A More Robust Approach to PR Fees
The Department of Immigration is ramping up systems, processes and efforts to pursue outstanding permanent residency fees in the Cayman Islands. For this reason, persons and companies who employ permanent residency holders who are on the delinquent list should take notice.
Acting Chief Immigration Officer Bruce Smith says his department continues to work diligently to pursue all outstanding debt.
“This challenge is by no means a new one nor, have we been simply waiting around hoping that the situation would sort itself out,” he explains. “We have had some notable successes with collecting more than $1.4 million, of the $4.1 million of past due fees.”
Under Immigration Law, the annual permanent residency fees are payable by either the permanent residency holder or the employer. Officials emphasise the importance of payment for both parties.
“Permanent residency holders with outstanding fees should understand that by not paying the fees, they are essentially putting themselves at risk, as well as their employer, as the potential consequence is revocation of the right to work in the Cayman Islands,” Mr. Smith comments.
He further notes that hiring persons who have not paid their annual right to work fees carries serious implications for small, medium and large enterprises that employ them.
Recent press coverage and social media discussion on the topic included some inaccuracies and misunderstandings; to help resolve some of the questions and concerns the Acting CIO shared the following.
Over the three years the government has made amendments to the Immigration Law and changes to processes to combat what was then a growing non-payment issue. In 2013 the law was amended to allow for revocation of permanent residency based on non-payments.
The current law continues to require all permanent residency holders to pay their fees whether they are employed or not; these fees are like work permit fees and vary by profession, industry and island.
Permanent residency holders with the right to work, who are no longer working, must formally notify the Department of Immigration of the desire to cease their right to work facility, or the right to work permanent residency fees will automatically be incurrent on the anniversary of the issue date.
During the period of July 2009 to October 2016 the Department of Immigration collected $67.2 million in permanent residency right to work fees, of which the $2.7 million in outstanding fees represents 4% of the total fees. These outstanding fees largely represent individuals that are no longer living in the country or who have had their permanent residency revoked or rescinded.
Mr Smith further explained that “while the amounts of outstanding fees are declining, the remaining outstanding amounts are significant, and we are ramping up efforts to pursue all outstanding debt, with different approaches”.
The Department of Immigration’s Debt Collection Unit in conjunction with the Caymanian Status and Permanent Residency Board, as well as the Immigration Enforcement and Compliance teams to ensure permanent residency holders pay their right to work fees. The non-payment of these fees can result in fines, prosecution and revocation of permanent residency.
Immigration officials note that currently 473 individuals owe the Cayman Islands Government fees related to permanent residency applications.
An additional 74 applications have been revoked or rescinded. This happens when an individual fails to pay fees, spends a period of 12 months of more off-island, is charged with a conviction, divorces or meets other grounds for revocation contained in the Immigration Law.
Once permanent residency has been rescinded, an applicant cannot apply for permanent residency in the future.
For further information contact: Jamie Hicks