1,303 people have been granted Caymanian Status since government changed hands in May of 2005, while a further 689 have been granted Permanent Residency, a Finance Committee meeting heard last week.
Chief Immigration Officer Franz Manderson revealed the numbers under questioning from Leader of the Opposition McKeeva Bush on Friday.
Of the 1,303 people granted Caymanian status, 669 were accepted as spouses of Caymanians, 383 were children of Caymanians and 198 were given status by virtue of being deemed descendants of a Caymanian. A further 39 were naturalised after being permanent residents and 14 were surviving spouses of Caymanians.
While 689 people were granted Permanent Residency, a further 772 people had their PR applications refused, Mr. Manderson said.
Mr. Bush also questioned the immigration chief on the number of work permits that are awarded annually.
Mr. Manderson said there are 25,853 work permits in effect in the Cayman Islands, 3,964 of which are temporary work permits.
He said that is down from 26,121 work permits, 9,202 of them temporary, that had been in place in May 2005 when the People’s Progressive Movement beat the ruling United Democratic Party in elections to form government.
Mr. Manderson said the Immigration Department processes up to 17,000 temporary work permits annually, some of which are for periods as short as two to three days.
Cubans permanently temporary
Mr. Bush also raised concerns about the plight of some Cubans with Caymanian heritage that were invited to the Cayman Islands from Cuba in the mid-90s.
Mr. Bush said he knew of cases where members of this group had been denied Caymanian status, despite having been brought to Cayman at the invitation of the then government. Some have children here, are building houses on land they own and have married people with Caymanian connection, Mr. Bush said, yet they have an uncertain immigration status.
Upon arriving in Cayman in the mid-90s, Mr. Manderson said the group had been told by the government to apply for Permanent Residency after having lived here for four to six months, but some never made the necessary application.
Immigration laws have since changed, he said, and those persons now have to be processed under the current laws, not the ones in place when they arrived in Cayman.
With the current immigration regime determining PR applications on a points system, some from the group do not have sufficient points to become permanent residents, he said.
Mr. Manderson said immigration authorities are looking at the problem, but said any disadvantage such people have suffered is the consequence of their own inaction.
North Side MLA Edna Moyle wanted to know what the current immigration status of such people is.
Mr. Manderson said the group had been brought back under authorisation of the Cabinet of the day, which had given members of the group temporary authority to reside in Cayman, expecting they would make Permanent Residency applications.
The Cabinet letter had not stated how long they would be allowed to temporarily reside here, so, over 13 years later, those that have not been granted Permanent Residency or Caymanian Status continue to be allowed to reside here under that undefined temporary authority, Mr. Manderson explained.