(CMR) The Cayman Islands Department of Immigration (DOI) is offering a one-month amnesty from prosecution for certain immigration offences. This will no doubt be a welcomed announcement as immigration enforcement officers continue to crack down with very successful raids.
The amnesty will take effect on 1 August 2018 at 8.30 a.m., and will remain in effect until 31 August 2018 at 3 p.m.
In the case of the four scenarios listed below the foreign national is expected to leave the Cayman Islands during the amnesty period, which can be done without fear of prosecution:
1. Persons who are residing illegally in the Cayman Islands, i.e., individuals without a valid work permit or any other lawful permission to remain in the Islands.
2. Employers may cancel work permits for employees for whom they have no work.
3. Similarly, employees who are employed on a valid work permit, but whose employers no longer have full-time employment for them may cancel their work permit.
4. Also, workers who are not working for the employer named on their work permit will be allowed the opportunity to depart voluntarily.
Acting Chief Immigration Officer, Bruce Smith, said that during this period, persons who are residing in the Islands, but unsure of their immigration status, will have the opportunity to attend the Immigration Department where checks will be carried out to determine the legality of the person.
He added that the amnesty includes such persons/workers who have reached the end of their term limit but who have not left the Islands, and also persons visiting the Islands and whom have not sought a visitor's extension to remain beyond the time authorized upon arrival.
“I strongly urge those persons who are not compliant with the Immigration Law, to quickly utilise the time they have before being identified and subsequently arrested,”
Mr. Smith explained.
“Those who forego the opportunity and do not depart voluntarily can expect the full weight of the Law to be applied as a consequence.”
After 3:00pm on 31 August, the DOI will actively pursue those persons who have not taken advantage of the amnesty and continue to commit immigration offences. “I hope and do encourage all concerned persons to make every effort and take advantage of this amnesty”
“It is important to note that an amnesty is not a pardon from a conviction,” Deputy Chief Immigration Officer, Gary Wong, stated. “During the amnesty period there will be no prosecutions for overstaying offences, if a person takes advantage of the opportunity and leaves the Cayman Islands.”
He added: “This amnesty is a component in a wider effort of the Cayman Islands Government to aid in crime reduction as well as criminal activity.”
The public is reminded that although the amnesty is in place, the DOI Enforcement Division will continue with targeted operations and proactive patrols with partner agencies throughout the Islands.
DOI Officials explained that persons who are in the Islands illegally and who wish to avail themselves of the opportunity should simply make an airline reservation and leave during the amnesty period.
In regards to employers and/or employees who wish to cancel work permits, the individual must submit written notice to that effect to Immigration Headquarters, at 94A Elgin Avenue, George Town.
Also, employees whose work permits have been cancelled either by employers or by themselves will be required to report to the DOI headquarters with a passport or other valid identification for assistance, or report to Owen Roberts International Airport with a valid ticket for departure.
The maximum penalty for overstaying is a fine of CI$20,000 and to imprisonment of up to five years, while the penalties for work permit offences range from fines between CI$5,000 and to imprisonment for one year for a first offence, to CI$10,000 and to imprisonment for two years for a second or subsequent offence. Administrative penalties for work permit breaches can vary by occupation and may be as high as CI$187,500.00 for a single breach in some instances.
Anyone with information about immigration-related offences is urged to contact the confidential information hotline at 1-800-Legalim (1-800-534-2546), or email [email protected]