Work permit numbers stabilizing

An unusual drop in work permit numbers appears to have leveled off during the course of Cayman’s peak tourism season, according to numbers released to the Caymanian Compass under an open records request.  

Work permits held by non-Caymanian employees actually increased slightly overall between January and April this year, from 19,793 on Jan. 28 to 19,903 on April 7.  

Statistically, the overall difference in permits is insignificant, but a further breakdown of the numbers shows that annual work permit grants and renewals of work permits already held both went up by more than 200 between January and April.  

Meanwhile, the number of temporary work permits [three or six month permits] and the number of non-Caymanians holding government contracts stayed practically the same.  

Cayman’s special economic zone, Cayman Enterprise City, increased its work permits by 12, from 136 in January to 148 in April.  

According to Cayman Islands Immigration Law, any non-Caymanian who resides in the territory for work must first obtain a permit. Work permit holders are “term limited” to nine years continuous residence in the islands before they must take a break-in-stay of not less than one year away from the islands.  

The statistics provided by the Immigration Department are essentially a snapshot of how many work permit holders reside in the islands on any given day.  

The departure of more than 500 people who formerly held Term Limit Exemption Permits in Cayman led to an overall 4 percent drop in work permits between September 2013 and January 2014, according to Immigration Department records.  

In September, there were 20,587 work permit holders in the Cayman Islands. The drop in permits by January represents a reduction of nearly 800 people, or about 4 percent of the total work permit population.  

The 800-person decline seen in January has been reduced by about 100 workers, according to the latest immigration figures released Monday.  

The somewhat unusual occurrence of work permit numbers declining at the peak of the high tourism season is explained partly by the departure of about 550 people who had been working under term limit exempt status and partly by a drop in the number of people working in Cayman “by operation of the law.”  

“Operation of law” status is usually granted to individuals who have passed their term limit on residency in Cayman, but who have applied for permanent residence and are awaiting the outcome. It can also be given to non-Caymanians whose work permits have been turned down and who are appealing that decision.  

Immigration records show that the number of people working by operation of the law declined from 592 in September 2013 to 220 as of Monday.  

Also no longer appearing on the work permit list were the nearly 1,500 non-Caymanians given Term Limit Exemption Permits between 2011 and 2013, extending their stay on the islands for up to a further two years beyond when they would normally have to leave.  

Of that group, 274 had been granted new work permits as of mid-January and another 576 had applied for new work permits. Another 54 applied for permanent residence and 547 had left the islands by that time.  

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