Within the last two months, Cayman Islands government officials have made decisions on 277 applications for permanent residence.

According to records reviewed by the Cayman Compass, a total of 154 applications were heard and decided during August, and 123 were decided through Sept. 22. Of those, 166 were approved, 95 were declined, 10 applications were withdrawn and six were thrown out because they were filed late.

Hearings before the Caymanian Status and Permanent Residency Board and immigration staff members are still proceeding this week, but it is likely that more than 150 applications will have received a decision during September.

Before August, a total of 63 residency applications were heard during the months of June and July.

If the Immigration Department continues hearings at a rate of more than 150 residency applications per month, the remaining backlog of 800 cases should be decided by March 2018.

Approval rates have varied from month to month. During August, about 64 percent of the residency applications were approved while only 55 percent have been approved so far this month.

Permanent residence is the right to remain in Cayman for the rest of one’s life. It can be obtained in a number of ways, but the backlogged applications now being heard by immigration officials only concern non-Caymanians who have asked to remain in the territory after at least eight years of continuous residence.

More than 1,100 such applications had piled up between January 2015 and June 2017, when the government stopped hearing those cases due to a number of legal difficulties associated with how officials were handling, or should be handling, the applications.

Those problems were not resolved until March 2017, when government amended the system used to award permanent residence to non-Caymanian applicants.

Premier Alden McLaughlin has pledged further immigration reform, both to permanent residence grants as well as the work permit system used to bring in guest workers. However, no specific plans have been made public.

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