The immigration boards appointed by the ruling United Democratic Party government have – on average – approved permanent residence applications 56 per cent of the time, according to records released to the Caymanian Compass under the Freedom of Information Law.
Since July 2009, the start of the first full fiscal year under the UDP government, and through mid-November of this year, there were 801 permanent residence applications approved and 638 declined.
Those numbers only include individuals who are applying for residence in their own right, not as a spouse or dependant of a Caymanian or as a dependant of any other residence-holder in the Cayman Islands.
Since July 2009, the Caymanian Status and Permanent Residency Board has approved PR applications for non-Caymanian individuals seeking residence here in their own right at a rate of about 27 or 28 applications a month.
Applications have been declined at a rate of 22 per month during that time.
What may be surprising to note is in the last 10 months of the former People’s Progressive Movement government’s administration, permanent residence applications were being approved at a rate of 61 per month.
The former PPM government’s appointed boards also declined PR applications at a much higher rate during those last 10 months – at a clip of some 146 per month.
Overall, during the last 10 months of the PPM administration, immigration-related boards averaged a 30 per cent approval rate for permanent residence applications made by non-Caymanians seeking status in their own right, not as a dependant or spouse of a Caymanian.
The figures provided by the Immigration Department under the FOI Law also show 2,074 PR applications were heard during the last 10 months of the PPM government’s administration.
In the 29 months since the UDP took control of government, 1,439 PR applications made by non-Caymanians applying in their own right have been heard.
PR applications per year
Part of the reason so many more permanent residence applications were heard during 2008 and 2009, is the Immigration Department was dealing with a massive backlog of applications from individuals who had been exempted from Cayman’s seven-year term limit on residency for foreign workers.
In January 2004, when the seven-year term limit or “rollover policy” came into effect, anyone who had been here for five years or longer was allowed to remain in Cayman for at least eight years – enough time to apply for permanent residence.
That led to a mass of PR applications being filed between mid-2005 and 2007, as the “pre-rollover” workers came up to the eight-year residence period.
The sheer number of applications created a delay in processing permanent residence applications in 2008 and 2009, detailed by the figures released to the Compass last month.
In 2009, there were a total of 1,878 permanent residence applications processed on behalf of workers applying in their own right to stay in Cayman.
Those 2009 applications were approved only 32 per cent of the time.
However, the Immigration Department at the time noted it was struggling to process thousands of applications.
Officials said applicants with no reasonable chance of getting PR filed with immigration just to stay on Island a bit longer.
During the past two years, applications for permanent residence have dropped off considerably and the approval rate has gone up significantly.
In 2010, Immigration Department figures showed 533 permanent residence applications were made with an approval rate of about 55 per cent.
In 2011, that application figure decreased further to 448 and approvals were around 72 per cent through mid-November.