Status application delayed for 5 years over residency fees

A substance abuse counselor, who was required to pay a doctor’s work permit fees to maintain his permanent residence in the Cayman Islands, has sued a government-appointed immigration board over its refusal to hear his Caymanian status application since 2012.

The writ filed by Terrance William Delaney against the Caymanian Status and Permanent Residency Board on Oct. 27 alleges that his application for Caymanian status, a locally recognized immigration status similar to citizenship, has been delayed solely because of the unpaid fees.

However, the writ states that after multiple meetings with government officials and board members, no agreement has been reached on precisely what fees Mr. Delaney should pay.

“It has been accepted by letter from the Department of Immigration dated May 28, 2015 that as a substance abuse counsellor, [Mr. Delaney] is not a medical doctor, but holds the title of counsellor/consultant,” the writ reads.

“It is verily believed and understood that the only reason why the Caymanian Status and Permanent Residency Board has deferred [Mr. Delaney’s] application for more than five years is due to the fact that it is the board’s policy not to deal with such applications if [the board] is advised by the chief immigration officer that fees are outstanding to the department,” the filing further states. “[This decision] is unlawful and contrary to the rules of natural justice.”

According to court records, Mr. Delaney has been residing in Cayman since the mid-1990s. He received permanent residence and was naturalized as a British Overseas Territories citizen in December 2006.

His initial application seeking Caymanian status was made April 13, 2012.

It was stated in documents filed earlier with the Grand Court that nearly $50,000 in purported outstanding immigration-related fees prevented Mr. Delaney from obtaining the right to be Caymanian under the Cayman Islands Immigration Law.

A judicial review application filed in late 2015 stated that these fees were excessive and not charged in relation to the status applicant’s current job in the islands.

“The Department of Immigration [has] refused to recalculate the fees due … by [Mr. Delaney] despite the fact that it has been accepted by a letter from the Department of Immigration … that [Mr. Delaney] is not a medical doctor,” the judicial review filing states.

Permanent residence fees are generally charged according to the status holder’s occupation, with higher-paying occupations usually drawing higher annual fees.

The judicial review application stated that an error by the Immigration Department between 1998 and 2005, while Mr. Delaney was a work permit holder in the islands, put the substance abuse counselor in the same annual fee category as a chartered accountant, banker or doctor. Those fees can vary between $10,000 and $25,000 per year.

Based on Immigration Department records, a counselor’s work permit fee would be $3,850 annually.

Unlike annual work permit fees, which are paid by the employer, fees for permanent residence can be paid by either the employee, the employer or a combination of both. However, it is ultimately the permanent residence holder’s responsibility to pay the fees.

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