Permanent Residence with the Right to Work

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.

Please note these rules were checked and updated on November 20th 2018 and we list here the most recent amendments to the law.

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 you must annually submit a declaration in respect of your job, investments and other factors including the status of your dependants. There is a condition whereby if the Certificate holder sells the property that was listed in his/her application for PR, then they must purchase an alternative property within 180 days and inform the Board with the details of the property, within 30 days of the transaction. An unsuccessful applicant will be given 90 days to leave the Islands. An application for Permanent Residence with the Right to Work can be quite onerous and those individuals who prepare over the years leading up to it are more likely to find their application successful.

Under most conditions, if an applicant is successful, then they can remain in the Cayman Islands indefinitely, provided an annual fee is paid by them or their employer which is the equivalent to the fee paid for a full work permit. They can work for any employer, although some limitations may be placed on the specific role which they are entitled to fill. Variations may be granted with the prior approval of the Caymanian Status and Permanent Residency Board. Factors considered in a Permanent Residence application include:

1) Your Occupation; including whether it is “Priority” in nature: 15 points are presently available for each and every occupation, with (at least theoretically) another 15 bonus points available in relation to occupations which have been determined by the CI Government to be “Priority” in nature. No list of “Priority” occupations has been published as at time of writing.

2) Education, Training and Experience: A point is available for each year of experience that an applicant has been in their role (after a minimum threshold of two years with a maximum of 10 years). Points are also available based on levels of academic or other qualification relevant to their occupation or role. For example, persons with professional qualifications are eligible for 15 points, whilst possessing an Associate’s degree will garner 8 points. A total of 25 points are available.

3) Local Investments: Investment in Cayman Islands real estate and/or in a locally licensed company has the potential to generate up to 30 points. The total amount paid towards such investment(s) (including the full amount of any mortgage payments, the cost of renovations, where applicable and stamp duty paid) is assessed relative to an applicant’s income over the prior five years. This is subject to a minimum threshold of CI$50,000. Investments in excess of CI$500,000 are guaranteed maximum points.

4) Financial Stability: Evidence of savings held in local bank accounts (again relative to income) generates points. The maximum 15 points available will be awarded to any applicant who can demonstrate that they have (and have maintained) in excess of 5% of their last 12 months income in a local bank account. Further additional points are based on annual salary and income. By way of example, a person earning CI$55,000 each year will (generally) be awarded seven points. However, in calculating the points available for a given salary a deduction is made from the salary in respect of dependant children. Of vital importance is your ability to provide for the healthcare and educational needs of your family.

5) Community Involvement/Integration into the Caymanian Community: Up to 20 points are available. By way of example (provided more than 35 hours are spent over a year in relation to relevant participation) two points will be awarded for each year an applicant has been engaged in relation to the rehabilitation of offenders, whilst participation in a local service club will generate 1.5 points for each year. Other points can be gained through charitable donations. It is the opinion of the Editor that working with children and vulnerable adults may grant more points to your contribution to the community. Outstanding initiatives that you can get involved with include the Aim Higher Initiative (Tel: (345) 328 0300), the Community Outreach Programme (Tel: (345) 925 2012) or the Jubilate After School Programme (Email: info@jubilate.ky or call (345) 937 0332) which all aim to help local students. Another option is the literacy programme LIFE, which aims to match individuals with a child for reading support in a government school near their workplace once a week. Email: volunteer@life.org.ky for an application form or further information.

6) History and Culture Test: You will be asked 40 multiple choice questions and will receive half a point for each correct answer. The questions on the test have been taken from The Cayman Islands in Transition (by J.A. Bodden; Roy Bodden), Founded Upon the Seas: A History of the Cayman Islands and Their People (by Michael Craton), Foundation – The Arts and Culture of the Cayman Islands Volumes 1-4 (Cayman National Cultural Foundation), Caymanian Expressions: A Collection of Sayings and Expressions Used in the Cayman Islands (by Kevin M. Goring) plus the media as well as community and cultural events. At the time of writing (November 2018) the University College of the Cayman Islands is offering a 4 week course that covers the history, culture, political system, general facts and the evolution of the economy of the Island.

7) Close Caymanian Connections: Having a close relative who is Caymanian will result in an automatic award of points. The amount of points vary depending on the nature of the relationship. Up to 100 points are available.

8) Demographics and Cultural Diversity: Points are awarded based on an applicant’s country of origin, provided their nationality is below 10% of the number of work permits in force. At present, Jamaicans and Filipinos are ineligible for points: citizens of those countries already comprise 42% and 13% of work permits in force in the Cayman Islands. UK nationals presently comprise approximately 8% and, together with Americans (at approximately 5%) can expect 5 points. Citizens of all other countries can presently expect 10 points.

9) Age: Applicants are eligible for varying points depending on their age. The most “desirable” bracket is in respect of applicants aged between 25 and 35. Ten points are awarded for this range.

10) Deductible components: Points can be lost in defined circumstances including where an applicant suffers from a contagious disease that could make them a danger to the community, are proved to have mistreated fellow workers, or where they do not have an adequately funded pension.

The Board has the absolute power to revoke the Permanent Residence of any holder who “fails to maintain the level of financial investment stated in the application”. The law also states that if false information is provided, or a material fact is concealed in the application, the Board may revoke any permanent residence granted. Permanent Residents are required to report details of their circumstances annually. Finally, if persons become destitute, subsequent to the grant of permanent residence, it may be revoked. Harsh as this might all sound, without a large tax base available to provide an extensive social safety net, the Cayman Immigration Law seeks to ensure that only ‘net contributors’ are awarded PR.

Please note that as the current system stands, unless you own a property in Cayman, it can be difficult to make enough points to qualify for Permanent Residency. Applicants are likely to gain the most points should they purchase a property well before being eligible to apply, as (at least) five years of mortgage payments will count in the assessment.

The Next Step for Permanent Residents

Many people have asked us what happens next once someone has been granted Permanent Residency (PR). Below we explain. Some families who have been waiting three or four years (if not longer) for their PR to be approved can apply to the Governor for a waiver of the year (to Naturalisation) if their accompanying dependent child or children are within a year of turning 18 or 24.

1) Naturalisation: Once you have been granted PR you only need to wait 12 months from the date of approval, and then you can apply to be naturalised on the grounds of residency. This is an essential step if you would ultimately like to apply for Cayman Status in due course. Please see the Naturalisaton section for more information.

2) Caymanian Status: Once you are naturalised and 5 years have passed (or you have been resident in the Cayman Islands for 15 years, whichever happens earlier), you can apply for Caymanian Status. Please see the Cayman Status section for more information.

How to Appeal a Permanent Residency Refusal

If your PR is turned down the first thing you have to do is decide whether you are going to appeal the decision or not. If you choose to appeal then the next step is to give a notice of appeal to the Secretary of the Immigration Appeals Tribunal (IAT) who are located in the Government Administration Building. Your notice of appeal must be received by the IAT within 28 days of your refusal letter being issued. At this point all you need to include in the letter are a) the grounds under which you are filing the appeal (i.e. that the refusal was (i) erroneous in law (ii) unreasonable (iii) contrary to the principals of natural justice (iv) at variance with the Immigration Regulations) b) the decision against which the appeal is made c) a copy of the refusal letter and d) a bank draft for CI$1,000 made payable to the CI Government, which is non-refundable. At this point do not rush out and buy property and do not race around trying to gather your originally submitted paperwork. You do not need to do either!

Once the IAT receive your appeals paperwork you will be issued with a receipt and the IAT will request from the Immigration Department an ‘Appeals Statement’ which will include the reasons for the Board’s decision to turn down your PR. It will also include their scoring of your PR application plus all the paperwork which went with your original PR application. The IAT will then forward all of this to you. You are then required to file the grounds of your appeal with the IAT and serve a copy to the Immigration Department within 28 days of receipt of the Appeals Statement. In your appeal you must provide a written defence as to why you disagree with the points given in each section and provide any supporting evidence/documents.

The IAT will review all the documents and decide whether the appellant’s case has merit. If the IAT decide that the case has merit then the IAT will communicate this to you, and the application will be looked at like it is the first time that the appellant’s case (has been heard. It is at this time that the IAT will give you the opportunity to submit updates and/or provide fresh evidence for consideration, and any changes in circumstances as it relates to the application. Once the Tribunal have made their decision the IAT Secretary will inform you of the decision.