Minister of Home Affairs Michael Fahy
Minister of Home Affairs Michael Fahy

The Ministry of Home Affairs is advising today that the as of April 1st the Chief Immigration Officer (CIO) will inherit stronger powers to address those persons who flout the Immigration law.

The new powers are in accordance with the passage of the Immigration and Protection Amendment (No 2) Act, 2013.

In essence, the legislation stems from the policy, Measures to Discourage Work Permit Violations.

And it will enable the CIO to levy civil penalties of $5,000 to $10,000 against those employers who knowingly hire unauthorised workers without a work permit and against those workers who are performing duties outside of conditions prescribed by their work permit. Criminal penalties for offenses under the Act are also set to increase from $5,000 to $10,000 for a summary conviction and from $10,000 to $25,000 for an indictable offence.

Today the Minister of Home Affairs, Sen. the Hon. Michael Fahy said, “Last year, we began the process of overhauling our work permit policy and in doing so we recognised that we needed to strike a balance between protecting Bermudian jobs and ensuring that our business stakeholders understood that Bermuda is open for business.”

The Immigration and Protection Act 1956, places a burden on employers to verify the qualifications of a prospective employee and to ensure that unauthorized guest workers are not hired. Effective oversight of work permit applications, explained the Minister, “plays a critical role in preventing recruitment violations and the employment of guest workers in jobs which may otherwise be occupied by Bermudians”.

Minister Fahy continued, “An effective worksite enforcement strategy will address both employers who knowingly hire unauthorized workers without a work permit and workers who are performing duties outside of conditions prescribed by their work permit. Investigations will also involve egregious violations of criminal statutes by employers and widespread abuses such as harbouring, fraud or worker exploitation.

“The new powers of the Chief Immigration Officer to levy fines on those who flout the law can be seen as a culmination of a modernisation process that began more than a year ago. We are very pleased to see the Act come into effect on April 1st, as it demonstrates this Government’s continued commitment towards protecting the rights of Bermuda’s workers.”