Outcomes - Selected Case Summaries



Refund of PR fees sought

Investigation | 15 September 2022
Ministry of Border Control and Labour

This complaint involved a married couple, one of whom had received Caymanian status just after their spouse’s annual permanent residency fees became due. The fees, totaling over $27,000, had already been paid and the complainants sought a refund of the “unused” portion of that payment. An application to Cabinet was made to have the fees refunded, but the Ministry of Labour stated that there was no provision in legislation to allow the refund of immigration fees already paid, except those paid for work permits. The complainants made a formal complaint to the Ombudsman of unreasonable delay in getting a response from the Ministry and of lack of proper administrative process in submitting their appeal for a refund to the Cabinet.

Our investigation revealed that there is a provision in the Immigration Regulations allowing for individuals to apply to Cabinet to have immigration fees waived or reduced. However, the government has interpreted this to mean that a waiver or reduction of fees is different than a refund and, therefore, a refund could not be granted in any case - save for work permit fees which the Immigration (Transition) Act does allow in prescribed circumstances.

The investigation also noted that there is no current written policy or procedure to guide applicants who are seeking to waive or reduce immigration related fees and, indeed, there was some confusion at the outset as to whether such an application should be made to the Ministry or to the Cabinet Office. Further, while the Ministry did respond in writing to the applicants in this case, that response did not come until after the Ombudsman opened a formal investigation into the matter.

The Ombudsman found maladministration in the delayed response. She also found maladministration in the lack of written policies for the waiver/fee reduction application process. The issue of whether the fees sought in this case should be refunded was determined to be a matter of law and not one for the Ombudsman’s office to decide, as it would more appropriately be dealt with either before the courts or by government policymakers.

The Ombudsman recommended that the Ministry, together with the Cabinet and Legal Department, continue to review the current legislation relating to immigration fees, refunds and waivers with a view to providing clear processes for any applications requiring Cabinet’s involvement. Written guidance on the application process and on the types of fees that are non-refundable would be helpful.