Despite having visited her fiancée in Cayman Brac two times before, a Jamaican woman was denied entry to Grand Cayman in December 2006 by immigration officers who apparently didn’t bother to contact the man she was visiting.
That’s the conclusion of an investigation by the Office of the Complaints Commissioner, after it reviewed the incident at Owen Roberts Airport last year.
The woman, identified as Ms YD in the report, arrived at Owen Roberts on 5 December, 2006 but was refused entry because immigration officers said she didn’t have enough money with her to cover her stay.
According to immigration regulations, an entry visa can be refused if the applicant fails to establish that they have sufficient financial resources or a qualified sponsor to support them for the duration of the visit.
Ms YD said she told officers her fiancée was paying for the plane trip, that she had a valid electronic ticket to go from Grand Cayman to the Brac, and that she had a debit card she could use to withdraw funds if necessary.
However, Complaints Commissioner John Epp’s report said Ms YD was forced to fly back home without contacting her fiancée, identified in the report as Mr. AB.
The two immigration officers who handled the case were interviewed by the commissioner’s staff in May. One of the officers said they had attempted to call Mr. AB from the airport immigration office. A third officer interviewed two weeks later said she had also tried to call the man from the immigration phone at the airport.
However, phone records obtained through Cable and Wireless for both the numbers in the immigration office showed neither Mr. AB’s cell phone nor his employer’s phone in the Brac were called from either of the immigration office numbers on 5 December, 2006.
The OCC’s investigation also showed that no attempts were made to contact Mr. AB through the Cayman Brac Immigration Office on that day.
One of the immigration officers interviewed in May told OCC investigators that Ms YD did not have a ticket to continue on to Cayman Brac, and that this was another factor in denying her entry.
The fact that the woman did not have a plane ticket was never noted on the refusal for entry form report, and the complaints commissioner’s staff later confirmed she did have a ticket to Cayman Brac.
‘Cayman Airways also confirmed that Ms YD, had she been permitted to present herself to the Cayman Airways agent, would have been permitted to travel to Cayman Brac using that ticket on December, 5 2006,’ the OCC report stated.
As a result of his investigation, Mr. Epp recommended that the immigration department refund Ms YD’s total cost of air and ground transportation on the trip; about CI $500.
The complaints commissioner also said that immigration staff should be informed that visitors arriving on island should not be denied entry unless it is shown they do not have adequate financial resources and that they have no qualified sponsor to stay with.
Both of those recommendations have not been complied with, according to Mr. Epp.
A third recommendation that the department prepare written guidelines that include what action immigration officers must take in contacting the sponsor of a traveller’s visit has been followed by the Chief Immigration Officer.