Global Migration Digest

May 2013 (Vol. 1, No. 6)

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Trinidad and Tobago: Visas and Work Permits by Claire D. Nilson T rinidad and Tobago ("T&T") is one of the richest countries in the Caribbean, with ever expanding liquefied natural gas, petrochemical, and other fields of the economy benefiting from huge amounts of foreign investment. Many overseas firms wish to transfer workers to T&T, and many individuals want to go there to ride on the wave of economic growth. With this in mind, it is interesting to note the visa and work permit procedures relating to visiting and working in this vibrant nation. Visas T&T visas are used as a method by which to enter the country. Unlike US visas, for example, T&T visas by themselves do not grant permission to work. Citizens of many countries, such as the United States, India and Member States of the European Union, do not require a visa to enter T&T, although due to the individual agreements with the respective countries, they are allowed to visit T&T for differing amounts of time. Citizens of the United Kingdom and United States, for example, may enter for visits of up to 90 days in a 12-month period, whereas Venezuelan citizens may only enter to visit for up to 14 days. Other countries, such as Australia, New Zealand and many African countries need to apply for a visa before arrival. This can be achieved simply by applying to the nearest T&T Embassy, Consulate or High Commission ("diplomatic mission") and paying a small fee. Visas are usually processed in less than a week and may be issued in either single entry or multiple entry format (with a differing fee dependent upon which type is requested by the applicant). It is important to remember however that T&T does not have many diplomatic missions outside its borders, so it may be necessary for citizens of some countries to travel to a third country where a T&T diplomatic mission is located to apply for a visa prior to travel to T&T. This may add extra time and cost to the process, as well as the possible need to apply for a visa to enter that third country. Work Permits Work permits are usually needed in order to engage in employment in T&T. However, they are not always necessary. Non-T&T citizens may work for one period not exceeding 30 days in any consecutive 12-month period without a work permit. This allows the option of either entering the country to work on a short project or commencing work whilst concurrently submitting an application for a work permit. Work permits grant permission to work in T&T. As such, for example, if an individual were to be the beneficiary of an intra-company transfer, they would obtain a visa (if needed, dependent on their nationality) in order to gain entry to the country and apply for a work permit so they could work for the "MANY OVERSEAS FIRMS WISH TO TRANSFER WORKERS TO T&T, AND MANY INDIVIDUALS WANT TO GO THERE TO RIDE ON THE WAVE OF ECONOMIC GROWTH." employer to where they are transferring. The process would be the same for an individual setting up a new office or going to work for a new employer in T&T. Anyone who is not a citizen of T&T who wishes to work for more than the aforementioned 30 days in a consecutive 12-month period must have a work permit. An exception to this is a holder of a Certificate of Recognition of Caribbean Community Skills Qualification who has right to work in any of the CARICOM countries, as this grants a work permit exemption. The process of obtaining a work permit is relatively straightforward, if paper heavy. An application can be submitted either by the individual, a T&T company which wishes to employ the individual, or an Attorney of T&T. The submission of the application, in most instances, can be made either before or after the individual has entered T&T. As a part of the application, a large amount of prescribed support evidence must be submitted to the Ministry of National Security, as well as multiple (typically seven) copies of all documents submitted. A work permit application currently costs TT$600 (approximately US$95) with an additional cost of TT$450 (approximately US$70) for every month of CONTINUED on pg.4 >> www.aila.org 3

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