In Ghana, a foreign investor who invests in an established entity and meets the prescribed capital has a pathway to an automatic work and residence quota/permit. Thus, allowing such an investor to remain and lawfully undertake his establish enterprise in Ghana.
A work permit or immigration quota authorises an employer or employee to engage in lawful and gainful employment in Ghana.
In Ghana, registration of enterprises with the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) provides a clear pathway to obtaining work and residence permit from the Ghana Immigration Service.
Section 24 (1) of the GIPC Act 2013 (Act 865) provides that an enterprise in which foreign participation is permitted under this Act shall, after its incorporation or registration and before the commencement of business operations, be registered with the Centre.
The above statutory stipulation makes it mandatory for all enterprises with foreign participation to register with the GIPC. Accordingly, using the word “shall” obliges/ mandates such enterprises with foreign participation to register with the GIPC.
More important is that an enterprise that registers with the Centre and subsequently meets a minimum paid-up capital qualifies to apply for automatic expatriate quota, thus allowing the said enterprise a pathway to work and residence permits for its expatriate workers.
Automatic Expatriate Quotas
GIPC Act governs the grant of automatic expatriate quotas. Section 35 (1)(a)(i) of the GIPC Act provides that an enterprise which has a paid-up capital of not less than Fifty Thousand United States Dollars and not more than Two Hundred and Fifty Thousand United States Dollars is entitled to an expatriate quota of one person.
Further, Section 35(1)(a)(ii) of the GIPC Act provides that an enterprise which has a paid-up capital of not less than Two Hundred and Fifty Thousand United States Dollars and not more than Five Hundred Thousand United States Dollars is entitled to an automatic expatriate quota of two persons.
More importantly, Section 35(1)(a)(iii) provides that an enterprise which has a paid-up capital of Five Hundred Thousand United States Dollars, and not more than Seven Hundred Thousand United States Dollars is entitled to an automatic expatriate quota of three persons. Finally, an enterprise with more than Seven Hundred Thousand United States Dollars is entitled to an automatic expatriate quota of four persons.
The GIPC Act requires an enterprise that wishes to utilise the pathway provided under the Act to apply to the Centre for consideration after meeting the minimum paid-up capital.
In practical terms, an enterprise meeting any specific paid-up capital has an automatic pathway to a work and residence permit.
An enterprise which meets the said paid-up capital must obtain a confirmation letter from the Bank of Ghana via the enterprise bankers. By receiving the said confirmation letter of the transferred funds, the enterprise can engage the GIPC for the grant of the automatic expatriate quota.
It must be noted that under the GIPC Act, some activities are solely reserved for Ghanaians and Ghanaian-owned enterprises. Such activities are captured under section 27 of the GIPC Act and include but are not limited to taxi or car hire services and beauty salons or barber shop operations. Notably, by a Legislative Instrument, the Minister designated by the President of the Republic with an oversight responsibility over the Centre shall amend the list of enterprises reserved for citizens and enterprises wholly owned by citizens.
Notwithstanding the above stipulations, foreign participation is allowed if the minimum foreign capital is met. In addition, section 28 of the GIPC Act outlines the requirement under which a foreigner may participate solely in an activity reserved for Ghanaians.
For instance, under section 28 (2) of the Act, a person who is not a citizen may engage in a trading enterprise if that person invests in the enterprise not less than one million United States Dollars in cash or goods and services relevant to the investment.
It is notable for underscoring that, concerning the minimum foreign capital requirement under Section 28 of the Act, the law allows for a combination of cash and capital goods relevant to the investment for meeting such an obligation.
However, under Section 35 of the Act, regarding the paid-up capital for the automatic expatriate quota, there is no such combination of cash and capital goods. The intent can be gleaned that under Section 35 of the Act, to qualify for an automatic expatriate quota, only cash computation of the paid-up capital shall be acceptable.
More importantly, is the fact that the exemption clause introduced to Section 28 of the Act emphasises the cash computation’s position regarding Section 35 of the Act. Thus, under Section 29 of the Act which is the exemption clause to the minimum capital requirement under Section 28 of the Act, it states, among others, that the minimum capital requirement specified under section 28 does not apply to portfolio investments or enterprises set up solely for export trading and manufacturing.
For the purposes of the Act, Section 29 (2) defines export trading to include goods or products originating from Ghana.
The Role of the Ghana Immigration Service
As part of its function, the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS), acting through the Comptroller-General, is empowered under Section 4 (1) (e) of the Immigration Service Act, 2016 Act 908 to issue visas for entry into the country and permits for residence or work in the country. Therefore, the final seal regarding the pathway to the grant of automatic expatriate quota for residence and work permit is of concern rest with the Ghana Immigration Service acting through the Comptroller-General.
It is of essence to underscore that once an enterprise meets the requirement of the GIPC and is issued formally with the expatriate quota letter, the enterprise must apply to the Ghana Immigration Service for the issuance of the permit as established under the Immigration Service Act, 2016, Act 908.
Application to the Ghana Immigration Service
Regarding enterprises which have met a specified paid-up capital and qualify for an automatic expatriate quota as per Section 35 of the GIPC Act, the enterprise must submit an application to the Comptroller-General of the Ghana Immigration Service with the following documents in support:
- Cover letter for Work and Residence Permit.
- Business Registration Documents of the entity.
- Police Criminal Record for the Home Country in respect of the applicant.
- Medical Report issued by the Ghana Immigration Service Clinic.
- Employment Contract including terms.
- Completed Residence Permit form.
- GIPC Automatic Quota Confirmation/Approval letter.
- Curriculum Vitae of the applicant
- Tax Clearance Certificate of the company.
- Republic of Ghana Non-Citizen Identity Card in respect of the applicant.
- 2 Passport size pictures.
Once the above-listed documents are submitted, Ghana Immigration Service will cause an extensive review of the application and documents and grant the work and residence permit to the applicant on sufficient grounds. An applicant shall be informed of the successful work and residence permit grant for pick-up.
Ghana’s investment pathway for work and residence permits is cumbersome but attainable. The GIPC Act and the GIS Act provides a clear path to obtaining work and residence permit in Ghana via investment. The law allows foreigners to obtain the requisite permits, stay and lawfully engage in their business activities in Ghana.
Notes on the contributor.
Mr David Yaw Danquah is the founder and Managing Partner of Legalstone Solicitors, a boutique law firm in Ghana with a concentration on Corporate and Commercial, Mining and Infrastructure, Debt Recovery and Restructuring, Real Estate and Construction Law, and Commercial Arbitration.
He heads the firm’s practice areas focusing on Corporate and Commercial, Mining and Infrastructure, Debt Recovery and Restructuring, and Commercial Arbitration.
David has advised on numerous investment and mining-related transactions. He also has assisted countless international entities in establishing their operations in Ghana and, through his firms, offers support services to those entities. He has an impeccable record of providing technical savvy and exceptional client services.
David is a graduate of Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Kumasi, where he received his bachelor’s degree in law (LL. B) and the Ghana School of Law, where he studied and received a Post Graduate Qualifying Certificate in Law (PQCL). Furthermore, he holds a Certificate in Negotiation Mastery from Harvard University. In addition, David has an LL.M. with a Merit Degree in International Dispute Resolution from the prestigious Queen Mary University of London, United Kingdom.
David is a member of the Ghana Bar Association, Association of International Petroleum Negotiators (AIPN) and Institute of Energy Law (IEL) based in Houston, U.S.
The contents of this publication, current at the date of publication set out above, are for reference purposes only. They do not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Specific legal advice about your circumstances should always be sought separately before acting based on this publication.
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