An amendment to the Immigration Law (2003) giving the Chief Immigration Officer authority to grant nine-month Fixed-term Work Permits to certain expatriate workers is now law.
The bill was passed in the Legislative Assembly 6 March and Governor Stuart Jack gave his assent on 21 March. It became law effective Thursday.
The change in law gives employers more time to recruit replacement employees and allows departing staff additional time to prepare to leave Cayman, states a GIS press release.
This special work permit cannot be renewed or extended and the CIO is allowed to use this power up to 31 December this year only.
Other changes introduced with this new amending law are that additional members can be appointed to the three immigration boards and the chairpersons can form smaller sub-committees, with restriction of powers, ensuring they do not make decisions that should be left to the full board.
Meanwhile, the FTWP is a temporary measure in response to complaints by several business owners who said they need enough time to recruit and replace expatriate staff approaching the seven-year limit.
Commenting on the new facility Chief Immigration Officer Franz Manderson said: ‘Fixed-term Work Permits will not be granted as a matter of course; in each case the employer will be expected to put forward a compelling case as to why the relevant employee is essential to the company and why he or she cannot be replaced immediately.’
In its original form the Immigration Law, 2003, did not empower the CIO to grant any extra time to affected workers, and this was among the reasons that Government brought the amendment to parliament.
Within the amendment is a measure that blocks a perceived loophole in the law that would have allowed someone at the end of a seven-year period to use the recourse of appeals that could drag on for over a year. That would potentially enable such a person to achieve the eight years of residency required for application for Permanent Residency.
This amendment read in part: ‘Any period that he spends in the Islands thereafter while awaiting the outcome of his appeal shall not be taken into account by the Caymanian Status and Permanent Residency Board in determining the length of time for which he is considered to have been legally and ordinarily resident in the Islands for the purposes of application … for permission to reside permanently in the Islands.’
An exception in this amendment recognises the waiting period for successful applicants.
The amendments affecting board membership mean that the Work Permit Board, the Caymanian Status and Permanent Residency Board, and the Business Staffing Plan Board can each have three more persons added. This will take total membership on each board to 12 persons.
The increased membership is intended to enhance the boards’ ability to address the backlog of applications before them.
In curbing the powers of sub-committees, the amendment reads in part: ‘No committee shall be empowered to grant the right to be Caymanian; grant permanent residence; grant residency and employment rights certificates; issue Business Staffing Plans Authorities; adjudicate appeals from the decision of immigration officers; or designate a worker as an exempted employee.’