Non-Caymanian workers hired by local families to take care of elderly, sick or disabled patients will, once again, be given up to a 10-year exemption from the term-limit provisions of the Cayman Islands Immigration Law.
Legislators voted unanimously last week in favor of a proposal to re-establish the “Certificate for Specialist Caregivers” under the law.
Unlike the previous version of the law, approved in 2010 under the United Democratic Party government, applicants who successfully obtain such a certificate would be able to apply for permanent residence once they have reached at least eight years of continuous residence on the islands.
Currently, all non-Caymanian workers must leave the islands for at least one year after nine years of continuous residence, unless they are married to a Caymanian, have obtained a government contract or obtain permanent residence. The Certificate for Specialist Caregivers adds a fourth option that allows someone in that particular occupation to apply for a five-year extension to continue working for the same family.
The five-year extension on residence takes effect at the end of the caregiver’s ordinary term limit on residence and can be renewed for another five years. In the case of a specialist caregiver who has been “rolled over” for less than a year, they would be allowed to apply for a five-year certificate in the same manner. Anyone who left Cayman for more than a year could simply apply for a new work permit.
In a rare occurrence, both Premier Alden McLaughlin and Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush agreed that reinstating the caregivers exemption was “the right thing to do.”
Duty exemption, liquor motions fail
Two private members’ motions proposed by North Side MLA Ezzard Miller were voted down by government members. Mr. Miller’s proposal to raise the exempted value of dutiable goods brought in by Cayman Islands passport holders from $350 to $500 was opposed on an 11-4 party line vote. The exemption sought to apply to otherwise dutiable and personal household goods.
Finance Minister Marco Archer said government opposed the motion for a number of reasons, chief among them that the government could lose potentially tens of millions of dollars a year in revenue from the exempted duty items.
In addition, Mr. Archer said limiting the $500 exemption to a specific group of people – Caymanian passport holders – would be difficult to enforce and would mean more time spent by customs officers checking each airport passenger who came through the gate.
Commerce Minister Wayne Panton said the increased duty exemption might encourage local shoppers to go overseas to buy household products, as well.
Mr. Miller returned in his debate reply stating that government seemed willing to give millions of dollars in duty concessions to “billionaire developers” while the average Caymanian traveler was being denied an extra $150 duty break.
A separate motion from Mr. Miller, which was also defeated, asked that limits on importation of intoxicating liquor for personal use be increased from the current one gallon limit to “five cases.”