JIS News

By January 2006, qualified citizens of all 13-member states of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) will be able to work in any member country without seeking work permits.
Speaking with JIS News, Head of the CSME Unit at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Robert Miller said that currently, “some member states have removed all restrictions on the movement of skills/labour and services across the CARICOM region and by January 2006 all member states should have removed all restrictions”.
Mr. Miller explained that the removal of restrictions was in accordance with CARICOM laws as set out by the revised Treaty of Chaguaramas.
Under the Treaty, any citizen of a CARICOM member state is automatically a CARICOM national and a CARICOM national has the right “to seek work or engage in gainful employment in all CARICOM member states as a wage earner or a non-wage earner, without obtaining a work permit in the state he/she seeks employment in or is already employed.”
Before seeking employment or setting up services in member states, however, the individual must contact the relevant ministry, which will be the Ministry of Labour in Jamaica’s case. The Ministry will then issue a CARICOM Skills Certificate. This certificate gives verification to the immigration officials in the host country (country in which the person is seeking employment), that the individual belongs to one of the six approved categories of wage earners.
The six approved categories are: graduates from all recognized universities in the world; artistes; musicians; sportspersons; media workers; managers, technical and supervisory staff attached to a company or self-employed person.
Importantly, if the person seeking employment in a CARICOM member state does not fall into any of the categories, he/she will have to apply for a work permit there.
For those persons who fall into one of the six categories, Veronica Robinson, Senior Director, Work Permits at the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, told JIS News that the process for obtaining a CARICOM Skills Certificate took between two and three weeks and did not incur a cost.
“It doesn’t cost to apply for a CARICOM Skills Certificate and the process is not long,” she assured.Generally, the documents that are necessary as prerequisites for the Certificate are: proof of qualification (original or certified copy of educational certificates); proof of nationality (passport); and three pictures (certified by a Justice of the Peace).
Under the provisions, a CARICOM national with a Skills certificate should not be subjected to: any restriction on freedom of movement; discriminatory selection in filling vacancies; and any restriction to acquire property for use as residence.
The free movement of skills and labour, however, does not include permanent naturalization or residency. “There are now no rights regarding free movement solely for the purpose of residency. Such a person will have to apply for that separately in accordance with that country’s laws,” Mr. Miller told JIS News.