Navigating the Mechanism of Bringing in Expat Employees from Abroad
The Coordination Committee, led by His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander, and Prime Minister, has established a new process for work permit applications for foreign employees. If you are an employer, you are required to apply for a new work permit. The LMRA will then announce the occupation as an available vacancy under the CR for 7 days. Each application advertisement costs BHD 30 and will be added to the monthly invoice of the CR.
Moreover, once an application is approved, the authorities will delay the approval of the application for 21 days. The work permit application will be processed after this waiting period. This is to ensure that Bahraini job-seekers have a fair opportunity to apply for the job vacancy before a work permit is issued to foreigners.
While it may seem like a simple process, it's crucial that employers strictly adhere to these regulations. For this reason, partnering with the right agency can simplify the process and prevent mistakes or delays. Agencies can help with advertising the vacancy in local newspapers, arranging interviews, and handling visa processing procedures.
After the foreign employee arrives in Bahrain, the employer must ensure that they secure a residency permit (RP) within 30 days of their arrival. Failure to secure an RP can result in penalties and, in severe cases, deportation. Therefore, it's crucial to follow up with the employee and provide necessary assistance to secure the RP.
In conclusion, bringing foreign employees into Bahrain requires careful navigation of regulations set by the Coordination Committee and strict adherence to them. Hiring a reliable agency can simplify the process and ensure compliance. As a business owner, investing in carefully following this process and providing necessary assistance to foreign workers can have positive effects on employee retention, business productivity, and profit margins.
As a best practice, it's beneficial to understand the purpose of this decision: to encourage hiring from the domestic market before seeking foreign hires. It's recommended that employers obtain samples of CVs and responses, along with a rationale for hiring a foreigner during the work permit application process. This would demonstrate to the LMRA that you have explored your options within the Bahraini labor market.
The principles applied here are not rigid laws but rather compliance requirements. Therefore, it's safe to say that you would apply the "comply or explain" rule: i.e., prove that the employer have complied with it or explain why it haven't. For instance, if an international organization has specific needs to hire from abroad, it may be argued that hiring must go through a formal process approved by the headquarter. This could render most applicants from the local market unfit for hiring due to various practical reasons, including but not limited to, lack of experience and exposure to an international organization structure. The LMRA will determine whether granting a work permit is appropriate on a case-by-case basis.
You can also demonstrate that while the senior position couldn't be filled within the local market, your company has achieved its Bahrainisation targets and is committed to hiring local talents and preparing them for senior positions.