Work Permits for Bahrain

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work permit for bahrainIn order for expats to legally work in Bahrain it's necessary to obtain a work permit.
Bahrain's workforce is over 70% expat, most of whom are from the Asian sub-continent. With such a large number of foreigners working in the kingdom, the authorities have made the process of obtaining a work permit fairly straightforward.
However, the Catch-22 is that expats need to have employer sponsorship before they can apply for a work permit in Bahrain. 
Once a job offer is solidified though, in nearly all cases the hiring company completely bears the burden of organising visas and paperwork. The employer applies for a permit with the Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) and expats merely need to help supply the following documents:
  • Passport
  • Passport size photograph
  • Health record  (including a HIV test) from an authorised clinic
In some cases it is also necessary to include a Curriculum Vitae (CV), or resumé, to prove that you are suitably qualified to fulfil the appointed position.
Employers can obtain work permits up to a year in advance without having to assign them to a specific individual. Thus, if lucky, the gap between signing a contract and legally being able to relocate and begin working can be minimal.
Do be sure to confirm that the issued work permit is for the actual position for which you've been hired; sometimes companies have extra work permits for different positions. Though accepting a work permit for a position other than your own is a quick fix to the problem of coming across and starting your job, it can cause hang-ups after two years when renewal is necessary.

Self-employed individuals and those that own their own business can apply for work permits with the help of a Bahraini national, only these individuals are legally allowed to make an application for a work permit. Thus, it's advised to enlist the help of an agency for this task.

Work permits are valid for a maximum of two years, at which point they need to be renewed.
Once an expat arrives in Bahrain with a work permit , they will need to apply for a residency visa, as well as a Central Population Registry (CPR) card.


Proposed cap on expats working in Bahrain

In the past, it has been a general rule of thumb that the workforce within a company should be split 50/50 between foreigners and local Bahrainis. However, now that expats have usurped the balance, Bahrain's labour ministry has been calling for a cap on work permits available.

The proposed ceiling would limit the number of permits granted, would look to ensure that permits were only granted to those expats with skills not satisfied by the local population, and would enforce a cap on the maximum-stay of foreigners to six years in one GCC country.

While there is currently no formal written legislating setting numerical restrictions on how many foreigners can be hired, the employer is required to enquire at the Ministry  of Labour to find out more about the Bahrainisation rules for the particular sector they operate in. 

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