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Fahy sounds work permits warning

Government will not renew work permits unless the guest worker has signed a declaration of understanding that they would have no residency rights, Home Affairs Minister Michael Fahy said.

Responding to criticism from the Progressive Labour Party that the new work permit regime was a failure, Senator Fahy said that the Immigration Department will be taking “more aggressive” action to obtain outstanding declarations.

Government abolished work permit term limits earlier this year but introduced a document to be signed by guest workers saying they have no expectation that they would be getting residency rights in Bermuda.

But about one third of the guest workers had not turned in signed declarations by the April 30 deadline, leading to harsh criticism from the Opposition party.

“It's important that the public is crystal clear regarding the Declaration, which is essentially a Declaration of Understanding,” Sen Fahy said in an e-mailed statement to this newspaper on Sunday.

“The public will recall that with the elimination of the term limit policy the Ministry committed to introducing a Declaration for guest workers, which essentially confirms and reinforces their understanding that Bermuda law does not confer residency rights to a guest worker and that they should have no expectation of such residence.”

The Minister added that the submissions had all been compiled and an updated report on the number of submissions was “pending”.

The Immigration department “continues to work with employers to secure outstanding submissions”, the statement continued.

“More aggressive action to obtain outstanding Declarations will follow in the coming months.”

But the Minister said Immigration is taking a strict approach to outstanding declarations once a work permit is up for renewal.

“Upon expiration of an existing work permit, no new work permit will be issued unless the signed Declaration is on file. This has always been the case, therefore the risk of non-submission is greatly minimised. Any suggestion to contrary is simply incorrect.”

And the Minister insisted that Government has taken “aggressive steps” to “protect Bermudian jobs and the grow the pool of employment opportunities for Bermudians”.

He said: “On the eve of Labour Day Celebrations it is important to remind all Bermudians and residents of Bermuda that have toiled to make our Island home the success that it is today, notwithstanding the temporary setbacks owing to a sluggish economy, that we are all in this together.

“Our aim is to grow the economy so that Bermudians benefit. Jobs for Bermudians remain our priority.”

Home Affairs Minister Michael Fahy: Speaking to the crowd at yesterday's Labour Day celebrations (Photo by Glenn Tucker)

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Published September 03, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated September 03, 2013 at 1:47 am)

Fahy sounds work permits warning

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