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Cook Islands: Labour Regulation

Work Permits

The Entry, Residence and Departure Act 1977 states that anyone other than a Cook Islands citizen or permanent resident who wishes to live and work on the Islands must first obtain a work and residence permit. An application for a work and residence permit can now be made online.

Work permits have traditionally been issued quite freely except in certain activities which are reserved for Cook Islanders, including copra production, harvesting of reef and lagoon products, small retailing and garment manufacture.

A business or employer can apply for a work permit on behalf of an expatriate employee. As a rule, a permit is issued for a year, and is renewable on application by the employer. The work permit is tied to the applicant's employer and is not transferable to another employment.

In February 2008, the Entry, Residence and Departure Act was amended with regard to the granting of permanent residence

Under the updated legislation, the granting of up to 650 PR certificates was permitted, 150 more than the previous limit of 500.

The amendment also required applicants not only to be of "good character" but to have a proven record of having made a "significant positive contribution to or investment in the Cook Islands in terms of skills, expertise, community work or financial investment."

There was also a new seperate category allowing unlimited number of PR certificates to be granted to those married to Cook Islanders or PRs, as long as they have been married for no less than five years.



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