Ombudsman orders document release

The ombudsman for the Cayman Islands government issued a ruling Thursday directing Workforce Opportunities and Residency Cayman to publish relevant decision-making documents in a case regarding a permanent residency inquiry.

The decision by Ombudsman Sandy Hermiston applies to an applicant who made four separate requests to the Department of Immigration under the Freedom of Information Law seeking records relating to policies, procedures and guidelines on the handling of applications for permanent residency.

No initial response was given to the applicant and no internal review was conducted.

Various records were disclosed during the appeal, including policies relating to applications for permanent residency, but the Department of Immigration advised those policies were no longer in place.

The applicant responded and asked whether there were any policies that are in use relating to applications for permanent residency, but did not receive a response. Ms. Hermiston found that the department failed to respond to requests within the time limit established by the FOI Law.

The ombudsman also concluded that the department failed to indicate whether it held records requested by the applicant and failed to publish “records used in making decisions.”

As a result, the ombudsman directed the department – which is now known as Workforce Opportunities and Residency Cayman – to provide a full answer to the applicant. The department is also ordered to publish its guiding documents related to the making of decisions.

“This appeal is a good reminder that the law must be adhered to,” said the ombudsman in an official statement, “Even when public authorities are occupied with other matters.”

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