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No work permit required for foreign spouses of Mauritian citizens employed prior to 8 March 2019

An amendment to the Non-Citizen (Employment Restrictions) Exemptions Regulations, published through GN 55 of 2019, removed foreign spouses of Mauritian citizens from the category of non-citizens who were exempted from the requirement of a work permit for working in Mauritius. All foreign spouses of Mauritian citizens were therefore under an obligation to hold a valid work permit to be entitled to work lawfully in Mauritius.

However, following representations made to the Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations, Employment and Training, these amendments have been repealed and replaced by amendments published in GN 68 of 2019, which are effective from 15 April 2019 (the “New Amendments”).

The practical effect of the New Amendments, as explained in a Communique of the Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations, Employment and Training, is that:

  • foreign spouses of Mauritian citizens who were in employment prior to 8 March 2019 will continue to benefit from the exemption and will therefore not need to hold a work permit to continue working in Mauritius;
  • an employer, who has employed a spouse of a Mauritian citizen or a surviving spouse of a Mauritian citizen with effect from or after 8 March 2019, benefits from a three-month grace period from 15 April 2019, during which time the employer can continue to employ the foreign spouse without the foreign spouse having a valid work permit;
  • within the grace period and if the employer intends to continue employing that employee after the grace period, the employer must make an application for a work permit for the foreign spouse;
  • for any new recruitment, an employer wishing to employ a foreign spouse of a Mauritian citizen will have to make an application for a work permit under the Non-Citizen (Employment Restriction)(Work Permit) Regulations 2017.

The Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations, Employment and Training has indicated that it will shortly issue guidelines for applications for work permits.