Changes to Immigration Law highlighted

Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts spoke a length about the Immigration (Amendment) (No.2) Bill when he introduced the legislation in the House on Monday.

However, Mr. Tibbetts mainly focused on the changes in the legislation made since it was first introduced as a discussion Bill in September.

‘The changes stem from public input and from anomalies identified by the Cabinet committee,’ he said.

‘We’re making every attempt to get this as right as we can get it.’

Some of the changes have been widely publicised since there were announced last week, like a provision to allow a holder of a temporary work permit to continue to work for the same employer after the expiry of the temporary permit while awaiting the outcome of a full work permit grant.

Other changes have not been so widely publicised.

Correction of anomaly

Mr. Tibbetts said it had been recognised that there was an anomaly in the current Immigration Law concerning the Right to be Caymanian – formerly Caymanian Status – for some people.

These people, who were born between 27 March 1977 and 1 January 1983; and who were British Overseas Territories Citizens by virtue of being born in the Cayman Islands; and who have lived in the Cayman Islands since birth except for absences abroad for the purposes of education or medical treatment; will have the ability over a one-year period to apply for the Right to be Caymanian.

The Chief Immigration Office will be required to grant that application unless there are exceptional reasons not to do so.

Work permit refusals

Mr. Tibbetts said the Immigration Law was being broadened to ensure fairness to work permit applicants in the case where objections have been made to the Work Permit or Business Staffing Plan Board.

‘Too many times, with regard to personal conflicts, decisions have been made that have not been fair,’ he said.

As a result, the new law will require the applicant be given notice of all objections and allegations relating too him, and that he have an opportunity to make a representation to the board in response, or possibly to appear before the board in person.

‘The Law also now makes it clear that all allegations that are taken into account in considering an application must be investigated and corroborated so far as is reasonably practicable.’

Children of adoptions

A new provision of the law will allow children entering the Cayman Islands for the purpose of adoption proceedings to remain and go to school here pending the outcome of the proceedings.

Mr. Tibbetts said the current situation with respect to adoptions was causing much grief.

‘The Adoption Department is allowing these children to land here, but at the same time the Immigration Department is not issuing student visas.’

The new provision of the law will give the Immigration Department the authority to issue student visas to children in adoption proceedings.

Spouses of Persons of Independent Means

Mr. Tibbetts said a provision will be included in the new law that allows the spouse of someone designated as a Person of Independent Means the right to apply for a grant of a Residential Certificate for Persons of Independent Means on their own right, in the event of a dissolution of the marriage or the death of the other spouse.

The surviving or former spouse will have to make the application within a certain timeframe, Mr. Tibbetts said.

Self-employment work permits

A new provision to the Immigration Law will make it much more difficult for an expatriate to obtain a work permit for the purposes of engaging in self-employment, Mr. Tibbetts said.

‘Indeed, the Work Permit Board or the Chief Immigration Officer may only grant a work permit for such purposes in exceptional circumstances,’ he said.

Committee stage amendments

Mr. Tibbetts said there would also be some significant committee state amendments.

One entails extending the deadline for the submission of Business Staffing Plans for those required to submit them from 31 December, 2006, to 31 March, 2007.

There will also be a provision regarding Fixed Term Work Permits, which are special nine-month permits given to some expatriates who had reached their term limit. Now the new Immigration Amendment Law has passed, employers with employees on Fixed Term Permits can apply for those employees to be considered key employees and have them remain working while waiting the outcome of that application.

The committee stage amendment will also allow employees whose Fixed Term Work Permits expired between 1 December 2006 and 15 January 2007 the ability to continue working under operation of law until the key employee application is determined.

Learn the law

Mr. Tibbetts advised all employers and employees to become familiarised with the new amendments, which he said had been thought out very thoroughly.

‘I’ve had some conversations with people who had drawn conclusions that were completely contrary to what is provided for in the amendments,’ he said.

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