A Complete Guide to Obtaining a Work and Residence Permit in Ghana

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Ghana is a beautiful and thriving country in West Africa, and many foreigners are drawn to its unique culture, hospitable people, and business opportunities. If you are a foreigner looking to work or live in Ghana, it is important to obtain a work and residence permit. This guide will provide you with a complete overview of the process of applying for a work permit, the types of permits available and who qualifies to apply, the required documents, and the post-application process.

Importance of Obtaining a Work and Residence Permit in Ghana

A work and residence permit is an essential legal document that allows foreigners to legally live and work in Ghana.

  • Without a permit, you risk facing legal consequences, including deportation, fines, or even imprisonment.
  • Legal Compliance: It is a regulatory compliance check to ensure you possess a work and residence permit for anyone who seeks to live and work in Ghana.
  • Employment Eligibility: Work permits demonstrate that an individual is authorized to work in Ghana. Employers require employees to have valid work permits to ensure that they are hiring individuals who are legally eligible for employment. It provides assurance to employers that they are complying with employment laws and regulations.
  • Access to Benefits: With valid work and residence permits, individuals can access various benefits and protections provided by the government. This includes access to social security, healthcare, and other entitlements that are available to legal residents.
  • Security and Protection: Work and residence permit provide individuals with legal status and protection while living and working in Ghana. They help establish an individual’s identity and provide a sense of security, reducing the risk of exploitation, discrimination, or mistreatment.
  • Opening Bank Account, acquiring property and investments – A foreigner who intends to acquire property or investments in Ghana will need to have a work permit. The same is required before a foreigner can open a personal or business bank account with any of the Banks in Ghana.

Challenges of Obtaining a Work and Residence Permit in Ghana

Obtaining a work and residence permit in Ghana can be a challenging process for foreigners due to various factors. One of the major challenges is the complex and ever-changing regulations and requirements for permit applications. For example, between 2019 to 2022, it was compulsory for individuals to undergo a Covid test, and all applicants had to visit the Ghana Immigration Clinic to complete the test. And then, in 2023, all applicants are now obligated to undergo medical screening at the GIS Headquarters as a mandatory prerequisite for submitting their work permit applications. Again, the fee for medical screening has been increased from Ghs 1400 to Ghs 2700.

Additionally, the processes involved in the work permit application can be slow and confusing, with long waiting times and unclear communication. Language barriers and cultural differences can also be a challenge for foreigners who are not familiar with the Ghanaian way of doing things. The requirement to provide detailed documentation, including personal, academic, and professional credentials, police reports, resumes, and offer letters which can be difficult to obtain for some individuals.

Types of Work and Residence Permits in Ghana

There are various types of work and residence permits available in Ghana, depending on your employment status and duration of stay. The main categories of permits are:

  1. Work Permit: This permit is for foreigners who are employed in Ghana by a company or organization locally registered or incorporated under the laws of Ghana. The permit is valid for one year and can be renewed.
  2. Quota Work Permit: The approval for this permit is granted by the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) and is based on the level of investment threshold that a company has invested in Ghana. Once the approval is granted for this quota work permit, the beneficiary can enjoy it forever but is subject to annual renewal at the Ghana Immigration Service. The quota work permit is most suitable for owners, shareholders or directors of the business because of its long-term nature.
  • A company with a capital of US$50,000 is entitled to one immigrant quota work permit of one person.
  • A company with a capital of US$250,000.00 is entitled to two automatic immigrant quota work permits.
  • A company with a capital of US$500,000.00 is entitled to three immigrant quotas.
  • A company with a capital of US$700,000 or more or is entitled to four immigrant quota work permits.
  1. Immigrant Quota Work Permit by Ministry of Interior: Aside from the GIPC, the Ministry of Interior also has powers to grant Immigrant quota work permit. They both serve the same purpose; except they are granted by two different entities. There is an Immigrate Quota Committee that reviews the quota application, and they look out for a particular skill set of the applicant. It is valid for one year and can be renewed.
  2. Dependent Residence Permit: This permit is for foreigners who intend to legally reside in Ghana, especially for dependents or students. Foreigners who hold a work and residence permit may apply for a dependent residence permit for their dependents, such as a spouse, children under the age of 18, and parents who are above 60 years of age.
  3. Indefinite Residence Permit: The Indefinite Residence Permit is for foreign nationals who wish to reside in Ghana permanently. A minimum requirement of 7 years on a residence permit must be met by an individual before they can apply for an Indefinite permit.

Eligibility Criteria for Work and Residence Permit

To be eligible for a work or residence permit in Ghana, you must meet specific requirements, depending on the type of permit. For example, to be eligible for a work permit, you must have a job offer from a Ghanaian company and have the necessary qualifications and experience.

  • A different set of requirements and eligibility criteria exists for different types of permits, such as investors, professionals, dependents, or retirees.
  • To be eligible for an immigrant quota work permit, the company must have a minimum capital investment of US$ 50,000 and demonstrate the potential to create jobs for Ghanaians.
  • Other eligibility criteria may vary depending on factors such as the individual’s job position, industry, qualifications, and purpose of stay in Ghana.
  • General requirements and criteria that apply to all cases include the person must not have a criminal background and work permit applicants cannot be minors.

Benefits and Limitations of the various types of Work Permits

Each type of work and residence permit has its benefits and limitations, depending on your employment status and duration of stay. For example, a work permit is suitable for short-term employment, while an immigrant quota work permit is ideal for entrepreneurs and investors who want to start a business in Ghana.

An Indefinite residence permit is beneficial for foreigners who have been living in Ghana for a more extended period and want to stay indefinitely. An employee from a foreign country who possesses a Residence Permit can make an application for a Dependent Residence Permit for their dependents, such as a spouse, children under the age of 18, and parents who are above 60 years of age.

The table below offers a comparison of the types of work permits options available to all foreigners, the benefits, and limitations of each type of work permit, duration and the cost involved.

Types of Permits Government Fee Benefits of obtaining permits Limitations / Restrictions Duration/ Validity
Work Permit $1,000 Allows you to work and reside in Ghana. You are restricted from working for multiple companies and are required to work for only the company specified in the permit application. 1 year. It is renewed annually.
Residence Permit Ghs 300 It allows you to reside in Ghana and is ideal for Spouses and Children. With this type of permit, you are prohibited from engaging in any form of employment. 1 year. It is renewed annually.
Immigrant Quota from the Ministry of Interior $500 Allows you to work and reside in Ghana. You are restricted from working for multiple companies and are required to work for only the company specified in the permit application. 1 year. It is renewed annually.
Quota Work Permit from GIPC $300 This type of permit allows you to work and reside in Ghana after successfully obtaining the quota work permit from GIPC. You are restricted from working for multiple companies and are required to work only for the company specified in the permit application. 1 year. It is renewed annually.
Indefinite Permit Ghs 4,500 Allows you to work and reside in Ghana permanently. Long-term residency and Work flexibility

Revocation or cancellation. Although Indefinite permits grant long-term residency, they are subject to certain conditions and regulations.

No expiry/Valid forever

 

Requirements for Work Permit Application

To apply for a work or residence permit in Ghana, you must submit several essential documents, including:

1.     Application letter on the company’s letterhead

2.     Business Registration Documents – Certificate of incorporation, form 4 and Constitution

3.     Valid (TCC) 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 the passport of the applicant

8.     Curriculum Vitae / Resume

9.     Police Clearance Certificate from the employee’s country of origin or current residence

10.  Educational and Professional Certificates

11.  Passport & Passport Copy of the employer (the person who signs the application letter or the person authorized to sign on behalf of the 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 or any office in Ghana assigned to issue non-citizen cards such as the Cal Bank office or Access Bank office

Providing false or incomplete information during the application process

Providing false or incomplete information during the application process of a work and residence permit in Ghana may give you the following consequences.

  1. Denial of the Permit: If the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) discovers that the information provided on the application is false or incomplete, they may deny the permit. This means that the applicant will not be allowed to work or live in Ghana.
  2. Legal Consequences: Providing false information is a criminal offense in Ghana. Therefore, if the GIS discovers that an applicant has provided false information, they may take legal action against the applicant.
  3. Deportation: If the GIS discovers that an applicant has provided false information after the permit has been granted, they may revoke the permit and deport the individual.
  4. Difficulty in Obtaining Future Permits: If an applicant is found to have provided false information during the application process, it may be difficult for them to obtain future work and residence permits in Ghana.

Therefore, it is important to provide accurate and complete information during the application process to avoid these consequences.

Step by Step guide and procedures when applying for work  and residence permit

The process of obtaining a work and residence permit in Ghana involves several steps. Before you start the application process, you need to identify the appropriate permit type and gather the required documents. Then, one can submit the application and await the outcome.

To obtain a work and residence permit in Ghana, the main requirement is to either have a job offer from a Ghana-registered company or be prepared to establish your own business in Ghana. Once you meet this requirement, you need to prepare the application for your work and residence permit.

The next step is to complete the work and residence permit forms and attach all the required documents. These forms require information in three categories: Company, Employee, and Employment Contract details. It is important to provide relevant and accurate information in all sections to allow the Ghana Immigration Service to effectively assess the application based on its merits and make an appropriate decision. Before submitting your application, you need to obtain a non-citizen ID card and undergo a medical screening, both of which can be done at the GIS Head Office. The non-citizen card costs $120 and takes one or two working days to process, while the medical screening cost $250 for a new permit and $150 for a renewal permit. The process takes two working days to complete.

After obtaining your non-citizen ID card and medical screening results, gather the required documents, such as academic and professional credentials, medical receipt from Ghana Immigration Service, a copy of your non-citizen card, a police report from the home country, Curriculum Vitae, and Employment letter. An authorized representative of the employer should sign the application forms, and the person signing must also attach relevant documents as proof of being an officer of the company, such as a passport or a copy of the residence permit.

The next step is to pay the statutory fees for the work and residence permit at the GIS bank. The fees depend on your nationality, with Ecowas nationals paying $500, other nationals paying $1,000, and those on quota paying $300. You should take a retention slip from GIS as proof that you have submitted your application and passport to GIS for processing.

Once you have paid the fees, your work and residence permit application will be vetted, approved, and issued in the form of a letter. After obtaining your work and residence permit approval letter, the next step is to obtain your residence permit. The residence permit will be issued in your passport after it has been approved.

It is important to follow all the steps in the application process and provide accurate information to avoid delays or rejection of your application.

Post-Application Process – What happens after submitting the work permit application

After submitting your work and residence permit application in Ghana, the application will be reviewed by the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) to ensure that all required documents are provided and that the applicant meets the eligibility criteria for the permit.

If the application is in order and meets the eligibility criteria, it will be processed, and a decision will be made within 2 to 3 weeks. The decision will be communicated to the applicant but in most cases, the applicant must follow up on the application with his or her retention slip.

If the application is approved, the applicant will be issued a work and residence permit, which will be valid for the period the applicant applied.

If the application is denied, the applicant will be informed of the reasons for the denial and may have the opportunity to appeal the decision.

It is important to note that the processing time for work and residence permit applications may vary depending on the type of permit being applied for and the complexity of the application. Therefore, submitting the application well in advance is advisable to allow for sufficient processing time.

Collecting your passport from GIS when your work and residence permit is ready

After the work and residence permit application has been approved, the applicant can collect the permit in person or authorize someone else to collect it on their behalf using a power of attorney.

The process of collecting the permit involves the following steps:

  1. Providing identification or the Retention Slip: On the day of the appointment, the applicant must go to the receiving counter and provide identification such as a passport copy or national ID card to confirm their identity or the retention slip given to the applicant when he or she submitted the application.
  2. Collecting the permit: Once the identification is confirmed, the applicant will be given the work and residence permit.

The permit will contain information such as the name and address of the employer, the type of work that can be performed, and the duration of the permit.

The permit holder is required to keep the permit with them at all times and present it to immigration officials upon request. The permit is also renewable, and the renewal process must be started before the expiration date of the current permit.

Conclusion

Overall, obtaining a work and residence permit in Ghana is essential for foreign nationals who wish to live and work legally. It provides opportunities for individuals to gain valuable experience, and contribute to the Ghanaian economy. Need a work and residence permit without all the hassle and professionally handled? Talk to us today

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