Immigration test run coming

| 27/05/2010

(CNS): The new accreditation system, which will require businesses trading in the Cayman Islands to reach certain criteria before they can apply for work permits, will be rolled out as a test project to the financial service industry within the next few weeks. Sherri Bodden-Cowan, chair of the Immigration Review Team, told Chamber members yesterday that ten volunteer firms were already using the self-assessment tool and helping iron out problems with the new system that will eventually be rolled out across the entire commercial sector. Designed to streamline the way work permits, key employee and immigration issues are handled, the goal is to address the continued criticism from the business community over the crucial issue of immigration.

The review of the system, which Bodden-Cowan said had started under the previous administration, was supported by both political parties. The result was the accreditation system which was now almost ready to be piloted across the financial sector.
Speaking to a packed audience at the latest session of the Chamber of Commerce’s ‘Be Informed’ series on Wednesday afternoon, Bodden-Cowan said the new accreditation system would be introduced via the regulations in the Immigration law and would not require legislative changes, meaning the pilot project could be implemented in June early July once the online self assessment tool was fully functioning and Cabinet had approved the final plans.
The new system is based on the accumulation of points to reach one of four tiers, which will convey gradually increased benefits on employers with regards their immigration needs. Those who do not reach tier one, however, will not be able to apply for work permits.
The IRT and the Immigration Department have come up with an online self assessment tool that will enable each firm to file their information with immigration officials via the website and receive a score based on criteria that can be properly and fairly measured. This score will then determine the tier level which a given company has reached, giving certain benefits in regard to permits, key employees and the speed of grants, speeding up the application process.
Following the decision by government to allow certain important positions within the financial services to be presumed key, Bodden-Cowan explained this system would help ensure that the employers gaining those key employees are good corporate citizens.
“With the presumption of key employees in certain position we have to make sure that we are not giving that away to companies not dedicated to the promotion of Caymanians or who are not good corporate citizens,” she explained.
She said the system was now capable of a precise calculation of points awarded on the basis of correct licensing, following the Labour L,aw, training and opportunities for Caymanians, maintaining high standards of business ethics, involvement in community programmes and the development of under represented industries desirable for the Cayman Islands.
In return, as employers attain higher tiers they have a greater chance of getting all their applications dealt with and granted in a far more timely fashion. “What we are trying to do is reward the best employers with the best service from immigration,” the ITR chair said.
She said that once the pilot was rolled out across the financial services sector, it would be reshaped to fit the rest of the business community with two parallel systems for small and large business where the points criteria would differ based on the size of local businesses and their immigration needs.
She said it was obviously far more difficult for a mechanics shop to offer the same level of scholarships for Caymanians as found in a large offshore law firm, for example, so there would be a different scoring system for small businesses, which could earn a lot of points by offering justone apprenticeship or other types of community contributions.
Presently, she said, ten local reputable financial firms had acted as guinea pigs and were ensuring the online tool was asking the right questions and calculating the tiers properly. A report was due to go to Cabinet on that test study very soon which would pave the way for the pilot programme to begin.
“This is the first time something like this has ever been done,” Bodden-Cowan explained. “It was important that we test this first as we didn’t want to set the bar so high that no firm can achieve the first tier or ask for information that is not readily available.”
Once the system is in place, the next question would be if it was time to drop the business staffing plan, which she said everyone had to admit had not been a success and had not worked the way it was intended. The first goal, however, was to get the new accreditation system up and running in the financial services sector so that the IRT could then turn its attention to the restof the community.
The primary goal was to address the endless complaints made about the immigration system, making it both fairer and more efficient.
Chief Immigration Officer Linda Evans warned of problems ahead, however, when she revealed the ongoing staff shortages in the department and the impact of next year’s budget cuts.
 One of the goals of the new system is that the Immigration Department will give major financial firms who reach the top tier their own account handler to speed up their applications and keep on top of the company’s permit and key employee needs.   Evans warned that while the department had asked for thirty people to help roll out the new accreditation system, they had actually been allocated six posts, so the goal for each firm to have its own immigration officer may be a difficult one for the department to achieve in the short term.
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  1. Proudly Anonymous says:

    This Country is going to be like Easter Island, only instead of giant stone heads we’ll have a pile of modern trappings, fancy modern buildings and cars and future archeologists will wonder why we failed.  The answer is this gigantic  bureaucracy that the government has put in place to employ it’s people, is sapping life out of small businness that would innovate and grow our way out of our current mess.  There are too many pigs at the trough in this Government and Country. You can’t have your cake and eat it too Cayman. You want new businesses to come here but you create a system so uncertain, subject to change that nobody wants to stick their neck out.  This new points system is guaranteed to SHRINK our existing economy.  Not grow it. Business needs the unfettered ability to hire people or it will relocate and hire those people somewhere else. That is what has happened here. Had we made the right decisions and welcomed all business people to hire anyone quickly, on their own terms, without difficulty, we would be in a huge growth cycle and thriving on all fronts IN SPITE OF THE GLOBAL DOWNTURN.  If I wanted government medling in my hiring and forcing less-capable staff on me just beause they are special "citizens of the land"  I’d move to Venezuela. At least there I would have more special citizens to chose from.  I urge government to abandon this ill-advised scheme and tear down the existing immigration rules if it wants Cayman to thrive. Charge people for permits, yes, but fast-track EVERYTHING and keep it quick and affordable like Hong Kong is, welcoming anyone who chooses to hire or innovate. Continuing to protect businesses that can’t compete, by circling the wagons for them with a cockemamy points system will see this Country shrink, taxes come in and the viscious cycle will accelerate.  It is not too late in the day to shake this off and reverse the downturn but twilight is coming.

    • Danger Mouse says:

      Absolutely right – protectionism harms economies, it is does not help them.  And the result of the added costs, direct (fees) and indirect (delays, problems recruiting because of the rollover and the cost of keeping on deadwood staff) are just grinding Cayman into the ground.

       

  2. Anonymous says:

    Are we missing something here!

    Was it not the UDP and Sherri Bodden who are responsible for the current mess we are in and the idea of the 7 year roll over which has brought this country down from the once prosperous economy it was, to a dying nation with a record number of people selling up and leaving the country. Good-bye Cayman, they are the lucky ones !

    The Immigration system is totally broken and we are now calling in the same people who are responsible for the mess to undo the mess.  Why should we listen to them when they created what is destroying our country’s growth  because basically "Immigration" is running our businesses and the owners of those businesses are absolutely powerless to manage and operate their own business due to their control.

    The civil sercvice has taken over therunning of the entire country and guess who has allowed this to happen, the same people who concocted the sweet heart deal been Govt and CNB/Cayman General which cost this country dearly after Ivan, while others personally benefitted. Influence is corruption the same as an exchange of financial gain and  as they discriminate against the struggling Cayman businesses and give the financial industry everything they want, discrimination and influence, is again corruption at its best and finest.

    Cayman, how can we trust these people when their track record has not been in the best interests of Cayman and Caymanians.

    • Anonymous says:

      The funny thing is from the posts you can see almost 100% agree that this is a waste of time, but yet in a few weeks there will be an announcement that everyone is for it….something to think about…just like the pension, just like the pension, at first everyone was agreeable on the holiday, but they make it so difficult to take the holiday that everyone is just continuing with it. 

  3. Anonymous says:
    Drawing Lines in the sand.
     
    It is obvious that the planners have no clue about the dynamic environment in which private business must operate

    None of them has ever been faced with making a monthly pay roll and trying to keep your head above water, while it is being bashed by endless events, many of which are un foreseeable

    Fixed guide lines do not exist In the private business environment. However, arbitrarily curved lines do, and they usually hit from behind.

    Yet, the planners are imaging they can draw four lines in the sand, force groups of private companies into the spaces between them, while completely ignoring the storms which are constantly shifting the sand around.

    Therefore, writing objective guide lines, rules, goals, and regulations to determine the category into which to place each private Cayman business will be impossible.
     

    For example, for borderline companies, particularly those on the lowest border line, who or what will chose which side of the border to classify them?

    More than ever before, it will be the opinions and guesses of the overseers that will do the judging. And as before, these will be determined by constant meetings between business and government personnel, networks of friends, and influence peddlers.  All of which will seriously decrease business productivity.
     

    Thus, instead of receiving less government interference in the their businesses, they will receive far more under this ‘new’ plan. Continuing to cripple private business here, and threatening to cripple it even more, is the last thing Cayman needs at this time.

    And as before, this ‘new’  plan will be impossible to administer.

     
     
  4. Concern Native to the bone says:

    What a mess our beautiful Cayman Islands are in!

    Let’s put it this way plain and simple, and I’m sure you can read and write, Taxing businesses will eventually cause them to close down and leave our people on the streets begging.

    Whether you or your colleagues like it or not THE ONLY WAY OUTA THIS MESS IS "PROPERTY TAXES". YES P-R-O-P-E-R-T-Y T=A=X=E=S.

    If you want to bring in new business you have to make it easier to operate. Charging exhorbatant immigration fees will not help the situation but rather be a hinderance.

    I’m sorry to know that the Real Estate Brokers think this is a way to curtail their outrageous brokering and side stepping transfer fees that is costing government millions of $$$$$$$$$$$$. If anyone need to understand how this is done please call a local real estate broker. Simply put, Land owner hires broker to sell property. Broker has two to three prospective buyers and the deal start with one buyer then brokered to another buyer and so on until three transfers occur and the sale will restand register with that last buyer. Then and only then is government paid a transfer fee. HOWEVER the brokers charge each seller a fee which could end up being thousands and the GOVERNMENT is OUTA Monzy from those buyers. This gambling must stop. 

  5. Anonymous says:

    The Accreditation system is far more complicated than the current Business Staffing Plan and will not make the process of obtaining a work permit any more efficient than the current BSP system. Many, many hours are spent by businesses putting plans together and then it takes months if not years, before the BSP board even considers the plan. By the time the plan is considered, it is outdated. Further, do you really believe that the board members have the time to read your plans? Putting such detail into plans is a huge waste of time for everyone.

    I did not attend the seminar but from the way this is reported it seems to me that Mrs. Cowan and Mrs. Evans are not on the same page. Mrs. Cowan is saying that they will have the staff to manage the new system while Mrs. Evans is warning that they will not have the staff in the short term. A similar idea was tried last year when the Immigration department hired staff to handle permits administratively to speed up the process. The administrative staff were to approve permits for non-Key Employees,  where no Caymanian had  applied for the job. As far as I can tell, the process was no quicker.

    The entire sysyetm should be gutted and reduced to submitting a plan that shows (1). Position (eg. Attourney, Sales Clerk, etc.),(2). Post Holder (eg. John Smith) and (3) Condition (eg. Regulation 6).  Regulation 6’s can still be monitored.  The Key Employee application system can remain in place. The reality is that this is all the board has time to deal with anyway.

     

  6. Anonymous says:

    I suppose the system below is the same crap like the point system that we presently have for permanent residency!!

    Putting them on a point system of cooking run-downs, catching crabs, climbing mangoe trees and steering a bicycle rim with a shamroch stick would be a much accepted point system than what is currently being instituted!!!!

    "The new system is based on the accumulation of points to reach one of four tiers, which will convey gradually increased benefits on employers with regards their immigration needs.Those who do not reach tier one, however, will not be able to apply for work permits."

    UNLESS the Immigration Boards perform their duties on a 360 basis, inclusive of conducting interviews with the Caymanian staff employed within the organisation and their representations to the Boards are protected under statutory laws, and ARE NOT ran by "persons who have "spare time" and "party supporters" but rather than on experienced and hihgly capable Caymanians who, again I say, have the utmost and best interest of this country and its present and future generations foremost, ONLY THEN will we EVER acheive any positive and fair results of these immigration boards.

  7. Some Like It hotter says:

    So here we go again, clogging up the already clogged to the gills system.

    How can you fix something if you don’t know what you are fixing?

    This entire plan is rubbish, and a waste of time.  It appears the only UDP decisions are to date are to put as many Caymanian’s out of business, see how many the can get unemployed with the businesses that are shutting down operations and moving overseas etc.

    The same ones who made the millions from us are running away, why, because of stupid plans such as these. 

    Go ahead, bring the hatchet down on the necks of the remaining struggling people in this country, because everyone in this Govt. is so disconnected from their people that it is pathetic.

    Where are you?  Can’t you see what you are doing?

    On the pay cut issue:

    To those Chief Officers and Permanent Secretaries, we suggest you take the 20% pay cut or we will petition the Govt. that you do.  YOu are a bunch of greedy men and women whose only action is to see your country sink.  I hope you see what your greed is doing to this nation.  Remember this day that I say I hope you eat those MBenz’s and BMW’s when the last dollar is transferred out of the treasury to pay your pay cheques.

    The Govt. of the Cayman Islands needs to remove all the MIDDLE MEN and lazy people doing nothing to earn their pay cheques.  We need to clean up the corruption that is oozing from all our Govt. entities and it is. 

    I can’t wait for more of the shit to hit the fan and spread around.  Let me say this, it is coming and if you think it is going to nice, well it aint.

    In these hard times we have a Govt. that is in the OVERKILL MODE and that is to kill everyone for the last penny they have.  Go ahead idiots see where that gets you.

    Time to cut cost and make people have some more money in their pockets to survive.

    This Nation has died, the life support soon get cut all because we have a bunch of greedy people running it and taking advice from greedy people.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Ah – the world we life in today! Some company’s can dictate what a country’s immigration policies and procedures should be……

    I ty to imagine what it would be like if other countries would apply the same principle……

     

  9. Concern Native to the bone says:

    Is this the Sherri Bodden-Cowan, Senior Managing Partner of Bodden & Bodden Immigration Law Firm?

    Well, blow me down! Readers, her Law firm handles the majority of immigration related cases on the island, To have her as chairwoman of our immigration unit and dictating the policies of the most important law enforcement entity of the Cayman Islands is not only a DUMB move by the current government but XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXx.

    It’s too bad that Lawyers are not held to the same moral and ethical standards, as we have witnessed here, as doctors and accountants. I can’t say much for Lawyers in North America but I can surely attest to the fact that lawyers in the commonwealth are notorious for their unethical and immoral business dealings. 

    The Sherri Bodden-Cowan saga only goes to prove my point. So, its no wonder Cayman is in the mess its in and I must admit there is worse to come and then the END. So good folks save your money in US$$$$$$$ cause when the hand outs are dried up and the the Likes of our current politicians dwindle away Cayman will be no more and where to then?

    Last but not least, lets take a good look at how Cayman got to this point. Since November of 2000 when PARTY politics took over Cayman started to fall and today we are where we are because of PARTY politics. Long gone the days when good solid ethical and moral men and woman ran for were elected to political office based on their integrity, abilities and resolve. Today, our PARTY politics are crafted after other impoverished countries and where are those countries headed!!!!

    Wake up CAYMANIANS our NATIVE LAND will soon been but a memory. GOD Bless the good Ship CAYMAN.  

    • A Louse In Wonderland says:

      "Wake up CAYMANIANS our NATIVE LAND will soon been but a memory" – Where do you mean, Jamaica?

  10. Anonymous says:

    XXXXX

    The time when a business  most needs to bring experienced educated staff on island is at the beginig of the process!  Your policy will hurt innovation and advancement of the Cayman Islands.

    XXXXXXXX

     

  11. I RECALL says:

    I recall that is was Ms Sherrie Bodden under a pervious UDP’s administration and interferrence with the Immigration laws that got us in this mess today.  Now these are the sames one who are now claiming to fix the mess??!!  Now lets be very sensible about this situation and ask yourself if you would hire the same ones that screwed-up, to fix the same mess they screwed-up in the first instance??  I surely wouldn’t!!

    Honestly, I think that now, this immediate presence, is the perfect time for Ms Bodden and UDP govt to stop manipulating and undermining the immgration system to best suit their personal intentions!!!

    Step down, step aside and let those that have the very best interest, motives and intentions for this country and its people, make the decisions for this country!!!!

    We are tired and fed-up of being sold for the sake of a work-permit and permanent residency!!!!!

     

     

    • Anonymous says:

      What about the Staff Plan. That was suppose to expedite work permits….Still don’t know what that serve except for another fee that was to be returned once the company was approved for the staff plan.  That was five years ago and still waiting!!!

  12. genetic mutation says:

    for most countries, immigration is critical in that it fosters a beneficial growth rate and balances the country’s needs and future success. it is a system that integrates those that are needed with those that are there.

    by any measure, the immigration dept in cayman is an utter failure.

  13. Beachboi says:

    Trying to "fix" the mess that is C.I. Dept. of Immigration is like trying to beat life into a dead cow.  In my opinion the whole "work permit" function needs to be removed and simplified so as to simply set a fee for yearly or multi-year tenures of employment by and employee.  Simply put the best qualified applicant should get the job.  If that applicant is and expat then a yearly fee must be submitted to the immigration dept.   Currently there is too much revenue and manpower wasted in the whole "work permit approval" system. 

    Charging the dept. and its "employees" to make the approval or denial decisions are an oxymoron since the Immigration Dept maked money on the permit fees which are then used in operating expenses.

     

  14. Anonymous says:

    This is another big joke! The government is claiming it is broke and has placed a hiring freeze on the civil service and are reducing the salaries of those now employed but they are still expecting the already short staffed Department of Immigration to take on yet another "initiative". Lip service is all this rubbish is! If Linda Evans had any sense, she would have refused the request for her and her senior management team to waste valuable time attending this nonsense. I am sure that those people all had many other important things to do, like making sure their staff mail the letters to us who are out here waiting to hear from the boards! Sherry needs to stop wasting her time talking about what she knows is not going to become a reality.

  15. Anonymous says:

     is this a conflict  of interest she has a business which offers immigration services and she is the head of the IRT?

    • Anonymous says:

      I don’t believe there is a word(s) for ‘conflict of interest’ in cayman 

  16. Anonymous says:

    Way to go in in these difficult economic times, make the system more complicated and more confusing for small businesses.

    • Anonymous says:

      Totally agree with this poster – you’re complicating things further.  The Business Staffing Plan was supposed to simplify things and make things easier for those that complied – IT DIDN’T.  As a business owner I still have to wait ages on applications and pay  numerous reentry fees to have my employee’s passports stamped every time they leave the island. This recent bright idea by Immigration will just create more mundane time-consuming paperwork, more stress, more of the same with the same blinking results in my opinion.