A teacher and a commodities trader are the latest permanent residence-seekers to challenge government’s years-long delays in hearing their applications to remain in the territory for the rest of their lives.
Applications for judicial review were filed last month on behalf of Samantha Shields, a Canadian/Barbadian professor, and Justin Colgan, a funds trader who is originally from Ireland, asking the Grand Court to force government to hear those applications and to award monetary damages to both applicants.
Both arrived here in 2006. Mr. Colgan applied for residence on Feb. 26, 2015, Ms. Shields applied for residence on Sept. 23, 2014, according to the judicial review applications.
Similar requests for judicial review were previously filed in the Grand Court over the residency application delays that have been ongoing since October 2013. The court records allege the Caymanian Status and Permanent Residency Board, as well as the chief immigration officer, have acted “unlawfully” by not considering those applications in a “reasonable period of time.”
Damages sought include interest on the amounts already paid to the Immigration Department for residence applications and ongoing permit-related fees. The judicial review applications also seek unspecified damages for “unwanted stress” caused by the years-long delays in processing the applications.
Ms. Shields and Mr. Colgan are the seventh and eighth applicants to file for judicial review over the delays.
At least three of the eight applicants with matters pending before the court have already been granted permanent residence, but are continuing with their legal actions seeking damages.
Five other applicants that have sought judicial review this year are still awaiting word on their cases.
The Caymanian Status and Permanent Residency Board began hearing PR applications in mid-June, after an approximately two-and-a-half year delay that began around January 2015.
To date, the number of applications approved and those denied has been about equal. However, with well more than 1,000 applications backlogged during the delay period, its estimated government boards will take more than three years to work through the current requests. It’s expected new residence applications will continue to be filed while the backlogged cases are heard.
Between June 2016 and May 2017, an average of 35 applications were filed each month, according to immigration records. More than 40 were received each month in January, February, April and May.
Premier Alden McLaughlin has said there will be no “mass grants” of status in attempts to alleviate the backlog of applications. However, he said last week that additional steps are being taken to try to speed up the current rate at which those applications are being heard, including the hiring of six new administrative staffers.
“We expect to see an increase in productivity, but we are aware such drastic change will not happen overnight,” Mr. McLaughlin said. “This is a top priority for government and it will continue to be so until this matter is resolved.”
Acting Chief Immigration Officer Bruce Smith has also noted that application delays often work to the residence-seeker’s benefit.
“The … board doesn’t want to refuse an application just because the information needed to process it is no longer valid,” Mr. Smith said last week. “They are deferring in the interests of the applicant by allowing them to provide up-to-date information before a final decision is made.”