blemish whatsoever by both the Bermuda-based employer and Bermuda Government.
A new Work Permit policy is now in effect. It is designed to reward employers who are " good corporate citizens" and be firm, fair, flexible when appropriate, and faster. But for most employers, there will be a maximum length of six years for Work Permits, with no renewals after that and no automatic renewals before that.
"Good corporate citizens" and "key" staff. Key staff can be CEOs or CFOs or other senior managers. From April 2007 only Work Permits of "key" senior staff in the private sector will be allowed - and only at companies which pass the Immigration tests to become "good corporate citizens". Expatriates presently in Bermuda on Work Permits will have to leave unless they fall into this category - which will vary according to the individual rating of employers with Immigration. (NB: Law Librarian and Knowledge Manager positions have been added to the exempted professions under the Immigration Act, meaning that there is reasonable hope of a 3-year, instead of 1 year, Work Permit). The fact they may be needed by employers will not, by itself, count. If there is a genuine need, new expatriates will be allowed in to replace them for a limited period. This policy is likely to apply more to private sector expatriate employers and employees than to public sector employees.
The criteria for their companies to be regarded as "good corporate citizens" will include:
The person is the best in the world, or:
The person has rare commercial expertise that cannot easily be found in Bermuda or world-wide, or
Without the particular expertise of a person, the business could be seriously injured, or
The person has crucial business contacts which can be revealed, or;
The person is directly responsible for creating well-paying jobs for Bermudians, or
The person is directly responsible for training Bermudians in worthwhile upwardly mobile careers and the business relies greatly on his or her skill.
The documentation new arrivals must complete, whether visitors or Work-Permit approved, is a lot more detailed than in any other jurisdiction. It may not occur to some non-Bermudians that Bermuda is a foreign country to all non-Bermudians including Britons and that that the procedure they must go through is similar to - but more complex, regulated and restricted than - the proper process for admission of non-nationals for employment in the USA, Canada, United Kingdom, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, etc. Remember that unlike in the above where persons are treated as immigrants, non-Bermudians are not given any of the rights or privileges of immigrants, or eventual citizenship, even when they have been in Bermuda for decades, unless they marry and stay married to Bermudians. Only some qualifying non-Bermudian spouses of Bermudians are exempted from the need to have a Work Permit - and after they have been married to the same person for a qualifying number of years.
New Non-Bermudian employees are advised not to give notice to their overseas employers until they are notified their Work Permit has been approved. Some Work Permits can take many months to be issued or re-issued. There is no set period. Initially, they are in huge detail, include a medical history, medical evidence the person can work in the sub tropics, does not have tuberculosis or any other known disease such as HIV or AIDS; can stand the constant humidity, has a complete and verified previous employment record and much more. Some international and local companies have brought delays on themselves and prospective employers by attempting to skirt strict rules affecting non-Bermudians. As a result, their applications are more closely examined. They include some very big corporate names.
All persons newly arrived in Bermuda on Work Permits should expect their parents or adult children not with them or fiancées or fiancés or in-laws to have only short (three weeks) of stays. Also, they will not be covered in Bermuda by any health Insurance plans hold by their Bermuda-based hosts.
#1. Bermudians - by birth or status - official grant in writing. If a Bermudian applies for a position, meets the qualifications specified, he or she is employed in preference to all others.
#2. A non-Bermudian with Spouse Employment rights by marriage to a Bermudian, if he or she is living together with his or her Bermudian spouse who is ordinarily resident in Bermuda, or is a widow/widower of and lived in life with a Bermudian.
#3. A divorced parent of a Bermudian - someone the other parent of whom is a Bermudian.
#4. A working resident's certificate holder.
#5. A non-Bermudian with a qualifying Bermudian connection (for example a resident Bermudian sibling. Note that children born in Bermuda to parents neither of whom are Bermudian are not Bermudian themselves).
#6. Other non-Bermudians. Including persons who have worked in Bermuda before and whose children are born in Bermuda but not Bermudian because neither parent is Bermudian.
This is how the Bermuda Government's Department of Immigration rates their chances. Know that thousands of Bermudians return home each year to work after university or work experience abroad. Why? Because Bermuda has the third highest standard of living in the world. So employers tend to advertise internationally only those posts which Bermudians are unable or unwilling or unqualified to do.
In Bermuda, employers don't have to publish help wanted advertisements if they fill vacancies from within by Bermudians.
But for non-Bermudians a number of conditions have to be met before work permits are issued.
Under no circumstances or in only very special and pre-approved by Bermuda Immigration circumstances (for example, if you are married to a Bermudian for longer than three years or such other item as may be applicable) can non-Bermudians (non nationals) find employment in Bermuda in any junior clerical or lower management or middle management administrative, or clerical or technical or management fields. They include all construction workers, allied trades, the following and any more not published below deemed appropriate to stop or discontinue by the Bermuda Department of Immigration:
|Airline Ground Agent||Bank Teller||Bartender|
|Broadcaster or newspaper columnist (if you live in Bermuda)||Butler or chauffeur||Cable linesman|
|Carpet installer or layer||Carpenters||Cleaner|
|Construction Tradesmen||Disc jockey||Electricians|
|Entertainer/ Musician||Fisherman||Floor Supervisor|
|Housekeeper||House painter||Landscape gardener|
|Landscape gardener||Independent or freelance consultant||Kitchen and bar porter|
|Mechanic (including car or moped/scooter)||money lender||Office receptionist|
|Packer at grocery store or other||Part-time anything||pawnbroker|
|Photographer||Postmaster or postal supervisor, postal carrier, post office clerk, postman/women||Plumber|
|Presenter on radio||Pot washer||Salesperson|
|Sales manager||Ship or branch pilot||Self-employed in any capacity|
|Skilled laborer||Stone cutter||Store or shop clerk|
|Summer or seasonal jobs of any kind||Swimming pool serviceman||Sound equipment operator|
|Taxi-driver||Technician||Telephone linesman or mechanic|
|Travel Agent/ Consultant||Wall Paper Technician||Waiter|
In January 2012 it was announced that a new or added-to work permits exclusions policy, supplementing the list above, is likely to be legislated soon by or on behalf of Patrice Minors, Economy, Trade and Industry Minister. Government is looking at extending the categories of employment that are closed to work permits. The Minister is considering ending work permits to jobs such as masons, carpenters, electricians and plumbers, while adding jobs such as waiters, servers, landscapers, secretaries and caregivers to a “restricted” list “where employers will have to first demonstrate that they have hired a certain percentage of Bermudians including trainees before a work permit is considered.”
Unless holders who are newcomers marry Bermudians, they will never be allowed to vote in Bermuda, even if they stay in Bermuda long enough by the standards of other countries (three to five years) to vote.
Nor may they own real estate property at the same price as Bermudians. They are limited in applying for ownership of real estate - to the top 5 percent in value of real estate in single family dwellings or condominiums.
Their children, despite being born here, will not be Bermudians unless a parent is and will never qualify for any of the grants or bursaries or scholarships awarded to Bermudians. Parents or a single parent of infants and small children require landing permits from the Bermuda Government's Department of Immigration for their offspring to re-enter Bermuda after a visit abroad.
If a guest worker quits a job voluntarily or otherwise while on contract or later, there is no right of expectation to be given another Work Permit with a different employer. If a guest worker quits after less than a year, he or she is unlikely to be able to find another job and will have to leave. In general, he or she will be expected to stay with that employer for at least three years if his/her Work Permit is extended for that long. But the 6-year cap on Work Permits means that non-Bermudians may be allowed to go to another employer after three years if the next employer is a good corporate citizen. Honesty and openness - not falsely complimentary references - are expected from Immigration by employers as to why that employee is leaving. If he or she gets a failing grade, they will not be allowed to get another job and will have to leave. An otherwise good employee will not be allowed to quit one job as an employee to go into competition - as an employer or partner or employee - with the firm that hired him or her, without Immigration justification. But it works both ways - if an employer falsely accuses an employee of being bad to block another employer from getting a new Work Permit for that person, it will rebound on the bad employer and affect its own character from a Work Permit perspective. Good non-Bermudians should not be afraid to tell Immigration when they have been treated badly.
A non-Bermudian is not automatically entitled to a replacement Work Permit. There is an appeal process but factors that count include a report from a current or previous employer. There is no recourse if an appeal against a Work Permit revocation or lack of renewal is denied.
Non-Bermudians do not have the Human Rights laws enjoyed by Bermudians.
Work Permits do not accord immigrant status to those approved. They merely give permission for approved persons to live and work in Bermuda as guest workers for the stipulated period of time and any approved renewal, or during the pleasure of the employer and with the agreement of the Bermuda Government. Most Work Permits are now for a maximum period of three years and are not renewable.
Work Permit requirements are the same for nationals of all countries including Britain. Applications for Work Permits made by Bermuda based employers for vacancies in administrative, management, professional and technical categories are considered on their merits. But these depend entirely on specific employers applying in the pre-ordained way for permission to employ non Bermudians and receiving consent, with Work Permits issued when approved.
There are Bermuda Government fees for each type of Work Permit issued and renewals. Fees are the responsibility of employers. They are payable to the Bermuda Immigration authorities, when the employer submits the application and full set of accompanying documentation. Relatively few Work Permits are approved for up to 5 years initially. They depend on the seniority and sensitivity of the advertised post.
Employers are also required to hold valid at all times round trip tickets back to their country of origin of all Work Permit approved employees and their dependents, or to make equivalent arrangements in terms of a cash deposit with the Bermuda Department of Immigration. This is in case Work Permit approved persons are ever declared undesirable and a deportation order is issued. It ensures the deportation will not occur at Government's expense.
Originals of Work Permits, naming the new Work Permit holders, have to be sent by Bermuda based employers to new Work Permit approved employees. They must have the original in their possession when they arrive at a Bermuda port of entry such as the Bermuda International Airport, for inspection by Bermuda Department of Immigration officials.
A copy of the Work Permit, naming the stipulated employer, is generally retained by that employer. Note the emphasis on the stipulated employer, a deliberate policy. It is extremely unlikely a Work Permit will be issued allowing a person to work for more than one employer. It virtually excludes any possibility of any Bermudian arriving and setting up operations as a consultant to other organizations. So the Work Permit is extremely specific. It should not be compared to a Green Card holder in the USA who can jump from employer to employer without further Government involvement.
Whenever a Work Permit approved person wishes to change an employer, the new employer must go through exactly the same advertising of the position and Work Permit application process for that person as the original stipulated employer - and again pay the requisite Work Permit fee. However, there is generally no need for a duplication of the Bermuda Immigration Questionnaire documentation.
Employees with Work Permits who wish to leave Bermuda temporarily, for example when traveling on business or for vacation purposes, must obtain Re-Entry Permits for their return. Their employers know the procedure and will assist with it. Re-Entry Permits are also required for non Bermudian spouses and children. Again, this is an employer's responsibility. Each Re-Entry Permit application involves a cost.
2018. June 1. Legal Opinion. By Attorney Jessica Almeida, an associate and a member of the Dispute Resolution Team at Appleby. "A shift in the interpretation of a key section of employment and immigration legislation has put the onus on companies to justify why their senior executives should qualify for a Permanent Resident’s Certificate. Currently, the only pathway to obtain PRC status is through the Incentive for Job Makers Acts 2011 and 2013 (Job Makers Act), which amended section 31A of the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Act 1956 and inserted section 3B of the Economic Development Act 1968 (Economic Development Act). The Job Makers Act provides exemptions to senior executives or those responsible for creating job(s) for Bermudians and who are critical to the continuity of the company in Bermuda, from needing a work permit. While there have been no updates to the legislation since 2013, since the current government came into power in 2017 there has been a shift in the interpretation of section 3B. Section 3B(2) of the Economic Development Act sets out the requirements that a company must meet in order for its senior executive employees to be eligible for exemption. These requirements are that the company:
The shift in interpretation comes into play in respect of section 3B(3) of the Economic Development Act, which provides that the minister may, after taking into consideration various criteria, lower the number of persons with Bermudian status that a company should have on its staff for the purposes of section 3B(2). Under the previous government, section 3B(3) was used as a catch-all discretionary section for government to investigate further into a company whose application did not quite meet the criteria for the exemption under section 3B(2). Currently, under the new government, where a company does not meet the criteria for the exemption under section 3B(2), such company must provide submissions as to the criteria set out in section 3B(3), namely:
The Bermuda Government is easily the biggest employer in Bermuda, employing both direct Government employees and Bermuda Government owned organizations (quangos). Anyone wishing to be considered for most Bermuda Government positions must complete an application form from and send it directly to the Department of Personnel Services, Floor 3, Global House, 43 Church Street, Hamilton HM 12, Bermuda. Teachers at Bermuda Government-supported schools should submit their details to the Ministry of Education at 7 Point Finger Road, Paget DV 04, Bermuda. As with all other jobs, qualified and capable Bermudians get preference, with non Bermudian wives or husbands living locally having the next priority. There is little or no chance of obtaining any local summer or seasonal or part time employment if you or a parent are not Bermudian.
There are many expatriates (non-Bermudians) employed in the Civil Service excluding the Hospitals, Bermuda Police Service and quangos. They include "contract officers" meaning an officer employed under a written contract for a fixed period. All members of the Bermuda Civil Service - employed by the Bermuda Government - come under the Public Service Commission Regulations 2001. The Bermuda Government is committed to a policy of Bermudianization and a new training initiative has started to ensure Bermudians are skilled and trained to take senior positions in the Government.
In the Bermuda Police Service, Police Headquarters are 10 Headquarters Hill, Devonshire DV 02, Bermuda. P. O. Box HM 530, Hamilton HM CX. (441) 295-0011. Fax (441) 299-4459. To apply for employment as a Police Officer, phone 299-4304, or fax 299-4485, or e-mail email@example.com. It is paid for by Bermuda taxpayers, not the United Kingdom. With 460 full time officers, mostly from Bermuda, Britain and Caribbean. It also has about 100 civil servants and industrial staff. If it cannot find enough Bermudians or those married to one, the Bermuda Government periodically recruits from overseas policemen between 19 and 49 years old for the Bermuda Police Service. Its mailing address is Police Recruitment Officer, P. O. Box HM 530, Hamilton HM CX. Telephone (441) 299-4290. Policemen in the United Kingdom are not "seconded" to Bermuda, they must interrupt their service and if they are wise, apply before they resign if they wish to have a job to come back to when their Bermuda contract ends. If necessary, newcomers may come from Canada also.
With a decent Bachelor's degree, Bermudian government employees currently earn from US$75,445 a year. In 2013, average household income was estimated to be $78,800. The average salary per person island-wide in 2013 was US$ 66,000. The great majority of the Bermuda Government positions at the higher salaries are also held by Bermudians. Basic salaries mentioned in job vacancies are the same, whether for Bermudians, others resident here and non-Bermudians who have not yet arrived. It is up to non-Bermudians to decide whether their much lower costs of living in their countries make it worthwhile to accept a Bermuda posting at a much higher cost of living.
Return travel for candidate, spouse and up to two children, and shipping and resettlement allowances are provided by the Bermuda Government. Because of the high cost of living in Bermuda, recruiting families with more than two children is discouraged. Employment for a spouse is sometimes available (especially if the spouse has a professional qualification) but is not guaranteed.
The Bermuda Government assumes responsibility to find suitable, furnished accommodation for expatriate non-Bermudian contract officers (one bedroom for a single or married person, three bedrooms for a family with two children), and rent in excess of 25% of the contract officer's salary is fully subsidized. Candidates are expected to remain at the accommodation provided for at least three months but thereafter may choose to move into accommodation of their own choice. Rent in excess of 25% of the employee's salary will continue to be subsidized within reason.
Other Bermuda based employers, including the Government owned and operated medical King Edward VII Memorial Hospital and the other hospital it owns and operates, often recruit academically and professionally qualified, full time, adult employees with relevant job experience when there are insufficient adult full time Bermudians with the appropriate qualifications to fill specific posts.
NB: Non-Bermudians who work from home for Bermuda-based employers are required to have Work Permits, if they don't already have them for their employer at their place of work.
The article below was written for the Royal Gazette on September 11, 2012 by Attorney Michael Hanson, an Associate and member of the Employment and Immigration team within the Litigation & Insolvency Group at Appleby (Bermuda) Limited. "In the USA, Canada, Europe, etc it has long been accepted and even approved by their tax authorities that working from home, using computers and the internet or in other ways digitally or otherwise, is not a privilege but a right. In the United States alone, estimates are that roughly six million employees will work from home a majority of the time, and about 63 million employees work from home occasionally. But not in Bermuda. Here, it is regarded legally as a privilege, not a right. Thus employers must be aware of the issues they face whether they currently have home-working employees or are considering such an arrangement in the future. Unlike the United Kingdom and other jurisdictions, there is no specific legislation in Bermuda that encompasses flexible or home-working. Indeed, the term “home-worker” (or similar) is not defined in Bermuda's Employment Act 2000 (“the Act”). Because of this, home working is a privilege rather than a right in Bermuda. However, irrespective of where someone works, if a person is employed for more than 15 hours a week wholly or mainly in Bermuda for remuneration under a contract of employment, they are an “employee” for the purposes of the Act and fall under its remit (there are a few exceptions to this). As home-workers are protected by the same employment legislation, what does this mean practically for employers? Firstly, the contract for a home-worker should be drafted to reflect their place of work — that is, their home. Further, most employers will require the employee to attend at the office from time-to-time (for client meetings or disciplinary issues, etc) and this should be clearly included in the contract. Holiday entitlement should not be different to that of any office-based employee. Home-workers will be entitled to the full-time minimum of two weeks holiday (as stipulated by the Act) unless employers allow further time. The same applies for paid sickness absences and other benefits. Employers must also remember that a home-worker’s house is their castle. There is no implied legal right that an employer can enter the home of an employee without the employee’s consent. Therefore, the employer should reserve the right of entry in the contract of employment, for example, to enter the employee’s home in specific circumstances, such as installing computer equipment or to recover any confidential information. The implied duty that employees should not disclose confidential information or use any such information for any purpose other than the employer’s business interest applies to home-workers. However, in practice, confidentiality is much more difficult for an employer to police or monitor when the employee is not in the office. Employers should include an express confidentiality clause in the employee’s contract, making clear what information is confidential and how the employee should keep that information secure at their home. For example, the employer may want to consider passwords that would stop access to its data by the employee’s relatives or household members and provide items such as a locking cabinet or shredder to ensure that company documents are secured or discarded properly. An employer will be able to impose significant protection concerning all work an employee does in respect of or on behalf of their employer and access to that information should be agreed. However, an employee’s contract must be reasonable. For example, a clause providing that an employer can enter an employee’s house at any time, day or night, to check their home computer would not be a reasonable or a fair contract term. Elsewhere in the world, it is generally recognised that more women than men seek working-from-home arrangements, mainly as it is accepted that women often bear the majority of child care responsibilities. There are no statistics for this in respect of Bermuda but it is unlikely that Bermuda is any different. Employers must therefore be very wary of possible discrimination under the Human Rights Act 1981 (“the 1981 Act”) when considering an employee’s request to work from home. If a request to work from home is not considered seriously because it comes from a man, when the same request made by a woman would be properly considered by the same employer, then a claim of direct sex discrimination under the 1981 Act could apply. There is no specific legislation in Bermuda that requires employers to seriously consider any flexible working request. However, while there is no direct duty on an employer in this regard, given the above, it is advised that any such request be considered seriously in terms of whether it is a viable alternative to office working. But it should always be remembered that allowing employees to work from home requires a huge amount of trust, as they cannot be monitored to any great degree to ensure that they are doing the job that employers pay them to do. "
For any category of personal or corporate or office staff. It should be assumed these are always payable by the employer individual or organization. This is purely a representative, not a complete, list. For further details, apply to the Bermuda Department of Immigration, Chief Immigration Officer, Ministry of Labor, Home Affairs & Public Safety, Government Administration Building, 30 Parliament Street, Hamilton HM 12, Bermuda. Telephone Work Permit Officer at (441) 297-7940 Fax: (441) 295-4115.
Work Permit fees 2017, see https://www.gov.bm/all-immigration-fees#Work%20Permit
|Part-time Permit, for one year or less, instructors or private tutors already resident in Bermuda, for activities not exceeding 9 hours a week|
|Part-time Permit, for one year or less, for activities not exceeding 9 hours a week|
|A short-term permit, for more than 5 persons, in addition to the fee below|
|A one-year permit, for one year or less, for a child care worker engaged to provide child care services in the home, for each child cared for|
|A short-term Permit, for a single period of 14 days or less, per person (up to 5 persons)|
|As a self-employed traveling representative to engage in local business|
|To work with the above|
|Part-time Occasional Permit, casual part-time models, for activities not exceeding 100 hours in any twelve-month period|
|A Temporary Permit for a specific job for a period not exceeding 3 months|
|A one-year Permit, for any period less than 18 months|
|A two-year Permit, for 18 months or more but less than 30 months|
|A three-year Permit, for 30 months or more but less than 42 months|
|A four-year Permit, for 42 months or more but less than 54 months|
|A five-year Permit, for 54 months or more but less than 66 months|
2018. December 11. A surge in work-permit approvals emerged in figures provided in the House of Assembly for September through November. Work-permits applications suffered a backlog earlier this year, and the minister in charge switched on November 1 in a Cabinet reshuffle. Walton Brown, now the Minister for the Cabinet Office, had covered immigration as the Minister of Home Affairs. The responsibility for work permits was transferred to the national security portfolio, held by Wayne Caines as part of the Cabinet changes. MPs heard in Parliament last month that Mr Caines was “aggressively tackling” a backlog in work permits. On Friday, Mr Caines gave MPs figures for one to five-year work permits granted from September to November — a total of 1,350. The numbers of permits in the category more than doubled over the three months. There were 273 approved in September, 480 in October and 597 in November. Permits were also broken down by category, with the highest number for short-term permits. The total number of work permits approved between September and November was 2,205. There were 538 granted in September, 836 in October and 831 in November. Mr Caines was speaking after parliamentary questions from Sylvan Richards, the Shadow Minister of Home Affairs. The details came as David Burt, the Premier, deferred answers to two written questions from the Opposition. Craig Cannonier, the Opposition leader, requested the number of jobs created by the incorporation of 44 fintech companies, along with job titles and numbers of Bermudians employed. Michael Dunkley, a One Bermuda Alliance backbencher, also requested travel details for trips paid out of the consolidated fund by government MPs and senators between July 19, 2017 and November 23, 2018. Mr Burt was allowed under House standing orders to defer the answers.
2018. March 1. Work-permit holders with “serious” criminal records unknown to the Department of Immigration have been found on the island, the home affairs minister said yesterday. Walton Brown said the requirement for employers to submit police certificates was started last year because Bermudians “were, and are not, being considered for work because of prior convictions”. Mr Brown said: “Since that time, while the police certificates proved that the majority of applicants are of good character and conduct, we have identified a number of instances where applicants have had convictions. The department would not have been aware of the existence of convictions unless those documents were submitted by employers.” Mr Brown was speaking during the Budget debate in the House of Assembly. Opposition MP Patricia Gordon-Pamplin, who was a former One Bermuda Alliance home affairs minister, called for the exact number of applicants turned away because of a criminal past. Ms Gordon-Pamplin added: “And what is the outcome? Is it instant denial? Is it a slap on the wrist?” Mr Brown also revealed that revenue from work permits was expected to increase by $1,932,000 to a total of $14,564,000 in the next year. He attributed the extra revenue to additional work-permit applications because of a predicted increase in economic activity in the upcoming year, as well as increases for work-permit fees which come into force at the start of April. Ms Gordon-Pamplin pointed out that for full-time work permits, the increase was estimated at $2.5 million, which she said “would account for a significant number of issuances of work permits”. She said: “I know that we are looking to bring additional business into the country and I know that we are looking at a change in the 60:40 rule to a 40:60, which may help to generate additional business, but $2.5 million, which is approximately 25 per cent of the budget and certainly a 35 per cent increase on last year, seems to be a significant difference.” She asked Mr Brown to explain the difference after the pledge to ensure more opportunities for Bermudians. Opposition MP Trevor Moniz also queried whether the projected rise in work permits was realistic. The revised number of permits for the current year reached 9,212, he said — but the projection for next year was for “1,000 more work permits”, he said. Mr Moniz said it seemed to “fly in the face” of the new labour government’s policies. Mr Brown said the proposed increase “has to do with the confidence this government has in the growth of the economy”. He added that more work permits were “not a give and take, or a zero sum” when it came to boosting jobs for Bermudians. Mr Brown said: “That’s why this is called a projection. That’s our goal, and that’s what we intend to accomplish.”
2017. January 20. The number of work permits granted each year dropped by more than 6,800 in just six years, according to Government statistics released yesterday. The report showed that the estimated number of work permits issued peaked at 18,131 in 2007 but had dropped to 11,330 by 2013, the latest figures available. The 2013 work permit figure was the lowest issued in a single year for more than a decade, according to the 2014 Bermuda Digest of Statistics, published yesterday. But Home Affairs Minister Sen Michael Fahy said that figures for 2014 would show an increase in the number of permits granted, reversing the long-term decline. Economist and consultant Peter Everson said keeping the numbers of people working on the Island was vital to the Island's future. "The difference is that there are fewer people working in the economy and that's a problem because the cost of governing the country has risen, the cost of healthcare has risen and the cost of pensions has risen. We have a smaller group paying for all these costs. The shrinkage in the economy had happened over all sectors, from international business to construction and hospitality. All of these have shrunk and the only ones that have grown are support services, government administration, health and social and education. It's the size of the working population which supports Government revenues and pensions, so it's important for Bermudians who have retired or approaching retirement and those who are still in school and just about to enter the workforce, it affects everybody. We need the size of the economy to be bigger to pay the bills. The grant of Permanent Resident Status (PRC) to some overseas workers in Bermuda would have affected the number of work permits issued after 2007, but not by a large amount. The Bermudian workforce had also grown smaller over the same period, although it had not varied in large numbers either. Because many Bermudians are unemployed or underemployed, there is a frustration among many Bermudians that they don't have the appropriate skills to get better-paid employment. That's a real and very understandable feeling. That had probably been the spur for Government to plough so much money into workplace development. There are still large numbers of work permits issued, what that tells us is that Bermudians can't apply for the jobs they like, so the question is how to get them retrained and skilled to get these jobs they want. That not a Bermudian-only issue, it applies pretty much across the western world." Sen Fahy said that the number of substantive work permits, those for periods of between one and ten years, stood at 11,321 for 2014, while temporary permits numbered 6,951. He added that in tandem with an increase in permits, the national training plan aimed to predict the areas where Bermudians should consider training for future posts. and the report pointed out that these permits were counted in the year they were granted, although they remained valid over subsequent years. In 2007, the peak year for work permits, of the 18,131 granted, 6,917 were for three months, with a further 4,820 issued for up to a year, again mostly renewals for the full year. And 6,394 permits were issued in 2007 for between two and five years.
The figures for active permits do not take into account the number of people on Island with temporary work permits for seasonal jobs or those awaiting full work permits. They are different from the number of permits issued in any given year.
2018. About 9,412 in total
2017. About 9,350 in total.
2016. About 9,300 in total.
2015. About 9,100. Of which there were 3,793 one- to two-year permits, 1,206 three- to five-year permits, and zero permits of above five years.
2014. 9,767 work permits were issued, the lowest number since 1998
2013. Of the 11,300 permits issued, 4,820 were for three months, while 3,930 were for periods of up to a year, with most being renewals for the full 12 months. A further 2,580 work permits were issued for between two and five years.
2012. About 11,900.
2010. The total number of one-to-five year work permits was 9,127. The decline compared to 2009 reflected Bermuda's overall economic situation. These exclude temporary and periodic work permits.
2009. 11,001 Work Permits were issued in Bermuda's private sector.
2008. Non-Bermudian workers - those who need Work Permits - totaled 12,968 or 32.4 percent of the workforce although included are 1,957 non-Bermudian working spouses of Bermudians. (The percentage of jobs held by Bermudians has declined steadily in recent years, from 73.4 percent in 2002 to 67.6 percent in 2008).
2007 - 18,131.
2006 - about 9,800
2005 to 2006 - 8,400
2002 to 2004, about 7800
2001 - 7,900
2000 - 6,700
1999 - 7,412
1998 - 7,263
1997 - 6,907
1996 - 6,597
1995 - 5,998
While the above can offer generalities we don't speak for the government and suggest you get more details from the relevant government authority below. It can be reached by phone, fax, email and website. Bermuda Department of Immigration, Chief Immigration Officer, Ministry of Labor, Home Affairs & Public Safety, Government Administration Building, 30 Parliament Street, Hamilton HM 12, Bermuda. Telephone Work Permit Officer at (441) 297-7940 Fax: (441) 295-4115. Or contact your current or pending employer with any questions. (An employer is entirely and solely responsible for having your Work Permit and Contract of Employment approved by the Bermuda Department of Immigration).
Last Updated: July
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