Short-term visas to clear way for business visitors

(CNS): The five day instant visa for people visiting Cayman on business, first mooted by the premier last year, could become law by November 2011. The Immigration Review Team has suggested that a short term visa lasting one to five days for business visitors could be paid for at the airport and would not require a police clearance certificate. The business visitor would simply need a letter from a local sponsor and would no longer fall foul of the law that requires people coming to the island on business to acquire a work permit, even when they are here on a business trip lasting just a few days.

The premier has persistently complained that business visitors are not well treated when they arrive at the airport here and are questioned about permits. He said he wanted to improve the system for potential investors to enable them to receive a warmer welcome and get a better impression when visiting the Cayman Islands on a business trip.

The introduction of the new visa is expected to be one of a number of impending changes to the immigration law (which is expected to be presented to the Legislative Assembly in November) that the premier hopes will create a more business friendly approach.

The final initiative currently being worked on by the IRT is the removal of the requirement for a child or grandchild of a Caymanian living abroad to be a legal resident before applying for Caymanian status.

“At the moment you cannot apply for status unless you become legally resident on the Island. But the only way to become legally resident is to have a work permit. That has created real problems because people who have lived away and want to come back have found themselves in a catch 22 situation where employers are saying they won’t give them a work permit because they don’t want to hire a work permit holder, and that they should come back only when you have Caymanian Status.

"There is a backlog of applications which cannot be dealt with because the individuals are not legally resident here. So we are removing the requirement of legal residence from that section of the law,” Bodden-Cowen explained.

The IRT is currently working on a paper to Cabinet and hopes the bill will be on time to be read for the November session of the House.

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