Bermuda Work Permits: Types & Policies
Effective March 1, 2015
If you are a non-Bermudian, i.e. a foreign national, you will need a work permit to work and live in Bermuda. You yourself can not apply for the work permit. It's your employer, i.e. the company or establishment hiring you will need to apply for the work permit for you. And normally an employer can do so only after they demonstrate that there is no eligible Bermudian available for the job and therefore they had to offer the job to you.
The work permit is then issued by Bermuda's Department of Immigration on the name of the employee but for a job with that employer only and not for any other employment. It may take several weeks to process the work permit although in normal circumstances the department aims to issue the permit within 20 working days.
Over 20% of the Bermuda's population are expatriates and working in Bermuda on work permits. Bermuda presently has a resident population of about 65,000. Annually over 10,000 work permits of 1-5 years validity have been issued in Bermuda over the past few years. And this excludes temporary work permits. However, to work and live in Bermuda, you will need the work permit regardless of your nationality and job role.
Earlier there used to be a maximum term limit of 6 years beyond which a work permit could not be further extended, and the employee had to leave the island. This term limit has been eliminated by the OBA (One Bermuda Alliance) led government in 2013. However as before, a foreign national will continue to require and obtain a work permit in order to work and live in Bermuda. Before expiry of the Work Permit and depending on further requirement, the work permit can be renewed or extended.
Elimination of the term limit does not mean offering permanent residency or citizenship to a foreign national. This move has been made to attract better expat participation in order to grow the island's economy. However, when a company applies for a work permit for a non-Bermudian, it needs to specify a period and pay up for the fees accordingly. A work permit for longer period has higher fees.
Types of Work Permits
Several different types of work permits are issued by Bermuda's Department of Immigration. The employer needs to apply for a type based on the requirement and by paying the appropriate fees.
Standard Work Permits are issued to all organizations to employ foreign nationals provided they can demonstrate that no Bermudian, spouse of a Bermudian or a Permanent Resident Card (PRC) holder is qualified or available for such job. Standard work permit is issued for 1 to 5 years. Most foreign nationals get jobs in Bermuda on this work permit.
Periodic Work Permits are applicable when an employer hires a non-resident who will need to visit the island several times over a period but for short intervals (of up to 30 days). This includes persons contracted for periodic services like business consulting as well as visiting sales persons etc. If a longer stay is required beyond 30 days, it can be extended by another 30 days.
Such periodic work permits are also issued for a period of 1 to 5 years. In case the Bermuda based company engages an overseas company to provide the periodic service and not an individual, this work permit can be issued on the name of the overseas company instead of an individual so that different foreign individuals from the overseas company can periodically visit Bermuda to provide the service.
Short term work permits are applicable for visiting sportsmen, entertainers etc. It's issued for up to 6 months but can be extended by another 6 months. Normally this work permit can not be used for seeking employment in the island.
Global Work Permit can be issued to a foreign employee who is already employed elsewhere in a global company and being transferred to Bermuda in a new role. This work permit is issued for 1 to 5 years.
New Business Work Permits are automatically issued to new start up businesses in Bermuda. Up to five such work permits are issued in the first six months of operation of such business.
Global Entrepreneur Work Permits are issued to exempted companies to bring in foreign expert for a period of up to 1 year in work related to business planning, working on government approvals etc.
Work Permit & Extension Fees
Note that in all types of work permits, the employer specifies the initial time period in the application and pays up the work permit fees accordingly (longer the period, higher is the application fee). Application can not however mention a period which is more than the maximum allowed in the type of work permit. All work permits may be extended if required. All extensions require separate fees.
Preference of employment in Bermuda
By government policy, all companies (except some that are exempted or those applying for periodic work permits) should advertise for their jobs at least on three separate days in a local news paper over a period of 8 days. Jobs are usually advertised in Bermuda's only daily The Royal Gazette. The employers are also required to advertise their job positions in Government Job Board at www.bermudajobboard.bm for minimum 8 consecutive days.
And, they must give first preference to Bermudians, their spouses or permanent residents. Which means that an eligible Bermudian if available, should get the first consideration for the job. This is to ensure that locals are given preference for a job before an external skill is hired. Only in the case where the company is unable to find a suitable qualified local Bermudian to fulfill the job requirement, should they consider expatriate applications.
So does it mean that job prospects in Bermuda are very limited? No. There are number of areas where Bermuda has shortage in skills and there are good Employment Opportunities
But there are some areas where jobs are closed to foreigners, some where restrictions apply, while some require special conditions to be met. Check Bermuda Closed & Restricted Jobs
for more information on such job categories.
Once the initial work permit expires, the employer can apply for extension. Theoretically, any number of extensions are possible. However before the application for extension is made, the employer need to again check for eligible Bermudian for the position through advertisements. So again a Bermudian would be given a preference.
Once the requirement of the job role ceases or your role becomes redundant, unless a substitute job is available or a new job is found within a stipulated time, one needs to leave the island.
How to get a Bermuda Work Permit?
Remember, you can not and should not look for a job while on a visit to Bermuda as a tourist. This will be futile and no company will entertain that. As per policy, you can apply for the job only from outside Bermuda. Once the job is offered, only then the employer can apply for the work permit on your behalf.
Department of Immigration issues the work permit to the hiring company and they should in turn send that to you. When you enter Bermuda, you should have the original work permit with you and the required work visa (as may be applicable depending on your nationality).
Remember that work permit can no way result in immigration or automatic right of abode for any national even though you may end up staying in Bermuda for years. The only exception can be if you get married to a Bermudian while in Bermuda, and live together for a minimum of 10 years, then you can apply for citizenship.
There is no set period for processing the Work Permit. It can take from weeks to several months. You will need to fill up a detailed questionnaire form and send it to your employer. The hiring company needs to furnish a lot of details like your medical history, medical evidence that you can work in subtropical region, you can sustain constant high humidity, have no non-permissible disease like HIV, tuberculosis etc., have a clean previous employment record, and much more.
If you are applying for a professional job in Bermuda, check if the employer has received the Good Corporate Citizen status. A company with such status consistently meets a set of criteria and comes in the good book of the government. This will help in much faster and smoother processing of your work permit by Department of Immigration.
Can you change your job and use the same work permit?
An employer makes the application for a work permit, pays the application fees, and then the work permit is issued by the Department of Immigration only for that employer and the applicant employee. So the same work permit can not be used to change your job and get a new employment. Any potential new employer has to make a fresh application for a work permit for you. Also note that an expat can not hold more than one jobs in the island.
Secondly while on the island, an expat needs to work in the same company for minimum of 2 years before one can apply for a change in job. And no more than 1 change is allowed in a period of 5 years. However there can be exceptions though. Only in cases where you can demonstrate that you have been treated unfairly or made redundant by the employer, can you change your job. If you quit your job, another work permit is not issued and you will need to leave Bermuda.
If you are applying for a professional job in Bermuda, you should have a minimum bachelor degree and preferably higher degrees like masters or doctorate. There are some job categories for which work permits are issued, for some categories it is restricted and for some it is not issued at all.
Check out Bermuda Employment Opportunities
to know what may be your chances of getting a job and a work permit in Bermuda. Remember, you can not start your own company in Bermuda or own a business with a work permit. Doing business in Bermuda will require separate documentation, you will need to find a local partner who needs to own at least 60% stake in the business.
Visa & Passport requirement for foreign nationals on work permits
There is no separate Bermuda entry visa required for any foreign national coming to Bermuda on a work permit. However all nationals other than those from USA, UK and Canada require a Multi Re-Entry Visa (MRV) for the country they are transiting through. So for example if you are transiting through USA, you will require an MRV (which is a type of transit visa) of USA to be landed in Bermuda. And this MRV and passport must be valid for minimum 45 days beyond the date of expiry of your work permit. Passport of foreign nationals who do not require MRV should be valid for at least the date of expiry of the work permit (45 days additional validity is not required in such case).
Getting Families and Children to Bermuda
Your spouse can come and live with you in Bermuda if you have a work permit. However, if your spouse wants to work in Bermuda, he or she has to go through the same process to get a separate work permit. Otherwise the spouse would need to stay without work. In case your spouse has managed to get his or her own work permit, the renewal of that will be conditional on renewal of your own work permit which is considered the primary permit.
If you have more than two children, you are unlikely to be considered in a private sector job and also perhaps in a public sector job. That's because Government of Bermuda discourages this tiny island to get over populated. A child born to non-Bermudians in Bermuda does not become a citizen of Bermuda. Today in some job categories like in case of waiters, a non-Bermudian employee can not bring in spouse or children to Bermuda.
Having come to Bermuda on a work permit, you will generally not be able to own a home and will need to stay in rental accommodations. However there are exceptions though. Property prices in Bermuda for expatriates are far higher and limited to the top 5% valuations of real estate for a single family dwelling. So, if you are moving to Bermuda, check out Living in Bermuda
to know what to expect and prepare for as you take the big leap in life.
Further Information on Work Permits and Immigration Policies
Bermuda Department of Immigration
Chief Immigration Officer
Phone: (441) 295-5151 Ext 1444
Personal Services Manager
Phone: (441)295-5151 Ext. 1393
1) Check out Bermuda Jobs
to know all about job scene in Bermuda.
2) Check out Bermuda Economy
to know about overall economic conditions of Bermuda.
J Rpvs (April 2015)
My son, who holds a valid Canadian Passport and good for another 3 years was invited to work at a hotel in Bermuda for his College Summer Break. He will be there for approx. 115 days. Some websites say he needs a special document (Business Visitor Form), while others say he does not require anything. Some state that if you travel for more than 21 days, you need a visitor visa, while others say you can stay for 180 with no visa. Can you please confirm if he needs anything special to visit and work for that period of time. Thank You
Raj (bermuda-attractions.com) April 2015
Hi, nobody can work in Bermuda without a work permit. There are various categories of work permits depending on the nature of job. The employer needs to apply for that. Ask your son to get in touch with the hotel for necessary documentation.
Hiral Parekh (December 2014)
Hi Raj, Request you to please help me. I am an Indian citizen. I've been issued a work permit by my employer in Bermuda.The work permit is for 3 years ending 15th December 2017.The work permit states that I also require a Multi re entry visa through country transitting. That would be UK in my case.Would you please help me with or guide me to who can answer as to what category of Visa shall I apply for?( General Visitor, Business Visitor, Transit Visa, British overseas Territory and Commonwealth visa) and also the supporting documents I shall attach with my application ??? Please please help.
Raj (bermuda-attractions.com, December 2014)
Multi Re-entry Visa (MRV) is a type of Transit visa. Since you will be travelling though UK, you need an MRV for UK which should be valid for at least 45 days beyond your work permit validity period. There is no separate Bermuda Entry Visa required in your case. You can apply for your MRV though British Embassy or their appointed visa handling agency. Check with them for all required documentation. A copy of Work permit should be attached.
Shankar Thapa (July 2013)
Hi, I am a Nepalese citizen currently working in The State Of Qatar and I would like to apply for the bermudain work permit. since I have only Nepalese passport and Qatar work permit, can i apply for the bermudain work permit? If yes then what are the requirements? Thanks in advance.
Raj (bermuda-attractions.com, July 2013)
Hi, Individuals can not apply for work permit in Bermuda. You can only apply for a job and if selected, the employer will apply for the work permit for you. Please go through the link Jobs in Bermuda
to understand the process.
Pat (June 2013)
My wife is Bermudian, and I'm US citizen, but we are planning to move to Bermuda. If I want to apply for any company in Bermuda do I need a work permit even though I'm married to a Bermudian? Thanks
Raj (bermuda-attractions.com, June 2013)
Unless you get a Bermudian Status, spouses of Bermudians are considered non-Bermudians by law and will require a work permit to work in the island. There are several conditions for getting the Bermudian Status by a foreign born spouse of a Bermudian. And one of them is to live with the Bermudian spouse (i.e. your wife) in the island continuously for 10 years. Regards,
Nichole (June 2013)
My husband has received a call from a recruiter and we're interested but want to know about how it would work for me. If my husband is there on work permit how easy for me as his wife to get a work permit?
Raj (bermuda-attractions.com, June 2013)
Hi, Unfortunately there is no advantage or opportunity that comes your way because your husband gets a job in Bermuda. If you want to work in the island, you too will need to go through the same process of finding a job and applying for a work permit. I have observed that chances for an expat's spouse to get a job in the island is quite low, but possible. This is because the authorities want the islanders' jobs to be protected and as an expat's spouse you must have a strong case for recruitment. Note that once you get a work permit of your own, then you will need to change your visa status and re-enter the island as an expat employee instead of as a spouse of an expat employee. Regards,
Jane (April 2013)
Hi, I had a job offer for a midwifery post in Bermuda but I had 3 children at that time and I was informed that I would not be permitted to live there with so many children. One has now left for university so I am left with two. Can I now come to Bermuda even though I am a single parent? I will be working full time. Many thanks
Raj (bermuda-attractions.com, April 2013)
Hi, There is usually no restriction in coming to Bermuda and living with up to two children except for some specific job categories like waiter etc. But since you have three children, you should check this out with Bermuda's department of immigration because there may be a question if your third child could come and try to join you in future. Usually no Bermuda based employer would offer a job to a non-Bermudian with more than two children. Even if one does, a work permit may not be issued.
Simon Abraham (March 2013)
Hi, I occasionally need to visit Bermuda from the UK to see clients my company has on the island. My company also has a Bermuda Exempted Company on the Island that's a subsidiary. I would normally stay for just 2 or 3days and the only 'work' I would conduct is informal and formal meetings. Would I need a work permit for this???
Raj (bermuda-attractions.com, March 2013)
Hello, Your question can be best answered by Bermuda's Department of Immigration. What I'm saying here is only my personal opinion. In my view the treatment of the case would largely depend on how you define 'Occasional' visits. If it is like once in 2-3 months, I think you should be fine with a multiple entry business visa. In general, one doesn't need more client meetings than that. But if the visits are more frequent like once in a week or month, then it may get into a grey area. While your intent may be genuine, some others might exploit the situation wrongly or misuse it. For example, one might use such visits to provide on-call or scheduled support or consultancy. In such cases, it is real work done on the island which calls for a work permit and not just a business visa. So I would suggest that you write to the Department of Immigration, explain your case, expected maximum frequency of your visits, get their opinion and go forward accordingly.
Shaik (March 2013)
Hi, I will be travelling to Bermuda from India on official work. My client has applied for a work permit and I received a Representative Work Permit. Please let me know if I need to apply for any other visa in India except UK/USA transit visa.
Raj (bermuda-attractions.com, March 2013)
Bermuda Visa exemption is applicable for Indian tourists, not for persons on work. Please contact the nearest British Embassy for required travel documentation.
Jane (September 2012)
Hi, I hope you can help me. I have a job offer to work as a nurse in Bermuda but I am single with 2 children (ages 10+13). I have a boyfriend but we currently do not live together in the UK. Can I move to Bermuda with my children without him or does he need to come with me and also apply for a job? Many thanks
Raj (bermuda-attractions.com, September 2012)
Hello Jane, If you have a job offer in Bermuda and a work permit, then you can move in with your children (unless restricted by the job category). If your boyfriend wants to join you, he will need a separate job & work permit in Bermuda. I would advise that you reconfirm this with Bermuda's Department of Immigration. Here are the contacts:
Personal Services Manager
Phone: (441)295-5151 Ext 1393
Tina Agarwal (August 2012)
Hi, I will be travelling to Bermuda for work purposes. The company there has applied for a work permit. Once I obtain the work permit, am I required to apply for any other visa in my country (India) for Bermuda except a UK/USA transit visa ?? please help !!!!!!!!!!
Raj (bermuda-attractions.com, August 2012)
If your work permit mentions "visa controlled national - must have Bermuda entry visa", then you must have a valid visa for 5-10 years and produce it along with the work permit when you land in Bermuda. Otherwise you do not require a separate entry visa. However, check out the latest Bermuda immigration laws from the nearest British Embassy. India, Russia and China have been recently taken out of the list of "Visa Controlled Nationals" status.
I am currently working in UAE. I have valid work permit to work in Bermuda. Can you please tell me how to apply for entry visa to Bermuda? And what type of visa I should apply? I tried to apply through UK embassy in UAE. It does not say anything about how to apply for Bermudian employment visa??? can you please help me?
Hi, Please contact Bermuda's Department of Immigration for details. (Note: I have given the immigration contact details above).
I am currently in Canada on a work permit and am of Indian Origin. I would like to know If I can visit Bermuda with the work permit. It is valid till end of 2013. Also, if I need to apply for a Visa, what should I do and how should I go about with it. Regards,
Hi Malcolm, To get a job in Bermuda, you will require Bermuda's work permit. Canadian work permit will not work. Would suggest that you go through the section Jobs in Bermuda
in my website. That should give you almost all the information about jobs and work permits in Bermuda and how to go about it.