Tunisian immigration legislation has not evolved much over the past few decades. Immigration laws in Tunisia are rather restrictive, and work permits are granted to foreigners only in situations where a Tunisian counterpart does not exist in the needed speciality.
Any foreigner desiring to exercise a remunerated activity in Tunisia must obtain a work contract with a Tunisian employer and hold a residence card that states the following: ’allowed to exercise a remunerated activity in Tunisia’.
Both documents are mandatory and the failure to respect this requirement exposes the employer and the foreign worker to serious fines, deportation, and even criminal charges.
The work contract between a Tunisian employer and a foreign worker shall be approved by the ministry of employment. The competent service at the ministry will approve the contract only if they are satisfied that there is a lack of Tunisian counterparts with qualifications equivalent to those of the foreign worker.
However, some categories of foreign workers do not need the authorisation of the ministry of employment and are able to work in Tunisia after filing a simple declaration within the competent services of the ministry of employment.
Once such a declaration is filed, the foreign worker obtains a certificate of ’non-submission to a work contract’ that has the same legal binding force as the approval of a work contract.
Foreign workers benefit from the same rights and have the same obligations as Tunisian workers.
All employers and foreign workers are required to strictly observe the legal requirements for hiring a foreign workforce.
Once the work contract is approved (or the certificate of non-submission is obtained), the foreign worker applies for a residence card.
Upon application, the applicant receives a temporary residence card that allows them to exit and re-enter Tunisia until the final document is issued.