What is the change? A wide-ranging law that significantly changes the work permit process has taken effect in Tanzania.

What does the change mean? Employers should familiarize themselves with the law, including its provisions on labor market testing, succession planning, work permit validity and increased criminal penalties for those who hire workers who are in the country illegally.

  • Implementation time frame: The law came into force Sept. 15.
  • Visas/permits affected: Work permits.
  • Who is affected: Employers and foreign nationals seeking work in Tanzania.
  • Impact on processing times: The new procedures may increase the time it takes to obtain a work permit, especially because authorities are applying more scrutiny to applications than they did in the past.
  • Business impact: Businesses may be affected by labor market testing provisions as well as by a requirement that companies produce succession plans for transitioning jobs to Tanzanian workers. Companies will also face stronger criminal penalties if they employ workers who are in the country illegally.

Background: The Tanzanian Parliament passed the Non-Citizens (Employment Regulation) Act earlier this year and the law went into effect Sept. 15. Among key provisions:

  • Tanzania’s Labour Commissioner will not issue work permits unless satisfied that all possible efforts have been explored to obtain a local expert.” Previously, this requirement existed in practice but was not prescribed by law. Authorities seem to be applying this rule more stringently than in the past.
  • Companies are required to develop succession plans for transitioning jobs held by foreign nationals to Tanzanian workers.
  • Generally, work permits will be valid for 24 months from the date they are issued and will be renewable once for an additional 36 months. The new law also created an exception for investors, who can now hold work permits for 10 years or longer.
  • Hiring noncitizens who do not hold a work permit is now a criminal offense punishable by fines of at least 10 million Tanzanian shillings (about US$4,620), at least two years in prison or both. Previously, the penalties were fines of 1 million shillings, six months in prison or both.

BAL Analysis: The law’s provisions indicate that Tanzania is taking measures to strengthen its local workforce and ensure that jobs for which Tanzanian workers are qualified are not given to foreign workers. The law also toughens the penalties for those who employ foreign workers without work permits, further incentivizing employers to ensure that the foreign workers they employ are in the country legally.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our network provider located in Tanzania. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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