Although six people have sought a court’s review to date, several other permanent residence applicants have delayed decisions to sue the government over its failure to hear their applications in a timely manner.

One firm representing a number of applicants seeking the right to remain in Cayman for the rest of their life said many of its clients are taking a “wait and see” approach.

“A number of persons who had given instructions to proceed have, with our encouragement, taken a step back,” said HSM Chambers partner Nicolas Joseph. “For that to last, however, many such persons are expecting to receive some indication as to when … their applications are likely to be heard.”

Mr. Joseph said the law firm is advising that only those residency applicants who are being “particularly disadvantaged by the ongoing delays” proceed with court action.

Some applications date back to 2013

Between 900 and 1,000 permanent residence applications are awaiting a hearing before the Caymanian Status and Permanent Residency Board, some of which were filed as early as October or November 2013.

The board began hearing the applications in mid-June after a two-and-a-half year delay as a result of legal uncertainties over how points were being awarded.

The first round of permanent residence applications was heard on June 22, when one out of the 10 bids before the board was approved.

Five applicants 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 more information from the applicants.

“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 last month. “Only those applications that meet the requirements in legislation are being approved.”

The government is now hearing the residency applications in the order in which they were received. Those filed in October 2013 will be heard first, followed by November 2013 and so on.

Mr. Joseph said the government appears to be refusing to expedite any residency application, even those from applicants who face “adverse consequences” from further delays.

“The failure to exercise any discretion in relation to the order in which applications are dealt with is, we believe, in and of itself unreasonable and grounds for legal challenge,” he said.

The law firm gave several examples of how delays in hearing a residence application could negatively impact an applicant:

  • An inability to expand business, especially in instances where shareholders are concerned about the ability of senior management staff at a company to remain in Cayman
  • Deprivation of citizenship rights for children born more than a year after their parent or parents applied for residence
  • The inability to seek promotion or alternative employment

Mounting damages regarding uncertainty related to application delays. Uncertainty includes inability to make plans regarding a child’s schooling, job searches and pension refunds.

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