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By Keith Archibald Forbes (see About Us)
A Bermuda-based employer, not the anticipated employee, has to apply to the Bermuda Government for a work permit for each non-Bermudian applicant employee.
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. Then, if/when employment is offered by that specific employer as a result of a successful reply to that specific advertisement, the employer applies to obtain a Work Permit application from Bermuda Immigration, sends it 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. IA prospective employee must be 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.
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.
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 should be aware that Bermuda is the only place in the developed Western world where Bermuda's constitution and Human Rights laws, provisions and rights apply to Bermudians only. Both of which effectively mean that any attempt by a non-Bermudian to legally challenge a termination of employment and/or residence in Bermuda will be very expensive to pursue and unlikely to succeed.
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, 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.
Be aware that because of the Covid 19 pandemic, many low-paid non-Bermudian employees in Bermuda working at hotels lost their jobs, have left Bermuda and are not being replaced by new non-Bermudians, only by Bermudians in need of new jobs.
Especially because of the Covid 19 pandemic, non-Bermudian applicants most likely to succeed in finding a Bermuda-based job will likely hold a graduate degree from an accredited university, or an appropriate Masters degree, or a PhD, also with professional accreditations..
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 a Bermudian or a non-Bermudian deemed a key worker or married to a permanent resident certificate holder. Term limits are to discourage the expectation of non-Bermudians to long residency, or Bermudian status..
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 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.
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. 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.”
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, 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.
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 and hotel staff||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|
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
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 types, for each of which a fee is payable
|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|
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.
2016. About 8,300 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.
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).
researched, compiled and website-managed by Keith A. Forbes. Last Updated:
October 31, 2020
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