Non-Bahamian citizens must acquire work permits before they can perform work for an employer in The Bahamas. The government only issues work permits under specific conditions, so expatriates seeking work here should ensure that they follow Labour Department and Department of Immigration procedures.
Work permits will be issued only if the job positions the expatriates seek to fill require special skill or expertise and there are no interested and qualified Bahamian applicants. Employers who want to hire an expatriate, meaning a non-citizen of The Bahamas, for a position must advertise the position first so that eligible Bahamian citizens may apply. If the employer does not have any interested and qualified Bahamian applicants, the employer may request a labour certificate from the Labour Department for the expatriate. After obtaining the certificate, the employer must obtain approval from the Department of Immigration to employ the expatriate.
The work permit application that expatriates must submit is comprehensive and requires payment of expensive fees. Expatriates must provide character references and a letter from the prospective employer, along with passport-size photographs, photo identification, a medical certificate, a police certificate, and a $100.00 processing fee. The work permit holder will be charged an additional fee for the work permit depending on his occupation and job position.
Most work permits remain valid for one year, and they do not renew automatically. Employers may request a longer-term permit if needed. When expatriates renew their work permits, they must show that there are still no interested and qualified Bahamians to fill the position. The Department of Immigration issues some short-term work permits for expatriates working in The Bahamas for up to 90 days. A work permit holder who loses his job must return the work permit.
The Bahamas makes a special exception to the work permit requirements for companies that move their offices to The Bahamas but only conduct business offshore. For these companies, the labour certificate requirement will be waived.
To find out more about work permits in The Bahamas, visit Gonsalves-Sabola Chambers online or call the office at +1 242 326 6400.