About 5 percent of the work permit applications submitted to the Cayman Islands government were rejected during the previous budget year, according to records made public last month by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
Those figures include permit applications made on behalf of non-Caymanian workers to the Immigration Department as well as to the Work Permit Board, which hears the more contentious applications or appeals of certain work permit denials.
The ministry’s records for the 2015/2016 budget year, the latest available data, note that more than 18,000 work permit applications were approved during the year – about 74 percent of all those filed.
Another 5,200 (about 21 percent) were “deferred,” meaning they were sent back for additional information or just delayed during a board’s hearing for various reasons. Some of those applications may have been reconsidered and approved or rejected later in the year.
Only about 1,300 were refused, either by immigration staff or by the Work Permit Board.
Toward the end of 2016, Cayman had just fewer than 24,000 non-Caymanians employed here on work permits.
That number includes non-Caymanian workers here on government contracts, those awaiting word on permanent residence applications and individuals working at Cayman Enterprise City, which operates under separate work permit rules. The number does not include those who have already received permanent residence or the non-Caymanian spouses of Caymanians.
Overall, the 23,739 permit holders listed in early December represent a slight decline from 24,077 recorded in early July 2016.
According to Immigration Department statistics provided to the Cayman Compass under the Freedom of Information Law each quarter since January 2010, the territory has seen a steady increase in work permits granted in the past six years.
Work permits and government contracts have increased from a low of about 18,500 in fall 2010 to about 20,360 in July 2014. The numbers increased again in January 2015 to 21,400, and then to 22,232 in July 2015.
Separate applications made for Caymanian status (akin to local citizenship for non-Caymanians) during the government’s 2015/16 budget year were approved at a rate of 58 percent, according to ministry records.
The Caymanian Status and Permanent Residency Board approved 1,221 status applications and deferred another 716. Another 177 applications were refused by the board.
The application figures from that board were not believed to include any approvals or denials of permanent residence applications, of which there are now more than 900 pending.
The ministry’s annual report states that legal delays with those residence applications have resulted from an August 2015 Grand Court ruling penned by Chief Justice Anthony Smellie.
“The government has not since issued a policy steer on which the Caymanian Status and Permanent Residency Board and the Department [of Immigration] can be guided in terms of process and procedure,” the report states.