The Cayman Islands Work Permit Board denied the majority of key employee status applications for foreign workers that it considered between February and October, according to information provided to the Caymanian Compass by the Immigration Department.
According to those records, which were collated between 5 February, 2010, and 31 October, 2010, the Work Permit Board approved about 46 per cent of the key employee applications it reviewed and refused about 54 per cent.
Conversely, the Business Staffing Plan Board – another immigration-related regulatory body – approved roughly 91 per cent of the key employee applications it received during that period.
The data provided by Chief Immigration Officer Linda Evans reveals that, during the nine month period, 128 key employee applications were approved in the Cayman Islands and a total of 100 were refused; that includes decisions made by both the Work Permit Board and Business Staffing Plan Board.
On 9 November, just after the period covered by the key employee data ended, three members of the Work Permit Board were replaced, including its former chairman. Attorney Sherri Bodden-Cowan took over the board chairmanship at that time.
Key employee status is a legal designation that allows a foreign worker to stay two years beyond the typical seven-year term limit on residency in the Cayman Islands.
It also allows that worker to remain in Cayman long enough to apply for permanent residence – the right to stay here for the rest of their lives.
The Work Permit Board is one of four government-appointed entities in the Cayman Islands that decides on various immigration-related applications.
The Work Permit Board primarily approves or denies applications for foreign workers seeking employment in Cayman. It also handles some applications from smaller businesses for the designation of key employee status for some foreign workers.
Half of the 128 key employee applications that were approved between February and October went for foreign workers in the Financial Services Industry. The other half were distributed in undefined “other” industries, according to the records.
Only five of the 100 key employee application refusals occurred in the Financial Services Industry.
Taking out the applications from the financial services industry, key employee requests for foreign workers in “other” businesses were refused 60 per cent of the time.
From 5 February to 31 October, the Work Permit Board granted 53 non-financial services key employee applications and refused 92; an approval rate of about 36.5 per cent. The Business Staffing Plan Board approved 11 key employee applications from “other” businesses and refused three.
Prior to November’s shake-up on the Work Permit Board, there were requests for judicial review proceedings in instances where key employee applications were refused.
Three separate applications for judicial review following decisions of the Cayman Islands Work Permit Board to deny key employee status were filed in November, according to court records obtained by the Caymanian Compass.
The particulars of each claim – which involved foreign nationals who work here as a carpenter, insurance agent and a real estate agent – all contain different sets of facts. In two of the cases the applications claim the decisions by the board were either “procedurally irregular or irrational” simply because no “adequate reason” was provided for the board decision to deny key employee status applications.
In the third case, involving an insurance technician who works for Balderamos Insurance Services Ltd., the application claims that the board’s decision to deny key employee status was unlawful.