Immigration is looking overseas to recover cash owed by delinquent PR holders.
Home Affairs Chief Officer Wesley Howell says they are ramping up debt collection efforts to recover just over four-million in outstanding fees and working with international partners to net people who left Cayman without paying.
He says immigration has been chipping away at the bad debt: recovering one-point-four million so far and he’s sounding a warning to employers that they too are liable if their employees are not paying their dues.
“It’s not ok to not pay and be here,” Mr Howell says, putting the 473 delinquent PR holders and their employers on notice immigration is coming after all monies due to it. And not checking if employees are paid up is no defense.
“We want employers to be aware that the law makes it a requirement for them to check and ensure their employees who have PR with right to work have paid up their fees,” Mr Howell says.
Immigration is after a balance of $2.7 million. He says debt that was accumulated prior to the 2013 Immigration Law changes remains a challenge, but he says that does not mean it will be written off.
“At this point we are treating it all as questionable debt and going after as much of it as we can,” he says.
With the new provisions, Mr Howell says, the amount of debt has been declining and Immigration is not incurring additional debts going forward as people are paying more readily.
However he points out even if a PR holder is not employed they would still be incurring fees which has contributed to the current debt.
“So if you are not working and you have the right to work, you need to cancel that and your fees will not be incurred. But on the flip side, from the enforcement perspective, if you cancel your right to work facility and then you work illegally, it is the same as working without a work permit,” Mr Howell says.
Collection is important for Immigration which netted roughly $67 million in outstanding PR fees over the last 7 years. It’s important to note once permanent residency has been rescinded it cannot be re-applied for in the future.