Cayman Islands signs deal for immigration fast track system in Miami

Thursday, January 18, 2018

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GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands (CMC) — The Government of the Cayman Islands has signed a deal with United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to establish a customs and immigration fast track system at the Miami International Airport for US visitors coming to the British territory.

At the signing on Wednesday between Deputy Governor Franz Manderson CBP Executive Assistant Director Todd Owen, it was disclosed that the aim is to enable air passengers to clear the Cayman Islands official entrance process before take off, so that when they land at Owen Roberts International Airport they can quickly pass through to baggage claim.

The new process, which is the first of its kind, is in the pilot phase.

It will initially be a Sunday only service, one of the busiest days, for just Cayman Airways passengers, but it could be expanded to Saturdays and possibly to American Airlines.

According to Premier Alden McLaughlin, the fast-track airport clearance has been on the cards for some time.

At a press conference held following the signing, he said that technical issues as well as the hurricanes during this past season had delayed the implementation but he was pleased it was now on track.

“It will introduce a new fast track procedure at the airport and help to improve customer experience at peak weekend times,” McLaughlin said.

“Our new border control procedures will also be more effective and more welcoming to all who pass through the airport. The work on the initiatives being announced today is a good example of a multi-agency approach within the civil service and our friends in the UK and the USA. This improved cooperation is also part of this government's overall plans to improve border protection,” he said.

The new arrangement means that starting in March, Cayman immigration and customs officers will start working in Miami to pre-clear visitors.

The premier added that there will be no reciprocal arrangement for Caymanian passport holders visiting the US due to the low number of travellers and the high cost of hosting US security and border control at ORIA.

However, Owen told reporters that Miami is using enhanced technology that is helping to speed up border clearance for legitimate travellers.

He said that the decision to allow Cayman officials to work at Miami airport and enter into the first arrangement of this kind was down to a very long partnership between Cayman authorities and the US border control.

Meanwhile, the governor's office says an experienced manager from UK's Border Force agency will be seconded to the Cayman Islands shortly to advice on work to transform elements of immigration and customs into a new Cayman Islands Border Protection Service

That officer will also lead on measures to introduce further intelligence-led and risk-based procedures to modernise the way that border control is carried out, following the premier's policy announcement about the formation of the Border Protection Service in the Legislative Assembly.

It was also announced that legislation is being introduced that will enable Cayman to also join the CARICOM Advance Passenger Information System (APIS) before the end of the year.

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