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Work Permit

Work Permit – A “work permit” is similar to a “visa” as it is a legal authorization that essentially permits similar types of activities in a foreign country by non-citizens of that nation. Accordingly, some nations characterize a visa as a “work permit” and others may have an additional requirement that a non-citizen intending to work or earn a salary within their nation must obtain a work permit in addition to a visa.[1]

In fact, a work permit is a formal authorization or other written permission to work and earn revenue in a particular country that is granted to a non-citizen of that locale. The document is essentially an official record that authorizes an individual to work and to legally earn an income within a foreign country that they are not a citizen of. Similar to a visa, a work permit must be obtained by applicable individuals from the appropriate governmental body prior to undertaking employment within the foreign nation. In fact, this requirement applies to an individual whether they are currently a professional or are an aspiring amateur prospect.

Consequently, each country has its own requirements, filing fees, and procedures to obtain a work permit. For instance, Canada may require an esports competitor to obtain a “work permit” depending on the length and type of work to be performed in the country. In fact, the nation has even amended the country’s statutory definition of “athlete” to encompass “gamers.”[2] Similarly, Sweden previously failed to issue “work permits” to esports competitors and coaches desiring to enter the country to compete in a gaming event, The International causing the operator to move the event elsewhere purportedly “due to the Swedish government failing to acknowledge” the esports events as “‘major sporting events.’”[3]

In addition to a country characterizing an employment authorization as a “work permit,” other nations describe their similar official permission document with other terms. For example, in Ireland, a non-Irish citizen wishing to work in the country may apply to obtain an “employment permit.”[4] Additionally, the Netherlands’ Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) instead issues a “resident permit” which is similar to “work permit” and it is required for any non-citizen desiring to earn an income while staying within the country for over 90 days.[5]

In addition to national work permits and other similarly named government employment authorizations, there may be additional industry or job specific work permits that may be required by a country or other local jurisdiction. For example, this additional permit might be also work permits required for an individual or business to provide certain services or to sell specific types of goods such as gambling, food and beverage, spirits, beer, wine, liquor, or tobacco.[6]

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Finally, the failure of an individual to obtain the proper and required work or other official document that enables them to be employed and earn income while within the country can enable the hosting nation to deport or otherwise require that the individual immediately leave the country and cease earning any income from the country.[7]


[1] ‘Work Permits’ (European Union) <https://europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/work/work-abroad/work-permits/index_en.htm> accessed 5 March 2024.

[2] ‘Athletes and coaches [R186(h)] – Authorization to work without a work permit – International Mobility Program’ (Government of Canada, 2 February 2023) <https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/corporate/publications-manuals/operational-bulletins-manuals/temporary-residents/foreign-workers/work-without-permit/authorization-work-without-work-permit-athletes-team-members.html> accessed 5 March 2024; ‘53200 – Athletes’ (Government of Canada, 2 June 2023) <https://noc.esdc.gc.ca/Structure/NocProfile?objectid=rFDlE0OwETV1R2i1sJ3saIYY%2FErgLDDCq16mxE1z8rI%3D> accessed 5 March 2024.

[3] Hayda Gohar, ‘Controversial vote sees Swedish esports officially recognized by national federation’ (Dot Esports, 28 May 2023) <https://dotesports.com/general/news/controversial-vote-sees-swedish-esports-officially-recognized-by-national-federation> accessed 5 March 2024; ‘Work permit requirements – information for employers’ (Migrationsverket, 12 February 2024) <https://www.migrationsverket.se/English/Other-operators/Employers/Employing-people-from-non-EU-countries-/Work-permit-requirements.html> accessed 5 March 2024; ‘Work permits for athletes and coaches’ (Migrationsverket, 12 December 2023) <https://www.migrationsverket.se/English/Private-individuals/Working-in-Sweden/Employed/Special-rules-for-certain-occupations-and-citizens-of-certain-countries/Athletes-and-coaches.html> accessed 5 March 2024.

[4] ‘Employment permits’ (Department of Enterprise, Trade & Employment) <https://enterprise.gov.ie/en/what-we-do/workplace-and-skills/employment-permits> accessed 5 March 2024.

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[5] ‘Paid employment: residence permit only’ (Immigratie- en Naturalisatiedienst) <https://ind.nl/en/residence-permits/work/paid-employment-residence-permit-only> accessed 5 March 2024; ‘Do I need a visa for the Netherlands?’ (Government of the Netherlands) <https://www.netherlandsworldwide.nl/visa-the-netherlands/visa-required> accessed 5 March 2024.

[6] ‘Work Permits’ (State of California Department of Justice) <https://oag.ca.gov/gambling/forms/forms_permits> accessed 5 March 2024; ‘Permitted & Licensed Cannabis Businesses’ (Cannabis Regulatory Commission) <https://www.nj.gov/cannabis/businesses/permitted> accessed 5 March 2024; ‘Tobacco Permits’ (Alcohol & Tobacco Tax & Trade Bureau, 5 June 2020) <https://www.ttb.gov/tobacco/permits> accessed 5 March 2024.

[7] ‘If your application for a residence permit is rejected and you are in Sweden’ (Migrationsverket, 6 December 2023) <https://www.migrationsverket.se/English/Private-individuals/Leaving-Sweden/Rejection-of-residence-permit-application.html> accessed 5 March 2024.

Author

  • Justin M. Jacobson

    Justin M. Jacobson, Esq. is an entertainment and esports attorney located in New York City. For the last decade, he has worked with professional athletes, musicians, producers, DJs, record labels, fashion designers, as well as professional gamers, streamers, coaches, on-air talent, and esports organizations. He assists these creative individuals with their contract, copyright, trademark, immigration, tax, and related business, marketing, and legal issues. He is a frequent contributor to many industry publications and has been featured on a variety of entertainment, music, and esports publications and podcasts, including Business Insider, The Esports Observer, Esports Insider, Tunecore, and Sport Techie. Justin has positioned himself as a top esports business professional working with talent in a variety of franchise leagues including the Overwatch League, Overwatch Contenders, and Call of Duty Pro League as well as in many popular competitive titles such as Fortnite, CS:GO, Gears of War, Halo, Super Smash Brothers, Rainbow 6, PUBG, Madden, and FIFA and mobile games such as Brawlhalla, Clash of Clans, and Call of Duty mobile. Previously, he worked with various esports talent agencies as well as in an official capacity on behalf of several esports teams and brands. He currently is an Adjunct Professor of Esports at University of North Carolina Wilmington, a member of the industry board for the International Journal of Esports and has authored “The Essential Guide to the Business & Law of Esports & Professional Video Gaming.”

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