Editorial for 21 February: Immigration legislation key

Many in the tourism and finance industries – and indeed the
owners of many businesses in the Cayman Islands – are holding their collective
breath in anticipation of what will happen in October.

There are more than 1,300 people who applied for and
received an extension that has allowed them to stay beyond the typical
seven-year term limit on residency.

But the extension applies only through 28 October of this
year. According to the Immigration Law as it stands now, they will all have to
leave the Cayman Islands after the term limit exemption expires because they
won’t be eligible for permanent residency even if they had lived here for eight
consecutive years.

If lawmakers don’t do something to change the wording in the
law, it could open the door for lawsuits challenging Cayman over residency
status.

This issue, as well as recommendations from the former term
limit review committee stating that the seven-year term limit be extended to 10
years and that all expatriate workers who stay for at least eight years be
allowed to apply for permanent residence, needs to be dealt with by the
Legislative Assembly, which is required to dissolve on 26 March in preparation
for May elections.

While on the face of it, 1,300 people doesn’t sound like
many, it is. Again, many of those people are in the tourism and financial
industries and their loss could drastically impact our products as well as
individual businesses. In the perfect world it is hoped that the people holding
those positions have been training Caymanians to take over those jobs if and
when they become vacant.

At the end of the day, this is a very important issue for
the country that shouldn’t have been allowed to linger to this date. It should
have been addressed long ago.

It is doubtful that this sitting of the Legislative Assembly
will have time to get to the immigration/rollover/key employee/permanent
residence issue before 26 March as there is much legislation that must be
addressed before Parliament is dissolved.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out at the
polls.

 

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1 COMMENT

  1. 1300 people leaving at once? That’s a whole lot of rent not being paid anymore. Food that isn’t bought and eaten. Disposable income that isn’t spent.

    In short it would be the another shot in the foot after the effects of the original rollover policy.

    I’m sure there are many who will come here and try to tell us that Caymanians should have those jobs in the first place, or will fill them in the future. Sorry Joe, but it just isn’t so.

    These people have been in their jobs for so long that they obviously have some job specific eduction or experience that few could match. Replacing these people will put a huge strain on the businesses that employ them, but I’m sure the existing Cayman politicians can continue to ignore that too.

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