Caymanian status troubles affect permanent residence applicants

A long-standing problem that involves significant difficulty in proving whether a person is Caymanian has affected a number of applicants for permanent residence in recent weeks.

According to local attorneys helping permanent residence-seekers with their applications, a number of those individuals want to earn points toward residence by stating they trained Caymanians on the job or in their off-hours at various tasks.

In order to earn points for that training, the permanent residency seeker must prove the person they have trained is a Caymanian.

This seemingly simple step has resulted in a number of applications being deferred and sent back to the applicants for further information.

“There is … an ongoing problem, and this will continue, about providing evidence that a person is Caymanian,” said HSM attorney Alastair David. “Unless you have been acknowledged [as Caymanian] or you have a Cayman Status Certificate, it is actually quite onerous to provide information that you are Caymanian.”

The acknowledgment of the right to be Caymanian is an official document Caymanians who are born into that status can receive upon application to the Immigration Department. A Cayman Status Certificate is given to individuals who obtain the status after their birth, for instance to the children of expatriates who receive status after a long period of residence in the islands.

Caymanian status is not granted by birth in the islands, and nor can it be proved by a Cayman Islands passports, which are given to people after they obtain British Overseas Territories citizenship.

Mr. David said the Caymanian Status and Permanent Residency Board has recently started sending out letters to residence applicants, informing them of what is required to prove training claims.

“What I presume has happened is that the board [has] looked at a number of applications and realized certain things are deficient and therefore deferred them,” he said. “Now, because they are spelling out what are the problems, the board [is] less likely to defer and more likely just to grant 0 points.”

Through last week, the Immigration Department and its associated board have deferred 42 residence applications – about 30 percent of the total number officials have considered so far.

Who is Caymanian?

Caymanian status [a locally recognized legal resident status similar to citizenship in an independent country] is not automatically conferred on someone as a result of their having been born in Cayman. Other factors that are considered include the immigration status of a parent at the date of the person’s birth, the marital status of the person’s parents and where the parents were “domiciled.”

Local attorneys have expressed concern that the confusion could lead to hundreds of residents, particularly younger Caymanians who know no other home, being denied rights and services available to other naturalized citizens of the territory, the attorney said. The concern involving permanent residence applications is only a small example of the difficulties that can be created.

It is actually possible for a young person who once had Caymanian status to “lose it” on their 18th birthday. A child of two Caymanian parents who immigrated to Cayman and who received Caymanian status after arriving here would usually be considered Caymanian “by entitlement.”

According to the Immigration Law, those individuals are expected to apply for continuation of that status after reaching age 17, and preferably before they turn 18. If they fail to apply for continuation of that status, they are “seemingly not Caymanian,” according to the Bar association’s analysis. A section of the Immigration Law allows those individuals to apply and receive that status up until age 24, but if they do not do so, legal problems may ensue.

Nicolas Joseph, a partner at the HSM Chambers law firm, has researched this issue for years. According to Mr. Joseph, the gap has resulted in a number of younger Caymanians thinking that they have maintained that status after reaching the age of majority, when in fact they have not.

“It appears to me that numerous persons who were Caymanian by Entitlement [receiving Caymanian status prior to reaching age 18, via their parents] may not be applying for continuation as prescribed/required by law,” Mr. Joseph said in a separate analysis he wrote to the newspaper in November 2015. “We have for some years been seeing an increase of such persons who seem to be here with no express immigration permission, and may have fallen through the cracks. It may be that a substantial number of status grants will be required to resolve the issue.”

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