The Department of Immigration has announced the start of a month-long amnesty that will enable anyone living and working illegally in the Cayman Islands to depart, and for local employers holding permits for people they can no longer employ to cancel them without risk of prosecution.

The amnesty started on Wednesday morning and will remain in effect until the end of August.

According to officials, foreign nationals who are in the Caymans  illegally without a valid work permit, or any other lawful permission to remain, can leave during the amnesty period and workers who are not working for the employer named on their permit will also be allowed the opportunity to depart voluntarily.

Acting Chief Immigration Officer Bruce Smith said that during this period, people residing in the Cayman Islands who are unsure of their immigration status will have the opportunity to attend the immigration department, where checks will be carried out to determine their legality.  This includes workers who have reached the end of their term limit but who have not left the islands, and also those visiting Cayman who have not sought a visitor’s extension to remain beyond the time authorized.

“However, the DoI says that after 3:00pm (local time) on August 31, the department    will actively pursue those persons who have not taken advantage of the amnesty and continue to commit immigration offences.

The maximum penalty for overstaying is a fine of CI$20,000 and to imprisonment of up to five years, while the penalties for work permit offences range from fines between CI$5,000 and imprisonment for one year for a first offence, to CI$10,000 and imprisonment for two years for a second or subsequent offence.

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