November 28, 2022

Statement from Deputy Premier Hon. Chris Saunders on Permanent Residence (PR) Applications

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Grand Cayman – Wednesday, 23 November 2022 

The Government is aware that there have been recent questions raised on whether a moratorium on the granting of Permanent Residency (PR) has been imposed. The Government wishes to make it clear that no such moratorium is in effect.

There has been an increase in application processing time, which is the result of applications undergoing increased scrutiny. This has become necessary due to a number of factors, including increased reports of marriages of convenience and other questionable activity. As a result, WORC has stepped up its due diligence with regard to all applications, and in particular those which raise any red flags. 

The Government owes a responsibility to the local community to ensure that those receiving Permanent Resident status have achieved this honour through merit. To understand the gravity and importance of being granted Permanent Residence, applicants must realise and appreciate that the Caymanian community is giving you a pathway to their precious birthright. It is not only the right to reside here, but the opportunity to build your life and family here, to further your career here, and to begin your path to full citizenship of the Cayman Islands. It is the first step to becoming Caymanian.

As a small population, it is important that we are mindful that our national identity remains. The massive societal change caused by the doubling of our Islands’ population in just one generation should give everyone pause. The effects can be seen through some of the challenges we have today, especially with regard to housing, which is a basic human right.  

There have been countless studies done on countries that have not thrived due to under-development, but no studies done on those that have developed so rapidly that their resources and infrastructure have been placed under great strain.

On 15 November, the world population reached a milestone of eight billion people. Consider that average population growth is less than one percent per year in most developed countries and then recognise that in just eight months the Cayman Islands population grew by 10.5 percent. This is what we observed when comparing the population count from the Census in October 2021 and the population count at the end of June 2022 as per the Labour Force Survey.   Naturally there would be no template for this kind of rapid expansion. 

So it is therefore necessary, indeed imperative, that we focus on sustainable development and thoughtful population growth to ensure we have a successful society for our children and future generations.

In the granting of Permanent Residence applications, the burden of care is great. We must seek to ensure that those we welcome among us will better our community for the advancement of all.

Permanent Residence is not an automatic right. It is a privilege granted to those deserving residents who have become a part of the very fabric of our community. It is not a status to be conveyed to anyone perpetuating divisions in our society.

New applicants must recognise that taking an entitlement approach is not the mindset of someone looking to integrate. People should not expect that they will be given Permanent Resident status automatically after being here for a certain amount of time. It does not work that way.

We also do not want to reward those taking short cuts or making misrepresentations in the application process. So yes, we owe everyone involved – both genuine and qualified applicants as well as the local community – the necessary care and due diligence to ensure that the people we invite to live here permanently are truly deserving. 

We take this responsibility very seriously, as we would like to recognise and reward those long-term residents who have played by the rules and who have greatly benefited our community. We don’t want to cheapen their contribution. We fully recognise that Cayman’s success was achieved in partnership with people who came here and made our Islands their home.

The existing “points” system of evaluating applicants’ worthiness to gain Permanent Residence is currently undergoing a full review by a committee of people from diverse backgrounds.  The PACT Government believes it is the members of this community who should decide who gains the right to live among them. It is not a decision that should be made by either businesses or politicians, but by the Caymanian community.  

I would like to correct the misperception that no PR applications have been reviewed or granted this year. Since January 2022, 98 PR applications have been approved and 61 have refused. To put this in context,

I would like to share with you the annual number of Permanent Residence grants dating back to 2009:

Permanent Residence Applications 2009-2022

YearApproved:Refused:Total # Processed:
200958411971781
2010270225495
2011323136459
2012217110327
201321292304
201424689335
2015201333
2016172643
2017550242792
2018407316723
201928585370
202016741208
2021392154546
20229861159
Totals:378827876575

You will note that the 2022 numbers are not the lowest annual numbers by far. Look back to 2015 and 2016, when just 33 and 43 applications respectively were processed and only 37 approved in total over the two years. Where was the outcry at that time?

It is the very attitude of entitlement that has grown around the issue of Permanent Residence that shows us we need a new approach.  People must understand that merely coming here as an employee and remaining for a certain number of years does not automatically make you entitled to PR. It merely gives you the opportunity to apply. It is how you live in our community, and your commitment to our community, that will determine whether your application is granted.

However, the Government understands that any delays in processing could impact people’s lives and plans for the future, and as a result Workforce Opportunities & Residency Cayman (WORC) is actively reviewing the process to determine how it may be expedited without compromising the necessary levels of scrutiny, 

A special project team has begun a review of pending PR applications. It is intended that applications will be reviewed in date order, with the oldest being reviewed first. 

The project team is made up of selected WORC personnel who possess legal standing through delegated powers by the Acting Interim Director, as defined by the Immigration (Transition) Act (2022 Revision).

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