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NO EASY RIDE: Rollover plans won’t count for residency

Caymans’s new rollover policy does not mean an easy ride to residency for work-permit holders, but only postpones the end of their term limit, iNews has learned.

Cabinet, on Tuesday, approved a set of new regulations to enable suspension of the seven-year “rollover” for up to two years. An elite committee will study permanent changes to immigration laws, but the fresh rules forbid work-permit holders from counting the legal hiatus towards permanent residency.

Immigration will grant a new one-year Term Limit Exemption Permit to applicants, while employers must satisfy the same rules governing traditional work permits.

The exemption permit may be renewed and the holder may continue working while the renewal is in process.

An applicant may approach the Immigration Appeals Tribunal regarding any refusal to grant or renew the permit, but the case will terminate exactly two years after the rollover suspension is approved by the legislature.

That approval is likely to come next Wednesday, 28 September, when the LA will vote on Cabinet’s 20 September go-ahead, overseen by Governor Duncan Taylor.

“I am taking this step because people are suffering, apartments are being left vacant. I don’t want Caymanians to lose their investments, and apartments are what they usually invest in,” Premier McKeeva Bush told iNews yesterday.

“Between October and November this year, hundreds of people would have to leave, and between January and December [2012], we’ll lose more than 4,000,” Mr Bush said. “By the first half of 2013, there will be total of well over 5,000.

“I am mindful of that,” he said, fearing that the economy and hundreds of small businesses could be damaged by the departure of thousands of work-permit holders who arrived in the wake of 2004’s Hurricane Ivan.

“This is not so much about work,” he said, “because all the other laws, the regular laws about work permits, remain. You must still apply for work permits, and an employer must try to recruit and to train Caymanians,” replacing work-permit holders whenever possible.

“This is not a free-for-all,” he said.

iNews has learned, however, that the potential two years of additional presence under the Term Limit Exemption Permit “shall not count as legal and ordinary residence for the purpose of qualifying for the right to apply for permanent residence,” meaning, that pending immigration committee recommendations, the “key employee” designation may continue to operate  after the suspension.

The new exemption permit may be changed to accommodate dependants, new job titles and additional employers, and, similar to a traditional work permit, may be revoked.

Also like a traditional work permit, when the final Term Limit Exemption expires, the holder must leave the islands for at least one year before returning.

An application fee, as yet unspecified, will be charged for a Term Limit Exemption Permit, while another fee will be sought for amendments.

“I’m not backing off of this,” said Mr Bush, denouncing dissent by both the opposition People’s Progressive Movement (PPM) and North Side Independent Ezzard Miller.

PPM leader Alden McLaughlin fearing widespread confusion at the suspension, has asked instead for quick amendments to the immigration law. Mr Miller worries the suspension could open the door to a raft of permanent residency applications and ultimate loss of political control.

“The PPM wants to abandon the rollover, and that’s just a bunch of nonsense,” Mr Bush said. “Ezzard would say anything, do anything, at any time and any place, to be re-elected and certainly to try to be premier and take control of this country. He will run this country into the ground.”


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