FALKLAND ISLANDS GOVERNMENT
10 November 2022
Falkland Islands Status Amendments 2022
In September 2022 the Legislative Assembly approved amendments to the Falkland Islands Status Ordinance 1998. The amendments are made as part of an ongoing review of Falkland Islands status eligibility requirements, and ways to make the status application process more robust.
The amended Ordinance narrows the definition of a “qualified person” (which at the moment includes persons who are Commonwealth citizens), limiting the definition to include only persons who are British citizens, British Overseas Territory citizens or British Overseas citizens. In addition, qualified persons have to hold a permanent residence permit (unless certain limited criteria apply – those who held status under the former Constitution).
The requirement for a qualified person to have been ordinarily resident in the Falkland Islands for the seven years immediately prior to their application remains, but there are amendments to the allowed absences in that period, which allow someone to be automatically regarded as having been ordinarily resident. The new allowed absences will be no more than 630 days aggregate in the seven-year period, no more than 90 days aggregate in any one of those 7 years, and the applicant must have been physically present in the Falkland Islands for the whole of the first 180 days of the first of the seven years.
The amendments included in Falkland Islands Status (Amendment) Bill 2022 will come into force in March 2023 in order to allow those who have reached the 7-year residency point, but have not yet applied for Falkland Islands status, time to apply before the amendments come in to force. Those who qualify under the current Ordinance (Commonwealth citizen/do not hold PRP) and wish to apply for Falkland Islands status are encouraged to apply before the amendments come into force next year.
An online public consultation will be launched later this month seeking the views of the community on other proposed changes to status eligibility requirements. Detailed information will be provided in a separate notice in due course.
Joint Statement from the Falkland Islands Government (FIG) and British Forces South Atlantic Islands (BFSAI)
8 June 2022
Passport validity requirements for travel on the South Atlantic Airbridge
The Defence Passenger Reservation Centre notifies all passengers wishing to travel on the South Atlantic Airbridge that they require at least 6 months validity remaining on their passport, from the date of return to RAF Brize Norton or Mount Pleasant Complex, this applies equally to service and civilian passengers.
This is in order to meet the entry requirements of Cape Verde through which the Airbridge transits on the journey between the UK and the Falkland Islands. Failure to meet this requirement will result in you not being able to travel.
The Falkland Islands Government recommends that all those who need to travel, or may need to travel, renew their passports in good time. The Customs & Immigration Service are able to facilitate British passport applications, the timescales for these applications previously required at least 3 months notice in order to receive the travel document back from the UK. However, currently the UK Passport Office is experiencing significant delays in processing applications and it is recommended that in order to receive new passports from the UK at least 5 months notice is required.
You will need to bring your current passport but this will be returned to you until your new one is issued. Adult passports cost £110.50 and child passports cost £80.50. The department can also take passport photographs for a fee of £7.50 for a set of four.
Do not apply for a new British passport online as you will be asked to send your current passport and your new one will only be sent to a UK address.
Emergency passports for British citizens can be issued in genuine emergencies such as for medical treatment or travel for compassionate reasons – not for holidays – and they are for single trips only. Emergency passports cost £75 plus the cost of photographs and on arriving at your destination you will need to obtain either another temporary document or a full passport at extra cost, to return to the Falklands.
For more information on travelling from RAF Brize Norton visit: https://www.raf.mod.uk/our-organisation/stations/raf-brize-norton/passenger-information/
For information on travelling from the Falkland Islands, please contact your booking agent.
FALKLAND ISLANDS GOVERNMENT
PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT
7 April 2022
Falkland Islands Government seeks to resume airlinks with Chile from July
Following the announcement last month, concerning the relaxation of COVID-19 measures in the Falkland Islands, the government is now seeking to resume the airlink with Chile from 2 July 2022, provided that all necessary permissions are granted and mainland airports are open.
As has been communicated previously, decisions around the resumption of these flights have involved the consideration of a number of topics, including COVID-19 related border policies and quarantine. From 4 May 2022, there will no longer be a requirement to quarantine in the Islands and the essential visitor policy will end, which means that the barriers to resuming these flights have now considerably reduced.
The Falkland Islands Government is now involved in discussions to reestablish the Chile flight first, in July, and then the Sao Paulo route later on this year, most likely towards the beginning of the summer season in November 2022.
MLA Mark Pollard, Portfolio Lead for Commercial Services, said: “We know the distress and disruption that the suspension of these flights has caused and I don’t think anyone could have envisaged the full extent of the impact that the pandemic has had on the Falkland Islands, let alone the world. However, it has always been our aim to restore these airlinks as soon as it was safe and viable to do so and, as we move towards the careful reopening of our country, we look forward to seeing these routes reopened.”
FALKLAND ISLANDS GOVERNMENT
PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT
1 September 2021
Launch of the new Falkland Islands immigration system
From today, 1 September 2021, changes to the Immigration Ordinance 1999, and the introduction of the Immigration (General) Regulations 2021 come into effect. Also coming into force today is the Immigration (PRP) (Amendment) Regulations 2021.
Information, the new permit application forms and attending guidance can be found on the Customs & Immigration website; please visit www.fig.gov.fk/customs
The changes will ensure that the Falkland Islands has an immigration system that is efficient and effective, able to meet the current and future needs of the Islands, while safeguarding employment opportunities for the permanent population.
FALKLAND ISLANDS GOVERNMENT
PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT
1 September 2021
Review of Customs & Immigration policy on advertising of employment vacancies
The Immigration (General) Regulations 2021 which come into force today, 1 September 2021, strengthen the requirements for vacancies to be advertised and the resident labour market to be protected. All jobs must continue to be advertised to ensure full access for those with Permanent Residence Permits or Falkland Islands status and to protect opportunities for permanent residents.
However, there is one change that will affect migrant workers who have been employed in the same role for less than four years. In these cases, a work permit issued for less than four years can be extended up to four years. This enables the extension of that migrant worker’s contract of employment, without the need for the role to be advertised. This small change will give employers and employees a greater degree of stability. Any substantial change to the permit holder’s duties, including a promotion, would require a new work permit and the role would need to be advertised.
The current Customs and Immigration advertising policy approved by Executive Council has been in place since 2000; it sets out the advertising requirements for employers, which are needed to meet the requirements of the Ordinance.
Following consultation with Islands employers, and timed to coincide with the implementation of the Immigration Amendments 2021, the advertising policy has been reviewed and Executive Council approved a set of recommendations on 25 August 2021.
The new advertising policy states: ‘All vacancies must be advertised at least once in a national newspaper and allow a minimum of 7 calendar days from the date of publication to receive applications. Employers are also required to advertise locally through at least one other platform/medium.’
This is the minimum requirement and, beyond this, employers are free to advertise using any medium, frequency or timescales they wish. The changes not only provide clarity around the process, but now reflect the contemporary realities of communications, advertising and recruitment in 2021. Find out more by visiting the government’s website: www.fig.gov.fk/customs
IMMIGRATION AMENDMENTS 2021 – PUBLIC BRIEFINGS - FAQs 28 June 2021
Between July and September 2021, the Falkland Islands Government will be introducing a new and improved immigration regime for the whole of the nation. These changes will ensure that we have a more efficient and effective system to protect local employment opportunities and respond to the development ambitions of the Islands.
Ahead of these changes, the government held a series of public information sessions in May and June in Stanley and Camp, in order to explain how these changes will work in practice as well as to offer people the opportunity to ask questions.
The sessions were well attended and, as a result, a new set of frequently asked questions has been compiled which respond to the queries that were raised at each event.
CHANGES TO THE PERMIT SYSTEM
- What permits will a person need in order to work in the Falkland Islands?
There will be three types of permit: Work Permit, Accompanying Dependent Permit (ADP) and Dependent Permit (DP). People will only be able to hold one of these permits at a time.
ADP is a new permit type and is for the dependents of Work Permit holders. DP is also a new permit type which is for dependents of people with ‘right of abode’ in the Falklands – either Permanent Resident Permit (PRP) or Falkland Islands Status.
- So, every permit holder will only have to hold one permit, even if they have multiple jobs?
Yes, it will be one permit for one person and they can undertake multiple jobs with that permit. This system will be managed through close collaboration between local employers and the Customs & Immigration team, and will be supported by the creation of a Registered Employer Scheme.
- How long does a permit last for?
Work Permits, ADPs and DPs can all be issued for up to 4 years.
- What will happen to those currently holding Residence Permits when the new permit system comes into force?
People will move across to whichever new permit is most appropriate for their situation. Current residence permits will not be cancelled and can run the length of their duration if required.
- Are the prices for permits changing?
No, the price will be £23 for adults and £13 for those under 16. Accompanying dependents of work permit holders will now need their own permits, however on the other hand multiple work permits for those holding multiple jobs will no longer be needed.
- When do things change?
The Immigration Amendments 2021 come into force on 1 September 2021; ahead of this, parts of the new regulations relating to employers will come into effect on 1 July 2021 to allow them to register on the Registered Employer Scheme.
- Is the government aware of the possible disruption that the new system may introduce?
Yes, but although change can be disruptive, the new system is designed to make the permit system simpler. We have already begun a series of widescale communications and engagement activities to publicise the changes and this will continue up to 1 September. Information will also be available on the Customs & Immigration website: www.fig.gov.fk/customs
WORK PERMITS AND SPONSORSHIP
- If there is only one permit, which employer signs the undertaking for that permit?
The primary employer or sponsoring employer must sign the undertaking.
- What if you’re already in the Islands and are not sponsored?
All permits that allow work require a sponsor and will not be issued without one and sponsorship is required in order to remain in the Falklands.
- Where do you stand as the primary sponsor when your employee goes off and also works for multiple other people?
This is a contractual matter between the employer and employee.
- Are the 9-month work permits changing?
No, work permits will still be available for up to 9 months. The individual will be able to complete a medical self-declaration and must hold medical insurance for the duration of their stay. No accompanying dependents are allowed.
- Do jobs need to be advertised if you wish to employ someone with a Dependent Permit?
Yes, all jobs must be advertised before any temporary permit holder is taken on and Dependent Permits are only valid up to 4 years. The prospective employer must keep details of the advertising and be ready to demonstrate this to Customs & Immigration.
PERMANENT RESIDENCE PERMIT (PRP)
- If I have PRP, what does my partner need in order to work?
A Dependent Permit (DP) would be appropriate for the partner of someone with PRP. However, they would also be able to apply for a Work Permit should they wish.
- What are the benefits to the individual in having PRP?
The main benefit would be knowledge that their employment is not dependent on having a temporary permit, this gives a level of job security. There are also other benefits such as the ability to purchase property or land without the need to hold a separate license, and access to free further education after a qualifying period.
- How will this change things for those living in Camp?
The intention of these PRP changes is to protect and encourage the growth of the Camp population. Points are now available if an applicant’s primary employment is in Camp, also now that the Workforce Shortage List is being used in the process, PRP points are available for farm workers as well as shearers.
- PRP points are awarded to those with the South Atlantic Medal, could points also be given to former members of the UK armed forces who have served here since 1982?
This is something which will be given future consideration as recognising the service of former members of UK armed forces in the Falklands is an important element of the PRP points system as it stands.
- Why will PRP applications now be assessed monthly?
Rather than waiting for 3 months before assessing applications, the changes will allow them to be assessed each month, delivering a more efficient process and a quicker turnaround time for decisions.
- When will the new PRP forms be available?
The new PRP forms will be available when the PRP Regulations 2021 take effect, which is on 1 September 2021.
FALKLAND ISLANDS GOVERNMENT
4 June 2021
ExCo agrees a revised visitor policy for the Falkland Islands
On Monday 31 May 2021, ExCo agreed to revise its policy in connection with the categories of visitors allowed entry into the Falkland Islands. This decision was taken as part of the government’s regular review of its ongoing pandemic management plans. The revised policy will continue to support a controlled approach to change, based on careful assessment of the risks, as well as the need to protect the Falkland Islands community and the operational capacity of the KEMH. The revised policy will also help inform ongoing work in the development of an Exit Roadmap that will seek to provide longer term guidance for the public in terms of a managed and phased staged step down of visitor and quarantine restrictions.
The revised policy now states that in addition to the existing visitor categories, friends of residents will be permitted to visit the Islands if sponsored by an Island resident who is present in the Falkland Islands. These visitors will still be subject to the same quarantine requirements that apply to all other visitors.
It also states that, from 1 October 2021, ‘clean’ expedition ships carrying fewer than 530 passengers will be permitted to visit the Falkland Islands in the austral summer season. However, there will be no change to the current quarantine exemptions for “clean vessels” and each ship must have been at sea for at least fourteen days before any passengers disembark in the Falkland Islands and have no symptomatic passengers or crew. Vessels will also need to agree to a set of rigorous public health conditions that will be closely monitored by the Strategic Pandemic Management Group. Larger cruise ships carrying more than 530 passengers will not be included on the approved visitor list.
Chair of the Legislative Assembly, MLA Mark Pollard, said: “The decision to make these two additions to the visitor policy were taken following a great deal of consideration. It was therefore agreed that with the extra layer of protection that comes from having the vast majority of our community fully vaccinated, it is time that we start to slowly loosen restrictions to visitors.
“Expedition ships will have to meet very strict rules before they are allowed to dock in the Islands, and passengers onboard these ships will be considered ‘clean’, having been at sea for at least fourteen days. This will mark the start of a very small tourist season which many operators here have missed, but I want to make it very clear to the public that the health and safety of our community remains at the forefront of our minds and should we again need to tighten our polices we can and will do so without hesitation.”
FALKLAND ISLANDS GOVERNMENT
PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT
18 May 2021
New immigration regime – public information sessions
Since 2013, work has been ongoing to improve the current Immigration Ordinance and Regulations, in order to introduce a more efficient and effective regime to protect local employment opportunities and respond to the development ambitions of the Islands.
As the changes are due to come into force between July and September this year, the Falkland Islands Government will hold a series of public information sessions, ahead of time, to explain how these will work in practice and offer people the opportunity to ask questions.
Present at each session will be MLA Mark Pollard, MLA Leona Roberts and Jim Horton, Programme Director for the Customs and Immigration Programme.
The times and dates are as follows:
- Stanley on Monday 24 May from 5pm to 6:30pm in the Chamber of Commerce
- Goose Green on Thursday 3 June from 5pm to 6:30pm in the Social Club
- Port Howard on Saturday 12 June from 12pm to 1:30pm in the Social Club
The new immigration proposals have arisen following extensive consultation and these public information sessions are designed to communicate these changes so that the community is fully informed of their impact to immigration processes in the Islands.
Permanent Residence Permit (PRP) Regulations 2021 03 May 2021
Regarding the rules governing permanent resident permits (PRP) -
Two key pledges outlined in The Islands Plan 2018-2022 refer to the desire to ‘encourage contractors and their families to make the Falkland Islands their home’, and also of ensuring ‘we train and retain existing workers, and attract new workers in areas of skills shortages’. Both are vital to ensure future economic growth and support a settled workforce.
The proposed changes to PRP are the product of policy development, over an extended period from 2014 through to 2020, which included public consultation on the points system. The current system places a high value on educational attainment and qualifications, high earnings, professional experience and assets. While these are valuable considerations, 91% of people who provided consultation feedback felt the points system should be revisited.
Their overriding concern was that the points system does not give enough weight to other qualities that we need in the longer-term. We want to be able to attract people who have a real commitment to making their life here and who provide valuable skills and fill important roles currently lacking in our workforce. The Immigration (PRP) (Amendment) Regulations 2021 will enable us to do this.
The essential criteria remain robust and have been strengthened in many areas, they include:
- residency in the Falkland Islands of a minimum of 3 years for the applicant and dependents
- criminal record checks for the previous 5 years to demonstrate good character
- sufficiently good command of the English language
- securing satisfactory accommodation
- health assessments for applicants and all dependents to ensure they are not likely to require the ongoing and significant support of public funds
- educational assessments for all applicants (or dependents) under 16 years to ensure they are not likely to require the ongoing and significant support of public funds
Points will also be awarded for Camp employment, and any roles, included in the Workforce Shortage List – so that individuals performing a wider range of functions that are important to our society will be given points for their efforts.
Applications from young families are encouraged by the introduction of a new points allocation for dependent partners who are under 45 and for dependent children who are ordinarily resident in the Falklands. More points are available for younger applicants than before, reflecting the importance of this demographic as an economic driver.
The new system also encourages individuals to apply for PRP as soon as they meet the minimum residency requirement – after 3 years – and recognises community engagement for the first time. Points will be allocated both to the principal applicant and to a dependent applicant for voluntary work if they can demonstrate a substantial, sustained contribution to society, showing how the Falkland Islands values community spirit and commitment. Points will still be awarded for those holding the South Atlantic Medal and their dependent partners, and also for those with close family permanently resident in the Falkland Islands.
Executive Council has already approved an annual increase in the PRP quota to 90 and applications will in the future be considered on a monthly basis, instead of quarterly. Collectively, these changes will enable more eligible individuals and families, who have been resident and working here for a number of years, to choose to make their future in the Falklands.
It is planned that these changes will be brought into effect within the next two months.
Refusal powers – Immigration Amendments 2021 26 April 2021
The power to refuse leave to either enter or remain in the Falkland Islands is conferred on the Principal Immigration Officer, and exercised by Customs & Immigration. Under the current Immigration Ordinance there are no general grounds to refuse entry to anyone seeking permission to enter the Falklands; instead the main mechanism for doing this is to classify an individual as a ‘prohibited person’. However, the new Immigration (Amendment) Bill 2021 provides a clear framework when deciding whether to refuse leave to enter or remain, providing stronger border controls and flexibility as needed.
A key part of the new framework is establishment of a Watch List of individuals whose presence in the Falklands is undesirable because of the way they have behaved. These individuals will not be allowed to enter the Falklands or, if they are here, will be liable for deportation. The Bill sets out clear criteria as to the circumstances in which a person can be included on the Watch List and accompanying guidance has been prepared to help ensure that decision-making is consistent. The Principal Immigration Officer must refuse leave to enter or remain to anyone who is included in the Watch list.
The following categories of people will be included on the Watch List:
- anyone subject to a deportation order
- anyone who has committed the most serious crimes such as genocide, war crimes or crimes against humanity
- anyone who has committed a criminal offence that would be punishable by a sentence of imprisonment of four years or more
- those who are on the UK Sanctions List published by the UK Government
- those who have publicly expressed or endorsed an opinion or otherwise behaved in a manner that is likely to lead to a serious breach of public order.
Mandatory and Discretionary Refusals
The new powers are split into mandatory requirements – where permission to enter cannot be given – and discretionary powers. Under the mandatory requirements, the following categories of people will also be refused entry to the Falklands: anyone convicted of a criminal offence and having received a sentence of 4 years or more, or who has been convicted of a criminal offence that is not ‘spent’; anyone who fails to provide information or documents to C&I or who gives false or misleading information; and any person who needs a visa and doesn’t have one.
The Principal Immigration Officer also has the power to refuse entry to: anyone who cannot demonstrate that they have the means to support themselves; anyone who refuses to submit to a medical exam; a person suffering from a contagious or infectious disease (these powers are very relevant given the current pandemic); any person who is unlawfully present in the Falklands (this includes anyone in the Islands who does not have a valid permit or hold status); anyone reasonably suspected of committing a criminal offence which would, on conviction, lead to imprisonment; and anyone who owes a debt of £500 or more to the government under a court judgement. The Principal Immigration Officer will also have a discretion to refuse entry to anyone if they consider it would be against the public interest.