If you are not Caymanian, married to a Caymanian or a dependant of a Caymanian, then your other option to be a resident of the Cayman Islands is to get some form of Permanent Residency (PR). We outline the options below:
All persons who reach eight years of legal ordinary residence in the Cayman Islands are eligible to apply for Permanent Residence. Applicants are assessed under a points system which seeks to be as objective and transparent as possible, and those achieving 110 points or more are assured of a grant. If you are successful in gaining a Certificate, then annually you must submit a declaration in respect of your job, investments and other factors including the status of your dependants.
When a person applies for permanent residency he/she must apply for and be granted Permission to Continue Working before any existing work permit expires, otherwise they will have to cease work when their latest permit expires. If the applicant’s final work permit has already expired they are not entitled to work whilst awaiting the outcome of their application for permanent residence, until they have a ‘PCW’ stamp in their passport. A ‘PCW’ stamp attracts the same fee as a work permit and must be renewed every six months while the application is pending. NB the entire application, along with all relevant documents must be re-submitted each time. The Department of Immigration is actively working on correcting this as they freely admit they are swimming in paperwork!
There are exemptions to the term limit provisions. For example, a person married to a government worker, or a person whose term limit is set to expire after their spouse’s can arrange for their permit to be renewed until their spouse’s term limit is reached.
For foreign nationals not wishing to work in the Cayman Islands but simply wishing to have the right to reside, there are alternative options. In particular, one can apply to the Chief Immigration Officer for a Residency Certificate which is valid for 25 years and is renewable.
To reside in Grand Cayman the person must show proof of an annual income of at least CI$120,000 (without engaging in employment in the Cayman Islands) along with an investment of CI$1,000,000 (of which CI$500,000 must be in developed real estate). The “remaining” CI$500,000 must be invested in a company or property – and simply holding assets with a broker or monies in a local bank account (whilst encouraged) do not count for these purposes. Investing in a local business, or even one which has shares publicly traded such as Caribbean Utilities or Cayman National Bank, can count. Most often, applicants will simply buy a substantial home and immediately meet the requirement.
A deposit maintained in a local bank or institution of no less than CI$400,000 deems an applicant to have sufficient funds (and income) to maintain themselves and their dependants.
The process of applying for a Residency Certificate is relatively straightforward and permission can usually be granted within six weeks of application. Legal fees for this process are unlikely to exceed US$3,500.
There are alternatives that do not require an actual investment in a property. For example, starting a company engaged in exempted business (i.e. as an agent for overseas operations) and then hiring yourself as a principal on a work permit can make you resident without having to buy property and has the advantage of permitting you to work. Again, such a solution generally takes about six weeks for qualified applicants and the legal fees for that (including incorporation, trade and business licensing and work permits) would likely be closer to US$15,000.
To become resident in Little Cayman or Cayman Brac, proof of an annual income of CI$75,000 without the need to be employed in the Cayman Islands is required as well as an investment of CI$500,000 locally, of which at least CI$250,000 must be in developed residential real estate.
Whichever island is to become your home, there is a one-time fee payable on grant of CI$20,000 and a further CI$1,000 payable for each approved dependant. The initial application fee is CI$500. The CI$1,000 dependant’s fee is then payable annually.
This is the ultimate permission which can grant Permanent Residence with the Right To Work based on investment, rather than having to wait for the usual eight years before becoming eligible to apply, subject to a stringent points system, for Permanent Residency. And unlike Residency for Persons of Independent Means, this option has no expiry date and qualifies the holder (upon certain criteria being met) to become eligible for naturalisation as a British Overseas Territories Citizen (BOTC) once they have been resident in Cayman for five years. Once naturalised they are entitled to a BOTC passport, which upon successful application, they can become a full British Citizen without the need to surrender any existing citizenship. Finally, once a person has been a BOTC citizen for 5 years they can apply to become Caymanian.
In order to qualify for the certificate of Permanent Residence for Persons of Independent Means, applicants will be required to have invested a minimum of CI$1,600,000 in developed real estate and possess sufficient financial resources to maintain themselves and their dependants. An applicant will also need to demonstrate that he/she and their dependants are in good physical health and of good character. The number of these types of certificates is restricted to an annual quota of 250 set by the Governor. The application fee is CI$500 with a further CI$100,000 due upon grant and an additional CI$1,000 payable per dependant.
The right to work in an approved occupation can be gained subsequently, upon application to the Caymanian Status and Permanent Residency Board, with an annual fee thereafter payable, equivalent to a Work Permit fee, for as long as employment is maintained, or until the individual becomes a Caymanian.
Wealthy individuals who are in a position to invest a substantial sum in an employment generating business or businesses in the Cayman Islands may wish to participate in an incentive scheme intended to attract investors and their dependants. Such persons may, provided they can demonstrate a personal net worth in excess of CI$6,000,000 and an investment (or imminent investment) of a minimum of CI$1,000,000 in an employment generating business (or businesses) on the Island, apply to the Chief Immigration Officer for a Certificate of Direct Investment.
Approval-in-Principle Certificates which are valid for six months are available prior to applying for a full certificate. Full certificates are valid for 25 years and are renewable. Such a certificate entitles the holder to reside in the Cayman Islands and to work in the business or businesses in which the holder has invested.
The spouse and dependent children (where applicable) of the holder of a Certificate of Direct Investment will, on successful application, be granted a Direct Investment Holder’s (Dependant’s) Certificate, permitting them to reside in the Islands for the duration of that certificate. The application fee is CI$1,000 with a further CI$20,000 payable on issue of the certificate with an additional CI$1,000 payable for each approved dependant.
A Residency Certificate (Substantial Business Presence) is available to individuals who either own at least a 10% share in an approved category of business or will be employed in a senior management capacity within such a business.
In each case, the business must have a substantial presence in the Cayman Islands. It is designed and intended to be less onerous than the more established option of a Certificate of Direct Investment and is not limited to owners of the business.