Cayman Islands immigration officials have dealt with more than 1,000 applications for permanent residence since last June, clearing most of the backlogged applicants who had been waiting years for a decision regarding their legal status.

There were still 263 residence applications awaiting decision as of Feb. 5, however, well more than half of those applicants have been asked for additional information from the Immigration Department before their cases will be heard or reheard.

A further 53 applications were withdrawn by the residency applicant and another 28 were dismissed by immigration officials because they were filed too late.

Considering the rate at which applications are being reviewed, it is possible those outstanding matters could be resolved within a few weeks.

Permanent residence is a legal status that allows a non-Caymanian to remain in the islands for the rest of their lives. There are several ways to obtain it, but the backlog of applications that has been troubling the British territory since early 2015 involves individuals who have lived and worked in the islands for at least eight years on work permits or government contracts before seeking resident status.

As of Feb. 5, a total of 591 residency applications had been awarded while 374 were refused; an approval rate of about 61 percent.

The rate of PR approvals fell slightly through the first two months of this year. Before that time, the approval rate for applications was around 65 percent.

At least some of the 374 applicants who were refused have appealed their cases to the Immigration Appeals Tribunal and some have been successful in those matters. The Cayman Compass has sought to obtain the outcome of appeals cases via the Freedom of Information Law, but the newspaper has not yet received a response from immigration officials.

HSM law firm partner Nicolas Joseph told clients in a letter sent in late January that the firm was handling at least 19 appeals of PR denials and that the appeals tribunal was now hearing those matters.

“We received confirmation of success on the first such appeal earlier [in January],” Mr. Joseph said. “The appellant (and his family) have all been granted PR without the tribunal finding it necessary to consider many of our grounds of appeal, and – as with all unsuccessful PR applicants – there appears regrettably to be no shortage of such grounds.”

Mr. Joseph also noted there had been some delays in implementing permanent resident status, as well as some other immigration statuses, after determinations were made in applicants’ favor by the Immigration Appeals Tribunal.

“As appeals are won, there continue to be hurdles in the implementation of those decisions,” he said. “Although, legally, permanent residence, Caymanian status, and work permits are being granted by the Immigration Appeals Tribunal and even through the Grand Court, the Immigration authorities seem unable to implement those awards in a timely manner. We are experiencing delays in having [appeals tribunal] determinations actioned, but hopefully that will soon be a thing of the past.”

Remaining cases

Of the 263 residency cases remaining to be decided, 110 were missing certain information when filed and another 86 were deferred by either the relevant immigration board or immigration staff.

Typically, the deferred cases will be re-heard within a short period.

A further 41 applications have been scheduled for hearing and only 26 have not yet been considered by immigration officials.

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