An extensive list of recommendations for changes to Cayman Islands immigration law is set to come back before Cabinet this month.
Exactly what this version of the proposed immigration policy changes will say isn’t known after the initial report by the Term Limit Review Committee was made public in the Legislative Assembly earlier this year.
“The report went to Cabinet and was subsequently tabled in the LA to allow for public consultation,” Deputy Governor Franz Manderson said last week. “We have now received responses from the public and the report will go back to Cabinet for consideration within the next three weeks.”
The Term Limit Review Committee’s proposals – although they have yet to be accepted by Cayman Islands Cabinet members – appeared at one time to have gained the approval of both the ruling government and the opposition party. However, Cayman Islands Premier McKeeva Bush has given no indication on whether any changes will ultimately be approved or when such a vote to amend the Immigration Law might occur.
Recommendations from the initial Term Limit Review Committee report included: Extending the current seven-year term limit on foreign workers’ residence to 10 years, allowing any workers who make it past seven years of continuous residence to apply for permanent residence and generally allowing the Cayman Islands government to socially engineer plans aimed at developing the workforce and controlling the overall population.
What was not put forward by the review committee was the recommendation that the term limit policy should be eliminated altogether.
In fact, the review committee found that the so-called rollover policy was largely serving its initial purpose; restricting the number of people that become eligible to remain long term in the Cayman Islands.
“Considering there have been an average of 22,303 foreign workers in the Islands each year since the introduction of the term limit policy in 2004, there have only been 1,604 grants of permanent residence since 2006,” the committee stated.
Committee chairwoman and local attorney Sherri Bodden-Cowan has previously said that the stated goals of the government’s term limits had been misunderstood. It was never intended as a population control measure or as a primary mechanism to create jobs for Caymanians when expatriate workers left the territory.
“The purpose of enforcing a rollover policy is to ensure that non-key employees take a legitimate break in stay, so that we as a country are not forced because of legal or moral obligations to offer such long term residents security of tenure,” Bodden-Cowan says. “Irresponsible politicians in the past have suggested that the purpose is to throw expats off the Islands so that Caymanians can take their jobs.
“In some instances, the employment of a Caymanian has been a welcome side effect, (but) it was not the purpose of the rollover.”
Several other recommendations from the Term Limit Review Committee included:
Implementing term limits for government employees to ensure a level playing field; implementing the already developed Employer Accreditation System, which rates businesses on a scale depending on several criteria that determine their level of responsible corporate citizenship; and the government should ensure the Immigration Department receives sufficient funding to attract well-qualified personnel. The review committee also recommended that the a term-limit policy be settled for the long run to provide certainty and predictability for employer and employee.
The next meeting of the Cayman Islands Legislative Assembly has been set to begin on 5 November.