WORK PERMIT ISSUES IN TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO
Under the Immigration Act, Chapter 18:01 of the Laws of Trinidad and Tobago, no person who is not a citizen or permanent resident of Trinidad and Tobago, may legally work in Trinidad and Tobago except for a single period not exceeding thirty (30) days in a consecutive twelve (12) month period. If a foreign national intends to work in Trinidad and Tobago for periods greater than thirty days in a twelve-month period or intends to enter Trinidad and Tobago multiple times for work during the course of a year, he/she must be granted a work permit by the Minister of National Security. Further, no natural or legal person may hire a foreign national for work (he/she being neither a citizen nor a resident of Trinidad and Tobago) unless the employer first obtains a work permit for that foreign national. Even if the foreign national intends to perform such activities as training or inspections, a work permit will need to be secured prior to any work being commenced.
A foreign national will not need to obtain a work permit for short-term business activities, such as board meetings. In such cases, the foreign national will usually be granted entry to Trinidad and Tobago to carry out these types of activities for a limited period of time, usually seven to ten working days.
A work permit will be granted to a foreign national only if there is no citizen or resident of Trinidad and Tobago who is qualified to perform the functions of the job. In order to demonstrate that the employer of the foreign national has taken all reasonable steps to locate a citizen or resident of Trinidad and Tobago to fill the position, the employer will be required to provide evidence of the placement of advertisements of the employment position in local newspapers and to report on the applications received in response to that advertisement. Further, the employer must show that, as the intended employee, the foreign national possesses the relevant experience or skill or expertise pertinent to the employment position.
All foreign employees are required to impart their knowledge and skills to other nationals/residents of Trinidad and Tobago with whom the foreign employees will closely work. If the employer does not propose to have a Trinidad and Tobago citizen or permanent resident trained to replace the foreign employee at the expiration of his/her work permit, a satisfactory explanation must be provided to the Ministry of National Security as to why such training will not to be undertaken.
A work permit application should be submitted well in advance (at least three months) of the date of the foreign employee’s intended arrival into Trinidad and Tobago, together with supporting documentation which includes the following:
- a police certificate of good character with respect to the previous five (5) years;
- two (2) written character references, one of which must be from the foreign applicant’s previous employer;
- an updated resume;
- copies of all certificates, degrees and other documents evidencing the foreign applicant’s relevant qualifications;
- passport biographic page; and
- a recent photograph taken within the last six (6) months.
As the holder of a work permit, a foreign employee and any of his/her accompanying dependents, must have their passports endorsed by the Immigration Division with a Multiple Entry visa, which will allow the foreign employee and his/her dependents to enter Trinidad and Tobago without obtaining entry visas each time they seek to enter Trinidad and Tobago or paying visa waiver fees at the port of entry. Further, a holder of a work permit which exceeds one year in duration and his/her accompanying dependents must submit to the Immigration Division completed medical reports in the required form, when having their passports endorsed for Multiple Entry visas. A security bond may also be required to meet any deportation costs which may arise.
Any foreign national who is found to be working in Trinidad and Tobago without a work permit is liable to be deported immediately. The employer of the foreign national who is not in possession of a valid work permit may be liable, on summary conviction, to pay a fine and/or subject to imprisonment and to meet the deportation costs of the foreign national.
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