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How foreign nationals can work in Jamaica

Published:Monday | February 8, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Q.What are the immigration requirements for someone taking up an employment offer in Jamaica?

Each year, Jamaica receives scores of foreign nationals who come to the island to take up employment opportunities in various areas of work. It is important that such persons adhere to proper immigration requirements and procedures prior to and upon arrival in the island. As the agency responsible for protecting our nation's borders, the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA) can refuse entry to anyone who has not fulfilled all the requirements for the purpose of travel.

What is required

Any foreign national (Commonwealth and non-Commonwealth) who is coming to Jamaica to work must be in possession of a work permit letter issued by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, as stipulated by the Foreign Nationals and Commonwealth Citizens (Employment) Act.

It is important to note that the prospective employee must obtain the work permit letter before coming to Jamaica. The letter usually gives a time period within which the individual is required to have his/her passport endorsed by PICA. If that date expires before this is done, then the work permit letter must be re-issued (revalidated) by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security. (Once the necessary immigration requirements have been met, the prospective employee then takes the letter to the Ministry of Labour and Social Security to get his/her work permit card).

Having obtained a work permit letter, the immigration requirements will depend on whether or not the traveller is a Commonwealth citizen.

Persons from non-Commonwealth countries must be in possession of:

A valid passport.

Entry visa (visa should be obtained at a Jamaican consulate or embassy prior to the individual's arrival in the island).

Persons from Commonwealth countries will need:

Any foreign national who is coming to Jamaica to work must be in possession of a work permit

A valid passport

Other factors such as health and security risks may be taken into account as well as when landing a traveller on the island.

Please note that no visa is required for nationals of Commonwealth countries, save for a few exceptions: Pakistan; Sri Lanka; Nigeria; British Virgin Islands and Cayman Islands.

Extension of Stay

Having established the requirements for landing, we will now look at the process of extending one's stay on the island.

At the airport, the prospective employee from both non-Commonwealth and Commonwealth countries will be landed at the port of entry for a short period of time, subject to satisfying the landing requirements mentioned above. He or she would then be advised to visit our office to regularise his/her stay on the island. This is done at the Extension of Stay Unit and must be done within the time given by the immigration officer at the port of entry.

Upon visiting the Extension of Stay Unit, the following forms must be completed:

Application for Extension of Stay

Alien Registration Card (where applicable)

Note that a re-entry visa is issued to nationals of non-Commonwealth countries as well as citizens of Commonwealth countries on whom a visa requirement has been imposed and who are residing in Jamaica. The visa facilitates their re-entry into the island once they have departed with the intention of returning. The current fee for a re-entry visa varies from $500 to $2,000 and is also dependent on the nationality.

Nationals of non-Commonwealth countries over the age of 16, and who will be residing in Jamaica for more than six months, are required to register. The process includes completing an alien registration card and submitting same along with two passport-size photographs, and three for persons residing outside of Kingston and St Andrew. A registration fee of $2,000 is applicable.

The processing time for extension of stay is three business days and a non-refundable processing fee of J$10,000 is applicable.

PICA Corner is a collaboration between The Gleaner and the Passport, Immigration and Citizenhip Agency (PICA). Send questions, comments and suggestions to editor@gleanerjm.com and the PICA will respond.