Nearly 800 PR applicants await decision

An estimated 793 applications for permanent residence in the Cayman Islands have been filed under the revised Immigration Law that took effect on Oct. 26, 2013, including 182 applications that were filed this year.

According to immigration records provided via an open records request, none of the applications has been approved.

The statistics made available as of July 6 show that a total of 709 residency applications have been received and processed since October 2013. An additional 53 applications contained missing information for which requests had been sent by immigration authorities. Another three applications were in various stages of the review process.

In February, the Immigration Department reported 12 permanent residence applications were refused following review. Those refusals happened in 2013 and 2014.

Another 15 applications were filed too late and the relevant immigration board had no legal power to review them. One application was withdrawn during 2015.

Since Jan. 1, 2015, no permanent residence applications have been approved or denied, according to immigration records, although requests for missing information were sent out for some of them in 2015.

So far in 2016, no action appears to have been taken on any of the 182 applications submitted this year, according to immigration records.

Permanent residence status in Cayman is the right to reside in the territory for the rest of one’s life. It is the first step in what is typically a 15-20 year process of obtaining British Overseas Territories citizenship and finally, the right to be Caymanian. Residency can be obtained in a number of ways, but most often it is applied for by the non-Caymanian spouses of Caymanians, or by non-Caymanian workers who have lived in the territory for at least eight years.

The law requires the permanent residence application to be filed by long-term residents who are not married to Caymanians between their eighth and ninth years in the islands. An application filed after the applicant’s nine-year anniversary on island would be considered too late. Non-Caymanian residents without family connections in Cayman are required to depart the islands for at least a year following nine years of consecutive residence in the islands unless they apply for residency.

A legal review, ongoing for a year since a landmark ruling of the Cayman Islands Grand Court in August 2015, has been identified as the main factor holding up the processing of these applications.

Chief Justice Anthony Smellie’s ruling cited two major areas of concern in the Immigration Law. As a result of that ruling, two women who waited nearly a decade for a decision on their cases were recently granted permanent residence by the Immigration Appeals Tribunal. Justice Smellie’s decision dealt with the actions of the appeals tribunal in the two cases in which the non-Caymanian workers had applied for residence. The actions, said the judge, amounted to a “miscarriage of justice” and required a rehearing of the case. The matter was reheard in June and the women were awarded permanent residence on July 12.

The second issue involved the awarding of points toward permanent residence applications that the court said caused “immediate and obvious concerns” about how applicants’ occupations were scored.

A consultant’s review on the permanent residence process, done at the request of Premier Alden McLaughlin, was completed earlier this year. Mr. McLaughlin said last month that he does not intend to release the report of that review, but that the territory would know shortly what changes the government intended to make in response to the concerns flagged by the chief justice.

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  1. There is only one thing that disturbs me in people applying for permanent residence or status. What is your true purpose? Getting the opportunity of working in a country for nine years is an advantage, to which any person can begin with a plan of setting their plans in a plant pot, and at the end of nine years having done well could either decide to take up the plant pot, plant it somewhere else or decide to take the plan out of the pot and plant it. “Now follow me.”
    Setting those plans down to take roots could mean applying for residence or status. But before we do that we should at least by then have had time and a true purpose for even considering taking them out of their pots.
    Keeping your “plans in pots” and expecting them to “take roots” is not good enough reason for wanting residence and status, if you get what I mean. So my suggestions are, think about a “True and honest purpose” then set your plans to take root. If you have a sincere and honest purpose, I see no reason why your plans should not blossom into a beautiful tree.

    • Sorry Twyla but you have me totally confused.

      The people who have applied for PR HAVE planted roots, including living here for some 9 years of their lives and buying a home.
      A home is an expensive investment and not one that can be easily disposed of in the event PR is denied. It is a big risk for them.

      What else would you like them to do?

  2. Appears that Immigration has quite the backlog and should figure out how to clear all the applications without denying all of them, since the laws change like the weather in G C, Up next will be, the weasel chasing around the mulberry bush… Lets make it a bit less confusing for folks who would like to be in G C and not such a convoluted process…. Or cost prohibitive…

  3. I’m not sure exactly what Twyla was doing with that pot, but certainly she was not planting veggies or flowers in it.

    Members of the Legislative Assembly must have taken lessons from Hillary Clinton.

    “Tell the people whatever they want to hear….. then do whatever you want, or whatever the pay-for-play cronies will ante-up for”.

    Government has no intension of allowing these foreigners permanent residency. It simply will take applicant’s money every time “permission” to stay expires, provide the extension, collect fees for police and medical certificates, and go along its merry way. Leaving the PR applicants swinging in the breeze.

    Approve the legitimate applications or change the law to disallow immigration and take your chances on how Business will react.

    You’d never know our LA is comprised of faithful Churchgoing, Good Christians by the way they renege on their promises, and ignore the law.

  4. Norman, How ye goin be confused? ye know exactly wha ah talking bout. Wha ye goin buy a house fah, within nine years if ye nuh have no guarantee of getting PR or CS. Its putting the cart before the horse.
    Its called planting your plant before getting the deed for your property.
    Building a home in Cayman to me, does not signify a true purpose of wanting to be a “Caymanian” I know of persons who have built a home or even purchase property, but their heart is not with us. They do not support local charities, eat at local restaurants, drink at local pubs , attend local churches, bathe on public beaches and do not even tell a local person good morning. We do not want a divided Cayman, and then in a few years you will hear something coming to the fore front like “Black lives matter” So my suggestion is have a good reason, to want to be Caymanian except buying a house.

    • Sorry but again I am confused.
      I can’t speak for every PR applicant, and I am sure there are some who don’t consider Cayman to be their real home.

      But the majority do eat in local restaurants, buy groceries in local supermarkets and, if religious, go to local churches.

      My point simply is that investing a large amount of money in an illiquid asset like a home is a big risk to take when you are not sure you will be able to continue living in it.

    • This is a whole mess of a comment.
      1) Most individuals are forced by the points system to buy a home before applying for PR. It’s not them putting the cart before the horse by choice. The government has forced them to in order to be considered for PR.
      2) If someone has lived on this island for 9 years, I can guarantee they have eaten at local restaurants, drank at local pubs and bathed on public beaches. Unless your definition of local means only certain establishments you consider to be truly Caymanian. Either way they have spent money locally and supported the local economy. As for charities, that’s up to the individual, but the PR points system does place a certain amount of importance on charitable involvement. Religion is beside the point, as is a subjective thing such as telling a local person good morning. What you have described is a hermit, who would have no qualifications for PR, not the vast majority of PR applicants.

  5. We don’t have a choice Twyla. In order to gain enough points under the new system, a PR applicant has to have invested a good deal of capital in the Cayman Islands, by way of a property purchase. I’m also confused about your definition of ‘local’ restaurants and ‘local’ bars. Do you mean establishments that sell turtle meat rather than hamburgers? Anyone who has eaten out in Cayman in their last 9 years must surely have eaten at a local restaurant.
    And the comment about black lives matter – what are you talking about? Are you trying to suggest that all Caymanians are black and that all PR applicants are not – hence the divide?
    The true purpose of anyone applying for PR is – to get PR, and be allowed to continue living and working here in Cayman. There is no other hidden agenda. OK, so perhaps they don’t intend to stay forever, just so long as they are in employment. Cayman is an expensive place to retire so perhaps they’ll eventually leave when they are old, to retire overseas. In which case, they will not be any burden on the Caymanian people or society, just contributors to it’s success and growth while they were employed. Seriously, there is no ulterior motive here, people just want to be able to live and work in a country they love. No one is trying to get one over on you, or take anything from you.
    Just be allowed to live in the home they were forced to buy in order to stay in their jobs.