Amendments to legislation are paving the way for the Cayman Islands Government’s new department, Workforce Opportunities and Residency Cayman (WORC).
Deliberations in the Legislative Assembly took place in the last sitting, where lawmakers were presented with a new Immigration (Amendment) Bill, 2018.
One change gives WORC’s Interim Director, Sharon Roulstone, the same powers as the Chief Immigration Officer on immigration decisions related to work and residency.
Ms Roulstone noted the legislative amendments reflect the transformations about to happen necessary to move WORC forward.
“It’s important to remember that the current employment and residency systems are going through a complete redesign,” Ms Roulstone explained. “Therefore, the first set of changes in the legislation is necessary to enhance and streamline the current Immigration processes.”
The new Immigration bill also seeks to remove the limitations on certain individuals whose Immigration status in Cayman has been uncertain for a number of years. “There is a generation of people who are under the impression they are Caymanian,” said Ms Roulstone. “Unfortunately, the law does not recognise them as such. The amended legislation however allows these individuals to be regularised as Caymanians and it is our hope they will take advantage of the new provision to be recognised formally once and for all.”
Spouses of Caymanians will also benefit from the new bill with simpler processes ready to be set in motion for those applying for British Overseas Territories Citizenship.
In addition to this, the Immigration Amendment Bill provides for the establishment of a new body responsible for asylum appeals. Furthermore, the Advance Passenger Information Bill was also passed in the Legislative Assembly which involves capturing biographic data from passengers and forwarding to border security officials prior to travelling, thereby improving border security.
Ms. Roulstone said WORC is anticipating a second cycle of legislative changes in the next meeting of the Legislative Assembly.
“These changes will be more substantive, providing the governance framework for WORC necessary to commence the transition from the old systems to the new.”