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Bermuda's Employers need Work Permits for all their non-Bermudian advisors and staff

The latter two categories include those from the UK and all short-term consultants or guest speakers

By Keith Archibald Forbes (see About Us)

Bermuda Immigration Application

For Employers see https://www.gov.bm/how-get-work-permit. A relevant employer,  not a prospective employee, has to apply.

Bermuda Department of Immigration

Bermuda's Department of Immigration offices for the purposes shown. Royal Gazette newspaper photo.

line drawing

Applicable laws and important first points about Work Permits

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. 

No entitlement to Permanent Residency

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.

Work Permits and who needs them

In general, the following apply:

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.

Non- Bermudians (non nationals) include

Work Permit basics, conditions, fees applicable, violations and penalties

2020. March 18. Legislation to up the cost of immigration fees was approved by the House of Assembly. Curtis Dickinson, the Minister of Finance, said the 5 per cent increase would mean almost $1 million in additional revenue. Mr Dickinson said: “This is to ensure there is reasonable cost recovery for the provision of the various enhanced services offered by the Department of Immigration. “Based on the general increase of 5 per cent, the overall financial impact of these revision is estimated to be an increase in yield of between $800,000 and $900,000.”

2019. July 29. The Minister of National Security told Parliament how he was working to strike a balance between making sure there are opportunities for both Bermudians and businesses to thrive. Wayne Caines said immigration reform legislation, which was pegged to be tabled in the House of Assembly last Friday, “needed some more time”. The Bill, to ease the plight of mixed-status families, is now expected to go before MPs in September. Mr Caines said on Friday night: “There are Bermudians that were living abroad that had children and their children do not qualify as Bermudians, that’s what mixed status is about. We understand that there are certain, gaps or holes in the legislation, that are allowing people that were born on this soil not to have Bermuda status. We are committed to fixing that.” He said mixed-status families wanted the Progressive Labour Party government to “make sure that they have the opportunity to thrive in their own country”. The minister said he understood the demonstrations against immigration reform that were held outside Parliament. He added that the Government had a responsibility to both preserve a “sacred history”, that included slavery and its abolition, and to “make opportunities for business to thrive in Bermuda”. Mr Caines said, during the motion to adjourn: “We have to create opportunities for career development for Bermudians within organisations and — when we looked at the legislation this week, it just needed some more time.” He told the House that his daughter was born in England and the family had to apply for her to secure Bermudian status before her 22nd birthday, in a situation that “became a crisis period”, earlier this year as the minister scrambled to lay his hands on the necessary documents. Families with mixed status also include those 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.

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.” 

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”. 

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.” 

Other factors relating to Work Permits

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. Potential newcomers who are not Bermudian should ask their prospective employers, or the employers with whom they are negotiating for possible employment in Bermuda, if they are registered by the Immigration Department of the Government of Bermuda as "good corporate citizens". Only the latter are being given maximum leeway re duration of Work Permits.

"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 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.

Priority order of precedence for employment in Bermuda by all non-Bermudian applicants

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.

Employment advertising procedures

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. 

"Closed" or "proscribed" or restricted" categories

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
Laborer, general Maid Masons
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

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.

Permanent Residents Certificates

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:

Public sector employment in Bermuda

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 bpor@ibl.bm. 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.

Working from home in Bermuda

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. "

Work Permit fees and types 

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 2020, 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

Work Permits issued each year

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. 

For more on Work Permits, or length of stay or clarification of Bermudian status

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).

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Authored, researched, compiled and website-managed by Keith A. Forbes. Last Updated: September 20, 2020
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