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A Vital Immigration Stamp

An Immigration Officer administers the

Published 1st August 2011, 11:46am

Persons awaiting outcomes of immigration decisions or appeals may be eligible to continue "working by operation of law" (WOL) if specific requirements under the law are met.

Such persons are reminded that they cannot work legally without having that permission duly authorized -- which will entail payment of the relevant fees and having the WOL stamp placed in their passports.

Persons who are appealing work permit refusals, permanent residency refusals, persons with pending PR applications, and anyone awaiting decisions on key employee applications, may be eligible to work by operation of law.

A new form for WOL applicants has been introduced to streamline the process, and to assist employers with providing the Department with the necessary information to make a determination on their eligibility.

Failure to comply with having a valid WOL stamp or pay the requisite fees on each expiration may have serious implications; Immigration's Enforcement Unit reports that there is a rising number of offences in this area, and increased detection of WOL offenders.

In addition to hefty fees, employees and employers may be prosecuted, respectively facing charges of overstaying, and of causing a person to illegally remain in the jurisdiction.

Matters of this nature are often dealt with using the "administrative fine process", which can result in significant fines. These usually amount to two or three times the person's work permit fee, and an additional amount is required to update the relevant documents.

"In many cases the enforcement measures are avoidable, and the negligence is not intentional," said Assistant Chief Immigration Officer, Enforcement Jeremy Scott. "However, being unaware of one's employment status can be costly."

As both employees and employers may be liable for different reasons, Mr. Scott advises companies and human resource staff to keep employee files current to ensure they are within the law.

Chief Immigration Officer Linda Evans explained that WOL passport stamps have been used for some years. However, because multiple agencies are sometimes involved, the new formal stamping process and application form will standardise the process.

"In cases of persons appealing permit refusals, the stamp confirms that they are allowed to reside and work in the Islands, but only for six-month intervals, and until they hear the outcome of their appeal," Ms. Evans said.

The Chief Immigration Officer further stated that if they receive a decision on their appeal, the stamp is voided immediately. The maximum length of time authorized on a WOL for a work permit appeal is the period of the person's term limit.

The WOL stamp also covers anyone awaiting PR, and in those cases it is valid for up to a year. However, it must be renewed thereafter if an application remains pending.

The new requirements for being granted a WOL extension stipulate that an applicant must produce:

  • A cover letter stating the occupation in which they are being employed
  • A $100 processing fee
  • A medical lab report
  • Proof of a pension plan
  • Proof of health insurance
  • A completed application form
  • A copy of the employer's business licence
  • A copy of the applicant's appeal fee receipt (where relevant)
  • The application fee (The same amount as the person's work permit fee; or, half of the work permit fee, where the WOL is only for six months).

For more information, applicants and businesses may seek legal counsel or contact the Department of Immigration on 949-8344 or visit