Key wrong way to choose

| 19/06/2012

immigration office_8.jpg(CNS): The key employee mechanism creates “an artificial vetting system” for choosing who should get to stay in Cayman because it is controlled by employers and unfair to employees. In a new report the Term Limit Review Committee (TLRC) has recommended that government abolish the key employee policy and give everyone who wants to stay the right to apply for permanent residency once they reach their eighth year. The committee says that the criteria used to select who should get PR needs to be in line with government objectives and more transparent. The TLRC has recommended that government maintain a 10 year fixed term for those refused PR with a genuine break in stay of at least one year.

The committee, which was formed last year, submitted its comprehensive report to government last month, which was made public by the premier on Friday in the Legislative Assembly. McKeeva Bush said that Cabinet had not yet accepted or discussed the recommendations as he said it wanted more input and feedback from the public.

“Given the high profile nature of this subject and to ensure openness and transparency within my government, I am tabling this report today in order to provide the public with an opportunity to review and provide comments,” he said.

He added that he had asked the committee to produce a draft National Population Growth Strategy that will set out the minimum size of the population and the required annual growth, skill sets and expertise that are required and a projected demographic mix of the population.

In the report the committee said government still needed a fixed term policy of some kind in order to prevent people becoming long term social and economic burdens to the country as it recommended a ten year limit, allowing all those who stay the chance to get PR via a clearer system. The team said that the key employee policy was unsatisfactory as it allowedemployers to choose who should stay and so far only a very small percentage of the workforce has passed through the key filter, which may have prevented suitable people from being given the chance to apply for PR.

They report suggests that all workers should be able to apply for the right to reside permanently in Cayman between year 7 and 8 on a points system that meets the country’s economic and social objectives. The committee also recommends that the ten year system apply to public sector workers as well to ensure there is a level playing field.
The changes will require sufficient funding for the immigration department so it can attract and hire sufficiently well-qualified personnel to carry out the work that will be required under the system to ensure PR applications are handled in a timely manner.

The public also need to be properly educated about the government’s overall immigration strategy, while at the same time promoting the training and upward mobility of Caymanians. Those coming to work in Cayman must also understand the fixed-term policy and the criteria on which long-term residency can be acquired. The workers must understand that the break in stay will be considered a legal break in their residence and will disallow the right to apply to permanently reside until they once again attain the qualifying period if they return to the islands after the break.

The team said government needs to settle on a policy for the long run which provides certainty and predictability for employer and employee and which avoids the uncertainty of constantly moving goalposts.

The public is being asked to submit comments on the report, which is available at the Legislative Assembly, within the next 30 days. Comments on the report can be sent to

Read full report: Report of the Term Limit Review Committee (TLRC).pdf

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  1. Anonymous says:


    Following the story carefully, it is interesting to see some of the comments. I can say with confidence that it is strange to know that the owner of a house, sat still and allow strangers to take it over and then start complaining. In the first place, if Caymanians were qualified for the positions expats are filling then there would be no need for them. Secondly, there is constant complain about work permit being granted and Caymanians are out of a job, who is to be blamed?. Thirdly, the most important development that can take place in a country is that of its most important natural resource, its people. This development begins in the family. There seems to be a lack of indoctrination that education is the key to success. For many years some people have been complaining that they can't get a job, yet thay don't have the basic skills to function effectively in a job. Some of these skills are discipline, committment, sociable, hardworking, respect for self and authority etc (soft skills), not to mention a formal education. This is one of the few places on earth that education is available at all levels at little or no cost to natives. There seems to be more scholarships than young people in this country, resources that have to be purchased at extremely high costs in other spheres are available free of cost. What then are the reasons why qualifications are a problem. I am sure that in any form you take it, it is cheaper to employ a Caymanian than an expat and every company wants to make the best profit from their business, so why spend it on work permit and relocation fees? I think this needs some deliberation. Cayman is a lovely country, but bitterness, envy, strife and hatred need to be eradicated and peace, love and harmony take precedence.

  2. Abbie says:

    We are happy with the 7 year Roll Over.  There is no need to extend or change.  Furthermore, tained Caymanians are waiting for some of these jobs.  Another thing that should seriously be taken into consideration is:

    Why should Expats pay pension when they will not retire here?

    Pensions should only be paid and made mandatory for Caymanians who will certainly retire in the Cayman Islands.

    All expat workers can provide for themselves and invest their earnings how they see fit for their retirement, so why hassle them when they cannot retire in the Cayman Islands?

  3. Anonymous says:

    at 8.50 Oh…i showed up for work on time and PROPERLY attired. Yes, i am a Caymanians and do not be ignorant and judge all of us to be the same. I have worked since I was 15 years old graduating from school at that age also and working 2 jobs while listening to my fellow expats complain that they have to work from 5 until 1 am and make CI$100.00 to $200 a shift and whine about it because they are tired from being on the beach all day or hung over. I do not judge all nationalities the same – my mind is open and experienced. 

  4. Truth says:

    Nothing works as advertised in Cayman because of a complete lack of disipline in following rules and law.  Makeing or changing the rules and or laws does not solve the main problem. The problem with Cayman is its full of unaccountable Caymanians.  Who's main job is to vote in a representative that is fully behind their right to be unaccountable.  They are still following the pirate code here.

  5. UDP Supporter says:

    This is all ridiculous. All God fearing Caymanians know what the solution is: make all the expats go home or only keep those who love and respect the Christian traditions of these Islands. It is high time we put an end to all the vulgarity and corrupting ways of these expats and have our Christian people rule ourselves! God bless Cayman and all true Caymanians!

    • datisme says:

      And the Pirate code.

    • Another UDP Supporter says:

      What a religious nut?!   It is people like you that are an embarrassment to both parties and Caymanians who THINK!

  6. Anonymous says:

    What happened to all those good reasons why the 7yr rollover and key employee requirements was thought to be the best solution?  Oh, they flew through the window for expediency sake.  Now there is a new "best" solution.   And after a couple more years of trial and error again, there will be yet another new "best" solution.   And so the beat goes on….

    • Truth Hurts says:

      That, my friend, is called progress.

      Improving on the prior situation based on experience.  It happens in all aspects of live from the next Windows update for your PC, to a student deciding what the next course is they need to take to improve themselves. More people should challenge themselves to be better and improve themselves, instead of relaxing on their laurels and past achievements.

      • Anonymous says:

        That my friend, works fine if you are talking about technology.  Government should have taken care to do proper scientific impact studies before introducing their draconian immigration policy in 2004.   There are certain issues that should not be just simply left to trial and error and experimenting – oh, let's see if this will work and if not, let's try something else !   When it comes to playing with people's lives and their human rights, one needs to take a little more care to try and get it right the first time.  I wonder if you would like your doctor applying that same principle to your health care.  Okay, you have a sore thumb, let's hit the other one with a hammer and see if it reduces the pain the original finger !  

      • Anonymous says:

        Rubbbish!  Its called a 'mess'! you cant expect the same persons that caused the problem whilst selling it to the public with spin and lies, to now be the solution.  That was never progress, and this certainly isnt.  We need a sober government (and theres no pun intended)!  Too many of them drunk behind the wheel, and we're in the back seat!

    • Anonymous says:

      Anon 1716 the expat wants us to have absolutely no rules meaning they can come and go as they please and that they can vote and some of them want the caymanians to pay tax. And everyone wants to downsize the civil service and get rid of all the politicians.

      Dont worry how many months to Christmas?

  7. TRUTH AND FACT says:

    I think this sounds better.  Let persons work until 10 years if their employer wants them.  When eight years is up they have the opportunity to apply for residence, so by the time the 10 years is upon them they should have known in the two years whether they qualify or not.

    I do hope it is not granted the way it was done before, whereby employees did not have anything here of interest why they should be granted stay.

    We have many expatriates who were given residence and status before, and they do not have a second slice of bread here to eat.  They are leaning on children and family service to take care of them and their foreign children.  All of the Money transfer business should maintain these people.

       Many of them get 300.00 dollars a month from the Children and family services and they buy dry goods/groceries in packs/cans soaps toothpaste and even saltfish and salt mackrel and send it overseas to their overseas family. 

    CHILDREN AND FAMILY SERVICES  need  to be investigated XXXXX.  They know this is happening with expatriates, and they continue to give them help. But they do not want to help CAYMANIANS who built this country.  Those who are in charge of that department in George Town need to be fired, along with the Minister responsible.

    If you work in this country for 10 to 20 years, tell me why the hell you need the Children and family service to maintain you here and your family overseas.?   Send them home, all of them, and fire the heads of C&F Service.  Another thing they marry Caymanians, and then leave them for man or woman from their country and then they want the government to support their ready made family.

    Every day you go on the street there is someone with a big belly up front looking maintainance.   Hospital need to report these expatriate pregnancy, and they need to be sent home.

    8 years and the count down should begin to packing.

    • Anonymous says:

      I don't know whether or not anything you said is true, you could be making it up and as far as we know, it could be Caymanians draining family services, not expats who got status.  Most expats who got status are hardworking people who never asked for any hand-outs and were productive residents who contributed much here.   That said, if indeed whatyou said was true, whose fault is it?  Your own Government? Know why?  For a number of years there was a government-imposed ban on status applications, and each administration kept deferring dealing with expats' rights to apply for granted residency or status, and if not, then ask them to leave.   While this ban was in place, instead of terminating permits after a certain reasonable number of  years, your Government simply kept renewing yearly work permits, until people accumulated 5 years, 10 years, 20 and 30 years !!!   And they filled their coffers with the work permit fees, so it suited them to ignore basic human rights while at the same time earning revenue from these expat permit fees.   Then the UK, who had to abide by international human rights conventions that came into effect, told Cayman they can't have people here for so long on work permits and not give them any rights or representation.  Hence, 3000 status grants, in one swoop, was granted to many long-term, and truly deserving expats.    SO BLAME YOUR OWN GOVERNMENT FOR FAILING TO IMPLEMENT A PROPERLY THOUGHT-OUT IMMIGRATION POLICY YEARS AGO, THAT WOULD BE FAIR TO EXPATS WHILE AT THE SAME TIME CONTROLLING THEIR POPULATION GROWTH AND NOT ALLOWING THEIR COUNTRY TO BE OVERRUN BY HUGE NUMBERS OF LONG-TERM RESIDENTS.  Things only happen that you guys allow to happen.  Don't deflect the blame by bringing in the nonsense about who is collecting social services.   If these people have been granted status, then they have every right to do so, just like you.

      • Anonymous says:

        Some were deserving but some paid money for those grants. I damn that latter group and the corruption that permitted them to exist, and continues to do nothing about it, for eternity.

    • Anonymous says:

      Just for a heads up Jamaican's built this country, and you Caymanians can say what you like, and give me as many thumbs down as you like but its true.  All 3rd, 4th generation Caymaniams are mostly Jamaican.  

      • Anonymous says:

        Please, when Cayman was a so-called dependency of Jamaica we were neglected and had to fend for ourselves.  When we went to Jamaica to look work we were called all sorts of names. I am a multi-generational Caymanian and I have no Jamaican ancestry. There are many others like me.   

  8. Anonymous says:

    All that is changing, folks, is that key employee application process will be scrapped and everyone gets a chance to APPLY for PR, it doesn't mean you stand a better chance of actually getting PR.  Rollover is here to stay, for the vast majority it has only been extended to 10 years instead of 7.   Although PR is supposed to be based on a points system,  your fate will still decided by a group of subjective people who can either like or dislike you, or the country that you came from ( also I think you get NO or LESS points if you are from a certain country that has too many people here – to me this is discrimination against individuals from a certain country – don't know if this has changed now or if this is still the case).   I knew someone whose company applied for the individual to be a key employee, and this person had about 10 recommendation letters from Caymanians, including employees that this person had trained over the years and who confirmed this individual's training enabled them to climb the corporate ladder and move onto better careers, and included were letters from Caymanian businesspeople who did business with this particular company and confirmed that this individual's role was vital to the success of said company.  Despite these recommendations, this person was not deemed worthy by immigration to be a key employee, and was rolled over and lost the opportunity to apply for PR.  So although you are supposed to get consideration for "training Caymanians" and "proving this individual is vital to the functioning of the organization", and even when you have letters confirming this, it did not matter in the end.  Yet I know of others who did not have the recommendations letters or qualifications this individual had, but who came from certain first-world countries, and they seemed to have gotten through.  The only thing that mattered was the subjective opinions of the immigration personnel who had the power in their hands to decide one's fate.  What makes you think it will be any different when your time comes and your application goes before a PR board instead of a Key employee board?  The Key Employee Board had clear criteria by which to make a decision but still in the end the decisions seem to be subjective based on opinions.  How does anyone know for sure the points system will be faithfully adhered to by the PR board and the decision will not be subject to the whims of any individuals on the board and their subjective opinions?   I give you guys points for trying, but at the end of the day, how is this making the permit-holders feel any more secure, when they can't be sure their application will be dealt with impartially and fairly based on their own merit? 

  9. Anonymous says:

    Wow.  First rollover at 7 years was absolutely imperative, and key employee was the only way to go so that employers could retain their key personnel and only these would have a chance to apply for PR.   Hence, the mass expulsion and forced exodus of thousands of long-time permit holders who were good citizens and contributed much during their time here, to be replaced by intransients who don't give two hoots about Cayman because they arrived under a new immigration law and knew that they only had a limited time here.  Now,  Immigration backpedals and comes up with another new policy which they feel is fairer because it should not be left up to employers to choose who they think is key to them and who they wish to remain here, rather all permit-holders should have an equal chance to apply for residence.  Wow, they suddenly just realized this?   I have a feeling this sudden back-tracking has more to do with the deepening recession Cayman finds itself in, realizing the mass expulsion of people only made things worse for their economy instead of better.  I do not believe for one minute,  that it has anything to do with being fairer to all the permit-holders, because in my humble opinion, Caymanians only do what they perceive is best for them.   I clearly remember David Ritch standing up in a public seminar and saying Cayman cannot be allowed to become a welfare state.  So certain immigrants of low, menial jobs took that to mean they are only here for a limited years as they stood no chance in hell of getting PR or status.  But it also sent the wrong message to permit-holders who had a better standing and who fell in the higher-income bracket, especially when they witnessed their colleages being rolled-over too.  These ones felt very insecure and most started hoarding their money, instead of spending it locally, as most realized their time was numbered.   This hurt the country financially.  Anyone remembers how the landlords started dropping rent for the first time in a long while, when there was a surplus of unrented apts because people were forced to leave?   Anyone remember Sounds & Things and other local shops that closed because they were not doing enough business due to falling numbers of permit-holders?  Why is it this country always does things backward?  Instead of studying the possible consequences of the key employee and 7-year rollover policy BEFORE introducing it, they introduce it without any real impact study, and ever since they have been either trying to modify or change it to suit them better.  You guys like playing with people's lives, don't you?  No one gave a damn about the lives of those who were uprooted and forced out over the past 5 years or so, do they?  No one gave a damn about the possible consequences to the economy.  It is all just a game – in the absense of any scientific impact studies,  let us take the easy route and try something and see what sticks or what works until we finally get it right (if ever), and  to hell with the consequences of those who suffered for it.   Those who suffered should consider taking out a class-action lawsuit against the short-sighted individuals responsible for the continually failing immigration policies that play with people's lives like a russian roulette.

  10. Anonymous says:

    The current point system is the wrong way too.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Caymanians will never climb the ladder or get trained. The expats will choose by favoritism the key employee. Just look around and see how many Caymanians are in key positions in the private banking and hotel sector.    

    • Anonymous says:

      Look at Law if you want to see a real nightmare. 15 Caymanian lawyers have left a single firm in the last couple of years – and all those expats that were supposedly training them have become Permanent Residents.

      • Anonymous says:

        Wouldn't it be nice if those 15 attorneys set up their own firm to compete internatioanally? What's to stop them from doing so?

        • Anonymous says:

          Wouldn’t it be nicer if at least some had opportunities promised to them.

      • Anonymous says:

        Guess what there is 100,000 people in cayman…..  Well seems like you can just through out numbers on CNS and take them as fact.  "15 Caymanian lawyers have left a single firm in the last couple of years"


        Your funny

    • Anonymous says:

      It wasn't favoritism.  It was whoever kept showing up for work.

  12. Anonymous says:

    its ironic.  Wasnt Sherri awarded the MBE by Mac for her service in putting this whole roll over policy together in 2003 and selling it to the public in the first place? No doubt she works hard and i actually like her but one cant help but think that coupled with the unmitigated disaster that the rollover turned out to be and the recommendations that she is now making to unravel the mess, perhaps she and Mac really are well suited together.  I look forward to the elections!

  13. Annonnymous says:

    This Key-employee system was wrong from  the beginning. The idea was coined, in my opinion, by those who wanted to ensure that their employment agencies always had work and it would  further bar Caymanians from gaining up-ward movement and promotion status. I happened to be in the circle of the two people who came up with the idea and know for a fact it was not brought with good intention. Immigration went hay-wire and out of control from then.  It was in a bad enough state before, and once key-employee was introduced, it got worse hense the immigration dilema that exists now.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Definitely right right step I believe!  It wass unfair that people who contribute to society by volunteering, own property and spent the majority of their income in Cayman may not even have had a chance at PR because they were not in a "key" role in their company.