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Short-term visas to clear way for business visitors

Posted on September 27, 2011
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short term visas

(CNS): The five day instant visa for people visiting Cayman on business, first mooted by the premier last year, could become law by November. The Immigration Review Team has suggested that a short term visa lasting one to five days for business visitors could be paid for at the airport and would not require a police clearance certificate. The business visitor would simply need a letter from a local sponsor and would no longer fall foul of the law that requires people coming to the island on business to acquire a work permit, even when they are here on a business trip lasting just a few days.

The premier has persistently complained that business visitors are not well treated when they arrive at the airport here and are questioned about permits. He said he wanted to improve the system for potential investors to enable them to receive a warmer welcome and get a better impression when visiting the Cayman Islands on a business trip.

The introduction of the new visa is expected to be one of a number of impending changes to the immigration law (which is expected to be presented to the Legislative Assembly in November) that the premier hopes will create a more business friendly approach.

Chair of the IRT, Sherri Bodden-Cowan, said the new visa will cost around CI$100 and be paid for by the sponsoring  ‘employer’. The business visitor will also get a 30-day visitor stamp in order to stay and enjoy a vacation on the island with their family as well as the short period of employment. These visitors would then not need to become part of the temporary work permit system.

Regulation 11 of the Immigration Law, which details who can come to the Island without needing a work permit, will be expanded under this amendment. Board directors coming to the Island for executive company meetings and people attending conferences will also be included in the list of individuals who would not need a work permit.

“We’ve been working with the business community to expand this regulation. Both moves are to make us more business visitor-friendly at the airport and the law is written and is ready to go,” Bodden-Cowan said.

With regards to the financial services sector, the IRT is also looking at an initiative for individuals who want to establish a substantial business presence on the Island, therefore encouraging businesses such as brokerage houses and investment managers who do not usually locate their business in Cayman to do so.

This could be done by offering a 25 year residency with the right to work certificate to those individuals within the management and control of such businesses. These businesses would also have to be licenced by the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority, have bank accounts here and show a physical presence.

“The result would be to bring people of high net worth on the Island who would enjoy living here and carrying out their business, which would expand our business community,” Bodden-Cowan confirmed.

Companies would have to be an approved business(of which there would be a list), they would have to show they had established a substantial business presence or physical presence and they would have to show those individuals who were in management and control of the company were actually working here in order to obtain the certificate, she added.

Another initiative the IRT has been examining was the recently published intention to offer permanent residency for an individual’s physical cash investment into property. This would not be based on mortgages people have for a property or how much it might be worth but based on a cash injection, the IRT explained.

“The premier’s idea is to get the construction trade started,” Bodden-Cowan said, “so they could be granted permanent residency if they are going to come and build a house for $500,000 or more or buy an apartment for $500,000. The premier is looking for cash in, so mortgages and valuations do not count.”

She explained that the government was looking to put a quota on the numbers of cash-for-residency applications, as used to be the case for the grant of Caymanian Status,“say, around 100 a year,” she said. “There are a lot of people here who don’t want to wait eight years to get residency. At the moment they have to wait eight years and they are not buying homes and apartments.”

Bodden-Cowan confirmed that the IRT has “a substantive law created” and it would be up to Cabinet to decide issues such as the amount required to be invested before PR could be granted.

The final initiative currently being worked on by the IRT is the removal of the requirement for a child or grandchild of a Caymanian living abroad to be a legal resident before applying for Caymanian status.

“At the moment you cannot apply for status unless you become legally resident on the Island.  But the only way to become legally resident is to have a work permit. That has created real problems because people who have lived away and want to come back have found themselves in a catch 22 situation where employers are saying they won’t give them a work permit because they don’t want to hire a work permit holder, and that they should come back only when you have Caymanian Status.

“There is a backlog of applications which cannot be dealt with because the individuals are not legally resident here. So we are removing the requirement of legal residence from that section of the law,” Bodden-Cowen explained.

The IRT is currently working on a paper to Cabinet and hopes the bill will be on time to be read for the November session of the House.

For more news and updates, assistance with your visa needs or for a Free Assessment of your profile for Immigration or Work Visa’s just visit www.y-axis.com

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