Immigration to schedule dates for PR applications

Although no specific dates were provided as of press time Monday, the Cayman Islands Immigration Department indicated it is setting a staggered schedule to begin hearing more than 900 applications for permanent residence.

The schedule will deal with all applications in the order in which they were received, the department said Monday.

“Applicants who have been waiting longest will have their application dealt with first,” the department statement noted.

Before any application is considered by the department or the Caymanian Status and Permanent Residency Board, the applicant will be given an opportunity to update any information in the initial application. A schedule of those updated deadlines is expected to be released shortly, immigration officials said.

The deadlines for submitting updated information will depend on when the application was submitted, after Oct. 26, 2013, when legislative changes to the Immigration Law creating the new permanent residence “points” system took effect. It is believed that the vast majority, if not all of the residence applications submitted before that date under the prior Immigration Law have been dealt with, although some may still be going through the appeals process.

“After the deadline for the submission of information passes, the department will aim to have reached a decision on the application within 30 days,” the immigration statement reads.

Immigration officials hedged that 30-day deadline by stating that the processing of more than 900 applications requires time and resources if the applications are to be given the “appropriate degree of scrutiny.”

Permanent residence is the right to remain in Cayman for the rest of one’s life. It can be obtained in a number of ways, but the backlog of applications the government faces stems from non-Caymanians who have applied after eight years of continued residence in the islands.

“The Department of Immigration wishes to thank applicants, their families and their employers for their patience while the legal issues relating to the permanent residence points system were being addressed,” the department statement reads. “The department is fully committed to moving forward with the processing of applications as quickly as possible.”

The changes

The changes Cabinet approved this month in attempts to get the permanent residence application process moving, after it stagnated for more than two years, have been described as “largely cosmetic” by some local immigration attorneys.

The most significant amendment to the system is that all pending applicants for permanent residence will receive the maximum 15 points awarded for their current job, regardless of what the job is. Under the earlier system, anywhere from 0 to 15 points was awarded for an applicant’s job category.

HSM Chambers law firm partner Nicolas Joseph noted earlier this month: “HSM Chambers’ general view is that the new regulations are largely cosmetic and do not constitute a material change for most applicants. Our view is that these changes taking effect … will mean that almost all applicants will receive more points.”

Other changes include points for on-the-job experience being awarded based on how many years and months an employee has worked in that field. For instance, if a person has worked for six years and six months, they would receive six full points for the six years and half a point for the six months, giving them a total of 6.5 points for experience.

Points awarded for property investment are to be given for “equity injections” into the property not made with borrowed funds. A section stating that points would be given only for “major investments” in the property has been deleted, so points will likely be awarded more easily for property investments.

Evidence of an applicant’s savings at a local financial institution must now be provided for only one year instead of the past five years.

Applicants between the ages of 61 and 65 will now be given six points in the “age” category on their application, rather than 0 points, reflecting the change in Cayman’s retirement age from 60 to 65. All applicants will be scored on the age at which they applied for permanent residence.

All changes made in the new regulations will be retroactive, meaning that if a person applied in 2014, their application would still be considered under the rules that now apply.

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