Flood of expats to immigration likely

Some TLEP stamps to be processed at Mary Miller Hall

Anyone who is not the holder of a Term Limit Exemption Permit might want to consider avoiding the Cayman Islands Immigration Department for the next two days, if that can be managed.  

Although not all of the processing will be handled at department headquarters on Elgin Avenue, at least some of the 1,500 non-Caymanian workers who were granted exemptions from the territory’s term limit policy on residence over the past two years will have to show up there to ensure they can stay on island until at least Dec. 9. 

The rest will have to attend Mary Miller Hall either Monday or Tuesday to get their permission to remain through that date.  

Chief Immigration Officer Linda Evans said her department will set up temporary facilities at Mary Miller Hall on Shamrock Road to handle the Term Limit Exemption Permit holders who need to get their passports stamped.  

“We are going to deal with the majority of the workers on Term Limit Exemption Permits off site,” Ms Evans said last week.  

The Immigration Department has secured the Mary Miller Hall on Monday and Tuesday from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. to handle people with the following circumstances:  

If a worker has a Term Limit Exemption Permit expiring on Oct. 28 and has paid for a grant or renewal of a TLEP after Dec. 12, 2012, he or she should attend the Mary Miller Hall between 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and bring a valid passport and the working by operation of law form, which can be located on the Immigration Department website, as well as a letter from the person’s current employer.  

Other individuals in the circumstances described below should come to immigration headquarters on Elgin Avenue, Ms Evans said.  

“If their Term Limit Exemption Permit expired prior to Oct. 28 and they do not already have a visitor’s extension, or, the employer has paid for a grant or renewal prior to Dec. 9, 2012, they are required to pay a $100 administrative fee,” she said. 

“[In the case of a] worker who is at year nine [of their residence] when the new law is gazetted, they are eligible to submit a permission to continue to work form and pay 25 percent of the annual work permit fee plus a $100 administrative fee.” 

After the Dec. 9 deadline issues are resolved, the exempted workers’ employers will either have to apply for a new work permit on behalf of those individuals, or, in the case of non-Caymanian workers who have been in the islands for nine years, they will have to make an application for permanent residence within 90 days of the Immigration [Amendment] [No. 2] Bill coming into effect. Otherwise, they will have to leave the islands after Dec. 9.  

The Term Limit Exemption Permits, or TLEPS as they are often called, were created in October 2011 by the former United Democratic Party government. The idea at the time was to help local businesses stave off a wholesale departure of what was projected to be at the time thousands of non-Caymanian employees who had come to Cayman after Hurricane Ivan in September 2004.  

Many of those individuals who remained on island were reaching their seven-year term limit by 2011-2012 and the term limit exemptions allowed them to stay up to two extra years between October 2011 and October 2013, if they were granted. All of the TLEP workers have been in Cayman for longer than seven years and most have been here longer than eight years.  

That situation created a bit of a legal dilemma for the government. The previous term limit exemption legislation stated that those workers would not be eligible to apply for permanent resident status, even though they had stayed in the Cayman Islands for the requisite eight years.  

Premier Alden McLaughlin’s government – in a proposal approved by a majority of lawmakers Thursday morning – agreed to allow any of those individuals who have been in Cayman eight years and who hold a valid work permit to apply for permanent resident status, citing the potential for human rights-related lawsuits if they did not do so.