Immigration changes may be delayed

The much awaited amendments to the Immigration Law concerning such matters at the seven-year term limit, exempted employee status and permanent residency requirements might not be dealt with in the Sitting of the Legislative Assembly that begins this week.

‘We’re nearly there,’ said Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts on Friday. ‘We finally have a draft we are working with.’

Mr. Tibbetts explained that the Immigration Review Team is going through the draft amendment section by section to make sure it is right.

‘We’ll have the draft ready by the end of July,’ he said. ‘As soon as it’s ready, it will go out to the public,’ he said.

Because it will go out for a public consultation period, Mr. Tibbetts did not sound optimistic that it would be dealt with in this Sitting. However, he said the Government was prepared to deal with it from a Legislation standpoint as soon as it was ready for the House.

One thing the new legislation will not do is abandon the seven-year term limit.

‘Government is not prepared to look at removing the rollover policy,’ Mr. Tibbetts said. ‘The rollover policy will remain because it is in the best interests of the country.

‘Without the rollover policy, our society will not be a Caymanian society in a very short time and that is completely unfair to Caymanians,’ he said.

However, he said the Immigration Law amendments will allow for individual employees that are very important to the life of a business to be given exempted status.

‘There will be ample opportunities for employers to apply for exemptions of those employees,’ Mr. Tibbetts said, stressing, however, that exempted status would not guarantee the employees permanent residency.

Mr. Tibbetts dismissed calls by some for a new type of status for expatriates whereby they would voluntarily sign away their right to gain permanent residency or Caymanian Status and then be allowed to stay in the Cayman Islands for up to 15 years.

‘That sign away thing doesn’t work,’ he said, adding that people might sign something like that now, but as time passed, they could have a different perspective.