Recent permanent residence grantees who have waited more than 15 months to receive that immigration status may now apply immediately for naturalization as a British Overseas Territories citizen.
Typically, those seeking naturalization in the Cayman Islands would have to wait for a year and a day after their permanent residence application was granted before applying. That wait time, for some applicants, can be waived at the discretion of Governor Helen Kilpatrick.
Deputy Governor Franz Manderson confirmed Tuesday that naturalization as a British territories citizen is still a required step for those ultimately wishing to obtain Caymanian status, known as the “right to be Caymanian.”
Cayman operates a graduated residency system for non-Caymanians who have been in the territory for long periods of time. Those individuals, if they wish to remain in Cayman, must first obtain permanent residence after eight years of living here, then naturalization as a British Overseas Territories citizen, and finally Caymanian status after 15 years of residence.
Mr. Manderson acknowledged Tuesday that at least a few hundred applicants for permanent residence had been waiting for more than 15 months for that application to be determined.
“Some of those people have been waiting for three years,” Mr. Manderson said. “The governor feels very strongly that those people, who legitimately come to us and say ‘I don’t think it’s reasonable for us to be waiting another year,’ should be considered.”
The Immigration Law gives Governor Kilpatrick the discretion to waive the “year and a day” required delay for naturalization in such cases where there have been unreasonable delays.
Mr. Manderson said advice obtained from the U.K. Home Office indicates that a wait time of more than 15 months for a residency application would likely fall into the “unreasonable” category.
The advantage to applying for naturalization early would be that the person has taken the next step toward seeking Caymanian status, Mr. Manderson said.
The application process for those individuals who qualify to apply early is no different than the normal process and applicants are not required to pay any additional money, the deputy governor said.
So far, Mr. Manderson said, only a handful of permanent residents have sought expedited applications for naturalization.
However, that number is about to skyrocket, according to immigration attorneys with the local law firm HSM Chambers.
“Approximately 100 such applications are in various stages of preparation,” HSM partner Nick Joseph wrote in a letter to firm clients Nov. 7. Mr. Joseph was speaking of naturalization applications to be filed by individuals granted permanent residence.
“Of course, these applications will be growing in number as more and more persons continue to be granted permanent residence,” Mr. Joseph said.