Jamaica Gleaner
Published: Monday | June 1, 2009
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LAWS OF EVE - Working in the Caribbean Community


THIS YEAR, many university graduates are likely to join the ranks of the unemployed as the global financial crisis forces employers to exercise caution in expanding their workforce. This might force many skilled persons to look outside Jamaica in search of employment; so it may be helpful to explore opportunities existing within the Caribbean Community.

Under the Caribbean Community (Free Movement of Skilled Persons) Act in Jamaica, a national of a CARICOM member state (and any dependent of such person who:

1. Holds a valid passport from a CARICOM member state.

2. Seeks to enter the island to engage in or find gainful employment or is self-employed.

3. Presents an acceptable qualifying certificate to the immigration officer on entry into the island, may enter and remain in the island for an indefinite period.

Apart from the usual names which come to mind, such as Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados and Grenada, the CARICOM member states also include The Bahamas, St Lucia, Montserrat, Belize, Suriname and Haiti, among others.

The qualifying certificate which must be presented to the immigration officer is one which must have been issued by the minister of labour confirming that the person has the recognised Caribbean Community skills required to be given the certificate.

Required qualifications and occupations

The act lists the qualifications and occupations required for the issue of the qualifying certificate as:

1. A degree of the University of the West Indies or the University of Guyana designated as a bachelor's, master's or doctor's degree.

2. A degree of Doctorandus, Meester, Licentiatus or Doctor of the University of Suriname.

3. Any qualification or combination of qualifications specified in a list compiled from time to time by the University (council of Jamaica for purposes of this act; and prescribed by the minister by order published in the Gazette as a list of qualifications and combinations of qualifications satisfying the qualification requirements of the act.

4. Any qualification or combination of qualifications possessed by an applicant which is certified by the University Council of Jamaica as satisfying the conditions for recognition of Caribbean Community skills qualification, whether or not any such qualification or combination of qualifications is prescribed under paragraph 3.

5. Persons certified by the competent authority of a member state as representing that state in sports.

6. Musicians, artistes and media workers certified as such by the competent authority of the member state of which such persons are nationals.

There are many concerns related to the fact that there is no uniformity among the member states regarding the categories of skilled persons who may obtain qualifying certificates or the facility with which the legislative provisions may be relied upon. There are those who continue to wonder whether the free movement of skilled labour remains a myth in some member states.

Sherry-Ann McGregor is a partner and mediator with the firm Nunes, Scholefield, DeLeon & Co. Send feedback and questions to lawsofeve@yahoo.com or Lifestyle@gleanerjm.com.

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