With about two-thirds of Cayman’s backlogged permanent residency applications decided, government records show about 65 percent of those bids have been approved since last June.
Another 402 applications remain to be decided, according to figures released by the Ministry of Immigration last week.
Premier Alden McLaughlin said Thursday that processing the remainder of the backlogged applications “continues to be a priority” for his administration.
At the current hearing rate, it will take only another two to three months to wade through the remaining cases. The applications are being considered by the Caymanian Status and Permanent Residency Board and the Immigration Department staff members.
Mr. McLaughlin signaled Thursday in his annual speech to the Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce that work has already started on reviewing existing Immigration Law and regulations related to work permits and residency applications. He did not give any hint of what further changes could be made.
“The problems are complex – the root of which go back to systems and processes in place for many years,” he said.
As of Jan. 11, the latest date for which immigration data is available, a total of 895 residency application had been considered. Those numbers include residency applications filed after Oct. 26, 2013, when changes to the permanent residence application system took effect.
Government records showed 527 applicants were approved and 294 were turned down. A further 47 applications were not decided by the board because they were withdrawn and 27 could not be heard because they had been filed late.
A number of unsuccessful residency applicants have already begun filing appeals against the board’s decision in their cases. Requests made to the Immigration Department seeking to determine the number of appellants were not answered by press time Sunday.
The Immigration Department has a specific process for how appeals 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.
A permanent residence appellant is allowed to remain in the islands and work while their appeal is current.