Turks and Caicos: Labour Regulation
The Government is keen to encourage inward investment and this is reflected in its immigration policy. The immigration authorities welcome qualified persons wishing to establish business enterprises or undertake employment in the islands and as such it is relatively easy to obtain a work permit. However the policy of Government is to promote the employment of local islanders as much as possible and to this end a list of reserved activities has been published to ensure the hiring of Belongers.
The right to reside and work in the islands can be obtained by:
- Applying for an annual work permit under the Immigration Ordinance 1992;
- Applying for permanent residence certificate under the Immigration Ordinance 1992;
- Applying for naturalisation under the British Nationality Act 1982
Work permits are granted for up to 5 years at a time and are given to those applicants who can establish that they meet the Government's good health and good character requirements, are capable of financially maintaining themselves and their dependants throughout the duration of their stay on the Islands and who have available for their use a house or apartment. Annual fees depend on the type of permit and range from US$300 to US$7,000.
Work permits for skilled workers who are to be employed by a local company must be obtained by the employer, who will have to post a 'repatriation bond' and who will have to demonstrate that no local employee was available for the job. It will be necessary to show that there is accommodation available for the worker. Work permits for unskilled workers are naturally harder to obtain, given that there is a fairly high level of unemployment; but when they are available, the same terms apply.
In April 2011, the interim government announced that a series of changes are to be made to the system of work permit fees, which the government says have not been increased since 2001, and are complex and can lead to error and manipulation. The government is investigating a possible move to a percentage-based fee system, but, in the short-term, proposes to radically simplify the employment categories under which permits are issued, and raise fees by September 1, 2011.