60 per cent of applicants get key employee status

There have been 511 approvals of key employee applications and 314 refusals of those applications in the past two years and nine months; roughly a 62 per cent approval rate, according to Immigration Department figures released last week.

Those figures include applications made since 1 January, 2009 through 30 September, 2011.

The vast majority of those key employee approvals have gone to individuals from three countries; Jamaica (113 approvals), the United Kingdom (102 approvals), and Canada (92 approvals).

The occupations granted key employee status most often were professional managers, domestic helpers, accountants, teachers and lawyers. A variety of jobs that are granted key employee approvals, more than half of the 511 key employee approvals since January 2009, have been in “other” jobs categories which were not defined in the immigration report.

Key employee refusals occurred most often in the following categories: carpenters, domestic helpers, labourers, gardeners and administrative positions.

Key employee status allows a foreign worker in the Cayman Islands to remain here two years beyond the time they would normally reach their seven-year term limit on residence. That extra two years allows the foreign worker enough time to apply for permanent residence – the right to remain in Cayman for the rest of their lives.

The Immigration Department figures also reviewed the number of permanent residence and Caymanian status grants given since the beginning of 2011, but it did not break down the difference between PR grants and status grants 
for all months.

Caymanian status is tantamount to being granted citizenship in the Islands, which are a British Overseas Territory. Technically, under the law, there is no Caymanian “nationality” because of its territory status.

Those foreign-born workers who receive Cayman Islands passports have obtained British Overseas Territories citizenship and can separately apply to receive Caymanian status which confers “the right 
to be Caymanian”.

According to immigration figures, there were just shy of 2,000 grants of permanent residence and Caymanian status “processed” within the first three quarters of 2011; some 645 applications were processed in the third quarter but the government figures did not indicate how many grants were 
actually awarded. “With a total of 645 
applications processed in the third quarter [of 2011], applications for residency and employment rights certificate as the spouse of a Caymanian accounted for 30.4 per cent of the total applications processed,” the report read.

The Cayman Islands Immigration Department released these figures on the number of key employee, permanent residence and Caymanian status grants last week as part of a quarterly statistical report.

“A new level of transparency has begun into the complex operations of the Department of Immigration,” read a news release from the department.

Previously, the Caymanian Compass had been reporting work permit figures on a quarterly basis via requests made through the Freedom of Information Law. However, key employee and permanent residence grants were never included in those figures.

Work permits

The immigration report provides detailed information on work permit numbers during a period of years.

Work permits are required for any foreign worker who comes to Cayman who has no local ties or is not married to a Caymanian.

A chart provided by the Immigration Department shows the number of work permit holders steadily rising through the middle part of the last decade, then falling toward the end to their current level – approximately 19,691 as of 30 September. Those figures include foreign workers here on government contracts and individuals “working as an operation of law”, awaiting the results of permanent residence applications or appeals of work permit refusals.

The work permit numbers showed a slight increase in permit holders between March and September of this year. However, figures given to the Caymanian Compass in January noted there were approximately 20,500 worker permit holders on Island.

Immigration figures also revealed the number of government contract holders had declined sharply since 2008; going from 1,464 in September 2008 to 911 in September 2011.

The seven nationalities holding the majority of work permits in the Cayman Islands have not changed in recent years. As of September 2011 they were Jamaicans (7,517), Filipinos (2,572), citizens of the United Kingdom (1,719), US citizens (1,305), Canadians (1,147), Indians (768), and Hondurans (753).

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