Immigration Ordinance Amendments 2021 – a system that works for the Falkland Islands 05 April 2021
In August 2013, the Falkland Islands Government (FIG) published the consultation document “Immigration Reform: An Immigration System Fit for the Future of the Falkland Islands”. The document contained proposals regarding possible changes to the immigration system to ensure that it is fit-for-purpose to meet the future needs of the Islands – including the need to address constraints on the labour market and other barriers to more permanent settlement in the Islands. The overall aim of the proposals was to ensure that the Falkland Islands has an immigration system that is efficient and effective to respond to economic development ambitions, robust in protecting the employment opportunities for those living permanently here and able to flex as the labour market requires it.
The consultation that followed sought to gather views on possible changes to the immigration system and gauge public opinion. It was carried out over two months and included a questionnaire, public meetings on East and West Falklands, meetings with the Chamber of Commerce, a live phone-in debate on Falklands Radio, and explanatory articles in the local newspaper. Participation and feedback was good with views given on areas such as visitors to the Islands, work permits, Permanent Residence Permits, and how the migrant population should be managed.
The Falkland Islands has a near zero unemployment rate and one in five people have more than one or multiple jobs. While this demonstrates the commendable work ethic of permanent residents and those choosing to make these Islands their home, it results in less capacity in the labour market to support not only current needs but also emerging opportunities. Additionally, permit holders currently require a separate work permit for every job they have – this leads to a heavy administrative and bureaucratic burden for the individual permit holder who has to make multiple applications, the employer, and the Customs & Immigration Service who have to process these applications. Ultimately, the current system is not as efficient as it could be in helping to build a sustainable future for the Falkland Islands. Also it does little to encourage and promote retention of skilled and educated workers, however wider policy work in the area of labour force development is underway and will complement the changes to the immigration ordinance.
Since 2013, work has been ongoing to improve the current Immigration Ordinance (1999), resulting in the Immigration (Amendment) Ordinance 2017 which was enacted but not brought into force. The 2017 Ordinance is now to be repealed, following further work to include new Immigration Regulations, developed to work alongside the Ordinance and to allow added flexibility when required. What is absolutely paramount is the needs of the Islands and Islanders. The proposed amendments will offer continued protection to the Islands’ permanent population - with compulsory advertising of roles and resident labour market tests maintained.
The Permanent Residence Permit (PRP) Regulations will be amended to include a revised points system and updated essential criteria and assessment. This follows feedback that those who make a substantial contribution to the community should be able to apply for PRP as they are more invested in Islands life. With this principle in mind, further PRP points will now be available for community engagement where a “substantial and sustained contribution” is identified. Feeding into this for the first time as a statutory element will be the use of the Workforce Shortage List (WSL) compiled annually by the Skills Assessment Council (SAC) and approved by Executive Council. PRP points will be available for roles included on the WSL.
These changes will support an immigration system that works for the Islands allowing employment vacancies to be filled and the local workforce to be protected.
FALKLAND ISLANDS GOVERNMENT
18 February 2021
New Covid-19 testing requirements on travelling south to the Falkland Islands
From 1 March 2021, passengers travelling south from the UK to the Falkland Islands on the South Atlantic Airbridge, will be required to provide evidence of a negative PCR Covid-19 test, that is dated no more than five days prior to travel.
This is a UK Strategic Command requirement, in order to be able to use Dakar as a weather or technical diversion, as the Republic of Senegal requires that everyone travelling into the country over two years of age, must now have evidence of a negative PCR Covid-19 test.
This means that travellers on the inbound airbridge currently scheduled to depart the UK on 28 February 2021 will require evidence of a negative PCR Covid-19 test in order to board the flight. Passengers should provide their test result to check-in staff on arrival at Brize Norton.
Passengers who test positive or receive an inclusive test result for Covid-19 will not be authorised to travel and for this reason it is advised that they do not relinquish their UK accommodation until they have evidence of a negative test result. In this event, a full refund will be issued and passengers will be rebooked on to an alternative, available civilian flight.
The Falkland Islands Government has put together a series of ‘questions and answers’ which explain the new requirement and provides information on UK options for booking tests, as well as additional guidance on how the new requirement. You can find these questions and answers by visiting https://www.fig.gov.fk/covid-19/travel/southbound
Passengers travelling southbound will still be required to undertake 14 days of quarantine in suitable accommodation on arrival, as this is still a legal requirement in the Falkland Islands.
Passengers travelling northbound will still be required to follow the UK government testing requirements for entering England, which include a 10-day quarantine period and the need to book and pay for a ‘travel and test’ package in order to undertake two Covid-19 tests during that quarantine period. Further information is available from the UK government’s website: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/how-to-quarantine-when-you-arrive-in-england
Visitor Permits Falkland Islands 28 March 2021
There is a restriction currently in place for visitors to the Falkland Islands and visitor permits will only be issued to essential visitors approved by the Falkland Islands Government Principal Immigration Officer. All persons arriving in the Falkland Islands will be required to quarantine for 14 days unless they have remained at sea for at least this period of time, have no signs of ill-health and the vessel they arrive on has completed the required Maritime Health Declaration prior to arrival.
Restrictions on the issuing of visitor permits will remain in place until 31 May 2021 when they will be reviewed. The current requirement to quarantine will remain in force during this time, however this will continue to be reviewed every 42 days in line with the requirements of the Infectious Diseases Control (Coronavirus, Quarantine) Regulations 2020.
Essential Visitors: The below categories of visitors can be considered essential in nature, an application to the Principal Immigration Officer will be required.
Permission from the Principal Immigration Officer is required.
Business Visitors required for essential maintenance on equipment which cannot continue to be operated without maintenance e.g. engineers visiting KEMH.
Crew from vessel associated with the Falkland Islands and the Government of South Georgia & South Sandwich Islands for the purpose of exchange and/or repatriation.
Scientific and other maritime observers associated with the Falkland Islands and SGSSI for exchange and/or repatriation purposes.
Individuals already present in the Falklands Islands when LATAM flights were suspended.
Members of the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) and associated organisations.
Business visitors for the purpose of delivering projects within the Islands Plan.
Other business visitors.
Crew from vessels with no connection to the Falkland Islands for the purpose of exchange and/or repatriation where onward travel arrangements are confirmed and in place.