Q: Who can live in Gibraltar?
A: When considering applications for residence permits the Principle Immigration Office ("PIO") appointed by the Govenor will exercise his discretion within the parameters of the Immigration Control Ordinance ("ICO") and immigration policy in accordance with instructions from the Govenor in consultation with the Government.
NB: The ICO deals with the rights of entry and residency in Gibraltar.
Those wishing to live in Gibraltar fall into four categories. Gibraltarians and British subjects employed in Her Majesty's Service or in the service of the Government of Gibraltar, those married to Gibraltarians, EU nationals and non EU nationals.
(i)Gibraltarians and British Subjects employed in Her Majesty's service or service of the Government of Gibraltar.
Gibraltarians and British Subjects employed in Her Majesty's service or in the service of the government of Gibraltar are entitled to residency in Gibraltar without holding any form of permit at all. Everyone else wishing to live in Gibraltar requires a residence permit.
(ii) Those married to Gibraltarians
Unfortunately, in the field of immigration, our laws in Gibraltar discriminate against women. Whilst a non-Gibraltarian man married to a Gibraltarian woman has a right to a residence permit, the same cannot be said about the opposite situation. A woman who is married to a Gibraltarian man is required to have a residence permit and she does not have an automatic right to such a permit law, though in practice she will be issued a permit as long as her husband is living in Gibraltar.
(iii) EU Nationals
The ICO gives nationals of European Community states preferential status over non-Europeans. A community national may enter Gibraltar on production of a valid identity card or passport issued by a member of state. Such a community national can apply for a residence permit will be issued for a period of not less than five years so long as he satisfies the PIO that he is self-employed and his period in employment is expected to last at least twelve months from the date of the application.
If a community national has a contract of employment for less than a year then his residency permit will be limited to the length of employment. Once again the PIO retains the power to refuse to allow a community national to enter and reside in Gibraltar if it is contrary to the interest of public policy or public security.
Is there a discretion when dealing with EU nationals today in Gibraltar? The answer is not really.
If an EU national comes to Gibraltar looking for residence and employment he has a six-month period in which to seek employment. If during this period the individual is successful and obtains employment then the Immigration Department will grant a certificate of residence for the duration of the contract or if the contract is for more than twelve months the Immigration Department will grant a certificate of residence for five years. If an individual has been residing in Gibraltar under a residence permit and loses his employment then even though his residence permit may have been for a duration of five years he will once again have six months in which to look for alternative employment. If the individual resides in Gibraltar under a permit with specified time and his employment contract comes to an end whether naturally or prematurely the Immigration Department will once again give the individual a further six months in which to seek alternative employment.
From a practical point of view, the Immigration Department finds it almost impossible to enforce the six-month limitation period. EU nationals have the right of entry as tourists and since they do not have their passport or identity cards stamped upon entry or exit it is impossible to monitor the duration of their visit or stay in Gibraltar. Only when the EU national begins to seek financial assistance such as welfare benefits, schooling for children etc, can and will the Immigration Department ensure that EU residency provisions are being observed.
If an individual who is a community national has been in wage paid employment he may be entitled to a certificate of permanent residence in certain situations, namely:
(i)Where he has reached pensionable age and at least twelve months before reaching that pensionable age he has resided in Gibraltar for more than three years.
(ii) Where having resided continuously in Gibraltar for more than two years he ceased employment as a result of a permanent incapacity to work which said incapacity has been caused as a result of an accident at work or an occupational disease.
(iii) Where after three years of continuous employment and residence in Gibraltar he is in the employment in the territory of a Member State or keeping his residence in Gibraltar to which he returns each day or at lease once a week.
Can an EU national who wishes to reside in Gibraltar but does not work whether by choice or necessity apply for residence? The answer is yes. Following the Rights of Residence Directives all EU nationals have a right to reside and therefore even if they are not in employment they will successfully obtain a residence permit so long as they are able to satisfy the Immigration Department that they will not become a public burden, have a place to live and have a private full risk medical insurance for themselves and any dependants (at the moment UK pensioners only are being accorded access to the Gibraltar Health Service). These individuals can also apply for High Net Worth Individual Status and take advantage of low tax rates (see ???).
I should add that in addition to the above, the Govenor, under the IOC retains his discretion to grant permits of permanent residence to any non-Gibraltarian who satisfies the Govenor that he originates from Great Britain, and in the opinion of the Govenor, is a good character and is likely to be an asset to the community.
(iv) Non EU Nationals
Non EU nationals do not have an automatic right of residence. The PMO does, however, retain the right to grant a permit of residence for a duration of anywhere between two days and one year (depending on length of work permit), if the EU national is in employment and holds a valid work permit.
The general policy of the Immigration Department is to grant such individuals a residence permit for the duration of the work permit. Once their contract of employment is terminated whether naturally or otherwise, a non EU national is given a short period of time in which to seek alternative employment, subject to that individual clocking in on a fortnightly basis with the Employment Department.
If a non EU national wishes to reside in Gibraltar and has no job can he live in Gibraltar? The answer is no! He must first find gainful employment and obtain a valid work permit.
The work permit can be obtained from the Employment Department. The functions of the Employment Department are presently carried out by the Employment and Training Board (ETB). In order to obtain a work permit the employer with whom the applicant seeks employment would have to satisfy the ETB that there is no Gibraltarian or EU national who satisfies the job requirement and is available and willing to take up the employment. If the ETB grants the work permit, the applicant will then be able to obtain a residence permit for the duration of the work permit.
Family of an EU national who are able to obtain a residence permit by having first obtained employment and a work permit in Gibraltar are not entitled to a residence permit without submitting their own application which will be judged on its own merits.
Over and above the Immigration law and policy rules which apply to most non EU nationals the Govenor under section 19(c) of the ICE has a discretion to grant a residence permit to any person who in the opinion of the Govenor is of good character where it would be in the interest of Gibraltar that such a permit of residence was granted. As to the duration this is left to the discretion of the Govenor.
Applications under this section of the ICE are generally reserved to wealthy non EU individuals who are able to offer Gibraltar substantial benefits whether in investment creation of employment or otherwise. Applications are made to the Govenor via the offices of the Administrative Secretary and Deputy Govenor and it is not uncommon for the Govenor to be consulted.
(v) High Net Worth Individuals (HNWI)
In recent years the Government of Gibraltar introduced new low tax limits in order to encourage HNWIs to invest in Gibraltar. HNWLs will pay tax on the first £45,000 of assessable income only with a minimum tax of £10,000 and a maximum of just below £20,000. In order to obtain HNWI status an application is made to the Financial and Development Secretary for the issuing of certificates under the qualifying High Net Worth Individual rules in the income tax ordinance. In order to be successful in such an application the applicant must pay five hundred pounds application fee and support his application with two references, one at least of which must come from a banker. In order to qualify as a HNWI the applicant must have available for his exclusive use for a period of not less than seven months approved residential accommodation and furthermore, must reside in Gibraltar in that property during any year of assessment for a minimum of thirty days which need not be consecutive. A HNWL applicant should also provide evidence of wealth.
If an EU national, HNWI status will satisfy the Immigration Department on an application for a residence permit provided that the applicant will not be a burden on public funds.
If a non EU national, the HNWL status will provide a good background for an application for a residence permit under 19c (discussed earlier).
(vi) EEA Nationals
a) An EEA National who enters Gibraltar has the right to remain for three months in order to obtain employment or establish himself in business. If by the end of this period he has not done so, he may be required to leave. An EEA National who takes up employment or sets up in business is considered by virtue of this to have acquired the right to reside and may apply for a residence permit. In the case of a person whose employment is expected to be for more than three but less than twelve months, the validity of the residence permit will be limited to the duration of the employment. If the employment is expected to last more than one year, the residence permit will be valid for five years.
b) The family of an employed or self-employed person are entitled to enter Gibraltar and have the right to install themselves with such a person, provided he satisfies the authorities that he has suitable accommodation for them. The family, may apply for a residence permit, the validity of which will be limited to the duration of the spouse's employment. If any members of the family are visa requiring nationals they will need to obtain an EEA family permit before coming to Gibraltar.
c) EEA Nationals who wish to take up residence in Gibraltar but who do not intend to take up employment or set up in business have the right to reside if they are able to satisfy the authorities that they and their dependants have sufficient resources to avoid becoming a burden on the social assistance system of Gibraltar, are covered by sickness insurance in respect of all risks and that they have suitable accommodation in Gibraltar. If a person meets these conditions, he may apply for a residence permit valid for five years.
d) Retired UK Nationals who are in receipt of a state pension in the UK may not need to take out an all risks sickness insurance if they can be included in the list of pensioners who are entitled to the services provided by the Gibraltar Health Authority. If they wish to be included in this list they should contact the following:
Department of Social Security
Overseas Benefits Directorate
e) Notwithstanding the right of an EEA National to live and work in Gibraltar, any such person can be refused entry, or after entry, may be required to leave on the grounds of public policy, public security or public health.
(vii) Non EEA Nationals
Non EEA Nationals wishing to take up an economic activity in Gibraltar should, in the case of those intending to set up in business contact the Commercial Director of the Department of Trade and Industry, in the first instance. Those seeking to take up employment should approach the Employment and Training Board. Visas to enter Gibraltar will not be authorised unless it can be established that there is a genuine intention and ability to set up a business. In the same way a visa for a person intending to take up employment will not be authorised unless the Employment and Training board confirms that there would be no objection in principle to the issue of a work permit.
b) Persons who do not wish to pursue an economic activity in Gibraltar would, under the provisions of the Immigration Control Ordinance, need to show that they are of good character and that it would be in the general interest of Gibraltar that they should be issued with a residence permit. Requests for residency in this category are processed by this office. Individuals are expected to provide evidence as to their good character, financial standing and good health. Although ownership of accommodation is not an absolute requirement, it is considered an advantage. However, a final commitment to purchase should not be entered into before approval in principle to the issue of a residence permit is given.
c) Residence permits are normally issued for a maximum period of one year and are renewed annually provided the immigration authorities are satisfied that there has been no material change of circumstances.
Q: Where do I go to apply for a residency permit and what should I take with me?
A: Applications for residency can be made to the Immigration Department at New Mole House, Rosia Road (Tel: 00 350 71543) between the hours of 9:00am and 12:45pm.
The applicant must appear in person and should have available the following documents:
1) Certificate of Terms of Employment from the Employment and Training Board.
2) One passport photograph
3) Passport, identification card
4) Proof of present residence (availability of place to live) e.g. lease, rental, contract, electricity, rates and water bill.
5) £5.00 cash to pay application fee.