You Have The Right!
A CARICOM National entering another Member State with a Skills Certificate issued by another Member State must be granted a definite entry of six months and has the right to work immediately. If the Skills Certificate was issued by the receiving country, that worker must be granted an indefinite entry. This simply means that they can go and come without restriction.
Long before athletes, beauticians, and nurses were working in other CARICOM territories, construction workers were moving on ferries and steamers to take advantage of stronger dollars and construction booms.
The right to move and work in CARICOM has had its snags along the way in this yet imperfect system but the CARICOM Secretariat recently made a big push to strengthen policy mechanisms. In 2016, the Secretariat promised to work on major plans to develop model laws and regulations to make CSME Member States more compatible with CSME obligations. There shall be specific stamps for the definite entry of 6 months, the extension of 6 months and the indefinite stay.
Apart from sports and culture, none of CARICOM’s initiatives has ever really worked. That is, until now. The Single Market initiative has quickly become a strong foundation for laborers and business owners who want to access more job opportunities and a greater share of the market, respectively.Several categories of persons seeking employment move ‘freely’. This has been achieved through the abolition of the painful and drawn out work-permit system; the introduction of the Certificate of CARICOM Skills Qualification; definite entry for six months and the right to transfer social security benefits from one CARICOM state to another.
Immigration Departments use stamps to indicate the current stay and status in the passport of the CARICOM National. Immigration should indicate to a person who is entering with a Skills Certificate issued by another Member State that verification is required within the definite period of six months. Immigration officials are expected to tell free movers the conditions of their stay to avoid any confusion.
For business owners, CARICOM has just as great options worth exploring for business growth strategies. The Right of Establishment gives any company owner the opportunity to start up in a new territory in even faster time. Simply turn up at the gates of another territory with a valid passport, a return ticket and proof of financial resources for personal maintenance. Immigration will grant the CARICOM National a definite stay of 6 months.
Business owners, however, are not allowed to work but can hire staff and get going until they are able to do so.
After the entry has been granted, the CARICOM National must submit all of their documentation to the designated Competent Authority. This could be the local Notary or Ministry of Home Affairs. The requirements include a Police Certificate, Financial Resources, Business Names Certificate / Certificate of Incorporation. The Competent Authority will determine if all requirements to establish the particular business have been satisfied. Once all requirements are satisfied, the Competent Authority will issue a letter of approval to the CARICOM national and copy it to the Immigration Department.
If the business is established within the 6-month period, then the CARICOM National must report to the Immigration Department to further regularize his or her stay.
But there’s a catch! Free movement isn’t quite fully free as yet. Movement and work are mainly subject to the regulations of each territory and to their employment status. If the CARICOM National is no longer operating the business or another business the Competent Authority for Rights of Establishment will inform the Immigration Department, which has the right to rescind the indefinite stay. Individuals not working may not be allowed extensions. In some cases, applications for a work permit until such time that there is full free movement in the Community.
The system isn’t perfect as yet but that is more of a reason to get ahead with your applications and avoid the rush.