More than 1,000 permits extended

The Cayman Islands Immigration Department closed the books late Tuesday on what may have been its busiest 48-hour period in the past decade.  

On Monday and Tuesday, the department processed nearly 1,200 non-Caymanian workers staying here on Term Limit Exemption Permits, and, according to Chief Immigration Officer Linda Evans, most of those workers chose to have their extension permits approved through Dec. 9.  

After that date, the workers will either have to apply for and receive a new work permit, apply for permanent residency or leave the Cayman Islands for at least a year before returning to work.  

Not all the outstanding Term Limit Exemption Permits have been resolved. Of the 1,465 Term Limit Exemption Permits that were current as of Monday, 155 remained to be processed as of Tuesday evening, Ms Evans said.  

However, that number was believed to be manageable, and Ms Evans said anyone who came to the Immigration Department Wednesday, Thursday or Friday this week could still have their term limit exemption extended through Dec. 9.  

“We plan to be very flexible this week,” she said. “Although anyone remaining here on a Term Limit Exemption Permit that expired [Monday] is overstaying.”  

Overstaying is a criminal offense under Cayman Islands law.  

After this week, Ms Evans said, immigration enforcement officers would be likely to take a different view of workers who are here on expired term limit extensions.  

The Term Limit Exemption Permits, first granted in October 2011, allow any non-Caymanian worker whose seven-year term limit in the islands expired between Oct. 28, 2011, and Oct. 28, 2013, to remain up to an additional two years in Cayman. Under the previous Immigration Law, they would have had to depart the islands for at least a year. 

According to changes to the law approved last week by the Legislative Assembly, any non-Caymanian worker, including those on Term Limit Exemption Permits, who stayed in Cayman for at least eight consecutive years is eligible to apply for permanent residency – the right to remain in Cayman for the rest of one’s life.  

Difficultly arose when the Term Limit Exemption Permits, more than 1,500 of them at the time, were due to run out all at once. Legislators last week agreed to extend the deadline for a further 45 days.  

Of the 1,286 Term Limit Exemption Permit holders processed by the Immigration Department on Monday and Tuesday, more than 1,000 had their term limit exemptions extended until Dec. 9. Chief Immigration Officer Evans said a small number of those people had no current employer. They were given visitors’ extension permits for long enough to get their affairs in order. In addition, some workers chose to take a 90-day visitors’ permit and leave Cayman, rather than accept a term limit extension and apply for another work permit.  

A handful of people married Caymanians before the expiration of their Term Limit Exemption Permit and therefore had to have their immigration status changed. 

Ms Evans expected far less hassle for visitors to the Immigration Department headquarters building than was experienced on Monday, when a line longer than a city block formed around the outside of the building.  

The Immigration Department opened a temporary processing center at Red Bay’s Mary Miller Hall on Monday and Tuesday to help sort out all the permit extensions. Ms Evans said that while there were some delays at department headquarters Monday, things ran smoothly both days at Mary Miller Hall.  

Premier Alden McLaughlin said, all things considered, the Immigration Department did very well in a tight spot.  

“[Monday] was a very busy day for immigration staff,” Mr. McLaughlin said. “While some people had to wait outside for a while at headquarters, the system was fair and efficient. 

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4 COMMENTS

  1. The Cayman Islands does not need any more permanent residents. We need temporary workers that will go home at the end of the agreed period; and workers that will stop pretending that they do not understand the terms of their work permits.

    The global recession has left many qualified people without jobs so there is no reason why the vast majority of these temporary workers can’t be replaced by equally or better qualified people.

    The sense of entitlement displayed by many of these temporary workers is very concerning and clearly demonstrates that they are the type of people that we do not want as permanent members of our community.

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  2. @Mack. I understand your opinion, but the flip side of that argument is that no one should expect a temporary worker, someone who is only in Cayman to do a job for specified time limit to invest into anything locally such as a home or business. Anyone should understand why someone like this would send most of their earnings back home and avoid spending anything locally if at all possible. After all who would come here and work for years spend up all their money locally and buy a home only to go home at the end of their term with nothing to show for their time here not to mention having property that they would most likely have to sale at a great lost. That would make absolutely no since. People should take it for what it is and not expect more.

    It would be interesting to see what would happen if Cayman just put a hold on issuing work permits maybe just for jobs that do not require specialized training or degree to see how it effects the current unemployment issues.

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  3. @Michael Davis: I also fully understand and accept the position that you have outlined in your comment.

    It is mostly the greedy real estate agents (most of whom are not Caymanians) that are pushing for temporary workers to purchase homes while working in the Cayman Islands.

    I have also thought it quite risky and idiotic for local banks to be giving twenty year mortgages to people that are on two or three year work permits. I suspect that this happens even when an employer has submitted a business staffing plan stating that they don’t intend to renew the work permit or are training a Caymanian to take the position held by the same worker permit holder that applied for the twenty year mortgage.

    The whole system is based on greed and greed is at the root of the problems that we have today.

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  4. Agreed Mack, with so many temporary residents coming and going you’d think that the most common home style in Cayman would be a Multi Family or Duplex style home or even a home with a guest house that could be rented. If every Caymanian owned a property like this or even a second home as a rental property they would have a permanent mean of self revenue and the properties would most likely pay for themselves. Short term work permits like two to three years with no PR option just might be better for Cayman and boost the rental market which Caymanians could take advantage of.

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