Permanent residence: The applicants deserve better

Waiting in a line that hasn’t moved for 10 minutes is frustrating; waiting in a line that hasn’t moved in 10 months must be maddening.

We refer, of course, to the lead story in yesterday’s Cayman Compass in which we reported that since the passage of the revised Immigration Law last October, “not a single application for permanent residence under the new legislation has been heard.”

Then began what the government might call “explanations” and what those in the queue might call “excuses.”

Whatever the nomenclature, the salient fact is the line hasn’t moved and people’s lives, likewise, are on hold.

At the center of this bureaucratic barricade is the current government’s decision to change the Immigration Law in relation to applications for permanent residence. The reason more than 400 applications are in administrative purgatory relates to the way those changes are being implemented, or more precisely, not being implemented.

Shortly after taking office in May 2013, the Progressives-led government announced that it would amend the Immigration Law. The government made those amendments in October of last year, but since then it has failed to define some of the criteria for scoring permanent residence applications under its established points system. As a result, the Cayman Status and Permanent Residence Board has been unable to review any applications that have been submitted since the amended law took effect.

The problem is that government hasn’t told the Board how to score up to 30 points available in the system relating to how much demand there is for a particular job and whether the position could be considered a “priority job.” In other words, the government can’t – or won’t – define the criteria for a law of its own making.

Although the government has tried to characterize the changes it has made to the permanent residence system as positive, those who have actually applied under the new law would probably disagree. Not only is it more difficult to get the number of points required, but the government appears in no hurry to review any applications.

In the meanwhile, hundreds of foreign nationals who have lived and worked in the Cayman Islands for more than eight years and who have progressed in good faith down the precarious path to permanent residence, have not only seen the goalposts moved back, but removed from the field altogether.

There is an often-recited legal maxim that suggests that justice delayed is justice denied, which means that in the interest of fairness, there should be timely redress of matters before the court. However, the concept of justice is not confined to the judicial system, and in cases such as this where bureaucracy and political expedience are unfairly affecting lives through unnecessary delays, justice is being denied.

The process of applying for permanent residence under the new system is cumbersome, and there are investment risks involved. Most of these applicants have demonstrated their commitment to the Cayman Islands, and it is only fair that our government show them the courtesy and respect of a timely decision so that these people can get on with their lives – either here or elsewhere.

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  1. It is not a fair playing field. I have lived here for 21 yrs. Followed all the rules, bought a house, was involved in community long before I knew that I even wanted to stay in Cayman. I followed the point system and upon completion of my application I had well over the 100 points needed at that time. But here is where things are unfair…..The point system means nothing because for no reason the board can give you zero points for an area you thought should give you 20 points. When you question this, the answer is always….It is at the discretion of the board….so why even bother with a point system? I applied for residency and was refused being short 4 points. I appealed and 7yrs later, my life is on hold. It would be nice to get out of this line and be told yes or no once and for all so that I can decide upon my future without this constant waiting with no explainations given.

  2. Things like this are just why people that come here to work don’t bother to put down roots or invest into Cayman. It’s obvious that you can never do enough to get respected as an equal in Cayman. Even if you do everything by the book correctly it’s still only temporary and your life can easily be turned upside down by an immigration officer that had a bad day. Bottom line is that Cayman is culturally not welcoming to outsiders unless they are only visiting with an open wallet and planning to leave when it’s closed. People should keep that in mind when planning their life in Cayman.