$1M needed for Immigration staffing

Some $950,000 is needed for extra personnel at the Department of Immigration and Customer Service.

Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts said department director Franz Manderson had asked for the additional funding for 38 new positions, which include managerial and administrative jobs.

He said 12 of those 38 people will be dedicated to enforcement of immigration laws if funding is approved.

The Legislative Assembly last week voted in favour of several amendments to the island’s immigration law. Those included new provisions that allow businesses to apply for key employee status for certain workers and shorten the time expatriate workers must stay out of Cayman once they’ve reached their seven-year term limits.

‘We are not going to make amendments to the law and then not enforce the provisions it contains,’ said Mr. Tibbetts.

Mr. Manderson also said the added staff would help process various permit applications more efficiently.

A supplemental appropriation in this year’s budget would be needed to provide extra cash for the workers.

The Immigration Department has come under fire in recent years because of slow processing of work permits, and residency applications. A report from the Office of the Complaints Commissioner earlier this year detailed several cases where problems had caused severe delays.

In one complaint, a work permit applicant was not notified about the permit’s status for more than 10 months. In another case, the report said the department failed to provide information about regularizing the Immigration status of a non-Caymanian school child for more than a year.

Mr. Manderson said his office has made significant improvements in handling requests for service, including the startup of a call centre last month where people can inquire about the status of their applications.

He cautioned the additional staff would not be put in place immediately.

‘There is a significant amount of vetting and internal procedures that have to go through,’ said Mr. Manderson. ‘But at least we now know it’s there and we can go ahead and put provisions in place.’

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