Long-term transfers

Categories

What are the main work and business permit categories used by companies to transfer skilled staff?

The main work and business permit categories that are used by companies to transfer skilled staff are:

  • short-term work and residence permits;
  • long-term work and residence permits; and
  • the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) automatic immigrant quota.
Procedures

What are the procedures for obtaining these permissions? At what stage can work begin?

Short-term work and residence permits (six months)Sponsoring companies must apply to the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) for a short term work permit for skilled staff and provide sufficient justification for the request. A sponsoring company must be duly registered in Ghana (and not the company transferring the skilled staff).

In its application, the sponsoring company must demonstrate to the GIS that it is compliant with Ghanaian laws by submitting documents showing that the company:

  • is duly registered in Ghana;
  • is tax compliant; and
  • has the relevant sector specific licence to operate.

In addition, the skilled staff (being transferred) must provide:

  • a copy of their passport biodata;
  • confirmation that they have a valid assignment or employment agreement with the sponsor;
  • confirmation that they are medically fit to work in Ghana (the medical examination must be conducted at the GIS’s medical facility); and
  • confirmation that they possess the relevant skills required for the position.

All of the required documents – including a completed work permit form – must be submitted to the GIS for processing.

For certain specialised sectors, such as the petroleum and mining sectors, a recommendation letter from the regulator (eg, the Petroleum or Minerals Commission) is required in addition to the abovementioned documents.

After assessing an application, the GIS will issue a work permit to the employee. Employees are fully authorised to work once they receive both a work and residence permit. The latter will be issued in the employee’s original passport. 

Long-term work and residence permitsSponsoring companies must apply to the GIS for a long-term work permit for skilled staff and provide sufficient justification for the request.

In its application, the sponsoring company must demonstrate to the GIS that it is compliant with Ghanaian laws by submitting documents showing (among other things) that the company:

  • is duly registered in Ghana;
  • is tax compliant; and
  • has the relevant sector specific licence to operate.

In addition, the skilled staff (being transferred) must provide:

  • a copy of their passport biodata;
  • confirmation that they have a valid assignment or employment agreement with the sponsor;
  • confirmation that they are medically fit to work in Ghana (the medical examination must be conducted at the GIS’s medical facility);
  • confirmation that they possess the relevant skills required for the position; and
  • confirmation that they do not have a criminal record.

All documentation – including a completed work permit form – must be submitted to the GIS for processing.

For certain specialised sectors, such as the petroleum and mining sectors, a recommendation letter from the regulator (eg, the Petroleum or Minerals Commission) is required in addition to the abovementioned documents when applying for a work and residence permit. In order to satisfy local content requirements, additional documents and information will be required to obtain the relevant recommendation letter from the regulators.

After assessing an application, the GIS will issue a work permit to the employee. Employees are fully authorised to work once they receive both a work and residence permit. The latter will be issued in the employee’s original passport. 

GIPC automatic immigrant quotaThe GIPC automatic immigrant quota is an indefinite work permit slot allocated to companies registered with the GIPC. The number of quotas to which a company is entitled is determined by the level of foreign equity or foreign capital invested into the company’s operations in Ghana. This allocation is made on application by the company to the GIPC to utilise their quota once the company wishes to employ a foreign national.

Once an application for utilisation of a quota is approved, the GIPC writes to the GIS requesting a residence permit to be issued in favour of the employee in order to allow them utilise the quota.

Period of stay

What are the general maximum (and minimum) periods of stay granted under the main categories for company transfers?

Short-term work and residence permitsShort-term work and residence permits are valid for six months. These permits can be renewed once.

Long-term work and residence permitsLong-term work and residence permits are valid for minimum of one year. These permits can be renewed annually.

GIPC automatic immigrant quotaThe automatic immigrant quota is co-terminus with the company’s existence. However, an employee utilising the quota may have to renew their residence permit annually.

Processing time

How long does it typically take to process the main categories?

Short-term work and residence permitsTypically, a direct work and residence permit application (without any sector-specific requirements) takes between four and eight weeks to be approved and issued. However, where a recommendation letter is required from a sector regulator, the processing time may increase by up to four weeks on average. 

Long-term work and residence permitsTypically, a direct work and residence permit application (without any sector-specific requirements) takes between four and eight weeks to be approved and issued. However, where a recommendation letter is required from a sector regulator, the processing time may increase by up to six weeks on average. 

GIPC automatic immigrant quota The processing time is between four and six weeks.

Staff benefits

Is it necessary to obtain any benefits or facilities for staff to secure a work permit?

No. Staff benefits are not conditions precedent to obtaining a work permit. However, there must be an employment or assignment agreement between the company and the employee that states the employee’s salary.

Assessment criteria

Do the immigration authorities follow objective criteria, or do they exercise discretion according to subjective criteria?

In general, the GIS follows objective criteria in assessing applications. However, some senior officials can exercise limited discretion when met by novel, peculiar or complicated cases.

High net worth individuals and investors

Is there a special route for high net worth individuals or investors?

No, there are no special routes for high-net-worth individuals or investors. However, the GIPC Act allocates a number of automatic immigrant quotas to companies depending on the amount of equity investment that they make. 

Is there a special route (including fast track) for high net worth individuals for a residence permission route into your jurisdiction?

No, there is no special route for high-net-worth individuals for residence permission in Ghana.

Highly skilled individuals

Is there a special route for highly skilled individuals?

No, there is no special route for highly skilled individuals.

Ancestry and descent

Is there a special route for foreign nationals based on ancestry or descent?

Yes, a foreign national of African descent living in the diaspora may be granted a right of abode. Also, Ghanaians who have lost their citizenship by reason of their acquiring another citizenship may apply to the Ministry of the Interior for a right of abode.

Foreign nationals of African descent living in the diaspora may apply for a right of abode if (among other things) they have resided in Ghana for at least 10 years. 

A person who is granted a right of abode is entitled to:

  • remain indefinitely in Ghana;
  • enter the country without a visa; and
  • work without a permit.
Minimum salary

Is there a minimum salary requirement for the main categories for company transfers?

No. There is no minimum salary requirement specific to company transfers.

Resident labour market test

Is there a quota system or resident labour market test?

There are no quota limits. However, there are general restrictions on the kinds of position that a foreign national may occupy; these must be highly technical and one for which no Ghanaian has the requisite expertise.

In general, labour market testing is required before foreign employees can be hired or transferred to positions in Ghana. In applying for a work permit, an applicant must disclose whether the position was first advertised locally.

Labour market testing is stricter in some sectors than others. Specifically, in the oil and gas sector, the Petroleum Commission (the regulator) has a strict requirement that all vacant positions are advertised in designated newspapers and evidence of such ads is provided when applying for work permits.

Further, where no Ghanaian is found to occupy the position, a Ghanaian understudy must be recruited to understudy the prospective foreign employee.

Employers will usually be exempt from submitting a labour market testing when applying for short-term (six month) work permits.

GIPC automatic immigrant quota cases do not require labour market testing as quotas are tied to the investments made into the country rather than the availability of Ghanaians for the positions.

Shortage occupations

Is there a special route for shortage occupations?

No, there are no special rules for shortage occupation.

Other eligibility requirements

Are there any other main eligibility requirements to qualify for work permission in your jurisdiction?

No.

Third-party contractors

What is the process for third-party contractors to obtain work permission?

The process of obtaining work permission for third-party contractors is no different from the normal work permit application process. However, the company on whose behalf the third-party contractor is applying for the work permit must be the sponsoring entity and not the third-party contractor.

Ghana’s immigration laws do not preclude persons using a work permit from working as contractors on other companies’ premises. Once it has been shown that the person using a work permit is an employee of the contractor, that person can work on other companies’ premises for and on behalf of the contractor.

Recognition of foreign qualifications

Is an equivalency assessment or recognition of skills and qualifications required to obtain immigration permission?

Yes, recognition of skills and qualifications are required to obtain immigration permission. An applicant must present their educational and professional certificates evidencing their skills and expertise in order for them to obtain immigration permission.