A man whose application for permanent residence took more than eight years from the date it was filed to when it was rejected by an appeals body has sued the Cayman Islands government, seeking re-consideration of the case.
In a Grand Court writ filed late last month, Glendon Frederick Locke says his initial application to the Caymanian Status and Permanent Residency Board was made on Jan. 16, 2007. The board denied the application on Feb. 5, 2009.
According to the writ, it wasn’t until April 29, 2015 that the Immigration Appeals Tribunal issued a letter stating the appeal had been refused.
“This is an application submitted in 2007 which has finally been determined in 2015,” the Grand Court claim states. “The delay in the resolution of this application has caused the applicant prejudice.”
Mr. Locke also claims there was evidence he presented regarding a business ownership that should have been considered by the board and the tribunal.
The length of time various immigration application cases have taken to be resolved was noted by Chief Justice Anthony Smellie in a landmark decision in August that questioned a number of areas in the Immigration Law and regulatory procedures, both past and present.
Justice Smellie described “unconscionably long delays” in hearing one of the cases noted in the August judgment. An applicant for permanent residence in that case, Michelle Hutchinson-Green, submitted her application in November 2006 and was rejected by the appeals tribunal seven years later in October 2013. During that period, the Immigration Law was amended more than 10 times, the judgment stated.
Following the ruling, a number of other legal challenges were filed regarding other adverse decisions on permanent residence applications. In two of those filings from October, the applicants alleged the various boards involved either used unsanctioned scoring methods in determining their cases or simply didn’t tell them the reasons for the board’s decision.
“Full disclosure” will likely have to become the order of the day for immigration-related board decisions, local immigration attorney Nicolas Joseph said.
“The expectations of heightened standards of scrutiny in considering any matter which might have a human rights element will mean that anything short of full disclosure of all relevant materials relied upon by a decision-maker in such a manner as would entitle an applicant to understand the basis on which they are assessed,” Mr. Joseph said. “Any failure to do so would likely face a successful challenge.”
The government is in the process of a consultant’s review of its immigration system, particularly with regard to the granting of permanent residence.
Law firm Ritch & Conolly has been retained to assist the government in analyzing both the current permanent residence points system and the PR appeals process.
The firm’s senior partner, David Ritch, is a former chairman of the government’s Work Permit Board and was one of the government’s key advisers in the establishment of the territory’s current Immigration Law, which introduced the term limit or “rollover” policy for non-Caymanian workers.
Mr. Ritch has said he does not expect to complete his work until sometime in the new year.
Premier Alden McLaughlin described the review as a “forward-looking exercise” aimed at reviewing the lawfulness and fairness of any decision related to current applications for permanent residence and appeals involving PR applications.
The review seeks to provide advice to government in these matters “on an urgent basis,” the premier’s office said.
The statement alluded to the possibility that the review could result in further delays of current permanent residence applications, hundreds of which have been pending since government changed the Immigration Law in October 2013.