Another court challenge has been filed over a permanent residency application, this time in a relatively recent matter.
Oliver Sinton is seeking judicial review over the failure of the Caymanian Status and Permanent Residency Board and the chief immigration officer to hear his March 4, 2016 residence application. He is the latest PR applicant to seek legal recourse against the government.
Mr. Sinton’s judicial review, filed after a 15-month delay, seeks a declaration that his case’s delay is unlawful. He also seeks damages and legal costs against the government.
Mr. Sinton’s judicial review application, filed June 30, is the sixth seeking to challenge delays in the residency hearings process. Three of those six applicants have received permanent residence and are pursuing damages against the Cayman Islands government over the delays. The other three applications, filed on June 16, June 26 and June 30, have not yet come before the court for consideration.
The three permanent residency applications that were approved under legal threat were all filed between late 2013 and mid-2014.
The government’s delays in hearing an application for citizenship or residency status have been a subject of concern since last year, following a ruling of the U.K.’s Privy Council. That decision overturned an earlier decision of an eastern Caribbean court, ruling that a 19-month delay in registering an application for citizenship was too long and was “likely to be unlawful” when considering an applicant’s human rights.
The Privy Council judgment from August 2016 involves a Guyanese man who was seeking to become a citizen of Antigua and Barbuda by virtue of his marriage to a woman who had already obtained that status.
The central question in the court case, previously heard by the Court of Appeal of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (Antigua and Barbuda), was whether the 19 months it took between the man’s application for citizenship and his subsequent interview regarding that application, fell within locally acceptable and legally permissible time lines.
In total, it took the man – Clive Oliveira – 27 months from the filing of his citizenship application until his grant of Antigua and Barbuda citizenship. However, the court’s main concern centered on the length of time it took for his citizenship application to be registered and scheduled for interview – 19 months.
“We … conclude that a period of one year, from application to registration … is in general the outside limit of a reasonable time and that delay beyond that time, absent special considerations, is likely to be unlawful because a fetter on the legitimate applicant’s right to be registered,” the court ruled.
The ruling has parallels to situation in Cayman, where between 900 and 1,000 people have applied for permanent residence under the current Immigration Law since October 2013.
The Caymanian Status and Permanent Residency Board began hearing those cases last month after a two-and-a-half year delay. Several legal challenges regarding the delays have been filed since the restart of hearings by the board.
Until this week, all applicants for permanent residence were required to have blood tests for HIV and police clearance checks every six months. Those documents were due to be turned in to immigration authorities before each six-month renewal of their employment application – called a “permission to continue working” application.
According to immigration officials, the six-month requirement has been changed to an annual requirement for individuals renewing their permission to work.
The permission to continue working form must still be filled out every six months and the corresponding permit fee paid by the employer every six months. The blood tests and police clearances, however, will be valid for 12 months.