We have examined the proposals contained in the
government-appointed Term Limit Review Committee report issued last week and,
at this early stage, all of the ideas therein appear wise. Extending the term
limit on residence for foreign workers from seven years to 10 years while
keeping the “break in stay” period of one year will ensure the Cayman Islands
government meets legal requirements for the treatment of foreign workers.
Eliminating the key employee provision in the current law will assist in
removing a level of bureaucracy from the immigration process and, more
importantly, leave decisions within regard to social engineering solely in the
hands of government. As it stands now, private businesses make the first “cut”
– if you will – in deciding who gets to stay in the Islands.
Also, the proposals to implement a 10-year term limit for
foreign workers employed within the Cayman Islands government is eminently fair
and long overdue. There is no justifiable reason that private sector employees
should be subject to this law when public sector workers are not.
One significant potential problem remains with this
proposal. It will open the door for more long term residents to apply for
permanent resident status.
Now, that is not to say all foreign workers who come to
Cayman will stay for 10 years; quite the opposite. The Immigration Department
has previously released figures that indicated foreign workers without family
ties to the Cayman Islands only tend to stay here about four years on average.
However, it is clear that many individuals who stay here long term and who
apply for permanent residence will not meet the criteria for that award.
Government needs to set up some kind of “pre-screening” process to ensure that
frivolous applications – those that have little chance of success – are not
made just to allow the worker to stay here a year or two longer. Moreover, the
permanent residence application and approval process must be open and
transparent. The points system for permanent residence must be fairly designed
and those who are not awarded PR must be given a reasonable explanation why.
The government committee has made a number of excellent recommendations, but it
will be the implementation of this plan that will determine Cayman’s success of