Vigilance Continues

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Vigilance Continues

We regularly receive calls about people who go to job sites seeking work.

Senior Immigration Officer Jeremy Scott

Published 16th October 9, 12:0am

Ongoing vigilance of Department of Immigration staff is resulting in continuing detection and arrests of persons who break work permit laws. Labour offences and associated arrests are the focus for this month.

Senior Immigration Officer Jeremy Scott has responsibility for enforcement operations within the Enforcement and Intelligence Division. His reports included details of one employer who was arrested on suspicion of making an employee pay more than $6,000 in work permit fees over a five-year period.

That same employer was also arrested on suspicion of failing to cancel that person's permit, even though he had not employed the worker for the past 20 months.

A female foreign national who was found to have remained in Cayman illegally for the last year was also arrested in George Town. She remains in custody pending the outcome of the investigation.

On the issue of irregularities caused by the slowdown in the labour market and complicated by freelancing permit holders, Mr. Scott was clear:

"We regularly receive calls about people who go to job sites seeking work. But this can be avoided, for if a business doesn't have work, it should cancel a permit, or apply for an amendment which would allow the person to legally work elsewhere."

Immigration investigations are taking place in all sectors of employment, and officials warn that employers in breach of the law can be charged and fined. To avoid such incidents, employers may also terminate permits by sending cancellation letters to the department. Workers may also voluntarily cancel their own permits.

Deputy Chief Immigration Officer (Enforcement, Intelligence and Asylum) Gary Wong commented, "We appreciate and look forward to the continued support of the public in detecting these cases. We are also using our computer database, which includes photos."

Illegally sharing guest workers is also an offence, and another employee was recently arrested on charges of working outside the terms of a permit. Evidence indicates this person was employed for more than a year with persons other than the permit holder.

In one current enforcement case, both a restaurant owner and an employee now face charges involving illegal employment over a three-month period. A supervisor was also arrested for providing misleading information.

And in a separate case, a construction worker was found working without immigration authorization on a jobsite and was arrested. The site supervisor was also arrested on suspicion of illegal employment.

Mr. Wong urged employers to remember their legal obligation (under Immigration Regulations 2009 Section 9) to cancel permits when work is no longer available. Employers who fail to do so may be prosecuted and face a maximum fine of $5,000.

Employers are also responsible for communicating the status of work permits and applications to their employees.

Another issue of concern is employers who submit renewals for work permits after they have expired. These cases violate Section 56(1), and first-time offenders are liable to a fine of $5,000 and to imprisonment of one year.

Business owners are therefore reminded to submit renewals early, as renewal applications must be submitted before expiration. Section 56 (3) of the law allows continued employment of a staff member while the new permit application is considered, but only if this was submitted within the correct timeframe.

Employers, employees or members of the public may call 949 8344 or visit the offices of the Department of Immigration for more information, or to report suspicious activity. In addition, the Enforcement Division may be contacted directly at 244 2028 or 244 2051.

All information will be treated in the strictest confidence.