20 year resident challenges new immigration law

| 16/05/2014

(CNS): A Jamaican woman who has been resident in the Cayman Islands for almost 20 years without a break in stay is seeking the court’s intervention over the changes to the immigration law. Birdy Morrison, who is employed by Sherri Bodden-Cowan, the former chair of the immigration review team, has applied for a judicial review to challenge the retrospective application of the law to her case, refusing her a final one year work permit after an appeal on her permanent residency denial was refused. Morrisonhad appealed her PR refusal before the immigration law changes and Bodden-Cowan is arguing that she had an expectation of a final year long permit before she would be forced to leave.

When Morrison filed her appeal against the decision to refuse her PR application it was before government changed the law regarding the appeal process, which is now more costly and foreign workers can no longer stay in Cayman during that appeal process.

But in the application for judicial review Bodden-Cowan points out that her employee had a genuine expectation that if her appeal was unsuccessful she would have one final year’s employment before being deported after two decades living in Cayman. Instead, Morrison was given just three months to leave. But she is no asking for a judicial review to hear the case and quash the chief immigration officer’s decision to issue the three month permit and order the board to hear an application for a final 12 month permit.

The legal immigration expert in the judicial review application states that the decision by immigration is a breach of her employee’s human rights and the rules of natural justice because the law that officials are now applying was not the one in force when Morrison began the process of appeal.

The PPM government changed the immigration laws last October to remove the seven year rollover and the barrier to PR application for all work permit holders except those given key employee status. However, to counter the move, which would allow thousands more people to reach the point where they could apply for residency, the process to PR has been made more difficult and the appeal process even more challenging. This was designed, government officials have said, to prevent abuse of the system.

In the past, PR applicants could stay even after their applications were refused throughout what can be a very long appeal process and continue to work, sometimes for years. This led to many work permit holders being resident in Cayman for long periods with no legal rights, an issue that has always led to concerns about potentially successful human rights challenges to residency refusals because of the length of time foreign nationals have lived and worked in the jurisdiction.

When government changed the law last October in an effort to address that issue, it amended the legislation so that applicants who are refused permanent residency can no longer remain in Cayman during an appeal process and are now given just three months to leave once an immigration decision has been made against them.

Although Morrison had her appeal heard before the legislative amendments were implemented and under a regime which allowed for a final twelve month permit to be issued to someone denied residency, following her appeal she was then treated under the new regime and given just three months.

Bodden-Cowan argues that the immigration authorities must deal with her client under the law that was in force when she made her appeal and not the one that came into effect after the application but before the decision was revealed.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    This has happened in Bermuda since 2012, Bermuda is still around.  The UK have not invaded, the family is still in Hull and the sky have not fallen… tomorrow is another day. Immigration will get their act together hopefully soon.  I say to all who see Cayman as being unfair and blah, blah, do your research read this and report back to the public and CNS.


  2. Anon says:

    Sherri is actually quite smart seeking jucicial review. Whilst the case is subject to review, the status quo must be maintained. So Ms Morrison could potentially be here a lot more than a year as judicial reviews are usually slow to be heard.

  3. Anonymous says:

    If an employee of Sherri Bodden-Cowan is in immigration hot water what chance the the rest of the people have?

    • Anonymous says:

      What a stupid comparison – the Jamaican who was refused citizenship in the US was allowing his home to be used for drug deliveries and he was convicted.  The same would apply here – no PR or status. This poor lady was law abiding so really your education and cognitive skills are in question. 

  4. Anonymous says:

    Living for 20 years in any country is a long time but people should understand that there are immigration laws in any country.  Here is a story from the USA about a man who lived there for over 20 years legally and what happned to him, sad but rules are rules and they should apply to everyone. Fight the decision if yoy have to my prayers are with you but for tos who think Cayman immigration is so hard read this and tell us what you think.


  5. Anonymous says:

    Headline may be little misleading. She does not seem to be challenging the law, just their version of what they insist it says.

  6. Henry 111 says:

    How come Dart got his statue before this lady? If it because he got money isn't that discrimination? Human rights?

    • Anonymous says:

      Where's the statue?

      • Anonymous says:

        Its only a suggestion to amend the Bermudian Immigration laws believe me there have been many suggestions here that went nowhere 

      • Anonymous says:

        Statue of Liberty good enough?

        Christ The Redeemer?

        Easter Island ?

        Sorry couldn't resist !

    • Anonymous says:

      Whether we like it or not everywhere around the world the wealthy can get there "papers" with ease. In the Cayman Islands law if a forgeiner can prove that he/she has at least 1 million dollars in their name, they can get PR. Also in the United States you can get PR with 2 million dollars in an account. Why? Because it must be proved that the person is not coming to the islands or country if you may, to become a further burdden on the country. That they will not be dependant on us as a whole.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Cayman Immigration Laws are not as bad as most people think.  I went on line and found this article, our law makers and many of our resident should read.


  8. Anonymous says:

    I watched the same scenario played out in the 1980 and as a result the outcome of the mass status grants of 2003.  Our government need to come to grips with what is happening in immigration and what can happen if this challenge is successful (which I hope that it will be). 

    The government should conduct  a study in immigration to determine the following:

    1. How many people are in here since the 1960s (if any) who are financially secure  and do not have status

    2. How many are here from 1970 – 1990 (if any) who are financially secure and do not have status

    3. From 1991 – present who are financially scure and do not have status

    If any such person are still living here legally since 1960  until 1972  they should be called in and status given to them without a cost provided that they are not dependant upon social services and have no criminal record.

    For persons here as legal residents since 1973 until 1982 are financially secure and without a criminal record they too should be given Status but at 50% less than the present cost.

    Person legally resident since 1983 until present who are financially secure and without a criminal record and qualify should be granted status under the law of that time and not the present law.

    When these people are regularized and given citizenship or removed from the country if they do not qualify then and only them will government find its self out of this mess, close the immigration loop hole like they are now doing in so many other countries to stream line immigration and the grant of citizenship to make the process more efficient and to eliminate possible tension and strife.  

    • Anonymous says:

      And dont forget those on work permit running their own business, that is shitting  on Caymanians now.

      Waiting on their chance for status and will further push Caymanians out of business, by shitting on them.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Being on a work permit here for over 7 years is not an automatic rights to PR one have to meet all the criteria.  This threat of human rights bs needs to stop.  Any country have the rights to say who is allow to stay and who must go! In the USA one can live there from  two weeks old and if your parents are not American Citizens and that person is not registered as a US  citizen born overseas that person is subject to deportation if he/she commits any crime in which they are sentenced to more than 12 months. People live in Dubai literally forever and can never acquire Immarati citizenship.  In Germany absolutely no non born resident will ever acquire a Germany passport unless they are of German descent or adopted.  

    I attended school with people back in the 70s who came here when they were as young as 5, 6, 7 and even younger, knew no where else as their parent lived and work here for many years.  When many of these people came of age they were and will always be considered Caymanian because then the real Caymanian culture were dominant and everyone assimilated well together.  Unfortunately many of these people had to leave somewhere in the mid 80s and most went to the USA and were granted residency/citizenship and are doing very well for themselves there.  It was a very difficult time for families and friends of these people and in my opinion if status should be automatic it should have been given to those people who will forever be Caymanian and nothing else, they were forced to leave the home that they knew all their lives.  Where were the bleeding hearts back then? I won't give names of any of these young people who had to leave because of the laws back then and I know they would have made excellent contributions to this islands as Caymanians because they saw themselves as no one else but Caymanians and all of us of that generation saw them as no one else.  

    The law of Karma: what goes around comes around.  Our entire state of affairs in life is defined by all of the actions that have preceded us this very moment. No one else is to blame for our current situation.

  10. Anonymous says:

    This seems simple.  If you obey the law and agree to never take any public assistance and you are here that long, you should be given residency, not citizenship.

    • Anonymous says:


      You are so right, no one should have gotten Citenzenship, Residence yes, with conditions. No  license to carry on a business to push the natives out.

      Our politicians gave them the same equality that we toiled for. They got it by way of a piece of paper, now we are totally f@@@@ed.

      Most of us earned our experience in the building industry by starting from digging trenches, using picks and showels, took us years to become a master builder.

      The government made the law that says, as soon as you have a piece of paper  you are a Caymanian, you can now become a master builder and we will issue to you a license to carry on Construction business. This is total madness!

  11. Anonymous says:

    Sorry, but something in this story doesn't add up! I don't understand how her work permit could have been renewed time and time again without her having had to seek Caymanian Status (under the old laws) or permanent residency since the last few years. Aren't work permits only issued for a couple of years at a time and then being renewed?

    I came here in the mid nineties and after having received a few rounds of work permits, I was told that I could no longer get one and I HAD to apply for Cayman Status if I wanted to stay…….

  12. john smith says:

    Very surprised to hear she was denied the 12 month non-renewable permit that was in the law prior to the changes in late October. 

    The government specifically stated that anyone who applied prior to the changes would be treated under the old law, now they appear to be going back on their word?

    Very disappointed to hear this and am very hopeful that Miss Bodden-Cowan and Miss Morrison are sucessful with their case.  I can't imagine being told I would have to leave in 90 days.

  13. Anonymous says:

    A good idea would be to get human rights advice from a UK immigration expert as UK immigration law is very influenced by human rights issues that apply with equal effect in Cayman.  This woman will have sufficient personal connections to Cayman to give rise to Art 8 rights that are superior in normativity to domestic legislation.  And retrospective legislation, well that will make the human rights lawyers chuckle.  Candy from the proverbial baby that one.

    • Anonymous says:


      Yea right! the Uk and France are both pissed off with the Union for forcing them to accept millions of Estern Europeans into their country.

      The citenzens of the UK  are angry at the Labour government for letting this happened during their rule.

      As bad as the press and Cameron portray the UKIP party to be, they are going to win this election in Europe.

      The UKIP is the only party that will stand up for unfair Immigration. It is sad when a country work hundreds of years to build a sustainable economy, then they are told to distroy it by letting in thousands of immigrants.

      These people need to stay home and develop their own piece of land the good Lord gave them. Stop erroding other people's land.



  14. WalkerRanger says:

    Again, another person who has not been regularized. We really do need to do something about people who have been in Cayman this long. Remember the police lady.


    When will the government step up and offer these people a path to citizenship? We always spend time changing and revamping immigration laws for newer arrivals but never deal with the failings of the past.

    Regarding her being denied for PR how could the board take the position that she with 20yrs of time in Cayman is less deserving then a new arrival with 7-9 yrs of time in Cayman.

    There are people in Cayman even with Caymanian families who are in these similar situations.

    • Diogenes says:

      She is not asking for a chance at PR but a 1 year extension.  I suspect that is a conscious decision because she knows that she would fail the new PR test, and then only get 90 days, whereas this way she gets a year.  Only surprised that her attorney didnt decide to go the whole hog and ask for a declaration that with 20 years residence she had a human rights case to PR.  Maybe knowing that would be fought tooth and nail given the precedent.   

    • Anonymous says:

      Why has this person not been regularized? Anyone care to explain why the law has not been enforced?

    • Anonymous says:

      Maybe the immigration board should give PR to everyon who is here for 7 years and over and then we will see what happens.  Too many people on these sites are unconscionable they expect this little island to accept and grant residency to everyone who have a desire to stay here.  The great USA, hugh Canada and Australia don't so why do you expect the Cayman Islands which is only 102 sq mi to do what bigger countries won't do!  Get a grip of yourselves because as soon as the going get tough they will all get going, seen it happen in the Bahamas and elsewhere.  Government and Caymanians need to  adopt the attitude of the little Red Hen.

      • Anonymous says:

        They think that way because they see how stupid and gallible we are.

        Once one gets in here they all want us to give  their countrymen status also.

        They do not want to deal with Caymanians any further.

        This is mostly in business and social mingling. We should have kept the quota at the level we had in the 80s They were loving  harmony and enough work for all who came here.

        I will maintain my findings, the politicians of the late 90s screwed this country up. They removed the protection laws that secured the peaceful life for Caymanians. They traded it for greed and power. 

  15. Anonymous says:

    Whatever the reasons are it is a shame that this women is forced to move from a place she called home for nearly 2 decades, especially on such short notice. And you wonder why expats send all their money back to their country and don't bother to invest into things like buying homes here, can you blame them. If I was an expats worker here in Cayman the last thing I would do is put all my eggs into the Cayman basket, I would save every penny for the day immigration knocks at my door. Stories like this just confirm peoples concerns about investigating their earnings into Cayman knowing that they will one day be told to get out. As much time as spend in Cayman I know that I would never truly be able to think of it as home and that is specifically because of the immigration laws that only favor the super rich, who themselves aren't even welcome by Caymanian society, only their money is and only if it's given away with nothing asked in return

  16. Anonymous says:

    I am confused – how could she have stayed in Cayman for 20 years without having had to apply for Cayman Status (prior to all the law changes etc)?

    • Diogenes says:

      Read the article in the Compass – she filed an application years ago, lost, appealed and it has taken ever since to hear it. 

    • John Betchamin says:

      Because the Immigration authorities are not enforcing the law, leading directly to the failure of our economy which depends on people being able to maintain themselves but has been overwhelmed by an influx of persons unable to do so.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Go get um Sherri!

    • Anonymous says:

      Go get um Sherri?

      Aren't our wharped Immigration Laws due to non other than Sherri?

      You cannot make this sh*t up.