Rules governing qualification for the right to remain indefinitely in these islands were rewritten in October 2013.
To this day, not one of the approximately 400 applications under those new rules has been adjudicated, in part because critical parts of those rules were left undefined. Some of the initial hurdles have been cleared recently, but problems remain, not least the “updated” 40-question (previously 20-question) history test.
When the answer to one question is that a George Town canning factory shipped turtle meat overseas for five months before its November 1915 bankruptcy, we wonder what government thinks applicants should know about Cayman’s social and political development.
Next, consider the documentation that government requires applicants to gather: notarized birth certificates; notarized educational certificates; notarized passport copies; notarized marriage certificate; medical records, including X-rays and blood tests; photographs; CVs; professional certificates; proof of property ownership; proof of community service; a letter from your bank and bank records; police clearances; proof of employment and employers’ letters with salary records; proof of a pension plan and health insurance; and a personal cover letter.
Does your spouse also seek PR? Double the above. Do you have children? They must supply much of the same.
Notarized recommendations from Caymanians are no longer required under the new rules, although to include them cannot harm your application. If they form part of your library of documents, they must be accompanied by notarized copies of authors’ passports, birth certificates or other proof they are Caymanian.
A complicated schedule of fees is charged – some considerable. Simply filing an application requires a $1,000 non-refundable payment; an “issue fee” calculated according to your income is due, ranging between $500 and $12,500; $400 per dependent must be paid; and the annual work permit fee (often in the thousands of dollars) is due in advance. Should the bid fail, government will refund everything but the application fee.
Another $200 will purchase a seat in a four-week Cayman-history course offered by the University College of the Cayman Islands to help you prepare for the history test, and if you want to take it one step further, you could buy $150 or so worth of books to help you study.
Other fees along the way are generally modest: $20 here, $10 there, but collectively send the message “we don’t want you here.”
Finally, should “permanent residence” be granted, it’s not necessarily “permanent” after all. Changes in circumstances may be grounds for revocation, including if you sell your house and don’t replace it with one of equal value; if you change your line of work, your title, gain a promotion and work in your new position without prior consent; if you lose a significant portion of your wealth; if you marry or divorce or your spouse dies; and if you are convicted of a crime.
A permanent resident must file an annual affidavit that the above circumstances have not changed, and then still pay the fee for an annual work permit.
We return to a statistic we cited earlier: Of the 400 or so applicants who have applied for permanent residence since the new law went into effect in October 2013, not one has even been considered. Zero.
Is this the way we want to treat people who desire to become permanent residents of the country?