What are the main work and business permit categories used by companies to transfer skilled staff?
The primary, non-temporary business permit categories are as follows.Standard work permits
The purpose of a standard work permit is to allow all organisations in Bermuda to employ foreign nationals provided that they can demonstrate that a Bermudian, spouse of a Bermudian or PRC holder was not suitably qualified or available to be hired. Employers may apply for standard work permits of a one to five-year period.
Employers are permitted to apply for standard work permits for jobs that are in the open, special or restricted category. Applications for standard work permits are not allowed for closed category jobs. Closed category jobs include, but are not limited to, labourers, sales people and receptionists. Restricted category jobs include, but are not limited to, bank tellers, bartenders, administrative assistants, general masons and photographers. These categories are generally designed to protect the local workforce.Global work permits
The global work permit allows a person who is already employed by a global company in another jurisdiction to transfer to the Bermuda office without the requirement to advertise the position so long as the position being filled is not a pre-existing position. Global work permits are granted for periods of time similar to standard permits (ie, one to five years). However, if an employer wishes for a global work permit holder to continue working in Bermuda after the expiry of the worker’s global work permit, they will be required to apply for a standard work permit.
Applications will be automatically approved in respect of individuals who have been employed for longer than one year and who earn a gross salary greater than Bda$125,000 per year. Applications in respect of individuals employed for less than one year or those earning less than Bda$125,000, or both, will be considered on a case-by-case basis and approval will depend substantially on demonstrating that the addition of the global work permit holder will add value to Bermuda. A global work permit is not applicable to positions listed in the closed or restricted categories.New business work permit
A new business work permit allows an exempted company (per the definition in the Companies Act 1981) that is new to Bermuda to receive automatic approval of work permits for the first six months of obtaining the first new business permit. There is no need to advertise the positions (which is the requirement of the standard work permit). New section 114B companies to Bermuda (per the ability to be licensed under section 114B of the Companies Act) will be granted new business work permits; however, these will be limited to five new business work permits within the first six months of obtaining the first new business work permit. New business work permit holders may be employed in any job category provided that their position is not an entry-level position, a graduate position or trainee position or specified in a closed or restricted category. However, if the new business permit holder falls within a job category where a statutory council must be consulted, this must still be done.Fintech business work permit
A new immigration policy for fintech start-up companies allows a fintech company that is new to Bermuda to receive automatic approval of five work permits within the first six months of obtaining the first fintech business work permit. One significant caveat to this new policy is the requirement that ‘for a fintech business to be eligible for automatic approvals under this policy they must also present plans for the hiring, training and development of Bermudians in entry level or trainee positions’. Standard work permit policies apply after the initial terms of the fintech business permit expires.Procedures
What are the procedures for obtaining these permissions? At what stage can work begin?
Standard work permit applications require the employer (who must be a Bermuda-based individual or company) to:
- advertise the vacancy in Bermuda as per the requirements in the Policy;
- properly consider any Bermudian, spouse of Bermudian or PRC holder who meets the minimum qualifications of said advertisement;
- with the assistance of the work permit applicant, complete the relevant work permit application form and submit all necessary and relevant documentation; and
- where necessary, send the application to the relevant statutory body regulating the profession of the applicant (eg, doctors and lawyers).
Work cannot begin until the application has been approved by the Department of Immigration.
With respect to the standard work permit, the global work permit and the new business permit, if employers are able to qualify for the waiver of advertising per the Policy, the first two steps identified above do not need to be followed. The employer need only complete the relevant work permit application form and submit all necessary documentation.Period of stay
What are the general maximum (and minimum) periods of stay granted under the main categories for company transfers?
This is one to five years. Renewal permits can be applied for when standard work permits expire - as long as all the relevant requirements of the Policy continue to be met. The general restriction of work permit holders not working in Bermuda for longer than a six-year period was removed by the government.Processing time
How long does it typically take to process the main categories?
The Policy states that employers can expect standard work permits to take 20 working days to process, and global or new business work permits to take 10 working days. These periods are subject to change if the Department of Immigration experiences a high volume of submissions. By way of example, the current trend indicates that standard work permits are taking up to 60 days to process.Staff benefits
Is it necessary to obtain any benefits or facilities for staff to secure a work permit?
Employers and employees have certain obligations with respect to social insurance contributions, payroll tax, pension and medical insurance. Employers must ensure that the employee has the legislative minimum health insurance cover (although it is common for corporate employers to provide enhanced insurance coverage), pension and social insurance. Accommodation is optional for employers to arrange and pay for.Assessment criteria
Do the immigration authorities follow objective criteria, or do they exercise discretion according to subjective criteria?
The Policy is fairly detailed and provides certain objective criteria for eligibility for the various applications. However, the Policy cannot be described as entirely objective.
The Policy states that the Minister may exercise his or her discretion per the immigration legislation to waive specific policies upon written request or justification for the same. It further expressly states that the Minister ‘has the right to create, modify, eliminate and make exceptions to any Immigration policy’. Where individuals or employers believe that the circumstances of a situation warrant special consideration of the Minister, they should justify their case in writing This is particularly the case in respect of specialised roles where there is a known shortage of Bermudians, spouses of Bermudians and PRC holders. The Minister has no discretion to waive any fees. In this way, there is flexibility within the Policy to accommodate complicated cases.
In practice, the Minister and the Immigration Board (appointed by the Minister), which reviews the applications, do possess discretion with respect to interpretation of various issues. For example, if a Bermudian, spouse of a Bermudian or PRC holder has applied for the job upon advertising and has been refused the job in favour of the work permit applicant, the Board and the Minister will exercise subjective analysis of whether the consideration of the Bermudian, spouse of Bermudian or PRC holder was fair.
If an application is refused, it can be appealed to the Minister.High net worth individuals and investors
Is there a special route for high net worth individuals or investors?
Under the global entrepreneur work permit, the Minister will grant a permit to an individual for a one-year period to work and reside in Bermuda (in respect of an exempted company or a section 114B start-up), if he or she is satisfied that the applicant is a bona fide investor or business person that is likely to domicile a company in Bermuda. The work activities may include business planning, seeking appropriate government or regulatory approval, meeting compliance or financial requirements or raising capital.
High net worth individuals are able to apply for permission to reside on an annual basis but such permission does not permit them to work in Bermuda.
Is there a special route (including fast track) for high net worth individuals for a residence permission route into your jurisdiction?
There is no special route for high net worth individuals for residence permission for Bermuda.
Economic citizenship and investment visas were initially investigated and discussed by the previous government as an initiative to attract foreign investment in Bermuda but such discussions have not progressed further.Highly skilled individuals
Is there a special route for highly skilled individuals?
There is no special application for highly skilled individuals. Employers of highly skilled individuals may, however, be able to seek a waiver to the requirement to advertise the position on the following basis:
- that the applicant is uniquely qualified for the position;
- the position would not exist in Bermuda if it were not for the applicant filling the job;
- the success of the business would be detrimentally affected if the person were to leave the business; or
- the employee is integral and key to income generation.
The posts of CEO and other chief officers are automatically granted waivers from advertising.Ancestry and descent
Is there a special route for foreign nationals based on ancestry or descent?
There is no special route for foreign nationals based on ancestry or descent. If an individual is deemed Bermudian, that person has the right to reside and work in Bermuda without limitations. If an individual believes he or she may possess Bermudian status based on ancestry or descent, he or she is able to make a general enquiry application to determine if he or she is deemed to possess Bermudian status.Minimum salary
Is there a minimum salary requirement for the main categories for company transfers?
There is no minimum salary requirement for the main categories for company transfers. However, if the individual moving to Bermuda wishes to bring dependants to Bermuda, there are minimum salary requirements that must be proven.
Upon application, sponsored dependants of the work permit holder may be given permission to reside with the work permit holder and seek employment provided that the sponsor submits proof of financial support for the sponsored dependants. The following thresholds must be demonstrated:
- a two-person household requires remuneration of Bda$60,000 per annum;
- a three-person household requires remuneration of Bda$100,000 per annum; and
- a household of four or more persons requires remuneration of Bda$125,000 per annum.
Is there a quota system or resident labour market test?
There is no quota system in Bermuda.
All positions (unless the employer is eligible to seek a waiver to the requirement to advertise) must be advertised. If a Bermudian, spouse of a Bermudian or PRC holder applicant meets the requirements of the advertised position, such an applicant should be interviewed. Results of any interviews must be included with the work permit application submission.Shortage occupations
Is there a special route for shortage occupations?
All applications for work permits are processed through the normal channels whether there is a shortage in a particular field or not.Other eligibility requirements
Are there any other main eligibility requirements to qualify for work permission in your jurisdiction?
There are no other eligibility requirements apart from what is set out in the relevant application forms and in the Policy. These include, for example, advertising the position, and employers ensuring that there are no suitably qualified Bermudians, spouses of Bermudian or PRC holders to fill the position.Third-party contractors
What is the process for third-party contractors to obtain work permission?
Work permits must be obtained by the Bermuda employer. If someone is required to work as a contractor or consultant for another company or individual, that other company or individual must also apply for the work permit, identifying that the employee will be working as a contractor or consultant.Recognition of foreign qualifications
Is an equivalency assessment or recognition of skills and qualifications required to obtain immigration permission?
Formal assessments or testing to confirm skills and qualifications is not required. It is the responsibility of the employer to provide a written declaration in the application form that they have thoroughly screened the applicant and to the best of their knowledge and belief the applicant is of good character, possesses the qualifications purported in the application, is in good health and does not have a criminal record.
The Policy does, however, state that the Minister shall consult with the statutory body that regulates matters dealt with by that profession. A full list can be found in the Policy and includes, but is not limited to, statutory bodies relating to architects, lawyers, dentists, nurses, psychologists, accountants and engineers.