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Thursday, Dec 07, 2023

Should expats be made to leave BVI after 2 years?

Should expats be made to leave BVI after 2 years?

Radio commentator Julian Gordon has suggested that expatriates should be asked to leave the BVI after working in the territory for two years.
According to Gordon, this will help to address the immigration challenges that are currently being faced in the territory and it is an approach that is already being taken in other UK Overseas Territories.

The outspoken commentator claimed that when the labour code was being reviewed previously, expatriates pressured someone on the review panel to remove a clause that once allowed for an understudy provision in the code. That provision reportedly allowed locals to shadow skilled persons coming into the territory to work.

“The same situation we have with the labour and immigration issue and status right now was supposed to be contained and controlled by that provision in the code,“ Gordon argued on the Hot Seat radio show last evening, May 10.

Gordon said he felt this helped to “destroy the system“.

“Cayman [Islands] and all of them have a provision — you come in for two years and you go back out. If you want to renew (your work permit), you can get a renewal, but you leave the country and come back,” Gordon stated.

He continued: “We sit down here and allow disaster to happen in our country.”

A pack of jokers

Meanwhile, Gordon’s co-host, former legislator Walwyn Brewley, agreed with his suggestion, contending that the BVI has “a pack of jokers” for lawmakers.

Brewley, while making reference to an error discovered during an audit of the Fast Track immigration programme executed under the Andrew Fahie administration, said lawmakers went to the House of Assembly to ratify a broken law.

The error forced lawmakers to return to the HOA, after it was dissolved, and regularise the status of some 688 persons that had been granted Belongership status, without following the correct procedure.

“Then, to compound that disaster, the set of jokers that we have as a government went and they give them two statuses,” Brewley said. “They gave them residency and Belonger status at the same time when they know they were breaking the law.”

What happens in Cayman

According to the Cayman Islands Immigration (Transition) Act, 2021, full-time work permits are typically issued for up to three-year periods. However, the maximum time that an individual can reside in the Cayman Islands on a work permit is five years.

While domestic helpers, teachers, doctors, nurses and ministers of religion may be granted a work permit for a period of up to 5 years, workers who are considered temporary or seasonal are issued permits for one year. Temporary work permits are typically three or six months in length.

Once an employee reaches the maximum time, they can either apply for permanent residency or get “rolled over.” Rollover requires the individual to leave the country for a period of 12 months.

They are, however, still entitled to visit throughout this period for vacations. At the end of the one year, they can apply for a new job in the Cayman Islands.

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