Naturalisation

People who have been lawfully resident in the Cayman Islands for a total of five years (at least one of which must be without Immigration restriction as to the period they are permitted to remain) may apply under the British Nationality Act for naturalisation as a British Overseas Territories Citizen (‘BOTC’) by virtue of a connection with the Cayman Islands.

Many people who have moved to the Cayman Islands, fallen in love with it, put roots down and applied for Permanent Residency then decide that they would like to make it formal and become Caymanian. However, after you have gained your PR do you have to be naturalised before you can apply to be Caymanian? The simple answer to this is yes. Here are the details:

Twelve months after you have been granted Permanent Residency you can apply to be naturalised. The process of naturalisation is governed by the British Nationality Acorn, 1981, and is a required step in the process of becoming a Caymanian. Then after you have been successfully naturalised you have to wait five years, or have been legally resident in the Cayman Islands for 15 years, before you can apply for Caymanian Status. Having said this if someone applies for PR as soon as they hit the eight year residency requirement, are granted PR within mere months of the application, and then apply exactly one year later to be naturalised then the process to becoming a Caymanian can take 14 years and not 15 years. However, this is really just wishful thinking as PR doesn’t (usually) get approved so swiftly!

Being a citizen of any other country, including Britain, does not offer you any shortcuts: you still have to be naturalised before applying to be granted Caymanian status.

So officially, according to the Immigration Law (2014 Revision), if anyone has been legally resident in the Cayman Islands for an uninterrupted period of residence of at least one year after after gaining PR then they can apply under the British Nationality Act to be naturalised as a British Overseas Territories Citizen (‘BOTC) by virtue of their connection with the Cayman Islands.

Application is made to the Deputy Governor’s Office and, upon grant, the applicant becomes a BOTC (British Overseas Territory Citizen). This entitles the applicant to a Cayman Islands passport but does not make the applicant a Caymanian (i.e. does not grant Status) or give them a right to work or even necessarily to reside in the Islands. It does however normally entitle the holder to ultimately apply for the Right To Be Caymanian provided they remain legally and ordinarily resident in Cayman.

The fact that many people who have become naturalised and possess Cayman Islands passports are not Caymanian can be potentially confusing. It is perhaps best to think of a Cayman Islands passport as a travel document, naturalisation as becoming a BOTC (but not a Caymanian) and being Caymanian (known as possessing the Right to be Caymanian) as possessing a particular type of Immigration permission (whether by right, entitlement or grant).  Not all Caymanians are BOTCs or even entitled to hold Cayman Islands Passports.

The application for naturalisation is fairly onerous and you must complete an application form and submit certified copies of the following:

• Certified copies of:
– Certificate of Caymanian Status/Right to be Caymanian
– Letter of Permanent Residence plus Residency and Employment Rights Certificate
– Original birth certificate
– Original marriage certificate, if applicable
– Divorce decree, if applicable
– Data/photo page of current passport
– Original birth certificate of spouse, if applicable
– Original deed poll of change of name or Statutory Declaration authorising retention of maiden name, if applicable
• One recent colour full-face photograph (passport size).
• A current local Police Clearance Certificate (Original).
• Employment Letter
• An up-to-date Travel History sheet covering the last 5 years (to be obtained from the Department of Immigration).
• A fee of CI$825 (of which $200 is a filing fee and is non-refundable).