Immigration fees hit across board

Increases in work permit fees alone are expected to raise an additional $7.7 million in the Cayman Islands government’s current budget proposal.

But those work permit charges do not even make up the majority of the $15 million the government projects it will earn from permit fees on non-Caymanian residents over the next eight months.

According to budget documents examined by the Caymanian Compass, revenues from work permit fees were expected to go from an estimated $38 million in the last budget to $45.8 million in the current plan – an increase of more than 20 per cent.

That would mean work permit fees make up roughly eight per cent of central government’s total revenue in the 2009/10 budget.

A specific fee schedule that shows how much the cost of each permit would go up has not been released by the government, but that schedule was expected to be ratified by Cabinet as part of changes to regulations in the Immigration Law.

The work permit fee hikes are being augmented by a slew of other immigration-related charges, some of which have not appeared in the government’s annual budget previously.

These charges include the following:

*A $50,000 revenue increase in Caymanian status fees.

*Some $1.75 million in new issuance fees for Residency and Employment Rights Certificates. These are generally obtained by spouses of Caymanians who want to work in Cayman.

*$143,000 in new fees for Residency and Employment Rights Certificates for dependants of Caymanians; those are children, parents, etc.

*$600,000 in revenues from fees charged to spouses of Caymanians who apply for residency and employment rights.

*$300,000 is anticipated from those who are allowed to live here under the law as ‘persons of independent means’ – retirees who do not have the right to work. These fees have been charged before but were abandoned by the previous administration.

*Another $100,000 is expected to be raised for temporary work permit fees charged to entertainers who come to Cayman for a short period of time for concerts, entertainment acts, etc.

*Permanent residents, foreigners who have been granted the right to live in Cayman for the rest of their lives, are also charged an annual fee to continue working in the Islands. Those fees are expected to increase revenues in the newly proposed budget by $2 million over the last spending plan.

Money collected from permanent residents’ yearly work permit fees has more than doubled in the last two years, according to budget documents.

Financial Secretary Ken Jefferson told the Legislative Assembly last week that all categories of work permits would see fees increased, except for those for domestic helpers.