Member Update 14.02.23

On February 14, 2023, the Fiji Immigration Department presented on various topics related to labor market challenges and recruitment processes. The following are the key takeaways from the presentation:

Local Labor Market Challenges:
1. There is a lack of data on skill gaps and demand, and the only current source of data is from employers requesting work permits.
2. Employers' proof of skill shortages is often limited, with factors such as no response to vacancy adverts, specialized skill sets required, and no expertise available locally.
3. An increasing demand is noted for tourism, manufacturing, construction, IT, and mining, while other areas previously not required are starting to ramp up, such as retail, mining, transport, specialized restaurants, health, and accountants/CFO.

Key Issues for Recruitment Processes:
1. There are issues with working conditions for foreign employees breaching the ERA.
2. Employment contracts are not provided, and contracts are provided to employees who do not speak or understand English.

Recruitment Challenges:
1. Human trafficking (trafficking in persons) and labor exploitation are significant issues, such as not paying employees due wages, inhumane work or living conditions, removal of passports and basic freedom and human rights.
2. Fiji is being used as a transit to access Australia/NZ by foreign nationals unable to get there directly.
3. Employee documentation and/or qualification can be fake, including work experience.
4. Constantly extended work permits are sometimes used as an avenue to obtain citizenship.

Grounds to Decline Applications:
1. Applications may be declined due to inconsistencies and errors found in applications, incomplete information, and failure to provide mandatory documentary requirements per the Checklist.
2. Lack of evidence to prove that skill is not available locally can also result in declined applications.
Advertising solely for the sake of meeting Immigration work permit requirements can also be a ground for application denial.

Policy Change for Business Visa:
1. The Business Visa has been re-introduced for 14 and 30 days.
2. Applicants can transition to a Short-Term Work Permit while in the country.
3. This change is part of the Immigration Department's facilitation for urgent requests from priority sectors such as tourism, construction, manufacturing, maritime, and agriculture.

21 Days Business/Visitor Visa:
1. Business Visitor Visas provide 21 days for business, study, research, consultancy, training, or other work-related activities.
2. Applicants can enter on this Visa while waiting for work permit application approval.
3. Extension of a Business Visa will require a Short-Term Work Permit to be applied for before the visa's expiry, after which no further extensions are provided (applicable only for visitors from Australia, NZ, Singapore, and the US).
4. A request for 21 days can be made through email:
5. While it is possible to bring in a new hire on these visas before submitting a work permit application, it is important to note that forgetting to submit the application can result in a breach that is responded to by immediate deportation, and the individual cannot re-enter the country for two years. Additionally, the increased number of work permit applications is currently causing delays, and pending applications can be brought in on the 21-day visa.