What is the change? Authorities in Senegal say they will no longer allow foreign workers to start assignments in anticipation of their work permits being issued.

What does the change mean? Foreign workers must obtain their work permits in Senegal before beginning work, which will delay assignment start dates. This is because foreign nationals previously could begin assignments in Senegal once they obtained their medical report, which is one of the first steps in the overall work permit application process.

  • Implementation time frame: Immediate and ongoing.
  • Visas/permits affected: Work permits.
  • Who is affected: Employers and foreign nationals seeking work authorization in Senegal.
  • Impact on processing times: The change does not affect government processing times; however, because assignments can no longer begin before work permits are issued, start dates may have to be pushed back by up to four weeks.

Background: Up until now, foreign nationals have been allowed to enter Senegal on a business visa and begin working after obtaining their medical report and while their work permit application was still pending. Labor authorities recently issued a directive, however, saying that this will no longer be allowed. As a result, employers must now detail projected start dates in their employment contracts since the actual assignment start dates will depend on when the work permit is issued. The new rule is one among what could be a string of immigration changes in Senegal. Authorities have also discussed the possibility of introducing short-term work permits to replace the current allowance of short-term work on the basis of visitor status, a quota system for foreign workers and the introduction of designated in-country facilities for obtaining medical reports similar to the facilities recently introduced by the Immigration Service in Ghana.

BAL Analysis: Employers should be sure foreign workers have obtained their finalized work permit before allowing them to begin work in Senegal. Employers may need to adjust their schedules and will have to include projected start dates in their employment contracts. BAL will continue following other developments in Senegal and will provide additional information as it becomes available.

This alert has been provided by the BAL South Africa office. For additional information, please contact

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