A total of 138 overstayers have made use of the Customs and Border Control amnesty launched late last month.
According to numbers provided to the Cayman Compass on Monday, the CBC reported that since the announcement of the amnesty on 23 April up to 1 May, those overstayers had departed the islands on various repatriation flights.
The amnesty was facilitated through an amendment to the Customs and Border Control Law, which was tabled in the Legislative Assembly last month by Premier Alden McLaughlin.
CBC Director Charles Clifford, in an email response to the Compass on the progress of the amnesty, said his expectations are that overstayers will register their desire to leave the jurisdiction as soon as possible.
“My advice is that they should urgently make arrangements during the amnesty to leave the jurisdiction on available repatriation flights. By so doing, they will depart without any regulatory issues and may have the opportunity to return to work in Cayman once the COVID-19 public health emergency has abated,” he said.
Explaining how the amnesty works, the CBC boss said overstayers who have the opportunity to depart the islands on repatriation flights directly to their home country or via a third country will be allowed to depart unchallenged and will not be arrested and prosecuted.
This will be the case while the amnesty is in effect.
No end date for the amnesty has been announced.
“While the amnesty is in effect, overstayers who have the opportunity to depart the islands are strongly encouraged to do so as soon as possible on available repatriation flights,” Clifford said.
However, he warned that if overstayers fail to make a bona fide effort to leave the jurisdiction during this opportunity, “they can expect to be arrested and brought to justice at the first available opportunity once the amnesty is discontinued”.
In announcing the amnesty last month, the CBC said it is intended to remove “fear of prosecution” as a potential barrier to making urgent arrangements for departure from the islands “via special evacuation flights or other airlift coordinated opportunities” for those who have overstayed their time or who are otherwise in Cayman illegally.
Most of the overstayers come from Jamaica, the Philippines, US, Honduras, UK, India and Canada, according to the CBC.
No breakdown of these numbers has been provided.
Clifford urged overstayers to visit https://www.exploregov.ky/travel or email [email protected] or call 244-3333 so “they will take advantage of the opportunity to depart the islands on the available repatriation flights”.
According to Governor Martyn Roper, 742 people have departed Cayman on repatriation flights since the islands’ borders closed. They have left on flights to the UK, the US, Canada and Mexico.
A total of 198 Caymanians have returned on the London, Miami and Canada flights and were all quarantined on arrival.