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 July 22nd 2017 and we list here the most recent amendments to the law.

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 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 entitled to a final 90 day residency permission/work permit following which they will have to leave the Islands. After 12 months of non-residence they will once again become eligible to seek and obtain further work permits.  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. The requirement to pay any such fee is extinguished once a Permanent Resident makes a successful application to become a Caymanian (usually after 15 years residence). Permanent Residents with the Right to Work 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: 15 points are currently 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.

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 an investment(s) (including the full amount of mortgage payments 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 of 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. 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) or the Community Outreach Programme (Tel: (345) 925 2012) which both 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. At the time of writing (July 2017) the University College of the Cayman Islands is offering a course on the history, culture and Government of the Cayman Islands courses to assist prospective applicants in their preparations for the test.

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.

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 (at approximately 42% and 13% respectively) are ineligible for points: citizens of those countries already comprise 41% 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 may 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. As a rule of thumb, the equivalent of two year’s income invested in real estate (or a business) will provide an applicant with the maximum points for investment.