More than six months into its term in office, the Cayman Islands government has not appointed members to a key immigration-related board.
The Caymanian Status and Permanent Residency Board has, until recent changes to Cayman Islands Immigration Law, decided all applications for individuals seeking to remain in the islands permanently. Permanent resident status conveys the right to stay in Cayman for the rest of one’s life; Caymanian status conveys the “right to be Caymanian” aside from any British Overseas Territories citizenship designation.
Changes to the law now allow immigration officers to decide some permanent residence applications, but it is the government’s intention to form the board nonetheless.
The Progressives-led administration has set out a medium-term goal to eliminate – to the extent possible – the involvement of appointed boards in the immigration permit approval process.
Changes approved as part of the Immigration [Amendment] [No. 2] Bill, 2013 granted the chief immigration officer, or her designated subordinate, the ability to approve work permits and permanent residence applications. Previously, immigration officers only had the ability to stamp “non-controversial” work permit applications for jobs where no qualified Caymanian had applied.
According to Premier Alden McLaughlin, the idea is to eventually have as many work permit, permanent residence and other immigration-related applications as possible dealt with by the Immigration Department.
According to government officials, the new board was still being formed as of early December and was expected to gain Cabinet approval within a few weeks.
The Cayman Islands government expects to receive as many as 2,000 applications for permanent residence from non-Caymanian workers during its current 2013/14 financial year, according to budget records.
That’s more than double the number the government received during the last budget year, not counting applicants seeking Caymanian status. Another way of looking at it: Between July 2009 and November 2011, the government received 1,439 applications, according to records released to the Caymanian Compass under the Freedom of Information Law. Those 1,439 applications over about 27 months are fewer than the minimum number of permanent residence applications government expects to receive this year.
The budget for processing Caymanian status and permanent residence applications has been increased by about $150,000 over last year’s spending plan.
Meanwhile, two of Cayman’s other key immigration-related boards have long since been reappointed with mostly new members.
The members include a new chairwoman for the Work Permit Board, attorney Sheena Frederick-Westerborg, and a new chairman and deputy chairman for the Business Staffing Plan Board.
Cayman Enterprise City’s Chief Executive Officer Charlie Kirkconnell, who was previously a Staffing Plan Board member, succeeded former chairman Danny Scott. Caribbean Utilities Company human resources director Philip Jackson is the deputy chairman.
Mrs. Frederick-Westerborg succeeded Maples attorney Sophia Dilbert as chairwoman of the Work Permit Board.
Reappointed members of the Work Permit Board are deputy chair Sarah Barnett, Lavern Daykin, Gary Rutty and Irma Arch. New members are Judy-Ann Ebanks, Edward Hessing, Elizabeth Walton and Christine Archer-Solly.
Reappointed members of the Business Staffing Plan Board are Tammy Seymour and Ken Thompson. Newly appointed members are Rhonda Ebanks, Christopher Goddard, Edward Chisholm, Tristana Ebanks and Ruth Williams.