Rollover reprieve for Cayman’s caregivers

Domestic helpers who assist local
families in caring for elderly, sick or handicapped individuals can get a break
from Cayman’s seven-year term limit on foreign workers’ residency under
legislation expected to be proposed today in the House.

If passed, the plan would exempt
certain types of domestic helpers from the so-called “rollover policy” under
specific conditions, the Caymanian Compass has learned.

However, the certificate that
allows for the rollover exemption or exception would not allow those domestic
helpers to apply for permanent residence under the Immigration Law, even if
they have lived here for eight years or longer.

The Immigration (Amendment) (No. 2)
Bill, 2010 creates a special certificate category for domestic workers who act
as nurses, nannies, or in some other care-giving capacity for an elderly,
handicapped or infirm person.

The certificate would allow
individuals to remain in the Cayman Islands for another five years beyond the
expiration of their final work permit – as long as they remain in the employ of
the same family and care for the same individual or individuals listed on the
Certificate of Specialist Caregivers, as it is called in the bill.

Currently, Cayman Islands
Immigration Law requires all foreign workers to depart the Islands for at least
one year following seven years of continuous residence here, unless those
workers obtain key employee status, which allows them to stay long enough to
apply for permanent residence.

It is generally difficult for
lower-paid domestic helpers to achieve key employee status or permanent
residence, and Premier McKeeva Bush has previously said that special treatment
would be needed under the Immigration Law for certain domestics.

“Myself and my colleagues are faced
every day with the suffering of our own Caymanians who, due to the
inflexibility of the current seven year rollover, are forced to make trusted
helpers leave for a year…often to the detriment of those they care for,” Mr.
Bush said in February. 

Mr. Bush said at the time that
special consideration should be given to caregivers and domestic helpers who
are employed by families to take care of children, the elderly or the infirm.
Children are not mentioned in the amendment bill expected to be proposed today.

In February, Mr. Bush stressed that
while his administration was making certain concessions to the financial
services industry and for domestic helpers, employers were being put on notice
that they would no longer be able to use “excuses” for not hiring Caymanians.

“Statistically, there are about
25,000 work permit holders in these Islands,” the Premier said at the time.
“The categories we are addressing – that is the top persons in our financial
community and the much needed domestics together – will account for less than
10 per cent of that entire work permit force.”

For the other 90 per cent, Mr. Bush
said there are jobs within that workforce that unemployed Caymanians could do.

Caregivers’ exception

The Certificate of Specialist
Caregivers would not allow an individual who holds it to apply for permanent
residence under sections 29 and 30 of the Immigration Law. The bill states that
the certificate – which could allow a foreign worker to remain in Cayman up to
12 years or more consecutively – shall be deemed “not to be legal and ordinary
residence for the purposes of sections 29 and 30” [of the Immigration Law].

The certificate can be obtained,
according to the bill, via application to the Work Permit Board or the Chief
Immigration Officer at any time during the course of the caregiver’s final work
permit, or within a year after the expiration of that final work permit – if
the person had already left the Islands following the permit’s expiration.

In order to make such an
application, the caregiver would have to have been employed as a nurse, nanny
or other care-giving capacity for at least three years prior to making the
application. The caregiver would also have to demonstrate that he or she is in
good health.

A fee would be payable upon
successful application for the caregivers certificate, according to the bill.

The certificate can be renewed at
the option of the person’s employer, but that application for renewal would not
be successful if the caregiver ceases to work for their current employer; or if
the person being cared for dies, ceases to be sick or ceases to be handicapped.
The Work Permit Board or Chief Immigration Officer would also have some discretion
in awarding a certificate renewal.

If an application for renewal of
the Certificate of Specialist Caregivers is not successful and is not appealed,
the caregiver would have to leave the Islands for at least a year – as is
standard for all foreign workers whose work permits have expired.

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