Mozambique Immigration Alert, September 2016: New Expatriate Immigration Hiring Regulations

run-1260104-640x480Mozambique has announced a change in the “Expat hiring regulations” that was published in the Mozambican Government’s Gazette on 16 September 2016, and will take effect on 29 November, 2016.

The regulation makes a few changes with the short term work permits, the Quota system, transfer of expatriates, termination procedure in regards to Mozambicans, harsher penalties, and possibly longer processing time.

The parties that will be effected are the private employment agencies, and any company that has or will hire expatriates for Mozambique. However, the oil and gas and mining sectors will not be effected by this change and will continue to be governed by specific rules.

Private Employment Agency obligations:

Private Employment Agencies will now only be able to hire expatriates to work on their own premises and will not be allowed to sponsor work permits on behalf of their clients or third parties. Before the new regulations, companies were able to bypass their quota requirements by outsourcing to aforementioned agencies. It remains to be seen, if employers will continue making use of Employment Agencies in the future.

Company implications and Short term work:

These new regulations have implications to companies that want to hire expatriates.   The short term work definition has changed, and so we are yet to see if this has changed drastically from the past where the short term work visa or business visitor visa did not allow any work or business in any form.

The short term work permit will be valid for 90 days initially with the possibility of two 30-day renewals. In March 2015, there was a decision made to phase out the 6 -month visa and merely issue a 3-month business visa. Reason being perceived that the systems were abused regularly. For example, people who were meant to be in Mozambique for actual long term work permit pushed the limits of the short term work visa and repeatedly applied for the 6-month short term work permit.

The Quota System:

Mozambique has a quota system that enables companies to hire a certain percentage of expatriates depending on the size of the company. Before this new expat regulation, if a company is within the Quota category in Mozambique and applies for work permits it was not necessary to prove that he or she has any specific skill. Now, it will only be issued once the expatriate’s academic records have been submitted and a certificate of equivalence has been obtained. The certificate of equivalence will require time to obtain and this must be factored into the processing time of the whole application. The employer has to also provide evidence that there are no outstanding payments to the National Institute of Social Security.

Transfers and Terminations:

The Changes are also made in relation to the transfer of expatriates, this is to ensure that the quotas are obliged to throughout the duration of the company being in Mozambique and giving Mozambicans an advantage with employment over the expatriates. Transfers expressed in this regulation pertain to the transfer of expatriates in terms of both a different work place and in case of a total or partial change of employer. Expatriates will only be allowed to transfer to a new employer or location (partial change) if the new employer or location has a foreign national Quota.

What is interesting to note is the new obligation in regards to termination.   When a company terminates Mozambicans’ employment agreements they must also terminate an equivalent number of expatriate’s employment agreements, thus reducing the expatriate quota. This would also discourage companies from terminating Mozambicans easily.

Under these new regulations, companies will be monitored closely to comply. With that said, to assist companies with compliance the provisions on events triggering the cancellation of work permits and related procedures will be expressed in the regulation.

by Ahlam Nasser

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