Counselor gets Caymanian status after 19-year fight

Terrance Delaney

A legal dispute over a substance abuse counselor’s work permit fees that began in the late 1990s has finally been resolved.

The case included two legal challenges being filed and a more than five-year delay in government hearing the counselor’s Caymanian status application.

Terrance William Delaney was awarded the “right to be Caymanian” on Friday, July 20, after being a resident of the islands since the mid-1990s.

“My primary desire, presently, is that no one ever goes through a journey like this in the future,” Mr. Delaney said Wednesday.

Mr. Delaney said he was pleased with the decision of the Immigration Appeals Tribunal, which overturned an earlier decision of the Caymanian Status and Permanent Residency Board to deny him Caymanian status. The initial denial was based solely on an Immigration Department allegation that Mr. Delaney had not paid the correct work permit fees for his job in the islands after he received permanent resident status.

The appeals tribunal judged that the dispute over annual permit fees was a “separate matter” to the question of whether Mr. Delaney should receive Caymanian status.

“The Caymanian Status and Permanent Residency Board acted unreasonably by taking into account irrelevant matters, specifically, the outstanding fees in relation to work permits and permanent residency,” a letter from the tribunal sent to Mr. Delaney on July 20 read.

“The dispute or discussions regarding the appropriate fees payable for work permits and annual permanent residency fees have been discussed by the parties for almost 19 years. There have been various assessments and decisions … made on sums outstanding … while neither party took any action to recover the monies they claim were owed ….”

Mr. Delaney has long argued that he was being overcharged for those fees. His attorneys filed a judicial review application in 2015 stating that the Immigration Department had not charged the correct fees in relation to Mr. Delaney’s job as a substance abuse counselor.

“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 2015 judicial review filing stated. 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 occurred sometime between 1998 and 2005, while Mr. Delaney was a work permit holder in the islands, and put the substance abuse counselor in the same annual fee category as a doctor. Physician permit fees can vary between $10,000 and $25,000 per year. Based on Immigration Department records, a counselor’s work permit fee is $3,850 annually.

In 2005, Mr. Delaney was granted permanent residence, the legal right to remain in Cayman for the rest of his life.

Unlike annual work permit fees, which are paid by the employer, fees for permanent residence are ultimately the permanent residence holder’s responsibility to pay. Mr. Delaney suddenly found himself in a position where he was being required to pay a doctor’s permit fee on a substance abuse counselor’s income.

Last year, a separate legal action was filed against the Caymanian Status and Permanent Residency Board over its apparent refusal to hear Mr. Delaney’s Caymanian status application that was filed in 2012.

The matter was taken to the appeals tribunal in November 2017 and resulted in the eventual decision on July 20 to grant Mr. Delaney the right to be Caymanian – about six years after he applied for it.

It is still open to Mr. Delaney to seek repayment of legal fees spent in the ongoing court battles and to seek repayment of any work permit fees he believes he was overcharged. He said Thursday that he was unsure how he would proceed.

“I need three or four weeks to not be involved in a struggle and then I will decide,” he said.

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