Attention expats: getting a work permit to work in Aruba

Most people who wish to work in Aruba will need to obtain a work permit from the DIMAS (Department of Integration Management and Admission of Foreigners). The only exceptions apply to people of Dutch nationality, whom by law are considered nationals of Aruba by birthright or because of their ties with Aruba.  In some cases non-nationals can get an automatic right to work in Aruba and will only need to apply at the DIMAS for a statement which proves his/her right. These are for example people working for the government of the Dutch Kingdom, consulate personnel and military personnel stationed in Aruba. The Admission and Deportation Act (Landsverordening Toelating en Uitzetting or LTU) and the policy of the DIMAS require employers to recruit employees in Aruba first. This policy is one of the tools used by the government of Aruba to protect the local labor market and to regulate the intake of foreign labor in Aruba. For a work permit to be given, the employer generally has to show that no qualified locals are available to fill the position after advertising for a couple of weeks through a procedure conducted by the Labor Department. The Labor Department, in most cases, has to give written approval before a petition for a work permit can be filed with DIMAS. The decision on the first application must be awaited outside of Aruba.  Dutch nationals (not being nationals of Aruba) and U.S. nationals (http://lincolngomez.wordpress.com/2008/07/08/dutch-american-friendship-treaty-recognized-by-the-aruba-courts/) are exempt from this restriction. A work permit is usually valid for up to one year and can be renewed for a maximum period of three years and in exceptional cases for a period of four years. U.S. nationals are exempted from the 3 year limitation. After the maximum period of time the person will have to leave Aruba and will only be allowed back to work after a period of three years living outside of Aruba. “Highly skilled immigrants” are also exempt from the restriction of three years as a result of a recent policy change of the DIMAS. The government intends to incorporate this policy in the LTU in the future. After submitting the application form, the DIMAS has to take a decision within twelve weeks. If no decision is given within the allotted time or the permit is denied, an applicant can file an appeal within eight or six weeks respectively.

Contributed by: C.B.A. Coffie, attornet-at-law 

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