At least five people who were denied permanent resident status within the past two months have filed appeals against those decisions, the Cayman Compass can reveal.
“Four appeals have now been filed … in the last few days,” HSM Chambers law firm partner Nick Joseph wrote in an email to firm clients, which also stated that a fifth person had earlier sought to appeal the denial of their residency case, and a potential sixth appeal was being considered.
“We continue to receive such instructions [from clients], and expect the number of appeals to grow,” Mr. Joseph said.
Records reviewed by the Compass last week showed 277 residence applications, which allow non-Caymanians to remain here for the rest of their lives, had been decided since Aug. 1.
Those records showed 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 Of those, 166 were approved, 95 were declined, 10 applications were withdrawn and six were thrown out because they were filed late.
The withdrawn or “time barred” applications do not have a right of appeal.
The Immigration Department has a specific process for how those matters are to be dealt with, once an appeal is filed. First, a person who is denied residency must receive an official letter from the department or the Caymanian Status and Permanent Residency Board to that effect.
The person then has 28 days from the date of the letter to file notice of appeal, which is basically a short statement noting the individual’s intent. All such cases are taken first to the Immigration Appeals Tribunal, which hears them and makes a determination.
Further appeals to the Grand Court can be done by way of judicial review.
If the person does not appeal within the timeline, they are given 90 days to settle their affairs in the islands before departing.
Once a notice of appeal is filed, immigration officials must provide the denied applicant with written reasons for why their case was not approved. This includes a summary of how many points an applicant received in each area measured by immigration officials including, salary, education, experience, community involvement, local investment, age and nationality.
If a residency applicant is successful, they are not told how many points they actually received – above the 110 point mark required for approval of the application. Only the failed applicants are informed of their precise results upon appeal, Mr. Joseph said.
“[This appeal process] will, for the first time, provide us with insight as to the approach those considering the applications are taking from a practical/policy perspective,” he said. “We are yet to receive any details of the reasons underlying any refusals, but look forward to them in the coming days.”
A permanent residence appellant is allowed to remain in the islands and work while their appeal is current, according to HSM lawyers.
Other legal challenges
The permanent residence appeals are separate from other matters still before the courts involving residency applicants who sued the government over delays in hearing their applications.
A total of eight people – all of whom have since been granted permanent residency – challenged the government over the time it was taking to hear their cases, which ranged from two years to nearly four years.
The applicants pursued their court reviews even after their residency requests were granted, but there has been no word on the outcome of any of those cases.
The government began hearing residency applications rapidly, starting at the end of July, largely because of the legal threat it potentially faced.