Bush supports 30-day rollover break

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If Premier McKeeva Bush has his way, the length of time
foreign nationals would have to leave the Cayman Islands after reaching their
term limit will be reduced to one month.

In a statement broadcast last Thursday evening, Mr. Bush
said Cayman had failed to implement its immigration policies in a manner that
allowed the continuation of growth in the financial industry.

“It is my firm belief that one of the most important
matters which needs to be immediately addressed is how to encourage persons and
businesses to relocate to Cayman and to conduct their business on the ground in
our country,” he said, adding that doing so would require initiatives and
incentives that are attractive to the outside world. 

“These initiatives can be achieved without the necessity
of granting Cayman status,” he said. 
“What is needed is for all to examine how best to achieve this while
creating jobs and upward mobility for Caymanians, and to implement
immediately.”

Speaking about the controversial provisions in the
Immigration Law that mandate term limits for most foreign workers – the
so-called rollover policy – Mr. Bush said the government has legal advice from
the UK indicating that the period of time a foreigner must be away from the
Cayman Islands after reaching a term limit could be as short “as we want… in
our legislation”.

While providing more details on Friday, Mr. Bush said the
legal advice came from Lord Pannick, QC. 
Mr. Pannick has been involved in another high-profile matter with the
Cayman Islands. In 2004, he wrote an opinion that suggested the Cayman Islands
Cabinet acted unlawfully in making 2,850 Caymanian Status grants. That opinion
became the basis of a lawsuit filed – and later abandoned – by the Caymanian
Bar Association calling for a judicial review of the Status grants.

Mr. Bush said the legal advice was solicited by Attorney
General Sam Bulgin at the request of Cabinet and that the opinion suggested
that Cayman law would override other concerns when it came to establishing what
constituted a break of residency from the Cayman Islands.

In addition to Lord Pannick’s opinion, Mr. Bush said the
Cayman Islands Investment Council had also independently sought advice on the
matter from Jeffrey Jowell, QC, who also served as an advisor in Cayman’s
constitutional modernisation process that culminated last year.

Cayman Islands Investment Council Member Michael Ryan
confirmed Friday that the group had received preliminary advice from Mr. Jowell
several months ago stating that 30 days would be a sufficient length of time to
create a break in residency and that a final opinion had just recently been
received supporting the preliminary opinion.

When the rollover policy was first established in an
amendment to the Immigration Law in January 2004, foreign nationals who reached
their term limit were required to leave the jurisdiction for two years before
they could return and get another work permit. The law was further amended in
December 2006, reducing the time a work permit holder had to be away from the
Cayman Islands to one year.

Mr. Bush wants to see that term reduced even further.

“I support bringing down to a month,” he said, adding,
however, that nothing has been decided yet.

One concern in shortening the period a foreigner has to
be away from Cayman is that someone could potentially initiate a legal
challenge arguing about what constitutes a break in residency, which, if
successful, could lead to long-term residents who were away only for a short
time getting security of tenure in the Cayman Islands. Others have suggested
that by reducing the period to less than a year, some employers would hold jobs
for foreign workers who were coming back rather than hiring Caymanians to fill
the position.

Mr. Bush said he recognised that there will be opposition
to reducing the residency break for foreigners who are rolled over.

“There is no doubt there are people who oppose this,” he
said. “There are people who oppose this in the party, in the caucus and in the
general public.”

Despite the opposition, Mr. Bush said the change is needed.

“This is not going to please everyone, but we’ve got to
do what’s right for the country or the country is going to sink,” he said.
“Changes are needed and changes are imminent.”

Mr. Bush said Cayman’s immigration policies are
negatively affecting the economy.

“I have to do everything I can do to protect my people
and see that they are trained, given upward mobility and have glass ceilings
removed,” he said, adding that the government was already addressing those
issues. “But at the same time, I can’t neglect the issues that are causing us
harm and will continue to cause problems. A balance has to be found in giving
certainty to people while protecting Caymanians.”

Leader of the Opposition Kurt Tibbetts expressed surprise
to hear that the government had received legal advice suggesting the break in
residency could be reduced to as little as one month.

“That’s not the advice we got,” he said, “and we sought
advice not only locally, but we also sought advice in London.”

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6 COMMENTS

  1. I agree with Cayman-first preference, but who in the world came up with this roll-over policy?

    And why is there not enough effort put into qualifying Caymanians, and helping or making it easier for Caymanians to start their own business.

    Helping Caymanians help themselves is what we should be focused on – not imposing immigration laws on the private sector!

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  2. Since no one since the advent of roll over policy has come up with any ideas how to train Caymanians on how to fill these positions. Here it is. (ps, im an expat, but understand, it’s their island). But it is true, you can’t expect to put someone in a complicated work position and truly expect them to "train on the job". That will never ever work. Only those that are truly gifted (ie very smart, not the normal average joe), would benefit from that type of job experience.

    The government MUST provide student loans to every student who passes highschool. End of story. No matter what their marks are. If a local or foreign university or college accepts them. They should be able to borrow the money to obtain that education, which they must pay back. With 1% interest.

    Get them into university. If they drop out. They can work at fast food. (then no complaining about expat this and that) If they are smart and stay in school. They are definitely the future of Cayman. USA and Canada supply student loans to anyone that qualifies. In canada to qualify. All you need is to complete your highschool and have any college or university accept you.

    Yet in Cayman you must be an honour student. That’s really not fair. Maybe "joe who liked to fool around in highschool" realises that hey, real world now. Better pull my socks up. Well the way it is in cayman. It’s too late for joe. The roll over policy and "hire Caymanian" first is supposed to give joe that second chance. But the problem is, the positions that immigration wants joe to fill, he’s not qualified for. And if you have to train someone for 5 years (putting up with financial loss and lack of productivity) to get joe where he should have been from day one. Business’s are not willing to do this. Because…it’s counter productive. Lets face it. It’s all about money.

    Is this idea that hard to understand?

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  3. This is now akin to a joke. From 2 years to 1 year to one MONTH? The government now sees the error in their way of implementing this roll-over policy and thye are trying to cover their butts and still look respectable. COME ON. ONE MONTH?!?! Anyone can just take a vacation for one month and still come back to their old job. Just scrap the damn thing, get up off your (expletive) and move on to something else that wont work as well. Good ‘ole Cayman Government. And to think WE are the ones that vote them in. What are we thinking. Nothing, obviously.

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