Business-friendly Immigration Policies for Cayman Islands

CAYMAN ISLAND – Cayman Island Chief Immigration Officer Franz Manderson has said the move to have immigration staff process work permit applications is aimed at keeping the Cayman Islands competitive as a global financial and tourism centre while securing Caymanian jobs.

The recently passed Immigration (Amendment) Law allows straightforward work permits to be decided administratively (by immigration staff) while the Work Permit and Business Staffing Plan Boards will continue to deal with more complex work permit cases.

Previously, applications were processed by the voluntary Work Permit Board and Business Staffing Plan Board which met up to twice weekly for processing work permits, Mr. Manderson said. “While the Board’s do a tremendous job, it was always difficult to expect volunteers to take increasingly more time out of their regular job routines to decide on permits, especially those permits which were non-contentious,” he said.

It is expected that this new system once fully operational will significantly reduce processing time for annual work permits from between four to six weeks to some 15 days.

Mr. Manderson emphasised that the new system is not about increasing the number of permits issued or the number of non-Caymanians in the workforce. It is instead focused on improving the efficiency of application processing, to the ultimate benefit of Cayman and its people.

Explaining, he noted that the global recession has many multi-national companies re-examining their business priorities. In consequence, Cayman authorities are seeking to make immigration policies more businesses-friendly, in an effort to encourage corporations to remain in the Islands.

“Ensuring that businesses can speedily get the permits they need for staffers with skills not found in Cayman, is important in simplifying doing business locally.

“More importantly, this move will also help to secure the jobs of many Caymanians who are employed by these international companies,” Mr Manderson added.

He also reiterated his commitment made earlier this year, to ensure that more Caymanians benefit from the economic prosperity generated here, adding that the administrative grant system will give the Boards and the department more time to dedicate to that purpose.

“The Boards will focus on more complex cases such as permits for which a Caymanian has applied as well as those dealing with applications for key employee status,” he said, noting that these will require more in-depth examination and investigation.

“Having staff focus on more clear-cut cases will create more time for the Boards to help Caymanians access good opportunities in the local job market,” Mr Manderson underscored.

The Immigration Amendment Law also has other measures aimed at creating a more business friendly environment. In this regard, Mr Manderson pointed to the development of a new fee schedule for work permits which more clearly defines fees chargeable for certain professions and an express system for temporary work permits whereby a decision will be communicated within forty eight hours.

In addition, the work permit requirement for representatives of foreign manufacturers coming to Cayman for a period of seven days or less to repair products under warranty has been removed.

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