The number of backlogged applications for permanent residence in the Cayman Islands grew by 9.2 percent over a two-week period in late September and early October, despite the efforts of immigration officials to reduce that number, the Cayman Compass has learned.
As of Sept. 22, the number of unheard residency applications stood at 802, according to Immigration Department records.
However, by Oct. 5, that number – identified as the “backlog” of applications – had grown to 876 cases.
Permanent residence extends the right to remain in the Cayman Islands to non-Caymanians who have been continuously resident here for at least eight years, if their applications are approved. Starting in June, the Immigration Department and the Caymanian Status and Permanent Residency Board began hearing those applications after a two-and-a-half year delay.
The number of outstanding applications steadily declined between late July and mid-September, as nearly daily meetings by both the board and the department’s administrative staff were held to decide those cases.
However, between Sept. 22 and Oct. 5, the backlog of applications increased by 9.2 percent, records show.
That increase occurred despite the fact that board members and administrators heard and decided a total of 72 applications during the same period. Since the hearings began in earnest last June, more than 500 applications for residency have been reviewed by immigration officials.
According to a government spokesperson, the number of residency applications had increased by 74 during the two-week period, even though 72 applications were heard and decided. That means more than 140 new applications would have been filed within the past few weeks.
Of the residency cases heard so far, a total of 243 have been approved and 131 have been refused, equating to about a 65 percent approval rate.
Since June, 22 applications have been withdrawn by the applicants and another 10 removed from the queue after immigration officials found they were filed too late. This means the government has dealt with 406 applications, in one way or another, so far.
Nearly 100 residency applications have been “deferred” during the period, but those will usually come back for review within a few weeks of their first hearing, immigration officials said. Some of the initial deferrals will be included in the approval or denial figures, once they are decided.
In mid-September, it was revealed that marathon board and staff hearings starting on July 31 led to the completion of most outstanding residency applications that were filed between October 2013 and December 2014.
Since then, a significant number of applications filed in 2015 and even some from 2016 have been considered.
The 2013-14 applicants had been waiting between two-and-a-half to three years for a decision.
At its height, the backlog of residency applications was believed to be more than 1,100 individuals.
A number of legal concerns raised during 2014 and 2015 regarding how the government was processing the applications served to delay hearings for about two-and-a-half years.