LAWS OF EVE - Do I need a work permit?
Published: Monday | May 4, 2009
Sherry-Ann McGregor - Contributed
Most foreign nationals and Commonwealth citizens must obtain valid work permits from the Minister of Labour and Social Security if they are to work in Jamaica in accordance with the Foreign Nationals and Commonwealth Citizens (Employment) Act.
The act defines a Commonwealth citizen as a person who has that status pursuant to section 9 of the Jamaican Constitution and is not a citizen of Jamaica or a member state of the Caribbean Community.
Foreign national: Someone who is not a citizen of Jamaica, the Commonwealth or a member state of the Caribbean Community.
The failure of the Commonwealth citizen or foreign national (hereinafter called 'foreign worker') or his employer to obtain a valid work permit constitutes a criminal offence punishable by imprisonment at hard labour for a term not exceeding six months, or a fine not exceeding $200, or both. The employer can only be prosecuted with the sanction of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Once a work permit has been granted, the foreign worker must engage in work in accordance with the terms and conditions of the permit. The minister has the discretion to vary or revoke it at any time. The foreign worker may be required to produce his work permit to a constable or an authorised person (for example an immigration officer) on demand or within three days. Failure to comply without reasonable explanation makes that person liable to conviction and the individual may be sentenced to a term of imprisonment with or without hard labour, not exceeding three months, or a fine of $50.
Under the Foreign Nationals and Commonwealth Citizens (Employment) Exemptions Regulation, the following classes of persons are exempted from obtaining a work permit:
Wives of citizens of Jamaica (there is no mention of husbands of Jamaican citizens).
Full-time students of the University of the West Indies and the wives of male students. The University of Technology and the University College of the Caribbean are not mentioned. Neither are the husbands of female students.
A foreign national who is the husband of a Jamaican national, if they occupy a common matrimonial home.
Certain diplomatic staff and consular officers.
Ministers of Government of any country with whom Jamaica has diplomatic relations.
Persons employed in any ministry or department of the Government of Jamaica.
Persons employed in Jamaica to the United Nations or to any international organisation of which Jamaica is a member.
Persons employed in Jamaica to the United States Information Service (USIS), Mission to Jamaica of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the United States Peace Corps, and other bodies.
For 14 days in any one calendar year: directors, inspectors and auditors of any company, association, organisation or body (whether established or incorporated in Jamaica or elsewhere) which operates in Jamaica or controls any company which operates in Jamaica.
The act also empowers the minister to conditionally or unconditionally order that any person or class of persons be exempt from obtaining a work permit prior to engaging in employment.
(In next week's article, we will explore the steps to be taken in making an application for a work permit.)
Sherry-Ann McGregor is an attorney-at-Law/mediator with the firm of Nunes, Scholefield, DeLeon & Co. Please send feedback and comments to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.