Immigration ‘priority jobs’ list under way

Job categories holding up PR applications

The Cayman Islands government hopes to have a key stumbling block in permanent residence application process for immigration out of the way by the end of the summer.

The Cayman Compass reported earlier in the year that the government-appointed Caymanian Status and Permanent Residency Board was unable to hear PR applications under the revised Immigration Law which took effect in late October 2013, because its members were unsure how to score those applications.

The delay, at least from the board’s perspective, has mainly to do with uncertainty as to how to score applications from permanent residence-seekers under the new legislation.

The first section of the permanent points system established by the Immigration Law (2013 Revision) awards a potential total of up to 30 points based on the applicant’s job. A person can receive anywhere from zero to 15 points for their job, depending on how much demand there is for that position, based on the current ratio of Caymanians to non-Caymanians in the labor market.

Up to an additional 15 points can be awarded for a “priority job,” meaning a position that is needed for advancement of national economic, cultural or social objectives on a long-term basis.

However, what positions are considered “priority jobs” have not yet been defined, so Caymanian Status and PR Board Chairman Waide DaCosta said board members were simply not able to count someone’s “job points” under the new legislation.

Therefore, the board and the Immigration Department, which is now legally able to consider permanent residence applications under the new legislation, cannot process any of those applications filed under the new Immigration Law.

Ministry of Home Affairs Chief Officer Eric Bush said Tuesday that government is working on the issue.

“[The Progressives-led government] caucus has agreed to progress with a framework that can lead to deciding what the priority occupations could be,” Mr. Bush said. “I am writing to industry associations this week to seek their input. Once we have received this feedback, we will further analyze and present a short list of occupations for consideration.”

A deadline of July 4 has been set for industry feedback. Once that is received, the issue will be sent back to the Progressives government caucus and then on to Cabinet for final approval. The Legislative Assembly does not need to approve the full list of priority occupations or any of the points areas awarded under the new PR applications, according to the law.

Time is a crucial factor with regard to permanent residency applications.

According to the revised Immigration Law, anyone who has been legally resident the Cayman Islands for eight consecutive years can apply for PR in the eighth year of their tenure in Cayman.

However, the so-called “rollover” date – the term limit set on non-Caymanian residents working in the islands – now stands at nine years. If residency applicants’ submissions do not get heard within that period, their tenure in the islands is no longer automatically extended under the new Immigration Law. In order to remain beyond the nine-year limit while an application is being heard, special permission must be granted by the chief immigration officer.

Also, unsuccessful applicants for permanent residence are no longer granted a one-year non-renewable final work permit in Cayman. The maximum time they are allowed to stay following the rejection of PR application is 90 days under the new law.