A work permit is an approval granted by the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) for the employment of foreign nationals specifying the number and description of persons authorized to be employed. A Ghana work permit is usually valid for 1 year and in some special cases 6 months. The work permit specifies the name of the employer and a statement indicating that the holder is only permitted to engage in the particular employment, business or professional occupation specified in the work permit.

Established by Immigration Service Act, 2016, Act 908, the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) serves as the principal source for all immigration services including visa entry, residence and employment of foreign nationals in Ghana, in accordance with the Immigration law.

Section 4(1)(e) of Immigration Service Act, 2016(Act 908) provides that for the purpose of achieving the object, the service shall through the Comptroller-General or the duly authorised representative of the Comptroller-General issue visas for entry into the country and permits for residence or work in the country.

Section 24 of the Immigration Act 2000 (Act 573) provides that ” a person shall not employ any foreign national in Ghana except in accordance with permit granted by Immigrant Quota Committee”

Foreign nationals wishing to work in Ghana may register their business in Ghana and afterward, apply to obtain a work permit from the Ministry of Interior through the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS). Work permits may be renewed subject to satisfying the conditions for renewal. The duration for processing work permits is within 5 to 6 weeks and the official fee for a 1-year work permit in Ghana is $1,000.

 

Requirements for work permit

To apply for a work permit, the following documentation needs to be provided;

  1. Application letter on company’s letterhead
  2. Business Registration Documents – certificate of incorporation, certificate of commencement of business, company regulations, form 3&4
  3. Tax Clearance Certificate (for existing companies)
  4. Letter of employment / Contract
  5. Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) Certificate (If registered)
  6. Letter of support from Ministry, Department or Agency (if required)
  7. Bio data page of passport of applicant
  8. Curriculum Vitae / Resume
  9. Police Clearance Certificate from employee’s country of origin or current residence
  10. Educational and Professional Certificates
  11. Passport & residence permit copy of employer
  12. Medical Report – To be done at the Ghana Immigration Service, Accra
  13. Non-Citizen ID card – To be done at the NIA Office in Accra

The work permit is the first stage in the work authorization process and therefore does not entitle a prospective employee to engage in work activities in Ghana. To commence work activities, the applicant is required to apply and obtain a residence permit with their company.

 

Completing Work permit application forms

Work permit application forms are obtainable free of charge at the GIS office. The form requires three classes of information; Company, Employee and Employment contract details. Relevant and accurate information must be provided in all sections to enable the GIS to effectively assess and the application on its own merits and take appropriate decision.

The application forms should be signed by an authorized representative of the employer. The person who signs the application must attach relevant documents as proof that he is an officer of the company (passport, a copy of residence permit etc).

 

Residence Permit application process in Ghana

A Residence Permit is usually obtained after the grant of a work permit. A formal application must be made on behalf of the employee to the Ghana Immigration Service.

The following must accompany the application;

  1. Attach two(2) recent passport pictures
  2. Copy of Non-Citizen ID Card
  3. Original Passport of employee
  4. Approved work permit/Automatic Quota
  5. Current Company Tax Clearance Certificate (for existing companies)
  6. Letter of support from Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC), Ghana Free Zones Board or Minerals Commission (where applicable)
  7. Police Clearance Report from home country
  8. Medical Report from Ghana Immigration Service Clinic
  9. Non-Citizen ID Card
  10. Business Registration Documents
  11. Offer letter/Appointment letter/ Contract of employments
  12. Company’s audited accounts of previous year.

The law provides that a person who has been granted a work permit may one month before the expiration of that permit, apply to the Immigration Quota Committee in the prescribed manner for the renewal of the permit and the application for renewal shall be treated as a fresh application.

 

Dependents residence permit

A foreign employee who holds a Residence Permit may apply for a Dependent Residence

Permit for his dependents. Dependents include spouse, children under 18 years of age and parent (s) above the age of 60 years.

To apply for a dependent residence permit the following documents are required;

  1. Application letter on Company’s letterhead requesting for residence permit
  2. Two passport size photographs of applicant
  3. Birth certificate (if child)
  4. Marriage Certificate (If spouse)
  5. Copy of Non-Citizens ID Card
  6. Passport

What is the cost of  work and residence permit?

The cost for obtaining a work and residence permit is given below;

Non-ECOWAS Nationality 

  1. One year work and residence permit fee – $1,000
  2. Medical Screening from Ghana Immigration – Ghs 900
  3. Non-Citizen ID Card from National Identification Authority (NIA) – $120

ECOWAS Nationality

ECOWAS Citizens do not require a visa to enter Ghana, however, to live and work in Ghana, they require to have a work and residence permit. The cost for obtaining a work and residence permit as an ECOWAS Citizen is given below;

  1. One year work and residence permit fee – $500
  2. Medical Screening from Ghana Immigration – Ghs 900
  3. Non-Citizen ID Card from National Identification Authority (NIA) – $120

NOTE; Citizens from ECOWAS member states are classified as ECOWAS nationals whilst Non-ECOWAS nationals are citizens from states that are not members of ECOWAS. Below are list of ECOWAS states;

  • Benin
  • Burkina Faso
  • Cape Verde
  • Cote d’ivoire
  • Gambia
  • Guinea
  • Guinea Bissau
  • Liberia
  • Mali
  • Niger
  • Nigeria
  • Senegal
  • Sierra Leone
  • Togo    

 

Sector Specific requirements for Work/Residence Permits – GIPC, GFZB etc.

Additionally, companies may be required to register with other statutory agencies and comply with sector specific requirements/controls depending on the company’s ownership structure and/or the sector of operation in order to obtain relevant automatic quotas or work permit. These Agencies include;

Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC)

Companies with foreign ownership (whether jointly / wholly foreign owned) are required to register with the GIPC and then subsequently apply for automatic immigrant quotas based on their equity investment.

Application requirements for holders of GIPC quota;

  • Letter of application for residence permit from company
  • Business Registration Documents – certificate of incorporation, certificate of commencement of business, company regulations, form 3&4
  • Completed residence permit form
  • 2 passport size pictures
  • GIPC quota approval letter
  • Resume
  • Police report from country of origin
  • Medical report from recognised hospital in Ghana
  • Employment contract
  • Tax clearance certificate from the company
  • Copy of non-citizen ID card

Ghana Free Zones Board (GFZB)

The GFZB is the regulator for all businesses that meet a 70% minimum export capacity of all production in Ghana. The work permit application for holders of free zone licenses must be directed to the GIS through GFZB. The application must be accompanied with all documents for obtaining a standard work permit application above. However, the entire process is controlled by the GFZB, who will forward the application to GIS on behalf of applicants and provide approvals when obtained.

Application requirements for holders of GFZB license;

  • Letter of application for residence permit from company
  • Business Registration Documents – certificate of incorporation, certificate of commencement of business, company regulations, form 3&4
  • Completed residence permit form
  • 2 passport size pictures
  • Copy of Company’s free zones license
  • Resume
  • Police report from country of origin
  • Medical report from recognised hospital in Ghana
  • Employment contract
  • Copy of non-citizen ID card

Petroleum Commission

Petroleum companies, as well as companies offering services to the petroleum sector, may apply for work permits for their expatriate personnel through the Petroleum Commission (PC) of Ghana. The company must provide, among others, a justification for employing a foreign national. The Petroleum Commission will typically ascertain whether the prospective employee possesses the technical skill set required for the industry as well as the unavailability of such skill set in Ghana. Upon satisfying itself, the PC will receive all GIS requirements for obtaining a work permit and process the application on behalf of the company. Approvals will be forwarded to the companies upon receipt of same from the Ghana Immigration Service.

Minerals Commission

The Minerals Commission is the regulator of the mining sector. In practice, companies registered under the Commission require a letter of support from the Minerals Commission in applying for work permits for its expatriate employees. Upon obtaining the letter of support from the Mineral’s Commission, the application must be accompanied with all documents for obtaining a standard work permit application above.

Conclusion

Obtaining a work and residence permit is fairly easy, once you have a secured employment in Ghana. Your employer must avail the necessary company documentation to enable you obtain the permit. Work permit application processes can be commenced without the physical presence of the applicant in Ghana and upon arrival of employee, the residence permit can then be issued.

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