Prospective permanent residents in the Cayman Islands can now opt to receive some study help in preparation for the history and culture exam they must take as part of the PR process.
For $200, the University College of the Cayman Islands will offer enrollment in a month-long, weekend course aimed at assisting potential “new Caymanians” in taking the permanent residence test. The first round of courses is to begin the weekend of April 4. The course can be taken on Saturday or Sunday and will be taught by either UCCI professor Livingston Smith or professor Christopher Williams.
Following completion of the course, UCCI will provide the Immigration Department with the names of the participants.
Acting Chief Immigration Officer Bruce Smith said the course represents the first time his department and UCCI have partnered in an educational effort.
“We have already discussed that the [classroom] presentations will be robust, interactive and thoroughly enlightening,” UCCI President Roy Bodden said. “We look forward to a mutually beneficial exercise.”
Immigration Department statistics recently examined by the Cayman Compass revealed that relatively few non-Caymanians have applied for PR since the Immigration Law was amended in October 2013.
According to records provided by the department, 337 residency applications have been received since changes to the law made residency status far more difficult to obtain. Since Oct. 26, 2013, none of the applications has been heard because of legal uncertainty surrounding how to interpret the points system that governs whether an applicant will be successful. The department recently stated that the legal issues had been cleared up, and that the PR history and culture tests would soon be administered.
The 337 applications do not include another 11 received prior to the change in the law which are still being considered under the old immigration regime.
The primary reason for the decline in applications is believed to be the cost of paying up front for application fees, permit fees and fees for dependents, which could total thousands, even tens of thousands of dollars in some cases.
However, a number of applicants who took the history and culture test that was administered under the old Immigration Law have privately expressed frustration to the Compass about questions on that 20-question test. The new PR test has been expanded to a 40-question multiple choice exam.
The government has declined to release sample test questions for either exam. However, some of the questions provided to the Compass last year from the old test revealed that they included queries about the names of the wood beam that ran through the center of Cayman-style houses, the name of the pen in which live turtles were kept and the name of a local fiddle player who once performed at the Grand Ole Opry.
Under the new testing scheme, each correct answer will be worth half a point, with a maximum of 20 points toward permanent residence. Successful PR applicants must earn at least 110 points in a system that judges them based on numerous categories, including investment in the islands, volunteer work, their job, their earnings, their age, their nationality and any Caymanian connections they may have.
The Immigration Department is now contacting all PR applicants to schedule test dates, and the aim is to have all the testing for current applicants completed by July 31.
In addition to the classroom course, several books available at the UCCI bookstore have been listed as approved study materials. They include:
The Cayman Islands in Transition: The Politics, History and Sociology of a Changing Society by J.A. [Roy] Bodden
Founded Upon the Seas: A History of the Cayman Islands and Their People by Michael Craton and the New History Committee
Caymanian Expressions: A collection of sayings and phrases used in the Cayman Islands by Kevin Goring
The Lawless Caymans – A Story of Slavery, Freedom and the West India Regiment by Brian Kieran