Less than 12 per cent of the respondents to last week’s cayCompass.com online poll believe Cayman’s seven-year term limit on most foreign workers – often referred to the rollover policy – should remain the way it is with no changes.
Implemented in January 2004, the rollover policy has remained controversial since inception. Last June, a government-appointed immigration review team recommended several significant changes to the law, including lengthening the term limit from seven to 10 years, with all foreign workers who wanted to having the ability to apply for permanent residence during their eighth year of residence. The outcome of those applications would be determined by a points system.
Of the 655 respondents, the largest segment of them – 323 people or 49.3 per cent – said the rollover policy should be eliminated entirely because it had utterly failed.
“Rollover has played a huge part in destroying the Cayman economy,” said one person. “It is discriminatory, inhumane and only serves to encourage expat workers to send their money off-island. Get rid of it.”
“Good people who would have been an asset and contributed to the country left and those just here for their own financial gain remained,” said someone else.
“It has not helped to increase more Caymanians getting jobs,” said another respondent.
“Perhaps there was a time a few years ago when this was necessary and a good policy, but those days are gone,” commented one person. “There are no longer lines overflowing with people wishing to come to Cayman. All you have to do is look at the numbers. The economy in Cayman is reliant on immigrant labour and needs as many of these people to remain as long as possible.”
One respondent thought the rollover policy had utterly failed because it was not stringent enough.
“Let them work for five years, send their money home and go home,” said one person. “What will happen to our young Caymanians returning from university and they can’t get any [jobs]. Cayman is not for Caymanians anymore.”
Another large segment of respondents – 149 people or 22.7 per cent – thought the rollover should be maintained, but extended to 10 years, with everyone having an opportunity to apply for permanent residence, as recommended by the immigration review team.
“We can’t let everyone stay forever, but there needs to be a fair path to citizenship for those who qualify and want to stay,” said one person.
“The average length of stay for a foreigner is less than five years, so the number of people who stay long enough and who will qualify for PR will not be as high as people might think,” said someone else.
Another 100 people – 15.3 per cent – thought the rollover policy should be eliminated, but the path to citizenship should be as well.
“Enough of letting everyone come and get status,” said one person. “Where are we Caymanians going to end up?”
“The Cayman Islands is over populated,” said someone else. “Foreigners are destroying Caymanian resources and culture. Please eliminate the path to citizenship. Save the Cayman Islands cultures and people.”
“I feel that ever since rollover came into effect the economy has sustained great damage due to the fact that no one wants to spend here any longer knowing that they have limited time here,” said another person. “So therefore people are forced to save and send home every dime they make. So yes, I think it is time Cayman wakes up and [does] away with this rollover nonsense.”
“Let a person work here as long he is contributing to the society and there is no suitable Caymanian for the job,” said someone else. “Take out the citizenship for now and just grant permanent residence.”
Only 76 people – 11.6 per cent – thought the rollover shouldn’t be eliminated and should remain the way it is.
“The rollover is in place to help manage the growth of Cayman’s population,” said one person. “Our infrastructure costs are already leading to our government struggling to balance the budget. How will we cope with uncontrolled growth?”
“Change it – even just extend it – and we’ll end up with mass status grants again,” said someone else. “Of course, if that’s what you want ...”
Seven people – 1.1 per cent – responded “other” to the question.
“It should be a four-year probation period,” said one person. “Then three additional years can be applied for based on job performance, community service and five reference letters. It should not be an easy process!”
“Reduce the term limit to five years,” said someone else.
“Let foreigners stay for as long as they have a job and send them home when they do not,” said another person.
“The exclusion period should be extended and key employee status eliminated, but allow all who wish to apply for permanent residency,” said someone else.
“There has to be term limits set some way, some how,” commented on person. “The island can only support so many people and no more.”
“I do not support eliminating Cayman’s ‘rollover’ policy entirely, however I do not think that expats should be granted PR,” said another person. “However it is a different issue if they are married to a Caymanian or have Caymanian ties.”
Next week’s poll question
What grade would you give the new minority government for the first 60 days of its administration?
Other (write in comments)