Immigration Goes to the Districts
Immigration Goes to the Districts
Published 1st February 8, 12:0am
Chief Immigration Officer Mr Franz Manderson has said that preparations to implement the administrative grant system and further improve Immigration Department efficiency are in high gear.
Speaking last week at two Immigration District Evenings in West Bay and Cayman Brac, Mr. Manderson noted that on-going efforts are aimed at improving customer service. The District Evening Series is specifically geared towards having department staff directly interact with community members and hear their concerns. And while the launch of the evenings coincided with Immigration Week 2008, the meetings will continue throughout the year.
The administrative grants system will enable certain categories of work permits to be processed by Immigration staff instead of being brought before the Board: "This will greatly reduce the burden on the Work Permit and Business Staffing Plan boards and allow them to focus more closely on sensitive permit categories and applications for key employee status," Mr. Manderson explained.
Referring to other customer service improvements in the department, Mr. Manderson noted that introduced since 2004, the new customer service flow system has reduced processing time; some 90,000 walk-in customers were dealt with in 2007. In addition last year, the call centre handled some 50,000 calls, he said.
Turning to amendments to the law, Mr. Manderson told West Bay and Cayman Brac residents that even as efforts to prosecute breaches intensify, several legal amendments have aimed at strengthening Caymanian families and providing benefits.
Such benefits include new measures to remove spouses of Caymanians from the work permit system, instead allowing them to work with Residency and Employment Rights certificates that allow them to work for seven years. "Prior to this amendment, we were receiving complaints from Caymanians that their spouses could not obtain employment because employers did not wish to go through the work permit process" Mr Manderson said.
He also pointed to the removal of the 55-year-retirement age stipulation for persons of independent means, a new measure that takes into account the existence of younger, wealthy retirees, and he noted provisions that simplify the application for permanent residence process.
In the meantime, Mr Manderson told district residents, the department will be intensifying efforts to prosecute breaches of the Immigration Law, particularly citing steps to reduce the marriages of convenience that pose a serious threat to national security and to the Islandsí social stability as well as address violations of work permit laws.
He explained that as part of Immigration Week, the department had joined with the Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs to co-host a workshop for marriage officers and civil registrars, to educate them on their role in preventing marriages of conveniences. He said that the marriage officers pledged to work with Immigration to stamp out the practice.
The department will also be scrutinizing the credentials of persons arriving in the Islands on work permits more closely, to ensure that fraudulent documents are not being used to gain advantage over Caymanians.
At the district evenings, help desks were established to enable residents to have one-on-one consultations with Immigration personnel.