The Department of Immigration has announced an amnesty from prosecution for certain immigration offences. The amnesty becomes effective from 1 July 2010 and will remain in effect until 1 August 2010 inclusive.
The terms of the amnesty are as follows:
- 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, may leave the Territory during the period of the amnesty without fear of prosecution.
- employers may cancel work permits for employees for whom they have no work without fear of prosecution. The employee in question will then be expected to leave the Territory before the expiry of the amnesty.
- 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 and leave the Territory before the expiry of the amnesty without fear of prosecution.
- persons who are not sure of their Immigration status in the Cayman Islands should go to the Enforcement Section of the Immigration Department where checks will be carried out to determine the legality of the person.
After this amnesty period has expired the Immigration Department together with other law enforcements agencies will actively pursue those persons who have not taken advantage of this amnesty and who are continuing to commit immigration offences. Such persons will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and deportation will be recommended where appropriate. It should be noted that the maximum penalty for overstaying is a fine of CI$20,000 and imprisonment of up to five years, and the penalties for work permit offences range from fines between CI$5,000 and CI$15,000 and imprisonment of up to one year.
Operation of the Amnesty
Persons who are in the Islands illegally and who wish to avail themselves of the amnesty should simply make an airline reservation and leave during the amnesty period. Employers and/or employees who wish to cancel work permits must submit a letter to the Department of Immigration marked "Amnesty", informing the Chief Immigration Officer of their wish to cancel the work permit(s). Employees whose work permits have been cancelled either by employers or by themselves should report immediately to the Immigration Headquarters with confirmed reservations for their departure during the amnesty period. The employee's passport would then be endorsed for a specific time to facilitate departure from the Islands during the amnesty period.
Commenting on the amnesty Chief Immigration Officer Linda Evans said: "I urge those who are in a position to take advantage of this amnesty to do so. Those who forego this opportunity will be making a serious error of judgment and can expect to face serious consequences."
Ms. Evans added: "Every day we hear countless complaints about immigration offences being committed and the effect that this has on our Territory. This is a golden opportunity for Caymanian employers to play a part in reducing immigration crime in their country and I expect that they will act responsibly and turn in work permits for employees that they no longer can provide work for."
Speaking with regard to persons who are residing here illegally or employees whose employers can no longer provide full-time work for them, Ms. Evans said: "I urge you to take this chance to leave, safe in the knowledge that you will not be prosecuted. However persons who offer these illegal aliens things such as jobs, and housing will face the consequences when they are caught after the amnesty."