I’m often asked about the process of moving Offshore, and the logistics of the interview process and moving to a new location. To cut through the confusion, here I provide more detailed information on:
- The interview process
- Works permits and sponsorship
The interview process:
For anyone thinking about a move Offshore, you will be pleased to hear that although the interview process is no easy feat, generally speaking, it tends to be a little less taxing, and a little more conversational, when compared to many Onshore-based interviews. However, as with any International move, demonstrating a good level of understanding and commitment to the region is essential.
Interviews Offshore will commonly be conducted over two rounds, via phone call or a video conferencing system with hiring partners, and there may also be the opportunity to speak to peers within the team. A handful of practices will include assessments as part of the interview process which will be a combination of online psychometric assessments as well as drafting exercises. Some practices may also request work samples (most typically when recruiting in to their disputes teams).
It is no longer common practice for prospective employers to fly associates out to the Caribbean as part of the process so doing your own research in to your preferred jurisdiction prior to embarking on the interview process is imperative. Although it may be advantageous to have spent time in either jurisdiction, most associates who make the move Offshore have not visited previously.
The two main areas that hiring partners will want to get a better handle on during the interview are:
- Your experience; and
- Your motivations
And while it is very unlikely there will be any ‘technical round interviews’, you will be expected to demonstrate a good level of experience and commitment to the jurisdiction. A good understanding around the Offshore market and how the role of an Offshore lawyer may differ is also very important.
Most Offshore practices will contribute towards relocation costs. Relocation packages will often be a variance of a lump sum cash payment or cash against receipts to cover general shipping and relocation costs, as well as flights and accommodation for the first 2 – 4 weeks on island.
Relocating internationally of course doesn’t come without its challenges, but a good support network from internal staff at your new employer and advice from an agent will certainly help things along. Most employers will have preferred suppliers, for example when it comes to shipping companies and should be able to refer you to reputable housing agents. Whether you’re planning on relocating with your favourite Rembrandt or furry four-legged friend, it’s probably something they can help with!
Work permits and sponsorship:
When relocating to the Caribbean, securing your work permit (although fairly straight forward), can often add weeks on to the relocation process and should be taken into consideration when working through time frames. A prospective employer is required to obtain a work permit on behalf of all expats relocating to the Cayman Islands, Bermuda or the BVI. Various documents including police clearance records, academic records and full medical examinations will need to be gathered and submitted to the immigration office.
Although work permit applications in the BVI have recently been migrated to a much quicker online service (where permits can be granted in a little as 2 weeks), the process can still be rather lengthy in the Cayman Islands with permits taking anywhere between 6 to 24 weeks to be granted. This is largely due to the booming economy and stretched resources on island.
There are no additional legal qualifications required to practice in the Caribbean, however in order to be admitted in the Cayman Islands and Bermuda, you must have 3 years post qualification experience and hold a practicing certificate from country within the commonwealth. To be admitted to practice in the BVI, you must have obtained a practicing certificate from England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland.
When relocating to the Channel Islands, a work permit and visa will be required for those who do not have the right to live and work in the EU, which can again add a number of weeks to the process. There are no strict requirements around practicing in either Jersey or Guernsey, yet experience from a common law jurisdiction is advantageous. For those aspiring to make partnership in the Channel Islands however, or those who wish to undertake their own advocacy cases in the Channel Islands, may be required to undertake the local bar exams.
The move Offshore can seem a little daunting, particularly when it comes to the work permit processes but please do not hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions as we would be delighted to help.