Although it makes several proposals for changing the local immigration system to help boost local employment, the independent coalition of candidates “National Priorities Plan” takes no position on whether the Cayman Islands should jettison its current seven-year term limit on foreign workers’ residency.
The United Democratic Party, in its political manifesto, has advocated dropping the term limit entirely from the Immigration Law.
The People’s Progressive Movement doesn’t seek to eliminate the so-called “rollover policy” entirely. But it does recommend extending the term-limit period to 10 years and allowing all who stay in the Cayman Islands for more than seven years to apply for permanent resident status.
In their 10-page plan, Coalition for Cayman candidates – Roy McTaggart, Jude Scott, Winston Connolly, Jacqueline Haynes, Sharon Roulstone, Tara Rivers and Mervin Smith – advocate for the use of an immigration accreditation system.
The accreditation system was first proposed by Deputy Governor Franz Manderson when he was head of the Immigration Department, but it was never implemented.
In general, under such a system all companies would have to show they are up to date with both pension and healthcare coverage requirements for employees, and have registered with government labour officials.
Following accreditation being received, Mr. Manderson said in 2009 that a “very open and transparent process” would be used to rate each company. Under the proposal to be submitted to Cabinet, the rating system has been set up in tiers – the higher the tier, the more “advantages” a business will have with immigration.
Coalition candidates said the accreditation system would “incentivise businesses to develop and implement appropriate training programmes for Caymanians”.
The candidates also backed amendments to the local Immigration Law that would require advertising for any temporary [six-month] work permit, adding to current requirements that all full-year permits be advertised.
The group also said the local tourism industry has suffered from the lack of Caymanian participation.
“We will work towards increasing Caymanian participation in the tourism sector in order to ensure long-term viability of the Caymanian tourism product,” the priorities plan states.
The coalition candidates also want to make the work permit system “more transparent” by adding all job seekers who are available to work to the National Workforce Development Agency’s database. Right now, only those who choose to register with the database are listed.