Nearly $800k collected in administrative fines

Since the programme’s inception during the 2008/09 government budget year, the Cayman Islands Immigration Department has collected $785,000 in “administrative fines” for various immigration-related violations.  

The programme hasn’t been widely heralded and has actually caught some offenders by surprise when they report to immigration and find their offences can be handled outside of court.  

“What a lot of people have found out is that once it’s dealt with administratively, it’s not really considered where you have a criminal record, as if it went to court and you were found guilty,” said Garfield “Gary” Wong, deputy chief immigration officer. “However, the Immigration Department still has the right to put sanctions on an individual who has committed an offence and has been fined administratively.”  

Mr. Wong said the administrative fines were created as a way to alleviate the sheer number of immigration-related violations that were going before the local courts and backing up the system following a huge growth in work permit grants in the years after Hurricane Ivan struck in 2004. 

“We’ve seen a large increase in people working outside the terms and conditions of their work permits; also a large increase in overstaying,” he said.  

Working outside the terms of a permit can mean either the permit holder is performing a different type of job than the one they are allowed to hold or that they are working for a different employer than the one stated in the permit.  

Those types of violations amount to roughly 60 per cent of the administrative fine cases immigration officers handle, Mr. Wong said. Overstaying – remaining in Cayman without any legal right to do so – is also a common violation handled administratively.  

If a person accused of immigration-related violations does decide to pay an administrative fine, they must agree to waive their rights to take the case to court.  

Also, the lack of a criminal conviction does not mean someone will not face sanctions or punishment from the Immigration Department, at the department’s discretion, Mr. Wong said.  

Sanctions include being barred from entering Cayman for a certain period or having a work permit reviewed or cancelled.  

Fines for administrative offences can be quite high. Mr. Wong said on the first offence, a fine can be between two to three times the annual fee charged for a work permit; on a second offence it can go up to three to five times the cost.  

After the second offence, fines or a court appearance are up to the Immigration Department. Some offences, such as marriages of convenience, must go to court and cannot be handled administratively.  

Big money 

Annual revenues collected by the Cayman Islands Immigration Department more than doubled within five years between the government’s 2005/06 budget year and the 2010/11 year.  

In the 2005/06 government financial year, the Immigration Department recorded a total of $33.4 million in revenues collected between 1 July, 2005, and 30 June, 2006. By the end of the 2010/11 budget year on 30 June, 2011, revenues have increased to $70.2 million.  

That’s an increase of about 110 per cent in yearly earnings for the department.  

Immigration revenues for the current 2011/12 fiscal year appeared to be set for an increase again, the report showed. No figures were made available for the 2012/13 budget year. 

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4 COMMENTS

  1. I support much of the comments by Gary Wong on this issue, also find him to be a firm but fair person.
    The immigration department makes good money for this country. It is properly set up with its administrative duties and a very orderly manner of waiting. Only one situation I believe needs changing. That is they should not have their immigration officers out front line under observation by the public. I suggest that a person going for visitors extensions or other matters should only talk through a microphone and not have the Officer visible to them but they are visible to the officers through a tinted glass. I have a reason for saying this or I would not have said it.

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  2. Makes sense to me, Hunter. If people see the officers face then they will know who the officers are and we wouldn’t want favors made. Besides I think its best that overstayers dont know their faces. I saw one officer in town with several people asking him immigration questions. The officer is off duty, why would you bombard him with questions whilst he is on vacation. So I understand clearly the situation here. Immigration is a sensitive department. Corruption can be easily committed if certain of its staff are paid monies to do illegal works. The public shouldn’t know their faces.

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  3. Sir Turtle although we do not agree on all things; which is good democracy, However I believe we are on the same wave length with this and understand each other on what we are discussing.
    I do hope Mr Gary Wong, and all others who are in charge at Immigration pay close attention to our comments.
    There is no reason whatsover that the public needs to be staring down the Immigrations officers faces from on front line as if they are hipnotizing them. The Officers are not relaxed I can see this, and the Officers become very mean spirited and adgigated by this front line exposure. They do not need it. The front glass should be heavily tinted. Remember this is an Immigration department where most things begin and end in this country, not a Car wash. It should be that Officers can see the crowd through tinted glass, but the crowd cannot see them. Think of the security reasons atleast. I think Mr Gary Wong should ask his officers and see how they feel about these comments.

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  4. Please..you two think that Immigration officers are any different than Police officers or Customs officers?? EVERYBODY knows who you are..this is way too small a jurisdiction for secrecy..My problem with this form of Revenue generation is where is the oversight? Persons are going to Immigration and being arrested and told they have to pay a fine or stay in jail…what would you do?? Pay the fine of course..then what? Who actually makes sure that these charges are legitimate and not just made up? Waive your rights to courts? I know this is not being done. Persons are being bullied and pressured to pay fines, NOT being given the option to go to court where they are entitled to legal representation..

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