Only an estimated 30-50 people qualify to get mandatory grants of permanent residence because they were here at least 15 years as of 1 January 2004.
Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts revealed the estimate during his debate on the Immigration (Amendment) (No.2) Bill after conferring with Chief Immigration Officer Franz Manderson.
In a telephone interview, Mr. Manderson explained that the process of determining how many people qualified for the nearly mandatory grant of permanent residence under the time requirement and who had not yet received some security of tenure was a very difficult and time-consuming exercise.
‘Ask me how many people have been here four years and I could tell you right away,’ he said. ‘But these people have been here for so long it is difficult.’
Part of the reason it is so difficult is that many expatriates here that long received Status in 2003 or 2004, and not just through the controversial Cabinet Status grants.
‘The Board granted more than 600 [Status Grants] and that picked up a lot of the people [that had been here in Cayman more than 15 years as of 1 January 2004],’ Mr. Manderson said.
In addition, many spouses of those who received Caymanian status had been regularised through their marriage to a Caymanian.
Mr. Manderson said that people who qualify under the time requirements still have an opportunity to apply for permanent residence if they have not done so already.
Under the current law, these people only have until 31 December 2006 to apply for permanent residence. The new law will give them an additional three months, Mr. Manderson said. However, there will be no more time extensions after that.
‘These people have had three years to apply,’ he said, adding that there can be no more excuses for not applying now.
Under a new provision of the amended law, the Caymanian Status and Permanent Residency Board is required to approve applications for permanent residence submitted by people who were here at least 15 years as of 1 January, 2004 unless there are exceptional reasons not to do so.
Those exceptional reasons would most likely refer to serious criminal offences, Mr. Tibbetts said last week
Leader of the Opposition McKeeva Bush said Tuesday that the estimated number of expatriates here 18 years as of 1 January, 2007 was very telling.
‘If it’s 30, or 50, or even 500, it means that we gave more Status grants to people who were here a long time than [the People’s Progressive Movement] said we did.’
Mr. Bush said that when the Immigration Review was going on in 2003, there were 6,700 expatriates here over 10 years.
The PPM claimed before the last election that the former United Democratic Party gave Caymanian Status grants to many people that had only been in the Cayman Islands for relatively short periods of time while snubbing thousands of people who had been here a long time, Mr. Bush said.