Bermuda: Changes To Bermuda Work Permit Policies Effective December 2014

Last Updated: 4 March 2015
Article by Appleby  

Most Read Contributor in Bermuda, September 2018

Bermuda's Ministry of Home Affairs issued for consultation in October 2014 proposed changes to the Work Permit Policy to be made effective 1 March 2015. The changes aim to simplify the process for employers and employees. Below are details of the legal and practical ramifications of the changes to policy and procedure.

APPEALS

Appeals must be made within seven working days of the date of the refusal letter and will now cost BMD$250. If the refusal is related to a work permit renewal, and is submitted on time, the employee may continue working while the appeal is being considered. If the appeal is submitted outside of the time frame then the employee must cease working. This is a departure from previous policy which forced all work permit holders to cease work once that permit had expired.

PAYMENT OF GOVERNMENT TAXES AND EMPLOYEE BENEFITS

Employers must now certify that they are not more than 90 days delinquent in payments of payroll tax, health insurance, social insurance and pension contributions for all of their employees. If an employer is more than 90 days delinquent, the employer must provide documentation that they have either made the required payments or have agreed upon a payment plan with the relevant Government department. Failure to comply with these requirements may lead to permit applications being denied.

REQUIREMENT TO INFORM

Employers are required to inform Bermudians, Spouses of Bermudians and Permanent Resident Certificate (PRC) holders the outcome of their employment applications before submitting work permit applications. No proof of this is required to be submitted with the application, however, employers may be asked to provide evidence of such notification to the Department of Immigration.

ADVERTISING

New procedures require that in addition to traditional newspaper advertising, all jobs must be posted on the Bermuda Job Board for eight consecutive days. The time period in which a work permit application must be made after advertisement may now be extended from three months to six months upon payment of an Advertisement Extension Fee. Employers may not change their contact details listed in the advert within five days after the last advertisement; doing so will cause the advertisement to be considered invalid and require the employer to repost the ad. Apart from these few changes, the procedure for advertising positions prior to work permit application is unchanged. Newspaper ads for three days in an eight day period remain a requirement.

REFUNDS

The Department of Immigration will issue refunds for situations where Immigration grants a permit for a shorter term than the term applied for or where a permit application is refused. However, refunds will no longer be provided in situations where a work permit is granted but the employee does not in fact come to Bermuda or where a permit holder ceases employment for any reason before the expiry of the work permit.

BUSINESS ACTIVITIES WHERE NO PERMISSION IS REQUIRED

No Immigration approval is necessary for business visitors in possession of a return ticket (and Multi Re-entry Visa if necessary). Business visitors may now stay for up to 21 consecutive days and can apply for an additional 21 days.

PERIODIC PERMITS

Periodic permits can be granted for terms of one, two, three, four or five years to employ non-residents who will make multiple visits of 30 days or less each visit, not exceeding 180 days per calendar year. For example, persons who work for an overseas office of a Bermuda company, a service provider or travelling salesperson. Where the business visitor may not always be the same person, the employer may request that the Periodic Permit be issued in the name of the foreign company. However, only one representative may be landed per permit.

PERIODIC PERMITS FOR TRAVELLING SALESPERSONS

Periodic permits for travelling salespersons will be accepted from local businesses acting as agent or the Bermuda Chamber of Commerce (the Chamber) only. The Chamber will screen each application to determine if the product is already represented in Bermuda and whether the granting of a permit will threaten the Bermuda company's interests. If the product is not represented, the Chamber will assess which local businesses may have an interest in the product and set up appointments on behalf of the salesperson. Periodic permits for travelling salespersons will not be granted for terms greater than one year and may have such other restrictions as the Chamber may recommend to the Department of Immigration.

SHORT TERM WORK PERMITS

Short term work permits may be granted for terms of three, four, five or six months. At the expiry of the permit, the holder will be expected to leave Bermuda, as holders will not normally be granted permission to reside and/or seek employment.

Positions must be advertised pursuant to Work Permit Policy Section 1.14, save for the circumstances listed below:

  • Extension, of up to six months of a short term work permit, of a person who is leaving Bermuda upon the expiry (the person need not leave the island on extension applications);
  • An employee of a Bermuda company's overseas subsidiary, affiliate or parent company;
  • A service provider or consultant in a specialised field;
  • A specialised technician for the purpose of maintaining equipment under contract; providing repairs to pipe organs; installing an upgrade of business computer software; servicing inter-company communication networks;
  • A service provider to a private function / convention / conference, including entertainers;
  • Featured act entertainers for a public event performing for a single period of fourteen (14) days or less;
  • Someone to work for and be compensated by a non-profit organisation or registered charity, as a sports coach, teacher of sport or recreation, clergy, speaker, trainer or musician;
  • Sports professionals or a professional team who is participating in an event for a single period of fourteen (14) days or less;
  • A locum tenens minister of religion or physician; and
  • Provider of short-term in-house training offered by the Bermuda Employers' Council, the Bermuda College, the Chamber or other recognised training body or institute.

Where a standard permit application is intended to be submitted subsequent to the granting of a short term work permit, the application for the short term work permit must be made within 45 days of the short term work permit application. The Standard Work Permit application must include an explanation of how the Bermudian, Spouse of Bermudian or PRC holder applications, if any, were not qualified or suitable for the role, and why the standard permit application could not be submitted earlier.

GLOBAL WORK PERMITS

Global Work Permits are intended to allow persons who are employed by a global company in another jurisdiction to transfer to the Bermuda office without the need to advertise. A "global company" is any company in Bermuda that employs people in jurisdictions outside of Bermuda. Franchise businesses are not global employers for the purposes of this policy. The company must demonstrate that the applicant is not being transferred to fill a pre-existing position. The Global Work Permit is available for terms of one, two, three, four or five years.

Applications will be automatically approved for individuals employed for over one year and who earn more than BMD$125,000 per year. Applicants not meeting these criteria will be considered on a case by case basis. Global Work Permits are not available to positions in a closed or restricted category.

NEW BUSINESS WORK PERMITS

A New Business Work Permit allows for exempted companies that are new to Bermuda to receive automatic approval of work permits applied for within the first six months of operation. This amendment removes the previous limit of five permits. While there is now no pre-set maximum to the number of permits that can be granted, if a company anticipates needing more than ten permits, they are required to submit to the Minister a staffing plan that details projections for hiring Bermudians and engagements with local service providers.

New Business Work Permits will be granted for terms of one, two, three, four or five years and may not be used for entry-level positions or jobs in a closed or restricted category. The decision of whether a company is a "new business" falls to the Minister.

GLOBAL ENTREPRENEUR WORK PERMIT

Global Entrepreneur Work Permits (GE Permits) are intended to assist persons planning to start a new exempted business in Bermuda. GE Permits will be issued for a period of up to one year and allow the holder to work and reside in Bermuda. Work activities permitted under the GE Permit include business planning, seeking appropriate Government or regulatory approval(s), meeting compliance or financial requirements and raising capital.

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