Nearly $50,000 in purported outstanding immigration-related fees have so far prevented a Cayman resident from obtaining the right to be Caymanian under the Cayman Islands Immigration Law, according to court records made public last week.
Those fees are excessive and not charged in relation to the status applicant’s current job in the islands, a judicial review application filed on behalf of Terrance William Delaney on Dec. 11 alleges.
“The Department of Immigration [has] refused to recalculate the fees due … by [Mr. Delaney] despite the fact that it has been accepted by a letter from the Department of Immigration … that as a substance abuse counsellor, [Mr. Delaney] is not a medical doctor,” the judicial review filing states.
Permanent residence fees are generally charged according to the status holder’s occupation, with higher-paying occupations usually drawing higher annual fees.
The judicial review application states that an error by the Immigration Department between 1998 and 2005, while Mr. Delaney was a work permit holder in the islands, put the substance abuse counselor in the same annual fee category as a chartered accountant, banker or doctor. Those fees can vary between $10,000 and $25,000 per year.
As of June 2016, Mr. Delaney will have lived in the Cayman Islands for 20 years, according to court records. He is a British Overseas Territories citizen, a status granted to him in December 2006 – nine years ago.
To date, he has been unable to obtain Caymanian status, the court records allege, although he applied for status in April 2012. His permanent resident status was granted in 2005.
“After almost a decade of attempting to resolve these issues, [Mr. Delaney] has suffered substantial losses and damage,” the judicial review application states.
“The only reason why the Caymanian Status and Permanent Residency Board has deferred [Mr. Delaney’s] application for more than three years is due to the fact that it is the board’s policy not to deal with such applications if they are advised by the chief immigration officer that fees are outstanding to the department,” the application further reveals.
Suspended Chief Immigration Officer Linda Evans said as early as 2010 that the Immigration Department was owed millions of dollars from permanent residence holders who had not paid annual fees due to government for their residency status.
A move in the current immigration application process to collect residency fees “up front,” prior to an application being considered, is a result of difficulties in collecting the fees in the past.
Unlike annual work permit fees, which are paid by the employer, fees for permanent residence can be paid by either the employee, the employer or a combination of both. However, it is ultimately the permanent residence status holder’s responsibility to pay the fees.
Responding to Mr. Delaney’s application in June 2014, the Caymanian Status and Permanent Residency Board deferred his application “for further consideration.”
A year later, in May 2015, fees alleged to be outstanding by Mr. Delaney in relation to his permanent resident status totaled $48,850.
In October 2015, the acting chief immigration officer referred the issue to the Immigration Department’s enforcement section for collection, according to the judicial review application.
The judicial review application seeks court orders directing the chief immigration officer to reduce the fees in line with Mr. Delaney’s current job.
“The chief immigration officer’s decision to refer the matter to enforcement, given the overwhelming evidence of the correct fees due is … unreasonable and contrary to the rules of natural justice,” the judicial review application states.
In order for the judicial review application to be heard, a court must first agree to accept the application. Then the matter is typically heard before the Grand Court as a civil court proceeding.