Finance sector promised better access to work permits

| 05/11/2009

(CNS): The leader of government business has confirmed that employers in the financial services sector and support sectors will soon have access to permits of up to five years for their staff. Concerned that business has been lost in the Cayman Islands as a direct result of the burdensome nature and uncertainty of immigration policies, McKeeva Bush said that a number of changes are planned which he believes will encouraged business to come back, including the automatic grant of key employee status for senior professionals.

Bush said that the loss of offshore businesses equated to the loss of jobs for Caymanians and business in the domestic economy from the trickle down factor. “We have to do something,” he said. “If one Caymanian loses a job because we have to bring someone in from overseas but in return that one creates ten new jobs for Caymanians, then we go for that and help that one person find a job elsewhere.”

He said the Department of Immigration had made improvements to the administrative procedures but more needed to be done, and he explained that the Immigration Review Team had placed a number of proposals before Cabinet this week and directions would soon be issued to the Chief Immigration Officer, the Work Permit Board and the Business Staffing Plan Board to implement some changes.

Bush said a new sub-committee of the Business Staffing Plan Board would be created that included members with expertise in the financial services sector. “This committee, which will be assisted by three work permit administrators from the Immigration Department, will process all applications for work permits from financial services sector companies,” Bush added.

 “They will also make recommendations to the Business Staffing Plan Board on key employee designation applications. The dedicated focus on financial services industry applications by this committee will greatly improve the turnaround time for work permit applicationsand the fact that local industry experts are included in the committee will ensure that key employee applications are properly understood.”

Presumptions are also now going to be made on key employee applications for senior professionals that the applicants meet the requirements unless it is rebutted, or where in the opinion of the Business Staffing Plan Board there is a Caymanian who has the qualifications, experience, and desire to fill the position.

Bush said it would also become the norm to issue three-year work permits for all persons employed in particular financial services occupations and 3 to 5 year work permits for domestic helpers, teachers, nurses, ministers of religion and workers listed in a Business Staffing Plan Certificate. The main goal, however, was for immigration to fast-track the scheduling of applications for the financial services industry.

The LoGB said the benefits would only be available to companies that have demonstrated a high standard of business ethics and commitment to providing opportunities to Caymanians through employment, education or involvement in community service programmes.

“Companies will be required to undergo an accreditation process through which these factors will be assessed. Only those companies which meet a pre-set threshold will be accredited and thereby receive the benefits I just outlined,” he said.

Bush also announced planned changes to short term permits forpeople coming to work for very short periods. He said a committee of eleven members of the community, representing tourism and hospitality, construction, the legal fraternity, Chamber of Commerce and well-known leading business figures, held their first meeting on Wednesday, under the Chairmanship of Deputy Chief Immigration Officer Bruce Smith, to create some clarity in the law.

“In addition to creating clarity and certainty, the introduction of this important initiative, which is part of our efforts to encourage business visitors, will also decrease waiting times for arriving and departing passengers,” he added.

Along with improvements to the work permit system, he said the Immigration Department was committed to clamping down on offenders and those who abused the system.

“In the past month the department’s Enforcement Unit has arrested 22 persons, mainly for overstaying. In one case the person had been living illegally in the Islands for four years. Investigations are also continuing into several companies where there is evidence that employees have been working outside the terms and conditions of their work permit or working after a work permit has expired.”

 Bush said the department was also actively researching options with respect to fingerprinting equipment for the taking and storing of fingerprints of all foreign workers. It is also pursuing the logistics involved in implementing an Advanced Passenger Information System.

 “This is a very important tool in border security as it means that airline operators will be required to provide flight manifests to Immigration authorities before the flight leaves its departure point and we can then determine whether there are any passengers who may pose a threat to our security,” the LoGB said.

During the budget presentation, government announced that work permit fees would be going up as part of the package of new revenue measures. At the time, Financial Secretary Kenneth Jefferson gave a number of examples of increases but a full schedule of fees has not yet been produced and the leader of government business has not confirmed when the fee increase will take place.

Based on the examples given by Jefferson, all permits with the exception of domestic helpers will be increasing by anything from 50% on those for gardeners to almost 200% for some professional permits. He warned that all work permits in the professional category were proposed to be increased by $3,000.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Category: Business

About the Author ()

Comments (26)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Anonymous says:

    If Mckeeva believes that rubber stamping every work permit application for the financial industry is the answer then he really is either incredibly stupid or confused. Opening the flood gates to more foreign workers on longer work permits and placing more glass ceilings to supress Caymanians, especially in the financial industry, is unfair to the Caymanian people and is fanning the flames of civil unrest.

    What the government should be doing is giving the Immigration Department the staff and other resources they so badly need to be able to deal with the tremendous workload that we all know they have! They can put in place as many systems as they want but if there are not sufficient resources to work those systems nothing will change. Furthermore, there is already much abuse of the system by unscrupulous employers and from what I have read in this news story they must now all be all clapping with glee!

    Where is the protection of the Caymanian people McKeeva?  Is putting a bunch of foreign workers on a fast track to Caymanian Status your solution? This, quite frankly is an insult to Caymanians.

    • Anonymous says:

      This is the old-school type of thinking that has gotten us to where we are.  If there was a fixed number of jobs on the island, then this post is exactly right.

      But you have a situation that companies are packing up and leaving – and even those that are staying are shifting jobs to other jurisdictions like Canada and Ireland.

      Whether this is the right course of actions – who knows?  But somebody has to do something.  So at least give Mac some credit for trying – it is probably too late.  This should have been done 3 years ago when the financial services industry was still growing and not contracting.

      How many more Goldman Sachs, Citigroup and Maples Finances have to leave the island before somebody did something?  How does that help Caymanians for Citco to have 500 people in Canada servicing Cayman funds or UBS moving jobs to Canada and even Poland.  The list goes on and on…

      The old government’s solution was to put their head in the sand and hope that the their capital projects would boost the economy.  But how can you pay for these projects (or the civil service) if company’s are shrinking on the island?

      That is the question that none of the "nationalists" or "protectionists" are prepared to answer – who is going to pay for all of the government people and projects if the companies and their workers leave the jurisdiction.

      That used to be a theoretical question – but unfortunately has become very real over the past two years.

      • Thankful says:


        • Anonymous says:

          Wonderful penetrating analysis.  The problem is that the dumb knee reaction of protectionsim seems right and simple.  But no country clawed its way out of economic downturn by protectionism.  We need to do the opposite of putting up barriers, oterhwise more jobs will leak away from the Cayman Islands and more Caymanians will be unemployed.

          • Thankful says:

            I guess that is why the UK is doing a good job letting all the North-african muslims in and the US has demolished their borders with Mexico, right?!

            We know better and it is rubbish. 

            This is not about knee (jerk) reactions as you suggest.  Rather, it is about (actually it SHOULD be about) understanding who we are as a people.  Planning our own destiny on our terms; asserting our place as Caymanians in our own country; understanding balance (again on our terms); not be bamboozled, threatened and pushed into any policy that undermines and challenges the creative, intelligent, fortitude of the Caymanian people; It is about planning for generations and lastly about nation-building, again, on our terms.

            • Anonymous says:

              And who is going to pay for all of these wonderful plans when all of the foreign businesses leave our shores? 

              That is the question that I ask – who is going to pay for this?  The money has to come from somewhere.

              Or is your PPM plan for nation-building about taking work on a ship and leaving my family to work on the seas for months or years at a time like my father and grandfather used to do.

              • Thankful says:

                PPm Plan?!! Do not degrade the work and life of our fathers and greatgrand fathers.  I wil not even address you any futher on that!

                Who is going to pay for what plans?!  Plans of nationbuilding and self-dignity is a learning experience gained only when we are forced to look at who we are and where we want.  It may involve assessing the honourable life of the seas…but so be it.  I am not afraid of that.  You and the agenda of the day people may be insecure about yourself as a Caymanian but I am not (I am assuming you are Caymanian based on your email above).

                So grow a spine and stop being shaken to your core by the scare-tactics being batted about.

  2. Anonymous says:


    Who is selling the land? 

    "Who is selling the land?  Greedy Caymanians that’s who.

    Whats wrong you don’t have any land to sell…….sold it a few years ago?



    Caymanians the only greedy ones??  No  st…d  & NO I didn’t sell my land & won’t be selling it either!!  As a person thinketh so is he .. so you think GREEDY so are you!

    • Makam says:

      Don’t hear any expats complaining about who is buying up the island! They are not the greedy ones expecting to sell their property and then a few years later claim ownership of it again, nor do I hear them bellyaching about the price of land now compared to when they sold it. The only ones doing that are Caymanians who thought that by selling their heritage they would be set for life, then blew the money on fancy cars etc. and now because they can’t or more likely won’t to get a job to support their life style B#$ch about foreigners buying up the land!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Too little too late.  The immigration policy of the past few years resulted in the people that were good for our islands leaving us long ago – because we refused to offer the basic right to a secure future and a secure job. 

    • Anonymous says:

      If what you posted is accurate 11/07/2009 – 12:22 then I question the "goodness" of those people and their general intent. Each person who arrives to the Cayman Islands on a work permit is made well aware of their expected tenure, even before coming here. When Caymanians go abroad to work we too are aware the there is no "security" oftenure and that there is a risk that we will not have long term employment if a native of that country is identified for the job. We also know that we have been allowed there for a limited time. That is the nature of the choice we make and likewise no one should come to these shores expecting to stay forever. What Mr. Bush should be doing is ensuring that qualified Caymanians are protected and not taken advantage of in the work place, suppressed or squeezed out of the organisation. And, that our young people are given real opportunities. It seems that he is out of touch with reality as to what is really taking place in corporate Cayman but in time the ugly monster that is growing will enlighten everyone.

      • Anonymous says:

        Don’t worry, the "ugly monster" mentality which I assume is civil unrest of some sort, will guarantee that ex-pats won’t be a problem here in the future.

        Any hint of the ugly monster will lead all foreign businesses to immediately shut down and all the foreigners to go home.  Of course, Caymanians of means are likely to leave as well – as much as we love our country, if you can’t support your family or feel safe – its time to leave.

        So be careful what you wish for.  This place can turn into Jamaica quicker than quick.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Hey Mac – you extending this to those busineses that are lying to Immigration now to screw Caymanians – or just to the good guys? And if Caymanians cannot report breaches of law without getting fired – how do you tell who te good guys are?

  5. Reality Check says:

    I think this is better known as "quid pro quo". They (or at least some of them) scratched his back, now he will scratch theirs.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Data protection is the next step to stop the flow of jobs off island.

    Mac has to impose data protection rules preventing firms from accessing Cayman company information and data from outside Cayman.

    For example how can he allow these firms with staff in or relocating to the UK access Confidential Cayman data when the UK RIP Act allows any UK body to access that data if, and I quote it is "for the purpose of safeguarding the economic well-being of the United Kingdom"…

    So if a Cayman firm allows access to Cayman data from the UK, any UK body can access the data or force those staff members to provide passwords and even encryption keys….."for the purpose of safeguarding the economic well-being of the United Kingdom"..hmmm… the good old economic well-being of the UK…. in this climate of UK Met, Capt Underpants etc, do you think looking after Cayman is in the economic well-being of the UK ?

    Just the PR disaster for Cayman of an attempt by the UK Government to do this, succesful or not,  would be a disaster and unquantifiable. If you doubt this is feasbile them just stop and think for a minute that the UK and German government now pay comission, a % of what they find, to informants for such data….

    The only way to protect Cayman is to make sure it’s data can be only accessed in Cayman. If this protects Cayman jobs as well, so be it….


    • Anonymous says:

      Idiot – I think that sums up your coments

      All of the big business in Cayman are foreign companies who operate all over the world. They could never do business in Cayman if any information they produced in their cayman office could only be accessed in Cayman!

      I could just imagine a board meeting on Wall street now…."Sorry auditors/government/board members etc, we can’t tell you how business is going because our accountants are all in Cayman, and they’re not allowed to tell us what they are doingbecause of some f***wit rules"


      • Anonymous says:

        XXXX, the post didn’t get across it’s objective of explaining the consequences of having confidential data (as protected by Cayman Law) in Cayman directly accessible by people located outside of Cayman, in the UK in the example above.

        Of course the accountants you refer to in your post may well provide all the necessary information to their clients, once their clients have given specific permission for it to be sent outside of Cayman.

        What’s not acceptable is those same accountants, banks, company managers ,law firms etc proving access lock, stock and barrel to my, yours or anyones information to a 3rd party in another country (specifically the uk in the above example) to access, process or administer without our specific permission. At the very least such access should registered (and controls audited) with a Cayman government body to ensure it’s protected.

        By the way, in the example of the UK’s RIP Act, when (not if) the HM’s Treasy gets permission (not even a warrant) from a senior member of the police (probably the Met cause they’re familiar with Rum Point) to get access to the data for fishing,  the poor sod who has been picked by HM Treasury to provide access can’t tell anyone that he’s been forced to provide it. Oh and if they don’t provide it to HM’s Treasury, they get 2 years in the slammer. What would you do in their shoes, apart from call them a f wit idiot of course ?

        And if you question wether or not it will happen then you obviously don’t remember the Eurobank issue with Mr Gibbs (Google ‘MI6 Cayman Gibbs’).

        We shouldn’t make the UK’s life any easier to take the P out of Cayman than we already have. If you want access to Cayman data come here a follow due Cayman process….

        With love, Idiot

        • Anonymous says:

          Whenever yo enter into any kind of financial transaction or apply for a job etc you sign to agree to the terms of the business you are working with. This always includes a paragraph wherein you are agreeing to said company processing your data in accordance with their policy. Obviously you need to read the small print to get the details of these policies.

          I can see what you’re trying to say. But by being a protectionist country Cayman is driving away business already with its red tape and pathetic rules. Nobrots like you only fuel the fire with ridiculous comments like this. Cayman is hanging onto the current business by a thread, with the worldwide competitors offering attractive environments for organisations to come and set up.

          Cayman cannot risk implementing stupid laws that inadequates like you are proposing or it will be the final nail in it’s own coffin. Hundreds of Caymanian jobs would be lost as businesses not only move some of their data processing jobs overseas but now even have to shift the rest of their back office overseas.

          You might think that it the sparkling wit and pleasant welcoming demeanor of the foreigner loving caymanians that gets people to do business here but it’s not. There are in incredible amount of hurdles to jump in order to do business in Cayman including not being able to recruit staff by talent but rather by nationality. The taxation regime is the only thing here that is attractive to organisations. Once the drawbacks outweigh the benefits they’ll be moving to other low tax jurisdictions.

          Thankfully the government is beginning to make steps to make cayman more welcoming through making it easier to get work permits etc, but as with most of their other promises we will wait to see whether it is just talk.

          The only way to retain and increase opportunities is to make cayman more attractive to organisations, not less attractive. By making it more welcoming, the growth in business will lead to groeth in jobs locally. Yes a lolt of senior jobs will need to be done by foreigners, because they are trained and qualified, but there will be plenty of opportunities for caymanians in mid level positions and for youngsters to be trained and to wokr their way up if they are hard working, motivated and talented.


  7. Anonymous says:

    To Thurs 11/05/09 – 15:02

    You obviously don’t listen very carefully!! Are you agreeing with him now just because it suits you  – the competitors have very strict rules – you don’t go there and buy up all their land like they do in Cayman!


    • Anonymous says:

      You are obviously referring to Bermuda. and maybe the Channel Islands.  But the days where they are our competitors are long gone.

      These days, we are competing with (and losing to) Canada, Ireland, BVI, the Bahamas, and even some of the U.S. jurisdictions.


    • Makam says:

      Who is selling the land?  Greedy Caymanians that’s who.

      Whats wrong you don’t have any land to sell…….sold it a few years ago?



  8. Anonymous says:

    A Step in the Right Direction

    Had this been done 3 years ago, you would probably have an additional 200 ex-pats (including unskilled) and 100 Caymanians employed on the island.

    Another step in the right direction will be this medical tourism project.  That could mean hundreds of millions of $ and hundreds of jobs for the Island.

    • Thinker says:

      "A Step in the Right Direction", yes I agree with what you say…

      … but what about the local crime rate, the anti-expat vitriol that spews constantly, the exploding taxes and fees, the instability of this immature government (no, we haven’t forgotten and will not forget Mac’s incredibly stupid and unnecessary globally-public ventilation of our financial difficulties) … and so on and so on. 

      That all needs to get fixed as well.

      • Anonymous says:

        I am in full agreement on the crime issue – that has the potential to sink the island very quickly if they can’t get it under control.  That is probably the biggest issue facing the island right now.  They can get the rest of the issues correct, but if people (ex-pat and Caymanian both) don’t feel safe living their daily life, the island cannot prosper as people will either leave or at the very least limit their investment in the economy.

        As far as vitriol, most of the anti-expat spewing is a pretty small group of people, many of whom have their own agenda.  While a lot of Caymanians may have issues here and there with ex-pats, government, etc… most have friends and neighbors from other countries and generally get along pretty well.

        I have been here for 11 years and count approx half of my friends and almost all of my neighbors as Caymanians.  I have felt very little in the way of actual resentment and have gotten along well with all Caymanians that I have dealt other than maybe 1 or 2.

        Let’s hope we don’t go the direction of Bermuda where the squeaky wheels start becoming the voice for the silent majority.

        Besides, I am American and the anti-foreigner vitriol is nothing here compared to the U.S.  Listen to Rush Limbaugh or Fox News for a couple of days if you want to hear what truly mental midgets sound like.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Its the first bit of sense to have come out of that blokes mouth in a long time!

    Shame that it is too little too late to stop the flow of business to the competitor islands.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Here we go the beggining of the end.. this is the start of the 9000 PR/Status fiasco promised by the UDP.  Never ceazes to amaze me  how far this man (MB) can go.. Birthrights sold right from under our noose AGAIN!!.. Poor Caymanians!! Have no say in their country or lives.. MAC RULES ALL!!! The great king.. the omnipotent one he will be on  Friday.. I will be wearing my black frock from hereon.  Mourning for this great country that we have lost..