FALKLAND ISLANDS GOVERNMENT
PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT
1 September 2021
Launch of the new Falkland Islands immigration system
From today, 1 September 2021, changes to the Immigration Ordinance 1999, and the introduction of the Immigration (General) Regulations 2021 come into effect. Also coming into force today is the Immigration (PRP) (Amendment) Regulations 2021.
Information, the new permit application forms and attending guidance can be found on the Customs & Immigration website; please visit www.fig.gov.fk/customs
The changes will ensure that the Falkland Islands has an immigration system that is efficient and effective, able to meet the current and future needs of the Islands, while safeguarding employment opportunities for the permanent population.
FALKLAND ISLANDS GOVERNMENT
PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT
1 September 2021
Review of Customs & Immigration policy on advertising of employment vacancies
The Immigration (General) Regulations 2021 which come into force today, 1 September 2021, strengthen the requirements for vacancies to be advertised and the resident labour market to be protected. All jobs must continue to be advertised to ensure full access for those with Permanent Residence Permits or Falkland Islands status and to protect opportunities for permanent residents.
However, there is one change that will affect migrant workers who have been employed in the same role for less than four years. In these cases, a work permit issued for less than four years can be extended up to four years. This enables the extension of that migrant worker’s contract of employment, without the need for the role to be advertised. This small change will give employers and employees a greater degree of stability. Any substantial change to the permit holder’s duties, including a promotion, would require a new work permit and the role would need to be advertised.
The current Customs and Immigration advertising policy approved by Executive Council has been in place since 2000; it sets out the advertising requirements for employers, which are needed to meet the requirements of the Ordinance.
Following consultation with Islands employers, and timed to coincide with the implementation of the Immigration Amendments 2021, the advertising policy has been reviewed and Executive Council approved a set of recommendations on 25 August 2021.
The new advertising policy states: ‘All vacancies must be advertised at least once in a national newspaper and allow a minimum of 7 calendar days from the date of publication to receive applications. Employers are also required to advertise locally through at least one other platform/medium.’
This is the minimum requirement and, beyond this, employers are free to advertise using any medium, frequency or timescales they wish. The changes not only provide clarity around the process, but now reflect the contemporary realities of communications, advertising and recruitment in 2021. Find out more by visiting the government’s website: www.fig.gov.fk/customs
IMMIGRATION AMENDMENTS 2021 – PUBLIC BRIEFINGS - FAQs 28 June 2021
Between July and September 2021, the Falkland Islands Government will be introducing a new and improved immigration regime for the whole of the nation. These changes will ensure that we have a more efficient and effective system to protect local employment opportunities and respond to the development ambitions of the Islands.
Ahead of these changes, the government held a series of public information sessions in May and June in Stanley and Camp, in order to explain how these changes will work in practice as well as to offer people the opportunity to ask questions.
The sessions were well attended and, as a result, a new set of frequently asked questions has been compiled which respond to the queries that were raised at each event.
CHANGES TO THE PERMIT SYSTEM
- What permits will a person need in order to work in the Falkland Islands?
There will be three types of permit: Work Permit, Accompanying Dependent Permit (ADP) and Dependent Permit (DP). People will only be able to hold one of these permits at a time.
ADP is a new permit type and is for the dependents of Work Permit holders. DP is also a new permit type which is for dependents of people with ‘right of abode’ in the Falklands – either Permanent Resident Permit (PRP) or Falkland Islands Status.
- So, every permit holder will only have to hold one permit, even if they have multiple jobs?
Yes, it will be one permit for one person and they can undertake multiple jobs with that permit. This system will be managed through close collaboration between local employers and the Customs & Immigration team, and will be supported by the creation of a Registered Employer Scheme.
- How long does a permit last for?
Work Permits, ADPs and DPs can all be issued for up to 4 years.
- What will happen to those currently holding Residence Permits when the new permit system comes into force?
People will move across to whichever new permit is most appropriate for their situation. Current residence permits will not be cancelled and can run the length of their duration if required.
- Are the prices for permits changing?
No, the price will be £23 for adults and £13 for those under 16. Accompanying dependents of work permit holders will now need their own permits, however on the other hand multiple work permits for those holding multiple jobs will no longer be needed.
- When do things change?
The Immigration Amendments 2021 come into force on 1 September 2021; ahead of this, parts of the new regulations relating to employers will come into effect on 1 July 2021 to allow them to register on the Registered Employer Scheme.
- Is the government aware of the possible disruption that the new system may introduce?
Yes, but although change can be disruptive, the new system is designed to make the permit system simpler. We have already begun a series of widescale communications and engagement activities to publicise the changes and this will continue up to 1 September. Information will also be available on the Customs & Immigration website: www.fig.gov.fk/customs
WORK PERMITS AND SPONSORSHIP
- If there is only one permit, which employer signs the undertaking for that permit?
The primary employer or sponsoring employer must sign the undertaking.
- What if you’re already in the Islands and are not sponsored?
All permits that allow work require a sponsor and will not be issued without one and sponsorship is required in order to remain in the Falklands.
- Where do you stand as the primary sponsor when your employee goes off and also works for multiple other people?
This is a contractual matter between the employer and employee.
- Are the 9-month work permits changing?
No, work permits will still be available for up to 9 months. The individual will be able to complete a medical self-declaration and must hold medical insurance for the duration of their stay. No accompanying dependents are allowed.
- Do jobs need to be advertised if you wish to employ someone with a Dependent Permit?
Yes, all jobs must be advertised before any temporary permit holder is taken on and Dependent Permits are only valid up to 4 years. The prospective employer must keep details of the advertising and be ready to demonstrate this to Customs & Immigration.
PERMANENT RESIDENCE PERMIT (PRP)
- If I have PRP, what does my partner need in order to work?
A Dependent Permit (DP) would be appropriate for the partner of someone with PRP. However, they would also be able to apply for a Work Permit should they wish.
- What are the benefits to the individual in having PRP?
The main benefit would be knowledge that their employment is not dependent on having a temporary permit, this gives a level of job security. There are also other benefits such as the ability to purchase property or land without the need to hold a separate license, and access to free further education after a qualifying period.
- How will this change things for those living in Camp?
The intention of these PRP changes is to protect and encourage the growth of the Camp population. Points are now available if an applicant’s primary employment is in Camp, also now that the Workforce Shortage List is being used in the process, PRP points are available for farm workers as well as shearers.
- PRP points are awarded to those with the South Atlantic Medal, could points also be given to former members of the UK armed forces who have served here since 1982?
This is something which will be given future consideration as recognising the service of former members of UK armed forces in the Falklands is an important element of the PRP points system as it stands.
- Why will PRP applications now be assessed monthly?
Rather than waiting for 3 months before assessing applications, the changes will allow them to be assessed each month, delivering a more efficient process and a quicker turnaround time for decisions.
- When will the new PRP forms be available?
The new PRP forms will be available when the PRP Regulations 2021 take effect, which is on 1 September 2021.
FALKLAND ISLANDS GOVERNMENT
4 June 2021
ExCo agrees a revised visitor policy for the Falkland Islands
On Monday 31 May 2021, ExCo agreed to revise its policy in connection with the categories of visitors allowed entry into the Falkland Islands. This decision was taken as part of the government’s regular review of its ongoing pandemic management plans. The revised policy will continue to support a controlled approach to change, based on careful assessment of the risks, as well as the need to protect the Falkland Islands community and the operational capacity of the KEMH. The revised policy will also help inform ongoing work in the development of an Exit Roadmap that will seek to provide longer term guidance for the public in terms of a managed and phased staged step down of visitor and quarantine restrictions.
The revised policy now states that in addition to the existing visitor categories, friends of residents will be permitted to visit the Islands if sponsored by an Island resident who is present in the Falkland Islands. These visitors will still be subject to the same quarantine requirements that apply to all other visitors.
It also states that, from 1 October 2021, ‘clean’ expedition ships carrying fewer than 530 passengers will be permitted to visit the Falkland Islands in the austral summer season. However, there will be no change to the current quarantine exemptions for “clean vessels” and each ship must have been at sea for at least fourteen days before any passengers disembark in the Falkland Islands and have no symptomatic passengers or crew. Vessels will also need to agree to a set of rigorous public health conditions that will be closely monitored by the Strategic Pandemic Management Group. Larger cruise ships carrying more than 530 passengers will not be included on the approved visitor list.
Chair of the Legislative Assembly, MLA Mark Pollard, said: “The decision to make these two additions to the visitor policy were taken following a great deal of consideration. It was therefore agreed that with the extra layer of protection that comes from having the vast majority of our community fully vaccinated, it is time that we start to slowly loosen restrictions to visitors.
“Expedition ships will have to meet very strict rules before they are allowed to dock in the Islands, and passengers onboard these ships will be considered ‘clean’, having been at sea for at least fourteen days. This will mark the start of a very small tourist season which many operators here have missed, but I want to make it very clear to the public that the health and safety of our community remains at the forefront of our minds and should we again need to tighten our polices we can and will do so without hesitation.”
FALKLAND ISLANDS GOVERNMENT
PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT
18 May 2021
New immigration regime – public information sessions
Since 2013, work has been ongoing to improve the current Immigration Ordinance and Regulations, in order to introduce a more efficient and effective regime to protect local employment opportunities and respond to the development ambitions of the Islands.
As the changes are due to come into force between July and September this year, the Falkland Islands Government will hold a series of public information sessions, ahead of time, to explain how these will work in practice and offer people the opportunity to ask questions.
Present at each session will be MLA Mark Pollard, MLA Leona Roberts and Jim Horton, Programme Director for the Customs and Immigration Programme.
The times and dates are as follows:
- Stanley on Monday 24 May from 5pm to 6:30pm in the Chamber of Commerce
- Goose Green on Thursday 3 June from 5pm to 6:30pm in the Social Club
- Port Howard on Saturday 12 June from 12pm to 1:30pm in the Social Club
The new immigration proposals have arisen following extensive consultation and these public information sessions are designed to communicate these changes so that the community is fully informed of their impact to immigration processes in the Islands.
Permanent Residence Permit (PRP) Regulations 2021 03 May 2021
Regarding the rules governing permanent resident permits (PRP) -
Two key pledges outlined in The Islands Plan 2018-2022 refer to the desire to ‘encourage contractors and their families to make the Falkland Islands their home’, and also of ensuring ‘we train and retain existing workers, and attract new workers in areas of skills shortages’. Both are vital to ensure future economic growth and support a settled workforce.
The proposed changes to PRP are the product of policy development, over an extended period from 2014 through to 2020, which included public consultation on the points system. The current system places a high value on educational attainment and qualifications, high earnings, professional experience and assets. While these are valuable considerations, 91% of people who provided consultation feedback felt the points system should be revisited.
Their overriding concern was that the points system does not give enough weight to other qualities that we need in the longer-term. We want to be able to attract people who have a real commitment to making their life here and who provide valuable skills and fill important roles currently lacking in our workforce. The Immigration (PRP) (Amendment) Regulations 2021 will enable us to do this.
The essential criteria remain robust and have been strengthened in many areas, they include:
- residency in the Falkland Islands of a minimum of 3 years for the applicant and dependents
- criminal record checks for the previous 5 years to demonstrate good character
- sufficiently good command of the English language
- securing satisfactory accommodation
- health assessments for applicants and all dependents to ensure they are not likely to require the ongoing and significant support of public funds
- educational assessments for all applicants (or dependents) under 16 years to ensure they are not likely to require the ongoing and significant support of public funds
Points will also be awarded for Camp employment, and any roles, included in the Workforce Shortage List – so that individuals performing a wider range of functions that are important to our society will be given points for their efforts.
Applications from young families are encouraged by the introduction of a new points allocation for dependent partners who are under 45 and for dependent children who are ordinarily resident in the Falklands. More points are available for younger applicants than before, reflecting the importance of this demographic as an economic driver.
The new system also encourages individuals to apply for PRP as soon as they meet the minimum residency requirement – after 3 years – and recognises community engagement for the first time. Points will be allocated both to the principal applicant and to a dependent applicant for voluntary work if they can demonstrate a substantial, sustained contribution to society, showing how the Falkland Islands values community spirit and commitment. Points will still be awarded for those holding the South Atlantic Medal and their dependent partners, and also for those with close family permanently resident in the Falkland Islands.
Executive Council has already approved an annual increase in the PRP quota to 90 and applications will in the future be considered on a monthly basis, instead of quarterly. Collectively, these changes will enable more eligible individuals and families, who have been resident and working here for a number of years, to choose to make their future in the Falklands.
It is planned that these changes will be brought into effect within the next two months.
Refusal powers – Immigration Amendments 2021 26 April 2021
The power to refuse leave to either enter or remain in the Falkland Islands is conferred on the Principal Immigration Officer, and exercised by Customs & Immigration. Under the current Immigration Ordinance there are no general grounds to refuse entry to anyone seeking permission to enter the Falklands; instead the main mechanism for doing this is to classify an individual as a ‘prohibited person’. However, the new Immigration (Amendment) Bill 2021 provides a clear framework when deciding whether to refuse leave to enter or remain, providing stronger border controls and flexibility as needed.
A key part of the new framework is establishment of a Watch List of individuals whose presence in the Falklands is undesirable because of the way they have behaved. These individuals will not be allowed to enter the Falklands or, if they are here, will be liable for deportation. The Bill sets out clear criteria as to the circumstances in which a person can be included on the Watch List and accompanying guidance has been prepared to help ensure that decision-making is consistent. The Principal Immigration Officer must refuse leave to enter or remain to anyone who is included in the Watch list.
The following categories of people will be included on the Watch List:
- anyone subject to a deportation order
- anyone who has committed the most serious crimes such as genocide, war crimes or crimes against humanity
- anyone who has committed a criminal offence that would be punishable by a sentence of imprisonment of four years or more
- those who are on the UK Sanctions List published by the UK Government
- those who have publicly expressed or endorsed an opinion or otherwise behaved in a manner that is likely to lead to a serious breach of public order.
Mandatory and Discretionary Refusals
The new powers are split into mandatory requirements – where permission to enter cannot be given – and discretionary powers. Under the mandatory requirements, the following categories of people will also be refused entry to the Falklands: anyone convicted of a criminal offence and having received a sentence of 4 years or more, or who has been convicted of a criminal offence that is not ‘spent’; anyone who fails to provide information or documents to C&I or who gives false or misleading information; and any person who needs a visa and doesn’t have one.
The Principal Immigration Officer also has the power to refuse entry to: anyone who cannot demonstrate that they have the means to support themselves; anyone who refuses to submit to a medical exam; a person suffering from a contagious or infectious disease (these powers are very relevant given the current pandemic); any person who is unlawfully present in the Falklands (this includes anyone in the Islands who does not have a valid permit or hold status); anyone reasonably suspected of committing a criminal offence which would, on conviction, lead to imprisonment; and anyone who owes a debt of £500 or more to the government under a court judgement. The Principal Immigration Officer will also have a discretion to refuse entry to anyone if they consider it would be against the public interest.
FALKLAND ISLANDS GOVERNMENT
PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT
21 April 2021
Further to the announcement made on 1 February, the Falkland Islands Government can confirm that commercial airlinks with both Chile and Brazil will remain suspended until 1 October 2021. This follows a robust review of the current complexities surrounding the worldwide pandemic, in particular travel restrictions, global border controls and the emergence of new variants of the coronavirus.
Director of Development and Commercial Services, Catherine Silva Donayre, said: “Across the world, the pandemic continues to impact significantly on all aspects of international travel and our priority remains people’s safety. We continue to support local businesses who have been impacted by the suspension of the flights so that once the flights resume, they will be in a good position to return to their activities. FIG and LATAM remain equally committed to the reinstatement of these routes at the right time.”
Registered Employers Scheme – a system that works for the Islands 19 April 2021
The new Immigration (Amendment) Bill and Regulations 2021 will establish a Registered Employers Scheme (RES) to enable employers and Customs & Immigration (C&I) to work together to manage the migrant working population of the Islands.
All employers who wish to employ migrant workers must be registered on the RES, whether they are a sponsor bringing new workers from overseas, or employing migrant permit holders already in the Islands. No employer will be able to employ migrant workers (either paid or as volunteers) unless they participate in the RES, which is the key enabler behind the “one person – one permit” system.
Employer duties are detailed in the Regulations and feature a range of reporting and other administrative requirements. These include the need to notify C&I when employing a temporary worker, when the worker leaves their employment, and any changes to the worker’s job details or their personal circumstances. Employers taking on migrant workers who are already in the Falklands must satisfy themselves that their new employee has an existing valid permit which allows them to do the work they are employed to do.
All registered employers will be expected to keep up-to-date information on all of their migrant workers, whether they are the sponsor or a secondary employer. Employers will also have to keep records to show that roles have been advertised in accordance with the published policy, to ensure that protection for the local employment market is maintained. These requirements are not entirely new and could be considered a core part of efficient business administration; the only difference is that the new duties will be a legal obligation.
Registration will be simple and straightforward, there is a short form to complete and employers will not be charged for registration. FIG will provide detailed guidance on the new requirements and will work with employers to ensure these are clearly understood.
Employers who persistently breach the Regulations should expect FIG to take enforcement action, which could include prosecution, and may result in an employer being removed from the Register, meaning that they can no longer employ temporary permit workers.
The part of the Regulations pertaining to the RES will be brought into force before the enforcement provisions, to give employers time to register and become familiar with the scheme. FIG will work with the Falkland Islands Development Corporation (FIDC) to ensure the potential impact of the changes, particularly on smaller employers, is appreciated. FIDC can also offer independent help and advice on registration. Ahead of the launch, details of the scheme, guidance and forms will be available via the C&I section of the FIG website and the FIDC website. These can be found by visiting www.fig.gov.fk/customs/ and www.fidc.co.fk Launch date is to be confirmed.
New immigration permit regime – a system that works for the Islands 12 April 2021
Currently, anyone who is not a permanent resident of the Falkland Islands, requires a visitor, work or residence permit to visit, work or live here. Under the new immigration regime, the main permit categories will now be: visitor permit, work permit, accompanying dependant permit, dependant permit, volunteer permit. These changes will provide more flexibility for people arriving in the Islands and each person will only be able to hold one permit at a time.
Visitor permit: Family visitors will still be allowed to stay up 12 months in a two-year period and non-family visitors can stay a maximum of nine months in a 12-month period. NOTE: In the first instance work permits must be applied for from outside of the Falklands. Visitors cannot apply for work permits from within the Falklands.
Work permit: This is ordinarily valid for the length of an individual’s contract and is specific to their job and employer; the maximum term for a work permit will remain at four years.
Accompanying dependant permit: Everyone accompanying a work permit holder will need this permit and will be able to do work included on the Workforce Shortage List (WSL) without the need for a separate permit.
Dependant permit: Dependants of people with a Permanent Residence Permit or Falkland Islands Status will require a dependant permit and will be able to undertake employment, in any role, without the need for a separate work permit.
Volunteer permit: Applicants must be sponsored, their sponsor must participate in the Registered Employers Scheme and vacancies must be advertised. Visitors will still be able to do voluntary work for charities, but it must not be the primary reason for their visit.
Under the new system there will no longer be a residence permit. People who currently hold residence permits will be moved across to whichever new permit type is most appropriate for their situation. Provisions will be in place to ensure a smooth changeover.
The main changes under the new immigration permit regime relate to employment within the Falkland Islands. Each applicant for a work permit must continue to meet the following criteria: satisfactory completion of the application form, proof of suitable accommodation arrangements, satisfactory criminal records checks and medical clearance.
Employers will also continue to be required to meet specific conditions: ensure vacancies are advertised locally, satisfy Customs & Immigration (C&I) that there are no permanent residents who meet the essential criteria and are available to work, and agree to meet the full repatriation costs of applicant and their dependants.
Currently, work permit holders (who make up approximately 30% of the population) who would like to take a second or third job, must obtain a separate work permit for each job.
These are jobs which cannot be filled by permanent residents, but the administrative and bureaucratic steps for the employee, the employer and C&I, mean these positions are not filled as efficiently as they could be – the Immigration (Amendment) Bill will address this.
The Bill proposes the establishment of a new Registered Employers Scheme (RES) to enable employers and C&I to work together, in order to manage and monitor the temporary working population of the Islands. Employers will be required to notify C&I when employing a migrant worker and maintain records of everyone they employ, they will also have an obligation to inform C&I of any changes involving migrant employees. When employing a permit holder already present in the Islands, it will be the duty of the employer to ensure that the worker has a valid permit.
Under the new immigration system, permit holders can have more than one job, but will only require one permit. The compulsory advertising of roles and the need for employers to satisfy C&I that it is necessary to employ a migrant, will ensure that protections for locally qualified people will remain in place.
Finally, the Workforce Shortage List will play a significant part in the new system. It is a record of job roles where a labour shortage has been identified and is compiled biannually by the Skills Assessment Council (SAC), before being approved by Executive Council. The SAC was created in 2014 to identify the areas of significant and consistent labour shortages which could lead, if not addressed, to negative impacts on the economic growth of the Islands. It is chaired by the Director of Policy and Economic Development, and has a wide membership including government, private sector, and community representatives.
These changes will ensure that the Falkland Islands’ immigration system is fit-for-purpose and will be able to meet the current and future needs of the Islands, while safeguarding the employment opportunities for the permanent population, they will be brought into effect by the end of 2021.