On October 1, 2014, the Minister of Home Affairs revealed the new Draft Work Permit Policy which offers new categories of work permits. The goal of the new work permit policy is to restore economic health to Bermuda and create job opportunities for local Bermudians. Minister of Home Affairs intends the new policy to come into effect on December 1, 2014, and in the meantime, is open to receiving feedback regarding the new policy before it is finalized.
The Draft Work Permit Policy includes the following new permits:
- Bermuda Employment Visa. This visa will allow exempted companies to employ a limited number of foreign nationals without needing to advertise or to apply for a Standard Work Permit. The total number of Bermuda Employment Visas will be limited to 20% of the total Bermuda-based workforce at the company.
- Global Entrepreneur Work Permit. This permit is targeted towards individuals who are planning start-up companies in Bermuda. With the permit, the individual will be allowed to live in Bermuda while also conducting business planning for his/her start-up company.
- New Business Permit. This permit would allow new companies in Bermuda to obtain work permits without needing to advertise during the first six months of the business’s existence.
On October 2, 2014, the Opposition Shadow Minister for Immigration in Bermuda expressed “grave concern” regarding the Draft Work Permit Policy. Without the advertising requirement for the Bermuda Employment Visa, he believes that it would “significantly weaken the career aspirations for Bermudians” and that there would be less genuine opportunities for local Bermudians to seek employment in their own country. Additionally, while the draft policy states that serial work permit abusers will face fines up to $10,000, Opposition Shadow Minister believes that the government could more effectively deter bad actors by refusing all permit applications from such employers for a specified period of time.
Since the Draft Work Permit Policy was released a few days ago, there will likely be additional feedback and comments from the community, which will likely lead to a revised version of the Work Permit Policy before it is finalized.