Help needed re St Lucia

Old Jun 27th 2011, 8:20 pm
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Default Help needed re St Lucia

Hi a friend of mine has a problem and I wanted to ask you guys for your advice.
She is currently living in St Lucia and intends to stay here long term, she has been offered a job but her employer is being funny about getting a work permit for her. He has not got one nor does two of his other staff ( he is a US citizen with no ties to the island), he runs a limited company here and says he had a work permit for the first year he was here and then never bothered getting one again - he has been in St Lucia for nearly 5 years now. He has also employed several other staff and they also do not have work permits. When she pushes him on it he says that it is highly unlikely that immigration will catch her and as he pays taxes to the government they will not prosecute him.
The poor girl gave up everything in the UK to take up this position because he promised her the relevant paperwork and it has not transpired. The employer went and got the application forms for a work permit for her ( and the other two staff) two months ago, has never submitted them and seems to think that if immigration turn up on his doorstep that this will cover him.

What I want to know is how does she stand if she does work for him ( her savings are rapidly running out) and what will happen to him and his company if he is caught.

Also any general advice.

Thanks in advance,
sarah
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Old Jun 28th 2011, 2:10 pm
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Default Re: Help needed re St Lucia

Originally Posted by Sarah1234 View Post
Hi a friend of mine has a problem and I wanted to ask you guys for your advice.

What I want to know is how does she stand if she does work for him ( her savings are rapidly running out) and what will happen to him and his company if he is caught.

Also any general advice.
You know she's working illegally. Not knowing what kind of skills and work your friend does, and she "gave up everything" in the UK ? Is there more to this than just a job ? She moved to St. Lucia for more than a job I'd hazzard a guess.

Advice:

1. Find another job, go home and come back legally with papers.
2. Get married to a local.
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Old Jun 28th 2011, 9:17 pm
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Default Re: Help needed re St Lucia

Hi thanks for your reply, if she does marry a st lucian that surely does not give her automatic rights to work - surely she still needs a work permit - is anyone able to clarify please.

Thanks
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Old Jun 29th 2011, 11:56 am
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Default Re: Help needed re St Lucia

Originally Posted by Sarah1234 View Post
Hi thanks for your reply, if she does marry a st lucian that surely does not give her automatic rights to work - surely she still needs a work permit - is anyone able to clarify please.

Thanks
Being married to a St Lucian gives you the right to apply for citizenship in due course, usually after three years. When I arrived in St Lucia in 2006 I had already been married to my St Lucian spouse for over ten years and was told I could apply for citizenship right away. I did not take up the offer.

There are NO preferential rights regarding work permits and I have specifically been told "Don't think because you are married to a St Lucian you can just go ahead and find work without a work permit or that a work permit will just simply be granted." There are other islands that think VERY differently regarding work permits and immigration and the interests of foreign spouses of nationals and they have tended to be far more prosperous.

BUT if you were to go into business with your St Lucian spouse it is easier to get a work permit in the interim before you actually get your citizenship.

Those intending to work in St Lucia need to be aware that there are actually relatively few work permits granted here. These permits would typically be for management and senior management key positions or in real estate where your business is connected with somebody overseas.

The granting of work permits is however a very grey area as you mention in your opening post which is actually pretty sickening and the attitude of the foreigner employer seems pretty typical but there are many here that say that the rules (ALL RULES) are there to be broken or to be bought around.

There is now almost complete free movement of labour between Caricom countries so there is no real need for employers to go outside this "net" for new staff, bearing in mind that St Lucia is not a highly developed business environment with offshore financial services at the forefront and nor does it seem to even dream of being one.

Last edited by Pistolpete2; Jun 29th 2011 at 12:20 pm.
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Old Jun 29th 2011, 12:32 pm
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Default Re: Help needed re St Lucia

Originally Posted by Sarah1234 View Post

What I want to know is how does she stand if she does work for him ( her savings are rapidly running out) and what will happen to him and his company if he is caught.

sarah
Corruption is everywhere in the Caribbean and St Lucia is not excluded. If he drinks with the right public officials and rubs shoulders with the influential, nothing will happen. Even lawyers are thieves. I have never heard of anybody being raided for immigration offenses. If they want to get you out of the woodwork they give you an amnesty, but this usually applies to Guyanese.

When you as a foreigner get here and you see how others behave around you, you pretty soon realise that if you are straight as an arrow in terms of honesty and integrity you are in the definite minority.
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Old Jun 29th 2011, 5:15 pm
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Default Re: Help needed re St Lucia

Originally Posted by Sarah1234 View Post
Hi a friend of mine has a problem and I wanted to ask you guys for your advice.
She is currently living in St Lucia and intends to stay here long term, she has been offered a job but her employer is being funny about getting a work permit for her. He has not got one nor does two of his other staff ( he is a US citizen with no ties to the island), he runs a limited company here and says he had a work permit for the first year he was here and then never bothered getting one again - he has been in St Lucia for nearly 5 years now. He has also employed several other staff and they also do not have work permits. When she pushes him on it he says that it is highly unlikely that immigration will catch her and as he pays taxes to the government they will not prosecute him.
The poor girl gave up everything in the UK to take up this position because he promised her the relevant paperwork and it has not transpired. The employer went and got the application forms for a work permit for her ( and the other two staff) two months ago, has never submitted them and seems to think that if immigration turn up on his doorstep that this will cover him.

What I want to know is how does she stand if she does work for him ( her savings are rapidly running out) and what will happen to him and his company if he is caught.

Also any general advice.

Thanks in advance,
sarah
With such high unemployment in St Lucia, I am surprised the goverment is allowing this to happen. I know in Barbados the locals got fed up of these kind of companies breaking the rules and the government eventually took a tough stance.
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Old Jun 29th 2011, 6:44 pm
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Default Re: Help needed re St Lucia

I personally think the whole thing is wrong, when she leaves as she will have to soon I will ring immigration and tell them the whole sorry story, a crook like this should not be running a company in St Lucia or anywhere in fact. He doesnt know any ministers etc, from what I have seen he sits in his office all day and does not venture out, and as it is on a hotel complex he probably thinks he wont get caught. Its really not fair on the people he promised work permits and a new life too as well as the local st lucian population.

I will keep you all informed!
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Old Jun 29th 2011, 6:54 pm
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Default Re: Help needed re St Lucia

Originally Posted by Sarah1234 View Post
I personally think the whole thing is wrong, when she leaves as she will have to soon I will ring immigration and tell them the whole sorry story, a crook like this should not be running a company in St Lucia or anywhere in fact. He doesnt know any ministers etc, from what I have seen he sits in his office all day and does not venture out, and as it is on a hotel complex he probably thinks he wont get caught. Its really not fair on the people he promised work permits and a new life too as well as the local st lucian population.

I will keep you all informed!
You go girl! Good luck!

My only concern is that they act like it is too much trouble to deal with the problem. Judging by the person that I met in the Department of Labour who was in charge of work permits, this is not likely.
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Old Jun 29th 2011, 7:12 pm
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Default Re: Help needed re St Lucia

What I don't understand is why does he not just get everything sorted above board. Surely this is no way to live, everybody on edge. Why is he encouraging foreign nationals to work illegally when he has such a large pool of unemployed labour who are already citizens of the island ?
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Old Jun 29th 2011, 7:16 pm
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Default Re: Help needed re St Lucia

Originally Posted by pgtips View Post
What I don't understand is why does he not just get everything sorted above board. Surely this is no way to live, everybody on edge. Why is he encouraging foreign nationals to work illegally when he has such a large pool of unemployed labour who are already citizens of the island ?
Because work permits are expensive, he can abuse/take advantage of foreigners who are illegal much easier and their work ethic as a result might suit him better. Plus he can get away with it and the work permit system does not function in a well-organised fashion.
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Old Jun 29th 2011, 7:17 pm
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Smile Re: Help needed re St Lucia

Thanks PistolPete,

Well I am not one to just call and say a few things I will give them all the details and keep pushing - seems you have to do that here to get anything done! i am sure you know what I mean!
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Old Jun 29th 2011, 7:28 pm
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Default Re: Help needed re St Lucia

Originally Posted by Pistolpete2 View Post
Because work permits are expensive, he can abuse/take advantage of foreigners who are illegal much easier and their work ethic as a result might suit him better. Plus he can get away with it and the work permit system does not function in a well-organised fashion.
Pistol Pete has it right that is exactly what is happening here, he is taking advantage of people. He also says that the locals don"t have the skills that foreign nationals do and that he has to tell them 4 or 5 times what to do whereas foreigners he only has to say things once too, he said to my friend that he does not like Lucians and wont employ them unless he has too. Shame that as I understand you have to have more St Lucians in a company registered here than you do foreign nationals. Looks like he is in for a nasty surprise if I have my way.
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Old Jun 29th 2011, 7:42 pm
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Default Re: Help needed re St Lucia

Originally Posted by Sarah1234 View Post
Pistol Pete has it right that is exactly what is happening here, he is taking advantage of people. He also says that the locals don"t have the skills that foreign nationals do and that he has to tell them 4 or 5 times what to do whereas foreigners he only has to say things once too, he said to my friend that he does not like Lucians and wont employ them unless he has too. Shame that as I understand you have to have more St Lucians in a company registered here than you do foreign nationals. Looks like he is in for a nasty surprise if I have my way.
Sarah you have to think about this one carefully. Post made here in the community are afforded a certain amount of privacy and discretion. It was a sensitive question but is it really for us to go to the authorities ? Remember peoples livelihood is at stake. I know it's not right, but sometimes we have to take a back seat. The chap will eventually dig his own trap.
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Old Jun 29th 2011, 7:54 pm
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Default Re: Help needed re St Lucia

Originally Posted by Sarah1234 View Post
Thanks PistolPete,

Well I am not one to just call and say a few things I will give them all the details and keep pushing - seems you have to do that here to get anything done! i am sure you know what I mean!
I used to work in Bermuda and there they have an Immigration Hotline for use by locals who perceive the laws are being broken. That is to the other extreme and some would make unjustified calls but the laws are there to protect locals.

I do take the point regarding the work practices of locals but they are the work force that employers should be working with and training-up so that they finally appreciate WHY you don't want to be telling them the same thing five times over.

It's simply too easy to import labour over the heads of locals, particularly when so many who have an education can still not find work.

Of course the Government has a responsibility too and they should be doing their very best to ensure that schools and places of higher learning get the message across that employees too have a responsibility to their employers to do a fair days work.

Last edited by Pistolpete2; Jun 29th 2011 at 7:57 pm.
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Old Jun 29th 2011, 7:59 pm
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Default Re: Help needed re St Lucia

Originally Posted by Sarah1234 View Post
I personally think the whole thing is wrong, when she leaves as she will have to soon I will ring immigration and tell them the whole sorry story, a crook like this should not be running a company in St Lucia or anywhere in fact. He doesnt know any ministers etc, from what I have seen he sits in his office all day and does not venture out, and as it is on a hotel complex he probably thinks he wont get caught. Its really not fair on the people he promised work permits and a new life too as well as the local st lucian population.

I will keep you all informed!
This is in no way intended to be an excuse for what we are discussing here but I do find work permits in the hospitality industry in St Lucia very confusing. If as a foreigner you decide that you like St Lucia and want to open up shop you can for example set-up an English or Irish Pub and get a work permit. Not one bit of the business would suggest that you are actually equipped with the know-how to actually run an English or Irish Pub which would be a credit to the local tourism industry and you don't even need to know how to pour a decent pint of Guinness* or serve a decent plate of English Pub Grub but that does not matter. Nor does the fact that the way you run your business actually lowers the tone of the local tourism product. Go figure!

*St Lucia doesn't have draught Guinness, only Piton

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