Ten-year work permits abolished

It seems the adoption of 10-year work permits under the revised Cayman Islands Immigration Law will be short-lived.

However, government officials confirmed this week that anyone already granted a 10-year permit, approved prior to the legal commencement of the Immigration [Amendment] [No. 2] Bill, 2013, can have that permit continued to the end of their term.

“An amendment to section 48(2) of the law will … allow persons who held a 10-year term limit prior to the coming into effect of the Immigration (Amendment)(No.2) Law, 2013 to continue to be granted work permits for the remainder of that 10-year term,” according to a statement from Ministry of Home Affairs chief officer Eric Bush. “The industries and occupations currently prescribed as being entitled to a 10-year work permit will be removed from the Immigration Regulations (2013 Regulations) in due course.”

The amendment bill is expected to gain approval in the Legislative Assembly later this year.

The 10-year work permit is a relatively new concept in the Cayman Islands Immigration Law, having been approved in regulations to the law on Oct. 16, 2012.

Until the approval of those regulations, the maximum time any single work permit for a non-Caymanian employee could be approved was five years.

The following occupations are still eligible for the granting of a work permit for up to 10 years until the Immigration [Amendment] [No. 2] Bill, 2013 takes effect: managing director, chief executive officer, general manager, vice president, chief financial officer, chief operating officer, chief underwriting officer, chief actuary, chief reinsurance underwriter, directors for fund services, directors for client services, fund administration managers and fund services managers.

The regulations attached to the Immigration Law did not require approval in a vote of the full Legislative Assembly.

Proposals for the 10-year work permits – mainly aimed at executives in the financial services industry – were first introduced by former Premier McKeeva Bush at the Chamber of Commerce’s legislative luncheon in late September 2011.

“I believe that these long-term work permits, which will provide the much sought-after security of tenure for these workers, will be welcomed by the business community,” Mr. Bush told the chamber at the time.

Mr. Bush said companies securing the 10-year work permits would need to pay into a program to train Caymanians.

“Companies which take advantage of this new facility should demonstrate their social responsibility by being required to support long-term human capital development for these islands, by being required to contribute financially to a national training initiative,” he said.

Changes to the Immigration Law proposed by the latest amendment bill would not allow for any 10-year work permits, since the proposal sets a nine-year term limit on the time non-Caymanian workers can reside in the territory without first gaining permanent resident status. The bill will allow anyone who remains in the territory for eight consecutive years to apply for permanent residence – the right to reside in Cayman for the rest of their lives.

Those applications will be judged on a newly revamped 110-point system that will judge prospective residents in several areas, not only salary and workplace performance.

Some of those considerations will include whether the person is financially stable, law abiding, ethical, integrated into the community, maintains appropriate inward investment, community-minded, and possesses skill and experience that will benefit the Cayman Islands.