What is the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME)?
The CSME is an Integrated Development Strategy that is intended to benefit the people of the Caribbean Region by providing more and better opportunities to produce and sell goods and services, to attract investments, and to facilitate the movement of persons (skills) and capital, via an enlarged economic space. Hence, the CSME is expected to improve standards of living and work while ensuring sustained economic development.
St. Kitts and Nevis is a signatory to the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas (RTC) which establishes the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the CSME; therefore, the full implementation of the CSME has been a top priority. To date the CSME has been implemented in twelve (12) other CARICOM Member States including:
- Antigua and Barbuda
- St. Lucia
- St. Vincent and the Grenadines
- Trinidad and Tobago
It is important to note however, that Haiti and Montserrat are labelled as partial participants of the CSME, having signed only those Protocols that would allow them to participate in the Movement of Community Nationals
The General Framework of the CSME
The CSME is built on five (5) core elements:
- The Free Movement of Capital: facilitates the movement of capital and eliminate any restrictions.
- The Free Movement of Goods: facilitates the movement of goods via the removal of trade barriers, and to modernize national standards to ensure suitability of goods.
- The Free Movement of Services: facilitates restriction-free movement of services via the removal of trade barriers, and to streamline national standards to guarantee the highest quality of services
- The Free Movement of Skills/Labour: provides a hassle-free environment for the movement of people, to travel amongst CARICOM Member States to work without impediments. Additionally, in accordance with Article 46 of the RTC, to establish systems for accreditation and equivalency activities, andfacilitate the effective transfers of social security benefits.
- The Right of Establishment: facilitates the establishment of businesses without restrictions.
Movement of Skilled Nationals
Who is eligible to move as a skilled national?
Free movement of skills includes the right of certain categories of CARICOM nationals, as per Article 46 of the RTC, to seek employment in another Member State without the need to obtain a work permit.
Presently, there are ten (10) approved categories for movement as a skilled national:
- University Graduates
- Artisans with a Caribbean Vocational Qualification (CVQ)
- Media Workers
- Holders of Associate Degrees or comparable qualification
- Household domestics with a Caribbean Vocational Qualification (CVQ) or equivalent qualification
If a CARICOM national does not qualify in any of the above-mentioned wage earning categories, then he/she would be required to apply for a work permit. The Ministry of National Security oversees applications for work permits in St. Kitts and Nevis.
How can CARICOM Nationals who qualify, move to seek employment?
CARICOM nationals who qualify under any of the approved categories and wish to work in a participating CSME Member State must obtain a Certificate of Recognition of Caribbean Community Skills Qualification, commonly referred to as a Skills Certificate. A CARICOM national can apply for the Skills Certificate in any Member State and will be granted indefinite stay in that country, subject to requirements by the Immigration Department. Skills Certificate Holders would be required to verify his/her Skills Certificate with the respective Competent Authority in the Member State in which he/she wishes to work. For example, the holder of a Skills Certificate issued in St. Kitts and Nevis would be required to present the Skills Certificate for verification upon entering Jamaica.
We strongly recommend that applicants conduct the necessary research prior to any movement. For instance, one should confirm the national laws of the country where they wish to work, which Agency or Ministry functions as the competent authority, the required documents for acquiring a skills certificate, and requirements of Immigration.
Benefits for Holders of a Skills Certificate
The Skills Certificate benefits the Principle Holder as well as his/her spouse and dependents. The benefits include:
- Restriction free movement, including the freedom to leave and re-enter his/her host country (applicable to spouse and immediate dependent)
- Unlimited access to employment opportunities
- Freedom to buy or rent property for residential or commercial use
Citizens of St. Kitts and Nevis Entering other CARICOM Member States
It is strongly recommended that citizens of St. Kitts and Nevis who wish to exercise their right under the Movements of Skills regime apply for the Skills Certificate before leaving the Federation. However, if he/she is unable to do so, the Skills Certificate can be acquired in the Member State where he/she wishes to work. Should the Skills Certificate be available before departing the Federation, it should be presented to the Immigration Officer at the point of entry, and a definite entry of six (6) months should be granted, having satisfied all immigration requirements.
During this six-month period, the St. Kitts and Nevis National is required to either apply for or verify his/her existing Skills Certificate at the Competent Authority in the Member State he/she has moved to. Given the end result of either process the CARICOM National is then obligated to present his/her passport to the relevant Ministry/Agency for endorsement with an indefinite stay stamp.
CARICOM Nationals Entering St. Kitts and Nevis
CARICOM nationals seeking to enter St. Kitts and Nevis would be granted a definite entry of six (6) months having satisfied all immigration requirements. During this six-month period, the CARICOM national is required to either apply for or verify his/her existing Skills Certificate at the Ministry of International Trade. Given the end result of either process the CARICOM national is then obligated to present his/her passport to the Ministry of National Security (Immigration Division) for endorsement with an indefinite stay stamp.
How to Apply for the Skills Certificate in St. Kitts and Nevis
The CARICOM national should first identify which of the ten (10) approved categories would be suitable based on their qualification or skill. The application form along with the required documents should then be submitted to the CSME Desk Officer at the Ministry of International Trade in St. Kitts. The application will then be reviewed by the Free Movement of Skilled Persons Committee and the CARICOM national will be informed of the outcome.
If the application is approved, the CARICOM national will be issued a Skills Certificate and a letter informing of the committee’s decision. The CARICOM national will at this point, present his/her CARICOM passport at the Ministry of National Security to be endorsed with the indefinite stay. This process takes a minimum of six (6) weeks.
How to Verify a Skills Certificate in St. Kitts and Nevis
A CARICOM National entering the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis with a Skills Certificate should present the document to the Immigration Officer and will be granted six (6) months definite stay. The CARICOM national should then visit the Ministry of International Trade in St. Kitts to have the Certificate verified. Upon completion of the verification process, the CARICOM national will take his/her passport to the Ministry of National Security for endorsement with an indefinite stay stamp.
The time frame for the verification process is reliant on the response time from the issuing Member State.
- Application for the Certificate of Recognition of Caribbean Community Skills Qualification
- Verification of a Certificate of Recognition of Caribbean Community Skills Qualification
- Alteration/Amendment of the Certificate of Recognition of Caribbean Community Skills Qualification
- Replacement of a Lost, Stolen, Misplaced or Damaged Certificate of Recognition of Caribbean Community Skills Qualification
- Complaints Procedure
A CARICOM National arriving in, transiting, or departing a CARICOM Member State, and or seeking to exercise a right under the CSME, may have had negative experiences about which he/she wishes to file a complaint with the relevant authorities. The experience(s) may have been at a port of entry, after entry into a Member State, or both.
The complaints procedure is a mechanism implemented to assist CARICOM Nationals Exercise their rights under the Treaty.
A CARICOM National wishing to make a complaint shall fill out the Complaints Procedure form either in hard copy or online.
The completed form shall be returned (in person/by mail/electronically) to the CSME Focal Point of the receiving country, or the home country of the CARICOM national within five (5) working days of the date of the incident.
The CARICOM national may be contacted in the event that additional information is needed to commence the investigation or during the investigation. The investigation shall be completed no later than eight (8) weeks after the date of the receipt of the complaint, at which time the CSME Focal Point will inform the CARICOM national and the CSME Focal Point of the home country of the outcome of the investigation.
As the CSME Focal Point, The Ministry of International Trade et al, wishes to encourage citizens of St. Kitts and Nevis to take full advantage of the benefits to be derived from the CSME.
Given the increased opportunities resultingfrom the integratingof the region’s resources, citizens of St. Kitts and Nevis can explore opportunities to work, move goods, and provide services in all participating CARICOM Member States
For further information or assistance, please visit us at the address provided below, call via the numbers provided, or contact us using the email address.
Ministry of International Trade, Industry, Commerce, and Consumer Affairs
CSME Focal Point (St. Kitts and Nevis)
2nd Floor, Nagico Building
Bladen Commercial Development
Tel: (869) 467-1636/1203