The Cayman Islands Government is helping other British Overseas Territories (BOTs) persons to relocate here temporarily with children and pets. Countries directly benefiting are the British Virgin Islands, the Turks and Caicos Islands, and Anguilla.
Cabinet approved two proposals recently that will facilitate the process. Government schools have found spaces and waived all fees for children ages 5-17 years old. Students will be allowed to attend Government schools for the remainder of the 2017-2018 school year. Students who wish to attend private schools must liaise directly with the private school and incur their specific fee requirements.
The Department of Education Services (DES) is advising that the application and registration process to assist those students requesting admission to Government schools will begin immediately. However, in order to ensure that the process runs smoothly, submissions of completed registration forms and available supporting documentation must be forwarded to DES for processing as soon as possible. Registration forms and information are available for pick up at DES or may be downloaded from their website at http://des.edu.ky/schoolregistrationc.cfm.
CMR has received a number of emails about the influx of staff from overseas from law firms who have a presence In those jurisdictions and wondered how that will impact staff compliments there. One anonymous poster commented, “of course we want to help people impacted by the storm, but how long will they be here for and at what point will they leave?”.
30 + firms seek relocation of hurricane staff
Due to recent regional devastation by hurricanes, the Cayman Islands Government has implemented certain measures to support persons and locally registered businesses affected by the disasters.
“Several government agencies are contributing to the humanitarian and business continuity efforts needed as a result of the catastrophic damage many Overseas Territories and other Caribbean islands experienced from Hurricane, Irma, Jose and now Maria,” the Premier, Hon. Alden McLaughlin said.
Some locally registered companies within the financial services industry have sought to temporarily relocate employees and their dependents from areas recently impacted by storms to the Cayman Islands.
In keeping with the Government’s commitment to supporting both regional recovery and local business, the Department of Immigration (DOI) is working to help local companies implement interim emergency procedures for their offices in territories recently affected by hurricanes.
“Temporarily relocating overseas employees to the Cayman Islands allows those persons to access the infrastructure and communications services necessary to remotely operate and conduct business that would otherwise be carried out in the territory or island that they normally reside,” Chief Officer for the Ministry of Human Resources and Immigration Wes Howell explained.
The emergency measures include landing persons upon arrival as visitors, with authorization to work remotely for up to 60 days initially without any need for a work permit.
Under the circumstances, the DOI has also waived visa requirements where necessary and facilitated entry based on alternative means of identification, where travel documents have been lost or misplaced for persons on a direct flight from a territory or the Bahamas.
“Approximately 30 financial services firms have requested temporary relocation of employees thus far as a result of Hurricane Irma, three firms from the Bahamas, one from Miami, with majority requests coming primarily from firms in the British Virgin Islands,” Acting Chief Immigration Officer Bruce Smith said.
Mr. McLaughlin remarked that given the varying extent of damage sustained within those territories and islands, it is clear that disaster recovery time frames will vary.
“Moreover, there remains a substantial risk that the region may be impacted further by additional tropical cyclones,” he explained. “We expect, therefore, that locally registered financial services companies will require our support to facilitate the relocation of their staff for short periods of time in some instances, while others may require relocation for several months.”
As such although employees relocated to the Cayman Islands will only undertake work in relation to their overseas office and overseas clients, once their 60-day visitor stamps are expired the DOI will process those persons with temporary work permits as a means to regularise their immigration status.
The DOI also advised that longer-term work permits are subject to the Immigration Law requirements, including advertisements, to help ensure that available Caymanian workers have an opportunity to fill long term positions.
Other questions that remain unanswered and submitted by CMR readers are:
What provisions exist for the proper importation of animals so that diseases are not introduced into the Cayman Islands?
Is there a set limit for the numbers of persons and pets allowed entry? If so, how is priority assessed?
Are immigration fees being waived for relocated staff?
Are sufficient background checks being carried out on all persons gaining entry? Does this include any pending criminal matters?
Are these persons eligible for assistance from NAU if they have lost everything in the storm or are there additional financial provisions set aside for them?
Is the private sector assisting with housing and other needs at this time?
How did the government find space in what they had previously considered overcrowded schools?
How will this influx of work permit holders impact local staff already here?
For persons not attached to a firm; how will they be supported?
Does the CIG need to worry about legal challenges that would allow persons to remain on humanitarian grounds?
Will the HSA be prepared to assist with any medical costs for those persons who are undergoing long-term medical treatments (dialysis, cancer, etc.)
Are they subject to any legal terms and agreements that they must sign off on?
CMR understands that Dart Real Estate is providing a quarantine facility free of charge and the various animal welfare organizations and individuals are assisting with donations and supplies.