Eight permanent residence applications have been approved since May and 10 have been denied, according to figures released Friday by the Cayman Islands government.
Another 11 applications were “deferred” pending further information to be presented before the board on behalf of the applicants.
Between May 11 and July 6, three applications were withdrawn and one was tossed out because it was filed too late.
Two of the applications approved faced potential lawsuits by the applicants, who challenged the government over the three-year delays in processing their requests.
The four meetings between May and July were the first to be held to consider permanent residence applications in about two-and-a-half years, since legal questions arose over the system Cayman was using to process the forms. During the lapse period, somewhere between 900 and 1,000 residency applications were made and are now in a backlog. The hearings so far have not made much of a dent in the backlog, local immigration attorney Nicolas Joseph said Friday.
“My guesstimate is that about five or six [applications] are getting filed each week, 250 a year,” Mr. Joseph said. “That seems to be moderately higher than those being finally determined [those granted or refused].”
In the meetings held to decide residence applications thus far by the Caymanian Status and Permanent Residency Board, the numbers released show an average of four to five applications being determined during each meeting.
The deferred applications, Mr. Joseph said, will have to come back before the board when the additional information sought is provided.
“The rate of determinations is plainly going to have to increase dramatically if potential claimants are going to be persuaded that all possible is being done to get through the backlog,” he said.
Since last year, half a dozen people have filed for judicial review against the government over delays in their residence applications; three of those applications were recently granted.
Government representatives said last week that for the time being, they will publicly report the results of permanent residence decisions by the board every week, following its meeting on Thursdays.
Government Information Services officials said the weekly reports are being made after numerous requests from local media regarding results of the applications.
The Immigration Department has announced that all applicants for permanent residence, or their legal or business representatives, will be contacted to provide an update to those records before the applications are heard by the board. Once the update is provided, the department indicated, the board would do its best to hear the application within 30 days.
Immigration advisers noted last week that it is important for people to make application information as current as possible, particularly if the person has not done so since the application was filed. Applicants from late 2013 who recently filed updates could have their cases heard by next week, the board indicated. Residence applications will be heard in the order in which they were received, so applicants who filed in October 2013 would go first, followed by November 2013 and so on.
The Immigration Department advised applicants who are updating their permanent residence documents to wait until they are contacted by government representatives. If the updates are filed too early, the information may be out of date by the time the application is considered by the board, officials said.
Reviewing close to 1,000 permanent residence applications will take significant time, according to Immigration Ministry Chief Officer Wesley Howell.
Many of the applications are hundreds of pages with detailed information about each applicant’s job, education, training, salary, personal finances, community involvement activities and investment in the country, among a host of other areas.