This summary is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered an authoritative guide on how to obtain work authorization in Trinidad and Tobago. The intent is to give the reader a general overview of the process only. Procedures and requirements may have changed since the writing of this article. For current and detailed information regarding the topics below, as well as documentary requirements, processing times, post-arrival and departure requirements, penalties for non-compliance, allowances for accompanying family members, and any other information pertaining to your specific needs, please contact your Pro-Link GLOBAL immigration professional.
Permitted Activities – Business visitors must generally limit their activities to the following:
- Persons seeking entry to attend meetings or negotiate contracts;
- Representatives of a foreign firm coming to Trinidad and Tobago to sell goods other than to the general public;
- Representatives of a foreign firm coming to purchase goods or services;
- Employees of an organization coming to consult with a branch, subsidiary or parent.
Type of Business Visas – The Visa type will depend on the nationality of the traveler. For nationals requiring a Business Visa, consular posts may require a personal appearance to file the visa application. Many foreign nationals are permitted to enter Trinidad and Tobago under visa-exempt status.
Basic Requirements –
1. Intention of a genuine visit for business or for certain types of work not to exceed 30 days (please see 30-day work authorization note below);
2. Good health and character;
3. Evidence that there are no restrictions on his or her traveling to Trinidad and Tobago;
4. No intention to permanently reside in Trinidad and Tobago;
5. A ticket for onward travel from Trinidad and Tobago;
6. Proof of funds.
Estimated Processing Times – This varies by consular post. Minimum processing times are between five to seven business days.
Maximum Time On Visa – Depending on the traveler’s citizenship, the maximum stay for business visitor is up to 90 consecutive days.
Typical Documents Required –
All travelers need to present the following documents to officers in immigration clearance:
- a valid passport or other acceptable travel document;
- if required, a valid visa or authority to enter Trinidad and Tobago;
- if traveling by air, round-trip airline itinerary;
- proof of sufficient funds (e.g., cash or credit cards);
- letter from an overseas company confirming nature of intended activities and duration of stay.
Basic Requirements – In specific circumstances, and in connection with representing a foreign entity, foreign nationals may be permitted for a single period of up to thirty (30) days in twelve consecutive months without the need for a work permit. However, the proposed activities in Trinidad and Tobago must be reviewed well in advance of travel to confirm the 30-day work permit waiver will apply.
The principle visa category for temporary employment in Trinidad and Tobago (“T&T”) is the Work Permit for Professional, Managerial or Senior Technical positions*.
Process Overview – The process for obtaining a visa for skilled workers involves filing a work permit application with the Ministry of National Security-Immigration Division and can be a four-step process summarized below.
1. All Work Permit applications over 30 days will require evidence (e.g., proof of newspaper advertisement) that no T&T nationals are qualified to assume a Professional, Managerial or Senior Technical position. Typically, a registered Trinidadian company or a Trinidadian authorized local representative acting on behalf of a foreign company submits the application.
2. Work Permit applications are filed with the Ministry of National Security and subsequently forwarded to the Work Permits Advisory Committee for final approval. Please note that work permit applications can be very document-intensive, as applications may require upwards of an original + seven copies.
3. Once approved, a Work Permit can be issued directly to the foreign national (if in valid visitor status at the time of approval). Consular processing for an entry visa will be determined on a case-by-case basis.
4. Please note that Work Permits also require an ongoing fee to be paid in order to maintain validity of status. A “Certificate Duration Fee” of TT$450.00 per month for a work permit that covers any period longer than 30 days is required to be paid.
*Please note that as with most Caribbean countries, inability to recruit T&T workers will be closely reviewed by the Work Permits Advisory Committee. Foreign nationals requesting work authorization will be required to submit company support letters clearly outlining why local workers cannot be hired, character references from two previous employers, academic qualifications and proof of professional qualifications directly relevant to the position on offer.
It is not a requirement that foreign workers be subject to a local labor contract and may remain paid employees of an overseas payroll. However, certain T&T tax obligations may arise from being paid abroad.
Estimated Processing Time – Uncontested work permit applications can take at least two to three weeks to process. For foreign nationals physically present in Trinidad and Tobago at the time of approval, regularization of status can take a few days.
In situations where a consular application may be required, processing times will depend on the specific consular post. However, applicants should allow at least two weeks to consular process their work visa applications.
Validity periods – Work Permits can be granted up to an initial period of three years and may be renewed on a discretionary basis.
To qualify for a Residence Permit, the foreign national must have lived/worked in Trinidad and Tobago for at least five continuous years (if from a Commonwealth country) or at least eight years (if from a non-Commonwealth country).