Any offer of employment to work on one of the Islands will be conditional on obtaining a work permit from the Department of Immigration. How does this process work and what does it involve?
Having made you a job offer which has been accepted, your new employer will guide and sponsor you through the entire visa process. Provided all the correct information is submitted properly on a timely basis and Immigration procedures are properly adhered to, suitably qualified job-seekers should find getting approval a formality only.
Detailed information on the requirements for individual jurisdictions is provided on our main website. However, general requirements as far as candidates are concerned will include the following items:
- A certified copy of your passport
- Certified copies of your degree and professional qualification certificates
- A police certificate confirming you have no convictions
- Medical certificate/X-ray confirming good general health
- Written references
Eligibility for work permits
As a qualified lawyer or accountant, you are virtually guaranteed to be granted a work permit to be based offshore, provided the employer has advertised the position locally in case there are any Islanders who would be eligible for consideration (legally, they have first priority for such vacancies) and there are no nasty surprises in the background check.
What about partners and spouses
Can your partner or spouse go offshore too? The short answer is Yes provided either a) Your partner is also a qualified lawyer or accountant and/or can find work of their own, or b) You are married.
In the latter case, a married couple are both permitted to live on the Island even if only one of them has a job and the associated work permit. Note that work permits are associated with specific jobs/employers and are not available to use for any other employer or employment position.
Other things worth thinking about
If you are married but your spouse will not be working, employers will be cautious because they may fear that your partner will become bored or that you will struggle as a couple to survive financially based off a single income (some of the Islands are not cheap, even if they are tax-free).
If you’re not married, your partner will either need to seek employment of their own or stay on the mainland. In the former case, they might be successful if they work in Financial Services, Administration, Hospitality, Teaching, Nursing or the Police but could struggle otherwise (often it is highly desirable for them to have at least two years of relevant work experience plus some sort of relevant supporting qualification); in the latter case, be aware that employers may worry that the strains of separation may prove too great a risk for them to hire someone who plans on a long-distance relationship.
Watch the details
It is normal practice for job offers to be made subject to your employment and personal references proving satisfactory and a work permit being approved.
An implied condition is also that you will supply the required work permit documentation within a reasonable time period. So be sure to complete your immigration and work permit application on a timely basis. It can take typically anywhere from 4-8 weeks on average to get final approval after your completed application has been received on the Island so you’ll need to get the ball rolling as soon as possible once you’ve got the job in writing.
Ensure you provide everything that is requested, exactly as asked for, together with supporting documentation (e.g. certified passport photos, certified proof of qualifications, medical and police clearances/criminal checks). It is best to assemble the relevant paperwork and submit it to your new employer as a single package rather than submitting documents separately.
Additionally, be sure to return your completed package by courier (as opposed to air mail, recorded delivery). This is the only way of ensuring that your application is received promptly and even then it can take a few days longer than they claim. You’ll normally be allowed to reclaim the cost of this as part of your relocation package.
Some employers ask that you scan and email them what you plan to send by courier, just to make sure for themselves that everything is in order (they know how strict Immigration can be), and to avoid the risk of anything needing to be resubmitted later. This can be a sensible step.
At the end of the day rest assured that, whilst the work permit application process will be new to you and can therefore seem daunting to some, your employer will have been through the process many times before and will be ready to anticipate any help and guidance you’re likely to need in successfully getting approved.
If you are a lawyer or accountant and interested in working in the Bermuda/Caribbean region, visit our jobs portal to see the latest vacancies. Our site also includes a downloadable All You Need to Know guide which will tell you all you need to know about living and working offshore.