Immigration: Foreign entertainers need workpermits

| 20/11/2009

(CNS): Although government has said it will be looking at the immigration regulations regarding very short term work permits, government officials today released a reminder that local entertainment promoters have a legal obligation to apply for temporary work permits for foreign entertainers who intend to perform in the Cayman Islands. For the purposes of the Immigration Law (2009 Revision), that includes people performing musical acts individually or as a part of an orchestra; singers, disc jockeys, or comics; and circus or carnival performers. (Left: Even Alicia Keys will need a valid workpermit to perform at Jazz Fest next month)

The Department of Immigration said that all promoters of entertainment events must also possess valid trade and business licences. Applications for temporary work permits must be submitted well in advance of the proposed event and before advertising or ticket selling begins, the department warned.

“Promoters should note that if applications are submitted late there is a risk that they will not be processed in time and the event may have to be cancelled. They are therefore urged to submit applications at least 30 days before advertising the event,” immigration said in a government release.

It explained that the required documents include a fully-completed application form, which has been signed by the performers and the promoter (in his or her capacity as employer for the event); police clearance certificates and photographs for each of the performers; a cover letter from the promoter outlining the details of the event or events; and the required fees. The promoter must also submit with the application DVD or video footage showing the nature and content of the proposed performance.

Prior to submitting temporary work permit applications, immigration said that the promoter must obtain the written views of the Cayman Islands Music Association (CMEA) and those must be attached to the work permit application. The CMEA may be contacted via email at or by telephone at 547 0609.

For further information concerning the work permit requirements for entertainers, contact the Department of Immigration on 949 8344 or visit the Ddepartment’s website at

CNS note: In response to several comments that suggest Ms Keys does not need a work permit, GIS has confirmed that not only does she need one but that she has one for this event.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I cannot believe this conversation is still continuing……….

    Slight change of subject……can someone please explain to me what happend with Shurwayne Winchester why was he a no show???? What happend


  2. Annoymous says:

    Why is this even an issue for the performers, isn’t this the promoters responsibility to ensure that ALL the performers are legal to perform in the country they are performing in?

    Please the Jazz Fest is a good thing for us I agree, and if we have policies in place, lets simply do what we have to do to make the transition easiets for all concerned.  Additionally, haven’t we heard of this for months now who was coming, if they submit their paperwork the same time the sign the contract well then there’s ample time to get their work permits approved and for them to arrive without any hiccups.

    Pay what has to be paid to obtain the work permits and lets all go and watch a great performance by ALL the entertainers.

    Time to stop bickering over miniscule matters!!!

  3. Anthony Montana says:

    Cant we all just get along?  Why must Caymanians and expats always attack each other?  Or is it just a small minority that always feel the need to write in and make us sad about the needless hostility?  Lets get more positive people.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Folks this is nothing new. Performers and their bands from every jazz fest have had to have work permits. DOT gets (and pays for) the permits and jazz fest goes on … save your indignation for something newsworthy folks!

  5. Anonymous says:

    I think that this entire conversation would make any expat nervous who is coming to Cayman to perform. They must wonder what kind of small mindedness we have here in Cayman and whether they are performing for adults or pre-school age children. 

    Caymanians should learn to accept that expats DO help out.  Where are they getting the new police investigators from? (United States).  Who is proposed to bring medical tourism here? (An East Indian).  Who is giving advice to Cabinet on Taxes? (US Citizen). Accept that you need expat help!

    You can’t possibly grow all your own here, so get a grip on reality and start to accept that you need the expat.  Take care of those places in this world that you can possibly partake in on a large scale without having to head up (Financial Services, Health Care, Tourism).  For those few Caymanians that get academically qualified and gain the experience rise to the top of those organizations I just mentioned.  For Caymanians who can’t make it to the top, stop trying to be the crab grabbing from the bottom of the bucket and accept that not all Caymanians can be Premier and you won’t all be millionaires.


    • Anonymous says:

      Which is precisely why we have a work permit regime which welcomes expatrites able to do jobs we cannot do.

      • Anonymous says:

        Unfortunately the current regimes force us to employ people in jobs they can’t do well.

    • Anon says:

      Did you happen to post this in the wrong place?  Don’t appear at all relevant to the topic if you ask me…

  6. Anonymous says:

    Is a work permit really required if she is coming here to work for the Cayman Islands Government?

    Other government workers dont actually need to apply for a work permit….


  7. Anonymous says:

    We have so many 9 time Grammy Award Winners in our local musicians groups……..this is a necessary rule and regulation….Geeeezzzzz !!!

    Maybe its Mac’s plan to stop Alicia Keys from coming since it was Charles Clifford that secured her performance at the 2009 Jazz Fest !!!!!!!


  8. Anonymous says:

    This has always been the immigration structure for visiting foreign acts.  And its true to say that most countries require visiting foreign artists to obtain work permits prior to performing. 

    That being said, the system forartists here is overly-complicated, and as somebody already pointed out, many artists aren’t likely to get permits here due to certain social habits they indulge in that are not strictly legal… I don’t think I need to go further on that.

  9. Anonymous says:

    When I last checked Ms. Keys was not the only foreign celebrity that is going to grace us with their presence for the Jazz fest – yes she is a big star who is coming with other big stars – show some respect to ALL the artists.

  10. Anonymous says:

    This is nothing new. Why is this newsworthy?

  11. Sue says:

    Please I beg posters to get the facts and use a bit of common sense. This press release has nothing to do with Ms Keys- Jazz is a Government event and Ms Keys will not require a work permit.

    Do we really want all the gangsters and other artists with long rap sheets coming to Cayman? Do we want artists who preach hatered and death to police to come here? Do you all remember the Bounty Killer case where the Court ruled that our brave CIO was right in refusing his work permit?

    Please get real- these laws will never prevent good clean artists from coming to Cayman- in fact they will foster their arrival here. But it will protect the small number of local bands and artists from unfair competition and allow them to perform on the same card as international artists- can this be really bad for Cayman?

    Oh I am local artist and I had to get permission from Immigration to perform in the USA and Caribbean.

    Thank you Immigration!

    CNS: See the note at the bottom of the article.

    • Anonymous says:

      unfair competition? learn to stand on your own two feet if you are good enough!

      • Anonymous says:

        Do not be ridiculous! It is part of our Caymanian birth right to extract monopolistic or oligopolistic profits at the expense of the consumer!  we have complained before that those nasty status grant recipients dared to set up business in competition with Caymanian business – the horror of competition was inflicted on us! 

    • Anon says:

      Yes its a government event but you are wrong about the WP – she does still have to have one as do all artist who play here, regardless of whether its a government organised event. 

  12. Anonymous says:

    CNS – not sure that is right (at least re. Jazz Fest) Jazz Fest represents  both a non-profit and cultural organisation and so Miss. Keyes (who is coming for a short period)  is possibly exempt under regulation 11 from any work permit requirements.

    The immigration work permit regime Immigration are correctly referring to seems to me to be relating to purely "for profit" entertainment being undertaken commercially- such as for concerts, in hotels etc… (but not necessarily choirs in churches and, for example, world class entertainers coming to Jazz Fest – where the promotor is plainly not doing it for private profit). 

     CNS: See the note at the bottom of the article.

  13. Joe Average says:

    What if…..Ms. Keyes decided after the show to stay?  And be my housekeeper.  Without a valid permit we would both be in violation.

    Be quiet!!!!!  I can have dreams

  14. Anonymous says:

    work permits for top performers, thats dummest thing i heard in a long time…….like we have talent like that on this rock………what a joke!!!!!!!

    • Anonymous says:

      Actors and Actresses that are non US Citizens have to get work permits before they work in Hollywood. So what is the big deal? rules and regulations also apply to Celebrities regardless of who they are!

      • Anonymous says:

        yes but having alicia keyes applying to cmea(a bunch of backward failed local musicians) who then may aprrove her to apply for a permit???….. that is the joke, god bless her, i would not be able to live with myself if i had to get down on my knees for cmea……

    • Yute man says:

      You sum up the attitude that so many of the arrogant who believe that because they have taken up an employment opportunity and come here to Cayman, that:

      1) We don’t have any talent here and no one else on this island can do their job and

      2) Everyone here must bow and scrape to them and because of their qualifications they should be allowed to have free reign in these islands and Lord it over the rest of us serfs.

      In your arrogance you reveal your ignorance.  They are coming here to do a job just like the people who clean toilets and rake yards…and you know what, they are coming here because they are getting paid.

      Do you think Alecia Keys is crying because she is going to have to get a permit?  No, she is glad to get the paycheck which she is earning. 

      At least we can be sure it’s her actually singing and playing and earning her money…unlike some of you overpaid and hyper-inflated-ego jokers working here who claim to have qualifications that you don’t and aren’t really doing your own work. 


  15. Anonymous says:

    Anybody remembers the BBC issue around Dick Francis? The BBC wanted to come to Cayman to interview Dick Francis… great publicity for Cayman, showing the writer sitting at Seven Mile Beach. Well, the BBC hadn’t applied for a work permit and therefore was forbidden to do the interview.

    The BBC gave Dick Francis a flight ticket to London and did the interview in London. A missed opportunity to promote Cayman – in the end the winner was British Airways for getting a passenger more…

    BBC was not very amused about Cayman…

    Just for curiosity: How much would Alicia Keys need to pay for her work permit? How long is the work permit valid? 2 hours? 6 months? Could she stay here (in case she likes Cayman) and give every evening a concert, becoming a big competitor for the Barefoot Man?

    And what happens to the DVD of her that must be given to Immigration? Who keeps it? Can we sell it – together with her photos – on EBAY to help a little bit with the Government budget? What if there is an entry in her police clearance certificate for petty theft or so?

    I like rock music – the harder the better… and now I understand why we don’t have any hardrock-concerts in Cayman… The musicans have for sure to much stuff in the police clearance certificates… The Rolling Stones would never have a chance to get a work permit in Cayman… 🙂

    • Anonymous says:

      Nonsense – any accredited journalist on anews assignment is exempt from the work permit regime (and has been for a very long time). 

      Regulation 11(h) specifically exempts for 7 days: "the covering of a specific news assignment as a newspaper, magazine, radio or television jounalist representing a recognised news organisation"

      The Immigration laws have some room for improvement but they are not nearly as "dumb" as some in the expat mafia pretend – and Caymanians are perfectly willing and ready to consider alternatives – just come up with something better (for everyone) and it will be implemented.


    • Anonymous says:

      Brilliant.  In the civilized world this is referred to cutting off your nose to spite your face.  Grow up, Cayman. 

    • Anonymous says:

      I remember this very well. It was actually Alan Whicker, a very famous travel writer and reporter, who was going to do the interview in Cayman. But you are wrong when you say that Cayman got no press coverage from this; Mr. Whicker later said that in decades of world travel he had never been treated so apallingly as he had been in the Cayman Islands.  This was about 15 years ago when Caymanian attitudes to foreigners were less well known.

  16. Sav/New says:

    There goes Jazz Fest.

    • Anonymous says:

      Don’t be silly. It is the same in every country. Michael Jackson needed a permit to play in London because he is not European. US entertainers need a permit to play here. The permit is easy to get, inexpensive, available the same day if necessary, and not onerous. The Law will likely be simplified further but generally, if you work in another country, you need permission – and she will get permission.

      • O'Really says:

        Having to get permission from immigration is understandable. But having effectively to get permission from CMEA, prior to even being able to apply to immigration, is a whole different issue.  

        • Maintaining Equilibrium says:

          18:02 – I could not agree more.  Immigrations is one thing (as I agree a permit should be created for off island performers), but to run it through CMEA will only provide for a roadblock and put the perception of power in the hands of those who crave their own shelfish interests to be in a position to determine the caliber of entertainment that performs.  That being said, this will not adversely affect Jazzfest, as if members of the CMEA attempted to derail this, they would be promptly given a swift kick in the tail by the Premier.  It will happen without a public glitch.

          However, what it will do — for the various promoters who wish to bring off island entertainment — is create a situation where it will be simply easier to make a "cash donation to the CMEA" to receive their blessing.  Otherwise paperwork may sit on a non-existent desk; get misplaced between the two or three who have a hand in administering the organization; or be stalled until it is too short of a timeline to effectively promote an event.


      • $ay What?? says:

        THANK YOU!!!


        Someone with sense…..what is wrong with our people?? That’s our very problem always trying to bend the rules for a select few which always ends up with unintended consequences!

        Every non national needs a work permit to "work" here – period.


      • Twyla Vargas says:

        17¨.13   you are absolutely correct, everyone should obtain a work permission.  Too many persons have sliped through the crack before, made thousands of dollars, brushed their feet off at the bottom of the plane and flew away, without leaving a five cent to help the needy.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Sometimes our immigration department can remind everybody what a small-minded bunch we can be on this tiny island.  What will the advert in the compass say ?   "ONLY CAYMANIANS NEED APPLY. MUST HAVE SOLD 30 MILLION ALBUMS WORLDWIDE"

    • Billy-Joe L Bodden says:

      Remember the mantra of the Mafia of the Mediocre, "we do not need to be nearly as good or talented as the person whose job we want, we merely need to be suitably qualified".  Unfortunately this mantra is starting to seriously harm recruitment for the core blue chip organisations which are central to Cayman’s economy, and this is driving jobs, departments and businesses elsewhere.  This is especially the case when businesses are told they cannot hire good workersbecause Immigration claims to be aware of an unemployed suitably qualified Caymanian, when in fact the reason that person is unemployed is because they are only "suitably qualified" in their fantasies.  Such people are costing excellent quality Caymanians their jobs.

  18. Anon says:

    Unbelievable. I cannot believe we insist on such measures for a one-off performance. I can only imagine the Cayman Islands losing out as promoters simply ignore the Cayman Islands due to this type of madness.

    We are very very lucky to have secured Alicia Keys to come to Cayman at all. Can you imagine if some bungling bureaucrat at Immigration turns down her permit (which is for only a couple of hours work at the end of the day anyway!).
    I cannot see these measures are in Cayman’s interests at all. They only serve to remind outsiders how much red-tape is required to achieve anything in Cayman – and drive them away.
    There is just too much government meddling in the island and this is a prime example.
  19. Afraid to Strap on a Pair Also says:

    Oh yes.  By all means.  Let’s show Ms. Keyes what this wonderful island is all about.  I doubt that this is what she has in mind when she ‘gives back’.

    • Anonymous says:

       Ahhh.. right.. like she actually has to do anything for it. She pays people to do these things for her. And furthermore, according to the article, the promoter is the one who has to do all the ground work..

      Finally, how is an artist being charitable when they are being PAID to perform? Sure, Ms Keyes has done loads of charitable work, but I don’t see how this performance fits under that criteria. 

  20. Anonymous says:

    Can nobody in our bloated bureaucracy of Immigration and CI Gov’t see the absurdity of this process for the top echelons of world class performer? 

    We must streamline this process to attract the entertainers that savvy tourists and residents demand.  Sure tap them for a nominal fee, but make the process easier please.  They are no threat to local business, quite the opposite. 

    Alicia Keyes has no intention of taking up residence or snatching some gig from a more worthy Caymanian, no more than the visiting airshow pilots that will no longer come here because of this garbage protectionism. 


  21. Anonymous says:

    Wouldn’t be surprised if Alicia keys got her work permit rejected "Because there are trained and qualified Caymanians that could do the same job instead"

    Shows what a shambles the system is at present

    • JahDread says:



      you are out of order and should note that your kind of hostility is what we natives bear rancor to and which will create a great divide between us. If you cant make an effective change or contribute to make a positive change then shut up or find someone to do it for you.

      • Anonymous says:

        Thank you JahDread. Never ever a positive statement from these invaders. Always looking for something to bicker about. Just trying to influence the good visitors against us. When its all done here where are you going. You came here because there was nothing for you back home, so you had better accept our system and join us.  Remember its better to make friends with us new generation and not war.

        • Anonymous says:

          nothing back home? how do you know? i took a pay cut to come here, i came for the lifestyle, weather and the great expatcommunity…. pity about the locals….

          we better accept your system? no thanks but we will give you suggestions to improve it

          • Anonymous says:

            WOW!!! "the great expat community…. pity the locals.." So basically you are saying that you can come to a country for the foreigners that live there but the locals don’t matter. FYI I am a Caymanian that’s living in the US and I did not move here to only associate with Caribbean born people or other Caymanian’s. It is people like you that need to stay in your own country. I’m sure that you could find similar weather conditions in your country or a nearby location and I am definitely sure that taxes HAD everything to do with your decision to move. So in effect unless your pay cut was more than your tax rate you didn’t take a pay cut if you even did at all.

            I am amazed at how people like you who bring their predjudices with them move to another country and try to make it like the one you tried to escape from. Leave well enough alone. It was there before you got there and will be so when you leave. If you are going to "make suggestions" I recommend you try to not to further anger the people you are making them to by exhibiting the ignorance that you obviously display.

            • Anonymous says:

              okay, you know my finacial situation better than i do….zzzz

              they only predjudiced people on cayman are caymanians; you deny basic human rights to all other nationalities that set foot here, you treat them like second class citizens even though they are generally the most hard working educated people here and without the expats you would be nothing….well not nothing… you would be fishermen, rope makers living in tin shacks…

              how often have you heard it said..’the worst thing about cayman is the caymanians…’




            • Anonymous says:

              Unfortunately a lot of people view Cayman this way. All the expats I know in fact, lovely place, great weather, nice not paying tax, shame about the locals…

              Why would they think otherwise,they are made to feel like second class citizens, they are treated with disrespect by Caymanian law enforcement, Caymanian government officials and are always fearing for their jobs and their futures in case they upset the lazy Caymanian at work whose brother works in immigration.

              It is not the professional expats that are robbing themselves, mugging themselves and threatening violence on themselves, it is the locals committing these violent crimes day in and day out because they were brought up bybad parents in a society that says it is ok to beat your wife and steal from the foreigners as they are the ones stealing the land from Caymanians.

              So I agree with the statement, there is a large friendly expat community, but apart from the decreasing minority of Caymanians that accept and welcome foreign investors to their country, the rest are merely a nuisance.

              • Anonymous says:

                BOY OH BOY  if you only but could get rid of all the Caymanians and replace them with your people how happy you would be.

    • Anonymous says:

      You all hate us so much, that you pick on every little thing. Of course Caymanians should have the first preference with jobs that they qualify for. This is the way that it will remain. Dont you see our new generation ? They are not going to be kind like the older ones. I am making a suggestion to you , PACK UP AND TAKE THE NEXT FLIGHT OUT. THANK YOU. I am a kind Caymanian but Iam very fed up with the way that you use us and then resent us.  Of all the places I mostly visit the USA and you know what I m grateful for the services that I get from there even though I have to pay for it.

      • Anonymous says:

        we will leave when we want or when you want to roll us over, but in the mean time we will stick together and stand up for human rights of all expats…..


      • Anonymous says:

        So how many Caymanians are as qualified at world class jazz singing as Alicia Keys. Get a grip you sad deluded nobrot. The island is a tiny dot on even the biggest of maps and with a local population less than most tiny towns in the US or Uk or Spain or anywhere. Not every small town has a world class singer, the same as they don’t have 1000 professional and qualified accountants, lawyers and teachers.

        They would have a handful at most. If they had a large and very specialised industry in that town, they would need to import labour from elsewhere to do the skilled jobs. Of course the handful of good lawyers born in the small town deserve to pick and choose their jobs, but the remaining jobs need to be done by competent people, not by some halfwit just because he’s from the same town.

        Given that Cayman has a dreadful education system, a culture where youth is encouraged to rely on their birthright and a feeling of great entitlement, it’s no wonder that they areproducing less talentedpeople than even the poorest and most backward towns in the US.

        The sooner you realise that the only way to succeed in the modern business world is to work hard, go to school and motivate yourself to turn up on time and not facebook all day, the sooner you see that the glass ceiling dissappears and never actually existed at all, it was you and your dreadful upbringing that created the glass ceiling.

  22. Anonymous says:

    cmea….another cayman protectionist body…. what a joke, alicia keys will have to apply to cmea to get approval so that she can then apply for a work permit!….zzzzzz

    • Anonymous says:

      There is no such thing as a "cayman protectionist body" hence the reason Caymanians are becoming more and more angry at what is happening in our own country. You people, and, yes, unfortunately some in our government, look after the rights of foreign nationals while no one cares to protect the rights of Caymanians. There are some individuals in positions of influence who tell foreigners quite openly, "look there is no longer a "Protection Board" so basically, don’t worry, no one is protecting Caymanians and it is easy to get what you want. That my dear is the sad reality in this country today. Other countries try to make sure that their citizens get their rightful place but we are being made to feel that we should not have a legitimate expectation to be given preference for jobs if we are qualified and able to fill them .. like they say, "There is No longer a Protection Board!" So, please sit back and enjoy our wonderful amenities, you don’t have to feel threatened by us, you have all the rights .. really you do!

      • Anonymous says:

        when i look for a job anywhere i go in the world i expect to be judged on my qualifications not on my nationality…. time to see the bigger international picture and then you will learn to stand on your own 2 feet, if you are able