Provision for temporary work permits and seasonal permits for tourism industry workers are included in the regulations to the Cayman Islands’ new immigration legislation.

The laws, passed last year to establish the new Workforce Opportunities and Residency Cayman agency and merge aspects of customs and immigration into a single border control unit, come into force on Feb. 1.

WORC will be responsible for vetting work permit applications and ensuring fair access to job opportunities for Caymanians.

The Immigration (Transitions) Bill, 2018, which establishes WORC, had caused some concern in the business community as it did not include temporary work permits – considered an essential tool to fill vacancies in a timely manner.

The provision is included in the regulations to the bill, however. Businesses can apply to the director of WORC for temporary permits of up to six months.

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The regulations also include a category of temporary permits for “seasonal workers” employed in the tourism, hospitality or water sports industries during the peak season. For those workers, eight-month permits are available.

The regulations also include provisions for Business Visitor Permits, another subsection of work permits that was not included in the core legislation.

The impact of such measures being in the regulations rather than the legislation is that they can be altered by Cabinet at any time without the need to go the wider legislature to amend the law.

Regulations to the Customs and Border Control Law include provisions for visitor work visas designed for people coming in to work for a short period, for example, musicians or entertainers performing in the Cayman Islands. The regulations also include more detailed measures for dealing with landing, asylum, visas, deportation and other matters.

Wesley Howell, chief officer in the Ministry of Human Resources and Immigration, said the commencement of the legislation and the passing of the regulations was the next step in the reform process separating immigration management from border control.

He said government was delivering on its commitment to enhance and streamline the current immigration processes and provide intelligence-driven border control.

Charles Clifford, the director of the new Customs and Border Control unit, said, “Our obligation as a new border control agency is to strengthen the security and stability at the frontlines of all islands, and to ensure we continue our legacy as a safe and prosperous country for all.”

WORC Interim Director Sharon Roulstone said her staff was excited to get started.

“WORC is committed to delivering excellence and aspiring to be a world-class service provider. It will be a year of growth for staff members and new opportunities for all customers we serve.”

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