Total permits fall by 1,100 in six weeks
For the first time in the last two
years, the number of work permits being renewed in the Cayman Islands has
fallen by a significant number; further foreboding a slow period for the local
Work permits are required for all
foreign employees who come to the Cayman Islands to fill jobs. The permit
numbers have continued to slide steadily since they reached a high of 26,659 in
By 30 June, 2010, the Immigration
Department recorded 21,527 people on work permits in Cayman, including those
who were working in public sector jobs. That’s a drop of about 19 per cent in
less than two years.
However, the June figures for work
permits also reveal that the drop occurring is not just the typical summer
leaving of temporary positions such as hospitality industry workers, teachers
and the like. Rather, the figures tended to show that permanent jobs were
leaving the Cayman Islands.
First the first time since late
2008, work permit renewals – those are for individuals who have already lived
in Cayman for at least a year and are renewing their permits for at least
another full-year term – have dropped significantly.
Between March 2010 and June, there
were nearly 500 fewer permit renewals recorded by the Immigration Department.
That figure had not fluctuated much over the past two years; it had even increased
slightly between November 2009 and March of this year.
But the decline of 473 permit
renewals between March and June was something that had not been seen in recent
Between March and June, the total
number of work permits in the Cayman Islands dropped by nearly 1,600 issues.
The vast majority of those were the permit renewals (473) and a big drop in new
full-year work permits issued. The number for new full-year permits fell by
New work permit issues by
immigration has fallen steadily over the past two years; going from 7,572 new
permit issues in November 2008, to 6,947 in November 2009, to 5,854 as of 30
Local industries began experiencing
a sharp decline in work permit numbers by late last year, led by the
construction industry and financial services.
According to the government’s
Economics and Statistics Office, construction industry permits fell by 23 per
cent between 2008 and 2009, while permits in the financial services industry
dropped 16 per cent as did work permits issued for hotel and condominium
Restaurants and bars, as well as
private housekeepers, saw a slight decline (about four per cent) in permits
over that period.
Cayman Islands government contracts
– issued to foreign workers and Caymanians older than 60 who are still employed
in the civil service – dropped by 13 per cent between 2008 and 2009.
“Expatriate labour…decreased by
11.2 per cent – the largest contraction since the late 1990s,” the statistics
office report noted.
So far this year that trend has
continued, according to figures obtained by the Caymanian Compass through a
Freedom of Information request.
Working through backlog
There are still more than 1,400
people in the Cayman Islands who are “working as an operation of law” – which
means they are awaiting the outcome of applications for permanent residence, or
an appeals of work permit denials.
That number was once as high as
3,277 in November 2008, due to backed up applications made when the country’s
seven year term limits policy for foreign residents took effect.
The Immigration Department has previously
said that it was struggling to contact some of those people and deal with individuals
who may have made frivolous applications for permanent residence.
There was also a backlog of some
1,500 work permit applications earlier this year, but Chief Immigration Officer
Linda Evans said the Work Permit Board had brought that number down to around
1,000 by June.