Just one out of the 10 permanent residence applications considered by the Caymanian Status and Permanent Residency Board Thursday received approval, according to government officials.
Five applicants seeking the right to remain in Cayman for the rest of their lives were denied residency status and two other applicants withdrew their papers, board chairman Waide DaCosta said in a press release issued by the government Ministry of Immigration.
Two other applications were deferred pending the delivery of further information from the applicants.
These permanent residence applications were the first to be reviewed by the board, barring cases that involved court challenges, in about two-and-a-half years.
“The early number should serve to assure the public that permanent residence applications are being carefully considered and that there will be no mass grants,” Premier Alden McLaughlin said. “Only those applications that meet the requirements in legislation are being approved.”
Mr. McLaughlin’s comments appeared to refer to remarks contained in an online petition circulating the islands since last week that asked the premier to “defer any further mass grants” of residence applications until jobs could be found for 1,200 unemployed Caymanian workers and 600 or so school leavers.
Although the petition stated it would seek a referendum question on the issue, fewer than 400 people had signed it by Friday evening.
The 10 residence applications considered by the board Thursday were “among the first” filed following the change in the islands’ Immigration Law that made permanent residence more difficult to obtain.
“The board takes their role very seriously and their goal is to consider the applications as quickly as possible, while ensuring that each is properly reviewed and given the consideration it deserves,” Ministry of Immigration Chief Officer Wesley Howell said.
Somewhere between 900 and 1,000 applicants have been waiting for word on their residence applications – some of which were filed as early as October 2013 – as technical legal difficulties plagued the government’s approval system.
Two applicants under the current law were granted residence in May after filing lawsuits against the government over the three-year delays in hearing their cases.
It was argued by attorneys representing both of those men that many residence applicants had well more than the 110 points required for approval of their bids, even with ongoing legal questions regarding how points should be awarded for things like occupations.
Residence applicants who have been denied may appeal decisions of the Caymanian Status and Permanent Residency Board to the Immigration Appeals Tribunal and, ultimately to the Grand Court, if they feel aggrieved. However, those individuals will not be allowed to continue working in Cayman while those appeals are processed, according to the 2013 version of the Immigration Law.
***This story has been updated from the original.***