Work permit board nixes majority of key employees

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.


  1. Well, I guess you know now why half the rental units are empty and rental rates plummeting, the grocery aisles easy to navigate and food prices increasing, home and condo sales stagnant, retail and government revenues contracting, services declining, costs and fees escalating and unemployment increasing.

    Now the feedback loop begins, so get ready for the next phase! Mmmmmm…

    But the Sun will still come up tomorrow, dont worry be happy!

  2. It is hard to believe that with all the problems on this island some small minded people in some dark office are refusing to let people stay on the island when they are obviously wanted. How is this country going to grown and prosper when it is run by such small minded people. I think it is time for the citizens of this country to let their voices be heard and say enough is enough.

  3. As far as I see from reading comment past, this is exactly what Local Caymanians have been wanting, hoping and asking for. Getting rid of the Expats and Foreigners, so Cayman can be for Caymanians and they can get back to the way things used to be. Well Cayman, looks like youre getting what you asked for, Immigration is sending expats home others are just leaving and foreign owned businesses are closing. Pretty soon itll be only you, yippy Im sure now there will be jobs for all Caymanians and everyone will be able to a get a nice apartment for cheap rent, everyone will be happy and prosperous, lets see how that pans out.

    Be careful what you ask for !!!

  4. In order to be commercially viable and provide full employment for Caymanians, Cayman needs a total population of about 100,000.

    The Government understands this, they just dont feel able to say so in public because the knuckle-dragging anti-expat vote is too strong.

  5. A population explosion of 25,000 to 55-60,000 people within a 25-year period created a mountain of trash and garbage that almost spills onto the Esterley Tibbetts Highway.

    This mountain of trash is the highest point on a flat island of approx 100 square miles and can be seen from many miles away on both airlines and large ships approaching this island.

    Pray tell, if this islands population grows to 100,000 people, where will their garbage and trash be disposed of…

    Seeing that the trash and garbage of 50,000 people now creates a waste and potential health hazard for the inhabitants that now occupy this island of only 100 square miles ?

    Not arguing with the notion that this islands population should grow to 100,000…

    Just asking; where will all their garbage and trash go ?

  6. JTB: reference to knuckle dragging anti expat Vote:
    1.(pejorative) Holding beliefs, or having attitudes thought to be primitive or uncivilized; hence apelike.

    I expect South Africa went through the same lobby by the likes of you. You should be able to get your point across without calling someone a monkey. Come on! your country cant be that bad and you dont have to be so desperate..

  7. Beloved Isles Cayman

    – O land of soft, fresh breezes
    And verdant trees so fair,
    With the Creators glory
    Reflected evrywhere,
    O sea of palest emrald,
    Merging to darkest blue,
    Wheneer my thoughts fly Godward,
    I always think of you.

    Dear, verdant island, set in blue Caribbean Sea,
    Im coming, coming very soon, O beautious isle, to thee.
    Although I wandered far,
    My heart enshrines thee yet.
    Homeland, fair Cayman Isle,
    I cannot thee forget.

    – Away from noise of cities,
    Their fret and carking care,
    With moonbeams soft caresses,
    Unchecked by garish glare,
    Thy fruit with rarest juices,
    Abundant, rich and free,
    When sweet church bells are chiming,
    My fond heart yearns for thee.

    – When tired of all excitement
    And glamrous worldly care,
    How sweet thy shores to reach
    And find a welcome there,
    And when comes on the season
    Of peace, goodwill to man,
    Tis then I love thee best of all,
    Beloved Isle Cayman.

  8. Cayman is such a warm island or if i may say a set of three pristine islands, but as in numerous societies people, politics and lack of communications dictate progress.
    As I am seeing here this is exactly whats going on. There must be some accurate form of transparency. This work permit board issue is really disappointing and embarrassing. To build a country the most important resource is the……HUMAN RESOURCE .
    It simply does not matter where the people are sourced from… I know the local- expat riff… this will go on till the end of time… We need to work together to achieve progress and its a pity that Cayman is beginning to see the effect of losing a good and hard working labour force….
    It is a chain effect people… (less spending.. less income….) (less people….less businesses). Well this is just the plain facts….
    yes there may be minor issues to iron out like exploding population and garbage and crime but all this can resolved….
    So good luck Cayman in 2011…..

  9. i agree that the population of cayman has to get to 100k… grow will create more jobs boosting the economy. for the guy that is worried about garbage, well Cayman will have to start recycling like the rest of the world.

    So you really think bartenders, waiters, cooks, dive masters are the ones you want to give key employee to? No offence but most have no networth an would add no value to the economy, if they were allowed to stay and become permanent residence. They are easily replaced…. the professionals on the other hand, the island needs to keep… the ones buying homes and spending their large pay checks here…

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