At a Glance
- The Labor Department in the Republic of Congo has closed the office responsible for issuing work permits to foreign nationals and plans to replace it with a new agency.
- Work permit applications will not be accepted and pending work permit applications will not be adjudicated until the new agency is operational, which is expected to be in February.
Fragomen reports that processing of all work permit types in the Republic of Congo has been suspended due to closure of the department responsible for issuing work permits, the Office National de l'Emploi et de la Main d'Ruvre (ONEMO).
A closer look
Work permit applications will not be accepted and pending work permit applications will not be adjudicated until a new agency – Agence Congolaise Pour I'Emploi (ACPE) – is operational, which is expected to be in February.
Employers should not submit any new work permit applications until the ACPE has opened for business.
Foreign nationals who submitted applications in 2019 can travel to and work in the Republic of Congo with documents proving they have submitted and paid for their application.
- Unexpected closure. While the department restructure has been ongoing since May 2019, it was not anticipated that the ONEMO would be closed without a contingency plan.
- Purpose of restructure. This restructure aims to improve the efficiency of the immigration system in the Republic of Congo, which is not as updated as in other parts of Africa due to the existing bureaucracy and complicated processing steps. As a result, the immigration system remains largely unstructured. The last immigration-related change occurred in September 2017 when a new law updated the conditions for entry, stay and departure. The immigration scheme has not been updated since. Additionally, work authorization processing times in the country are long (in the range of three to six months for a short-term work permit, and up to one year for a long-term work permit) and there are no clear guidelines for the adjudication process.
It is likely that there will be more disruptions in the near future as the Republic of Congo attempts to bring its immigration processes in line with the more streamlined processes in other African countries.
Immigration laws and systems in Africa have improved in recent times, and the long-term effect of the upgraded system and change of departments in the Republic of Congo is expected to create a more streamlined and clear work permit application process.
Fragomen will report on further related developments.
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