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English Fluency Important Here

Chief Immigration Officer Franz Manderson (right) shares a light moment with businessman Hartmann DaCosta, at the recent Immigration District Evening in Savannah.

Ninety of 2,807 persons who last year came to work in the Islands from non-English speaking countries, were denied permission to take up employment after failing the English proficiency test.

Chief Immigration Officer Franz Manderson made this disclosure while speaking at the Immigration District Evening in Savannah last Thursday (18 September).

"Persons coming to work in the Cayman Islands are required to have a basic understanding of the English language, both written and spoken," Mr. Manderson said. "This is to ensure that they can work effectively, take care of themselves and their families, and are able to integrate with the community."

He added that sometimes ability to speak the language can be a matter of life or death:" Many years ago I observed, emergency workers trying to assist an injured woman. They were asking her where she was feeling pain but she kept responding in another language."

Mr Manderson urged employers to ensure that workers hired from non-English speaking countries have the necessary English skills before allowing them to travel here. He said that employers are also responsible for advising potential employees from non-English speaking countries that they are required to take the test.

He noted that that such preliminary vigilance on the part of employers would save all concerned both time and money.

"Very often these individuals travel from afar and at great expense only to arrive in Cayman and fail the English test. We know that it cannot be easy for them to be refused permission to take employment and to return home" Mr Manderson said.

Among the measures that the Immigration Department proposes for addressing the situation is to partner with an international firm to administer English tests in or near applicants' countries of origin before they travel to Cayman.

"This is in keeping with the new policy initiative of 'exporting our borders,'" Mr Manderson said. "By this, I mean that the department will conduct checks overseas to ensure that persons are fit to enter the Islands before they actually travel here."

For further information contact: Prudence Barnes