Two new judicial review applications seeking damages over delays in the Cayman Islands government’s processing of permanent residence applications are among at least five legal challenges against the Immigration Department and/or immigration-related boards in the past month.
Other writs filed between May 26 and June 26 involve disputes over a work permit for a hotel industry manager, a revocation of Caymanian status for a 45-year-old man who has lived here since he was 3 months old and a challenge against a deportation order made by the governor.
Both permanent residence matters involved applicants who applied more than a year ago for the right to remain in Cayman for the rest of their life.
One of the applicants, Nicola Hacking, is an attorney who applied for residence in April 2014. The other is Jarladth Travers, a manager in the local financial services industry who applied for residence in August 2015.
Both judicial review applications were made following Premier Alden McLaughlin’s announcement on June 15 that the Caymanian Status and Permanent Residency Board would resume hearing permanent residence applications after a two-and-a-half-year delay.
Attorneys for HSM Chambers, which represents Mr. Travers and Ms. Hacking, have previously opined that resuming hearings for permanent residence applications cannot absolve government from responsibility for any damages incurred by delays. The firm is also representing three other applicants who filed for permanent residence between two-and-a-half and three-and-a-half years ago and are seeking claims, even though their residence applications were approved.
A similar claim is made in all five cases filed on behalf of the applicants: “The failure to reach a decision in respect to the [applicant’s] permanent residence application within a reasonable period of time is unlawful.”
Some of the legal challenges involving permanent residence application delays have claimed that Cayman’s government implemented an informal moratorium against the applicants by delaying matters for so long.
Premier McLaughlin has said that his government intended to get the residency process moving as soon as legal questions were decided over how points should be awarded to applicants.
The first round of residence hearings was completed last week by the Caymanian Status and Permanent Residency Board. One out of the 10 applications heard by the board was approved.
“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 McLaughlin said. “Only those applications that meet the requirements in legislation are being approved.”
A separate legal challenge filed on June 9 involved a hotel group and one of its sales employees, Ingrid Herrera Zelaya De Hernandez, disputing the Business Staffing Plan Board’s rejection of Ms. Zelaya’s work permit application.
A work permit is required for non-Caymanians to be employed in the islands. The employer usually applies for the permit on behalf of the worker.
In this case, the Business Staffing Plan Board determined: “At least one of the Caymanian applicants is able to fill the post being applied for.”
The board did not identify which Caymanian applicant was qualified, according to court records, but the hotel company stated it was aware of the applicant the board was referring to. It gave a number of reasons in the writ filed on behalf of Ms. Zelaya as to why the Caymanian would not have been suited for the position.
Attorneys for the hotel group argued that the decision to deny the work permit was “irrational, unreasonable and procedurally unfair and/or amounts to a breach of natural justice.”
A man who moved to Cayman from Jamaica when he was 3 months old filed an application for judicial review on May 26 after he was informed of the revocation of his Caymanian status.
Rowan Anthony Mullings, now 45, states in the judicial review filing that he was granted Caymanian status (akin to citizenship in the Cayman Islands) on Sept. 11, 1991, but that his status was never stamped on his Cayman Islands passport.
He states in court records that when he went to get the passport renewed, he was informed that he “had no Caymanian status.”
The court records state that Mr. Mullings’s mother found his old status letter, but when this was presented to immigration officials, he was accused of “uttering a false document.”
On June 1, Henricho Swaby also sought judicial review against Governor Helen Kilpatrick’s decision to deport him from Cayman after he was convicted of a crime.
Mr. Swaby argued that he was given no right to appeal the decision, despite close family ties to the jurisdiction and other mitigating matters than should have been considered.