Tanzania: Navigating Through Immigration And Labor Issues In Tanzania

Last Updated: 28 June 2016
Article by Amne Suedi

Since the end of last year, the legal landscape in Tanzania has been veiled with uncertainty regarding matters of labor and immigration. In December of 2015, the Ministry of Home Affairs decided to discontinue CTAs otherwise known as Carrying on Temporary Assignment. CTAs were also known as business visas which were given to foreigners with intent of carrying on a temporary assignment of not more than three (3) months in Tanzania. While CTAs were issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs upon arrival of the foreigner at the border of Tanzania, they were not regulated within the Immigration Act No. 7 of 1995 as amended (the "Immigration Act") and its applicable regulations and this created loop holes.

Following these events, the Non – Citizens (Employment Regulations) Act No.1 of 2015 (the "Act") was put to task. This legislation which is meant to simplify the process for non-citizens and foreign investors to legalize their status in Tanzania, in practice complicates the situation since the applicant must deal with two different authorities – the Ministry of Labour and Employment and the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Applicants who are either foreign investors, non – citizens with a prescribed profession (medical and healthcare professionals, experts in oil and gas, teachers and university lecturers in science and mathematics), non – citizens with other professions, non- citizens employed and registered in religious and charitable organizations as well as refugees must apply for a work permit before the Ministry of Labor and Employment. These work permits are classified and the fees payable range from USD 500 to 1,000 depending on the class.

Our experience demonstrates that the prescribed professions are subject to less scrutiny at the inspection phase of the application compared to other applicants. Employers should also note that certain professions like that of engineers, auditors, advocates, architects, surveyors, insurers and bankers, teachers, pilots, etc., applicants are required to register with the regulatory board for the said profession before submitting an application at the Ministry of Labor. It is therefore important that the employer is able to consult on the regulatory requirements of a given profession so as to better structure the job openings within its organization.

A salient feature within the Act is the succession plan which is expressly provided for. These requirements must be read with the National Employment Promotion Service Act Cap 243 R.E. 2002. The Employer must prepare a plan that demonstrates how the skills of the non – citizen employee will be transferred to a citizen employee within a given number of years. The Employer must demonstrate the measures that it will put in place including but not limited to training programs and mentorship programs. The Employer will be held accountable to this success plan.

The work permit is granted for a period of two (2) years however, this alone does not suffice for the foreigner to reside in Tanzania. The foreigner must then apply at the Ministry of Home Affairs for a residence permit whether as an investor, an employee or a volunteer. It is important to note that while the work permit has been granted, the Ministry of Home Affairs reserves the right to deny an application for a residence permit. One must submit a new application that includes the Work Permit granted and new fees must be paid which range from USD 500 to 3,050 per category per permit.

For foreigners that are coming to Tanzania for a short period of time i.e. not more than 6 months, a Short Work Permit (SWP) from the Ministry of Labour is required as well as a residence permit from the Ministry of Home Affairs. Effectively, what this means is that an Employer must apply for a SWP for its employee and fulfill all the requirements (excluding a succession plan) and the fees for this is a one- off USD 500. However, once a SWP is granted one has to apply for a residence permit that will be issued for the duration of the SWP, however the fee will be USD 2,050. This is an imperfect process and the Ministry of Labour and the Ministry of Home Affairs have been said to be working on finding a harmonized process since the beginning of the year.

Business visas were also reintroduced by the Ministry of Home Affairs which are basically like the (old) CTAs however there are specific categories specified when applying for this visa i.e. for foreign investors at the establishment phase of their business or individuals who are visiting the country to explore investment opportunities, foreigners who are coming to provide training to a company, foreigners who are providing maintenance and reparation works for machines owned by a company, etc. While the old CTAs were applied for at the airport upon arrival and no supporting documents were required, the Business visas can also be applied for at the airport, however the application must have supporting documents such as an invitation letter from the Company requesting for the visa accompanied by incorporation documents of the Company in question i.e. memorandum and articles of association, tax clearance certificate, business license, etc. The Business visa costs USD 250 and is valid for a period of 3 months.

Foreign investors that are registered under the Tanzania Investment Center (the "TIC") must apply for their permits through the TIC. These investors face some leniency when authorities are investigating the applications since they are qualified as long term investors "accredited" by the TIC therefore with a significant investment that will positively impact the Tanzanian economy. However, the process at the TIC can take more time and there are fees that are paid separately to the TIC on top of fees paid to the Ministries.

Where an applicant would like to appeal a decision from either the Labor Commissioner or the Commissioner of permits, the appeal must be made to the Ministers responsible for each. The inconvenience of this is that appeals can take months before they are examined by the Minister.

The immigration and labor process in Tanzania is largely bureaucratic, expensive and characterized largely by a paper system. In a time where Tanzania's government has pledged for industrialization and is inviting investors to undertake large projects, there is a need to reform the systems in Tanzania particularly when it comes to immigration.

Immigration and labor officers need to be educated about the different industries in Tanzania and the tasks that a company undertakes in certain sectors. These officers need to keep in mind that some areas such as mining require a big number of expatriate workers to train the locals on the use of modern machinery. This is specialized knowledge that is often unavailable in Tanzania. The authorities need to also understand that multinational companies and/ or those listed on foreign stock exchanges and operating in Tanzania, apply health and safety standards to their operations that are often more rigorous than those provided by the Occupational Health and Safety Act of Tanzania. Therefore, these same companies need a flexible and efficient immigration system that will allow them to bring foreigners from their other branches to work with and train local employees on these standards.

With an unskilled workforce of eighty (80) percent in Tanzania and with Tanzania's development goals, investors and the private sector should push the government to collaborate with Employers' who can bring qualified and skilled workers to train the unskilled Tanzanians. This can be done through a reform in the laws and systems pertaining to immigration and labor in Tanzania.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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