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Immigration Gets Results

Immigration enforcement officials report that almost $136,000 in administrative fines has been collected since last July, with officers continuing to target offenders at all levels.

In addition, 18 persons now face court charges for overstaying and having falsified documents, while 14 others - including some local employers - are on bail pending results of ongoing investigations.

Earlier this month, an American national was fined $20,900 for several offences. They included working without a work permit, as well as illegally employing three American nationals - who were also working without permits.

In that case, officials received a tip that an individual was completing commercial paving contracts for local businesses. After launching an investigation, the offender was apprehended while attempting to leave the Owen Roberts International Airport.

"This case was unusual because of the scope of his operation," said Deputy Chief Immigration Officer for Enforcement, Gary Wong. "He rented heavy equipment and services from local companies and actively solicited business."

The offender admitted his guilt and opted to have his case dealt with administratively, paying the large fine rather than face court proceedings.

The most common offences are overstaying, working outside the terms of work permits, (working in occupations or for employers not named on a work permit), employing persons without a work permit and making false representations.

Meanwhile, Mr. Wong reminds employers and workers alike that many offences are preventable. For example, employers must submit renewal applications before current work permits expire, thereby avoiding charges for employing persons without a work permit.

Also, there is provision for workers to apply for amendments allowing them to work for additional employers and in new occupations.

Under the administrative fine provision, a fine can be double or triple the normal cost of an annual work permit. Furthermore, when persons are fined and leave Cayman, special permission must be granted before they can re-enter the country.

However Mr. Wong also noted that certain offences such as human smuggling and illegal landing will not be dealt with administratively and will be referred to the courts.

The penalty for overstaying is a fine of up to $20,000 and imprisonment of up to five years. Penalties for work permit offences range from CI$5,000 to $15,000 and imprisonment of up to one year. Fines can be significantly higher when dealt with administratively.

Chief Immigration Officer Linda Evans applauded the diligence of her officers, especially those in the Enforcement Section. She also thanked the public for supplying information which has led to arrests.

"These offences will not be tolerated," she said. "After undertaking several accommodating initiatives over the past year, including an immigration amnesty and a series of educational district meetings, my staff is now conscientiously enforcing the laws and regulations."

She added that at the current rate, total fines will soon surpass those imposed during the past fiscal year. Between July 2009 and June 2010, administrative fines amounting to $181,000 were collected.

Those who are overstaying or committing other immigration offences should voluntarily contact Immigration Enforcement. Failure to do so will result in their arrest when attempting to depart.

To contact the Immigration Department call 949-8344, or the toll-free Enforcement Hotline: 91-800 534 2546. Alternatively, email the Enforcement Section at legalim@gov.ky.

For further information contact: Lennon Christian