Immigration reform

| 11/10/2013

After a period of post-election downtime to allow the new government to settle in, the Coalition for Cayman is continuing its advocacy and public awareness role between now and the next election. We have established committees to correspond with each of the portfolios established by the new government. Our intention is, from time to time, to review the actions which are proposed or have been taken by the government and compare those to the promises made in the PPM manifesto.

We will report on any disparity as between what was promised and what is proposed or has been done. Our intention is also to study the issues of the day and provide each ministry with reasoned possible solutions to our country's problems crafted byprivate sector individuals who have knowledge in each specific area. The intention is to advocate for effective governance, to make the public aware of the policies (and their impact) being implemented and provide suggestions where appropriate.

Whilst we fully intend to hold government accountable to the promises they made, we have no intention of simply criticising the government for political point scoring. We believe this is an excellent way for government to get productive coordinated input from individuals and not simply from  private sector business driven organisations.

We have been reviewing immigration more generally as part of the portfolio it compromises. We will be publishing our views more generally at a later date. However, the urgent pace and scope of the current Immigration Bill has meant we needed to look at that in isolation as we have some strong concerns. To try and understand the rationale for the current Bill, we have taken a step back to consider what we think should be the overriding concerns.

1. Economic growth

The primary objective for any economic growth in the Cayman Islands should be to benefit Caymanians. This is achieved by working with true business partners to ensure the effective creation of direct employment and business ownership opportunities that benefit Caymanians. This is quite different than looking at economic growth simply to increase the country's GDP and economic activity. Unfocused growth which is not managed to provide the maximum benefit to the citizens can result in those citizens becoming increasingly left out. This will eventually lead to social disharmony.

2. Guest workers

In a perfectly planned economy there would be a national plan which forecasted the jobs of tomorrow and informed the schools and colleges of the exact category, number and timing of new jobs becoming available so these could be matched to school leavers/graduates of all levels, unskilled, skilled and professional. Once Caymanians were employed, employers would have comprehensive plans under which the necessary training was delivered and maintained by experienced staff (brought in on work permits if needed). This training would go hand in hand with a succession plan under which most guest workers were replaced by the Caymanian staff as and when they reached the acceptable level of experience. To be fair to the current government, we think that is where they are trying to gowith the national workforce development department and acknowledge that they are essentially starting from scratch.

3. Permanent rights

There will always be some guest workers who would be invited to remain permanently in Cayman but these individuals should be limited to persons who:

  • are able to financially support themselves and their dependents;
  • are integral to the success of the business that employs them;
  • are integral to the national plan (including by creating direct employment and business ownership opportunities that benefit Caymanians);
  • are integral to the establishment of a new industry;
  • have a positive impact on society

A number of factors over the last 10 years appear to have contributed to the belief that guest workers should have a right to receive citizenship. This simply is not the case. Citizenship in Cayman has always been something that a small proportion of guest workers have earned the privilege to apply for and there are good reasons why this should be the case.

When a work permit holder receives permanent residency with the right to work, the job they hold is generally permanently removed from the pool of job opportunities available to Caymanians. If it is not so removed, it is normally because that person has used their new status to move jobs or start their own business and compete with their original employer, usually a Caymanian.

The grant of permanent residency almost always then leads to citizenship. The granting of citizenship to a person permanently removes the job they occupy from the pool available to the other Caymanians. In addition, granting citizenship results not only in one person receiving citizenship, but generally results in that person and all of their current and future dependents receiving citizenship and therefore taking on the preferential treatment, together with other Caymanians, to direct employment and business ownership opportunities.

4. Term Limit Extension Permits (TLEP)

Approximately 1,500 work permits expired during the previous government administration. These guest workers were not key employees. The last government made a political decision to extend theses work permits for up to 2 years with the express condition that the additional 2 years could not be used to apply for permanent residency.

The employers of these guest workers, previously knew for 7 years that other persons would need to be hired to replace those guest workers. They were then given an additional two years to find replacement employees.

The current government is considering allowing the 1,500 employees to use their extended time to now allow them all to apply for permanent residency. The rationale appears to be that the impact of this number of workers leaving would cause hardship for their employers and the economy.

5. C4C's position

Does the current Government's proposal in dealing with these 1,500 guest workers ensure the effective creation of direct employment and business ownership opportunities that benefit Caymanians? The answer must be no, in fact there are a number of potential negative repercussions.

  • It will create an administrative burden to process applications and appeals. The cost of this to the Government should not be underestimated.
  • It will not provide any incentive for employers to become true business partners for Cayman by properly providing employment, training, development and progression opportunities for Caymanians.
  • Removing those jobs for an even longer period of time (perhaps permanently) from the pool of jobs available to Caymanians.
  • Potentially creating a much larger pool of new citizens than the mass status grants  of 2004. The Bill would inflate the current pool of around 600 key employees to potentially around 20,000 individuals entitled to apply for permanent residency.

C4C would encourage the current government to adopt the following approach in dealing with the current issue.

  • Final extension of 3 to 6 months for the current 1,500 guest workers who would not be given the right to apply for permanent residency.
  • Employers to use the final 3 to 6 months extension to recruit replacement employees with qualified Caymanians being given priority.
  • The only provisions in the Bill that need to be dealt with right now are the provisions to deal with the TLEPs. There is no urgency on the remaining provisions. We think the government should re-consider the current proposed approach to immigration reform to one which again puts the primary objective of economic growth being to ensure the effective creation of direct employment and business ownership opportunities that benefit Caymanians.
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  1. Anonymous says:

    Sounds like the 5 year plan is back, baby.

    • Anonymous says:

      I have a photocopy of an old plan that works very well.  I will dig it out and make it available.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Who is C4C?

  3. Anonymous says:

    I find it rather strange that C4C had no strong positions on anything BEFORE the elections, but they are now able to clearly elucidate their position.

    To say that they are going to report on what the PPM promised in their manifesto and compare it with what has been done is laughable. That is the duty of a free press. They should be pressing for the government to implement what they thought was right as outlined in the c4c manifesto. Wait, they didn't have one! What about their National Priorities Plan? Not too much detail there either. Certainly nothing to give you the faintest hint that this would be their position on the current Bill to be brought before the House.

    So an Advocacy Group is really something like a mixture of government opposition and the press?

    They need Dr. Frank to join them so they can get some lessons on how to advocate one thing and do the other when you get the chance, and learn to talk from both sides of their mouth at the same time.

  4. Anonymous says:

    The intellectual lightweight that penned this article would do well to study the immigration policies of successful nations such as Canada, the US and Australia. This person should then go on and query why their C4C cohorts have presided over businesses in Cayman for years that have imported poverty, not trained Caymanians and abused the work permit system, gamed the LCCL regime and influenced the various boards so that only a handful of families have secured riches over the past 4 decades with the consumer getting the shaft. But that would be too decent for a political party – instead its easier to go after the low hanging fruit, mislead the public and score some cheap political points.  A smart immigration policy can actulally serve as a driver for economic growth. Economic growth which would benefit Caymanians far more than any politician and their empty rhetoric regardless of political affiliation.

    • Chris says:

      "The intellectual lightweight that penned this article would do well to study the immigration policies of successful nations such as Canada, the US and Australia."

      Anonymous 9:02 have YOU studied the immigration policies of  the three named countries?

      All three have quota systems in place that are enforced.

      All three have very strong protection in place for their nationals that are enforced.

      All three have stable populations with growth rates below 2% per annum.

      All three take into account jobs for their graduates, high school and college.

      None of these features are present in Cayman's current or proposed Immigration Law.

      Please take the time to research the laws of these countries which are all available online before you make misleading and blatantly wrong assertions.

      • Anonymous says:

        wow i'm scratching my head after your comment but here you are: 

        Look at what the Canadians are doing today. The Canadians have created a set of smart immigration laws that are much more welcoming to new immigrants and that focus on skill-based immigration. They allow people to self-apply for immigration so you don’t even need a company to sponsor you. The result is Canada is getting much more ethnically diverse and vibrant.

        Look at Australia. Fifteen years ago, Australia was convulsed by a huge anti-immigrant tide. There was a serious political movement that was talking about deportation. Now about a quarter of Australia’s population is foreign-born. This is one of the highest percentages in the world and as a result Australia is booming.

        Sixty-two percent of permanent-resident visas in Canada are based on skills, while the remainder are for family unification.



  5. Truth says:

    Forcing employers to hire unemployed Caymanians will only work when you force Caymanian unemployed to go out and get training and skill on their own then work hard enough to make them more valuable to business then an expat.  Otherwise its just a stupid idea that will not work. But that is the Caymanian way right? Or is it the Caymanian's right way?  Foolish leadership is the direct result of foolish people.  This will only change when the younger Caymanians get tired of failure and do something about it themselves.

    • Disgusted! says:

      How much skill and training does a Caymanian youngster have to have to get a job at Burger King?  Or are the skills needed to flip burgers, salt fries and bag an order something that requires people from 8000 miles away?  C$C and all the big wigs that are involved need to set the example and show that laws are not needed to be good corporate citizens and put the effort into putting our Caymanians back to work.

      • Anonymous says:

        I agree – it is a damn shame that our society has taught our youth that it is not ok to start off in positions like that of Burger King.  Their parents have put in their minds that they are above this "peon work". It is time that our society teaches the young and old that an honest days work is what matters.  Not the labels.  It is not C4C fault that the youth dont want to work at Burger King but it is the parents.  

        • Anonymous says:

          Its also time our society demands that businesses pay a living wage and not turn a blind eye to the Philipinos and Jamaicans living in squalor. There is a lot of blame to go around and it certainly isn't only the parents.

      • Anonymous says:

        Caymanians need to start sticking together and looking out for one another, instead of being crabs in a barrel!!    

    • Anonymous says:

      What about those unemployed who are training right now in fields such as electrical, mechanical, plumbing etc. we just make the ones filling those positions Caymanians and thes people have no jobs when they graduate and no chance to get in at the bottom and work their way to the top, because these 1500 new Caymanians (as they will be in 3 years) are already filling the jobs. What about the hundreds that are at university training in their chosen field, a field probably chosen because the individual know there were plenty of jobs on work permits in that field. What happens to these when they return to find that 1500 new Caymanians are already filling the jobs??

  6. Anonymous says:

    Regarding TLEPs:     I think helpers/domestic workers' employers should be able to apply for exemption from the 7 year limit.     Consider people who have formed a relationship and trust with an expat and then they have to begin that process anew?     Myself, I can't imagine inviting an stranger into my home to clean it, even if I could afford it.    If you've been lucky enough to find a person whom you trust, you should be able to retain them, if you are both willing.  

    • Anonymous says:

      Unna mus fi mad!

    • Anonymous says:

      obviously, the person whom you trust now was once a stranger.  Or is this a comfy and convenient excuse not to hire a local?  

      Let's hire the Asian, get to know them and learn to trust them… ("hahaha, I like her because she says "yes maam" and she's so submissive; look, I can hit her with a broom and she smiles")

      I don't want to hire locals because I don't know if I can trust them…

      • Anonymous says:

        Yes, risking psychological harm to children by disruption is OK in your book.  As you are speaking for a nation full of gun-toting, crack-smoking gangster-wanabee children then I don't think I will be listening to your views on child raising policies.

  7. Anonymous says:

    i stopped reading after the term 'guest workers' was used……..

  8. Anonymous says:

    wow…. for a minute i thought c4c were a saviour for the cayman political landscape…..

    this viewpoint just shows they offer nothing for the future of cayman…….

  9. Anonymous says:

    I noticed that you said only the PPM manifesto that you will be checking from time to time.  What about what  your three members had in their manifesto. You don't plan to look into theirs?  Don't think so, because your bias.  No surprise there!

  10. Anonymous says:

    The only reason C4C is coming out and saying something now is because  Ostin called you all out on rooster on Monday, So did mervin.  Mervin who ran on their ticket said he didn't see or hear a thing from C4C since the election a d they were a joke.  They did want to say one word about this but now coming to weight in because the have been highlighted for the truth of what they are.  

  11. Anonymous says:

    C4C have shown that they clearly don't understand the bill. As a voter who supported the idea of C4C during the campaign, I would suggest they attend the government's next meeting this coming Monday at the Bodden Town Civic Centre so they can ask questions where they don't understand a point and THEN maybe they can write a better viewpoint.

  12. Anonymous says:

    I attended the Government's meeting on Immigration Reform last night and learned that my initial assesment about this bill was incorrect. This bill will actually help Caymanians; here is how it will:

    • Every TLEP job must be advertised in 45 days – which is beneficial to Caymanians as we will have an opportunity to apply for those jobs. (The 45 day extension is necessary for the period of time it will take for the bill to become law.)
    • It is also harder to be granted PR under the new points system – so it's probably unlikely that those TLEP holders will have enough points to pass.
    • The reform bill lays the foundation for stricter enforcement of immigration procedures. For example:

                                    o   there will now be a $20,000 fine for employers who don’t disclose that                                Caymanians have applied for a position 

    o   the appeals process will be shorter and by paper rather than in-person to reduce delaying the appeals process due to non-attendance in person

    o   employment of Compliance Officers to vet applications (will also provide a few additional jobs for Caymanians)


    • The reform bill also enhances the PR application process by:

    o   requireing initial annual PR fees be paid upfront to eliminate persons who pay the application fee, obtain PR, but fail to pay the PR fee itself.

    o   and also, government is introducing a retroactive enforcement provision to allow for PR to be revoked for non-payment which seeks to cure the current flaw in the current law which will now give Government the power to collect unpaid PR fees which are currently estimated to be $2.5 million.


    • The reform bill also guards against abuse of PR by requiring PR holders to submit an annual declaration with appropriate supporting documentation that confirms that they are maintaining their financial status or face fines.

    I believe the reform bill shows that this government is taking the right actions to fix flaws in our system. There is obviously still more work to do and this is only phase one but it is certainly a significant step in the right direction to leveling the playing field for Caymanians.

    • Anonymous says:

      How does this law help caymanians? Of all the things to do why ppm take this on first when people are hungry an unemployed

      • Anonymous says:

        Obviously by leveling the playing field so Caymanians have a better chance at being seriously considered for job openings or employers face fines. And you people wonder why you can’t get jobs.

        • Anonymous says:

          That principle of protecting native applicants has applied for decades and look how good that has been implemented by immigration. Nothing new here in the bill 

    • Anonymous says:

      If they apply for PR they can keep working. How does that help those that are unemployed.

    • Anonymous says:

      They need to be checking up on all of those married to Caymanians too that have PR.  A lot of them are married for convenience.

  13. HERO NEEDED says:

    My faith in humanity (in the Cayman Islands) has been restored.  Thank you for providing a balanced  response to this critical issue.  I hope the Government will listen… and I hope Caymanians will pay attention and not be distracted by the commentators that are seeking to turn this very balanced view point into a political foot ball.  (This is not about politics gang, this is about our future whether you voted for the PPM, UDP or independents.)

    If this bill is past in it's current form, Caymanians will have no future. Granting 1500 permanent residents appeases who?  Who does this bill (in it's current form) really benefit?  It certainly does not benefit Caymanians and as C4C rightly eluded to… we do not any infrastructural, social or economic room for 20k plus new permanent residents who will be eligable for citzenship.  Please do not believe the hype about the point system.  While it is more robust than what we currently have, it will not protect us from the onslaught of rapid population growth. 

    But alas, perhaps to accomdate these new PRs, we'll build more roads, new schools etc, and DART will get to fill his new apartment complexes and cineplexes and they'll be a great boom for everyone else but us.  Here's to looking to a bright future (with loads of "bread" and opportunity for us locals)!

  14. Anonymous says:

    What is C4C talking about?  The new PR rules are so restrictive that almost none of the TLEP holders will qualify for PR. The idea allowing them to apply for status is akin to the 2004 status grants is laughable.  Get your facts straight before you come out scaremongering.

    Economic growth is only good if it creates DIRECT employment and business opportunities for Caymanian?  Not only is this is preposterous, it is actually destructive.  

    What you appear to be saying is that if a company wants to bring 100 jobs to Cayman they shouldn't be allowed to unless they are willing to hire 50 (or why not 100!) unemployed Caymanians, people that no existing employers want and who probably have no experience in the relevant industry sector.

    You don't think a company that brings 100 jobs to Cayman should be welcomed with open arms regardless who they employ because every one of those 100 people would be spending money in Cayman which would create both job opportunities for Caymanians and profits for Caymanian business owners?  Of course they should hire Caymanians if they can do the jobs, but if they can't you would honestly rather turn those jobs away?

    I guess none of you are landlords with empty apartments, nor owners of construction companies, supermarkets or dry cleaners.  

    • Anonymous says:

      @13:07 so you saying that Caymanians dont eat,  clean clothes and own or build anything???  The bottom line is: Caymanians need to benefit from any development that is taking place on these islands. We cannot afford to have anymore Caymanians on social services and if we continue to have unemployed Caymanians, this negative trend will continue.  

  15. Anonymous says:

    #2 will never happen until internationally recognized vocational qualifications are available to our children at school, and we have a technical/vocational college for them to go to once they've finished school to learn a trade.  I've been saying for too long that the government should be looking at the skills gaps and adjusting their educational policies to address them by making skills and vocational training available for those skills that we are lacking.

    • Anonymous says:

      The reality is that as long businesses have a way out, they will go the route best suited for them. For too long, businesses in Cayman have managed their employees through a work permit rather than proper training programs and HR processess

      Two suggestions:

      1 Enforce a ration. For X amount employees on a work permit, you must have Z amount Caymanian employees? That may be an incentive to begin training Caymanians…

      2. Regulate the Temp Agencies. I can not understand how they can bring people to the Island without having a job lined up for them and then let them lose on the job market. A lot of businesses will chose to hire a Temp (espcially for an entry level position) where theydon't have to bother with paying benefits and training and if they don't need them any longer they get rid of them. No school leaver will ever get their foot in the door and gain any experience as long as those Temp Agencies are allowed to carry on the way they do. I have seen many come as Temp, all who eventually got full time jobs, some who have been sitting in the same Temp post for years!

      • Anonymous says:

        Temping is a fiasco.

        You get half your pay for the work you do. The other half goes to the agency.

        Employees especially Caymanians have to beg their bosses to make them permanent.

        Have heard of people being temping for a year.

        Gues who benifits?

        And by the way this is organised through the hiring agencies who work forexpats more so than Caymanians but the big problem is that most of the large companies on the islands now use them.

      • Anonymous says:

        Um hello?  I waasn't talking about businesses, I was talking about the government.  We pay taxes to them and they are responsiblefor our educational policies and resources which are woefully insufficient to equip our kids to get jobs in the first place.  So we keep on shipping expats in from abroad because they are lucky enough to grow up in places with those qualifications.  If Cayman truly wants to succeeed, our government need to address this and stop passing this burden on to employers.  Employers are business men.  If you wanted to start a business you would do it because you wanted to be productive and make a profit.  If you wanted to teach and train, I suspect you would not start a business, you would instead go to teacher training and work at a school or college.  Whilst admittedly all business need to continuously develop and train their staff, they are not here to provide the basic vocational qualifications that are required to get into entry level jobs – that is and always will be the government's responsibility, but the government has and always will pass this burden onto employers and point the finger of blame at them for the unemployment problems rather than fess up and realise it is they who are in the wrong and are failing their people.  Its time for all this craziness to stop.  All the bitching between expats and Caymanians has resulted from these ill-conceived policies.  If the government addressed education in the manner suggested, and just let businesses do business, then we'd all be a lot happier I am sure.

      • Anonymous says:

        You can't enforce some arbitrary ratio.  Who would come up with it?  Some committee?  Some bureaucrat?  How do they know what is achievable?  What problem does this solve anyway?  

        Companies are already required to hire suitably qualified Caymanians when they apply.  Now even that is not good enough for you.  I can't just advertise for a Caymanian, now I have to scour the islands for one and if I cannot find one I have to pay a premium to hire one away from a competitor and pass the increase in cost on to customers.  


        • Anonymous says:

          When this was enforced against the Jamaicans I dont remember anyone upset about it.

          • Anonymous says:

            Great point.  We all want an economy modelled on that booming economy and global financial centre, Jamaica.

            • Anonymous says:

              This is not about which economy is good it is about treating people fair.

    • The Caymanian says:

      Until Caymanian parents start to see education as a necessary step in their kids lives it will be back of the bus or walk.  Its not a Caymanian/expat thing,  Its a someone with skill to sell/ someone with nothing to offer thing and is the same all over the world in every country, city, town, or anywhere humans live.

  16. And Another Ting says:

    C4C wow ya come out of ya shell.  Listen yall this seemingly saviour like suggestion to Government has already been mooted on Cayman News Service.  You are bringing nothing new to the table, other than again trying to make people believe you are what you are not.  Your mission has been fulfilled, ya got the UDP Govermnt out by outspending them bad mouthing them and playing cute political games.  Ya finished as a so called Advocacy group.  Ya members are in Government led by a Premier who will keep them in line and if they dont kow tow embarras the hell outa  them, and therefore there will be no uprising from wihin. Sleep on  beloved C4C , and seriously consider becoming a Party visible to all, with Ideals , programs and plans for a better cayman.  Stop the Carnival and start the Rumba.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Your workforce plan looks like it has been lifted from the communist manifesto.  Why not give students the information they need to make their own decision about what to work in, rather than allocating them to a role in society.

    You are right that GDP growth should benefit Caymanians but it invariably does.  Yes, some projects will benefit Caymanians more evenly than others but it is hard to imagine an example of something that would increase GDP without having any benefit to any Caymanian.  What you are proposing is for some bureaucrat to decide which projects "benefit Caymanians" and which do not.  That is a slippery slope to deciding that a project should not go ahead because it does not benefit a particular group of Caymanians.

    Where is the evidence that unleashing growth harms anyone?  The economy was booming during the last decade, unemployment was almost non-existent and business owners were well off.

    If you want to help advance the debate, instead of saying what we should not do, why not say what we should? 


    • Anonymous says:

      Yes but over the last decade in particular the world found out about Cayman and people really flocked here for work. Now we have more workers than jobs. And there is a lot of unprofessional things going on in hiring practises in Cayman. And yes it is on both sides.

    • Anonymous says:

      Just sayin but ain't the truth possibly more like this-


      Holiday Inn. 170 Caymanian Employees  20 Expats.

      Landlords for expat staff Caymanian

      Watersports Operators  Caymanian.

      Watersports Employees, Caymanian.

      Unemployed Caymanians – Zero.

      Progress  – 8 years later


      Ritz Carlton (at opening)


      70 Caymanian Employees.

      Unemployed Caymanians – 100

      New Employed Expats – 700

      Watersports Operator – Canadian

      Construction Company – Canadian

      Landlords for expat staff – expat

      Duties – waived.


      Who benefits? (apart from Mac?)




  18. Reform Party says:

    Why bother with any immigrants? I am sure there are 780 Caymanians just itching to clean toilets and diapers.

  19. Anonymous says:

    C4C has taken a sensible approach on this issue sans the usual emotive rhetoric.

    We can only hope that the PPM government in particular Premier McLaughlin are willing to listen and take sound advice because things can quickly spiral out of control when people are unemployed and frustrated.

    • Anonymous says:

      "things can quickly spiral out of control when people are unemployed and frustrated", yes, they get drunk or high.  But they are like that anyway.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Well done C4C! 

  21. Anonymous says:

    Finally some sensible commentary on Immigration reform

  22. Anonymous says:

    Blah.  Blah.  Blah.  C4C messed up its election campaign and became irrelevant. 

  23. Anonymous says:

    Most sensible view i have seen yet.  Very fair and looking out for the best interest of Caymanians and Cayman as a whole.  

  24. Anonymous says:

    Great letter. This is what we expect from C4C who are finally acting like a public awareness and advocacy group. 

    Interesting that 3 MLAs which C4C endorsed seem to have become bobble heads for the Progressives instead of being as they promised independent minded leaders.