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Immigration & Work Permits

Work Permits

Foreign nationals wishing to work in Ghana are required to obtain a work permit. Foreign companies registered with the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) are automatically granted an Automatic Immigration Quota (AIQ), which enables them to hire foreign nationals. However, the number of foreign nationals that may be hired is dependent on the amount of foreign equity capital invested.

Your Options

Use your own company

A foreign company that wishes to get a work permit for one of its employees must first set up its Ghanaian subsidiary/branch/representative office. This Ghanaian entity may then apply for the work permit.

Work permits can be obtained from either the GIPC in the form of an Automatic Immigration Quota (AIQ) or the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS)/ Ministry of Interior (MoI), depending on what type of industry the proposed applicant will be working in.

Applicants engaged by companies in the mining and petroleum industries, as well as NGOs have to apply to the GIS/MoI while applicants engaged by companies in other industries have to apply to the GIPC.

Step 1: Obtain letter of recommendation

Prior to making application to the
GIS for work permits, applicants should obtain letter(s) of recommendation from the regulatory bodies overseeing the industries concerned in respect of named applicants:

  • Mining – Minerals Commission
  • Petroleum (upstream) – Petroleum Commission
  • Petroleum (downstream) – Energy Commission
  • NGOs – Department of Social Welfare

Step 2: Apply for a work permit

Generally, the Ministry of Interior only grants work permits to expatriate employees or to individuals who have already been issued residence permits. Work permits may also be granted to foreign nationals engaged on a short-term basis for certain specific services. Short-term work permits are not counted against a company’s foreign employee quota.

The following documents must be submitted as part of the work permit application:

  • A letter of recommendation for the granting of a work permit in respect of a named applicant;
  • Curriculum vitae of the applicant;
  • Contract of employment of the applicant;
  • Medical report;
  • Police report;
  • Registration documents of the company employing the expatriate;
  • Educational certificate of the applicant; and
  • Tax clearance certificate of the Company.

When reviewing applications, the Ministry of Interior will consider whether the activity in which the foreign national will engage will be functional, whether the applicant honours his or her tax obligations, and whether the applicant demonstrates evidence of satisfactory financial support.

An applicant may not work in Ghana while his or her work application and other papers are being processed.

The foreign national is not permitted to change employers after he or she receives a work permit. If unavoidable, the applicant must notify the Immigration Service within one week after the applicant knows he or she is changing jobs.

Time: Work permits must be renewed annually; however, long-term (two or more years) work permits are issued if the applicant has worked consistently in Ghana for at least three years.

Fees: Ranges from GHC 10,500 – 21,000. For a full fee schedule, please refer here.

Step 3: Notification to the relevant immigration authority

When a foreign national begins to work for an employer in Ghana, the employer will have to give notice to the issuing authority for work permit or Immigrant quota no later than seven days after commencement of employment in a prescribed form, indicating the commencement date with a copy to the Director of Immigration. Additionally, a letter of guarantee in respect of repatriation expenses of the employee (in the event the employee is required to be repatriated) should be submitted to the Director.

Similarly, the employee will have to give notice of the commencement date to the issuing authority not later than 7 days after the commencement of employment with a copy to the Director of Immigration.

Step 4: Obtain a residence permit

Foreign nationals employed under a company’s AIQ are automatically granted residence permits by the Ghana Immigration Service. He or she must apply for the permit to be stamped into his or her passport.

The initial residence permit is valid for one year. Applications for renewals must be submitted to the Director within one month before the other permit expires. Approvals are subject to the discretion of the Director of Immigration. Applicants must normally be sponsored by established entities in Ghana or by universities or international organizations.

The following documents should be submitted when applying for a residence permit:

  • Completed application form;
  • Curriculum vitae of applicant;
  • Contract of employment;
  • Medical report;
  • Police Clearance Certificate from country of residence;
  • Two passport-size photographs; • Certificate of marriage (in case of application for spouse);
  • Birth certificate for children ( in case of application for them);
  • Company registration documents; • Tax clearance certificate of the company;
  • Quota letter from the GIPC or work permit letter from the GIS; and
  • Applicant’s passport.

Automatic Immigration Quota

Companies registered with the GIPC are entitled to an immigrant quota (that is, the maximum number of expatriates the foreign investor can employ), based on the level of foreign equity paid-up capital invested in Ghana. This is known as the Automatic Immigration Quota (AIQ).

The bands of foreign equity capital investments as regards the grant of AIQ are:

Paid-up capital Quota

US$50,000 – US$250,000 1

US$250,000 – US$500,000 2

US$500,000 – US$700,000 3

Above US$700,00 4

*The above contributions can be made in their GH¢ equivalent.

Within the last band, additional quota can be negotiated with the GIPC.

Applications a made to the GIPC for the grant of the AIQ in respect of a named applicant. The AIQ serves as an automatic work permit.

The GIPC have attached some guidelines on the AIQ and the application on hiring foreign nationals, please refer here. Investors wishing to register with GIPC can refer here.

Use the Shield GEO Employer of Record Solution

Once you get in touch with us, one of our consultants will take all the work off your hands, coordinate with our local partners to get all the required permits organised, provide the processing time, costs, document-checklist and keep you informed through the process. Contact us to know more.

Types of visas in Ghana

Category Description of Visa
Self-employed A foreign national may invest or start a business in Ghana by registering the company with the Registrar of Companies and then by applying to the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre, indicating his or her field of investments.
Family members Dependants are covered under the AIQ, however this does not entitle them to work, as such they are required to apply for a work permit in their own right. Residence permits may be issued to a spouse and other dependents of a principal residence permit holder. Issuance is subject to the condition that the dependents may not undertake remunerated employment without obtaining the appropriate authorisation.
Business visa The following documents must be submitted:

1. Completed visa application form
2. Valid passport for at least six (6) months (Before Expiration)
3. Evidence of financial support or letter of invitation from host in Ghana
4. Visa Fee - money order, postal order, cashiers check or certified bank check
5. Two passport-size photographs of applicant. Should be taken at least within the last three months (Very Important)
Affix each photograph with glue on the top right comer of the application form.
6. Applications submitted by mail must be accompanied by prepaid self-addressed overnight, trackable envelope ( FEDEX) for return of passports. Only requests accompanied by certified prepaid return envelopes will be processed.
7. Letter of invitation from the principals in Ghana
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