Permanent Resident – Dependant child or spouse

Here we explain the rules on what happens to your children and spouse when you get Caymanian Status or Permanent Residency. How you must regulate their residency status within 45 days and in many cases organise for them to have their own Permanent Residency and not be left as a dependant.

Once you are a Permanent Resident you will have to continue paying CI$500 per year per dependant until you have Caymanian Status. If you are on a government contract, and receive PR, you have the choice of putting your dependant children on your PR (and paying the CI$500 fee per year) or keeping them on your government contract and paying no fees for them. Other rules worth considering include:

The dependant spouse of a Permanent Resident can and (in most cases) should apply for their own Permanent Residence and Employment Rights Certificate (RERC) in their own right, as soon as their spouse is granted Permanent Residence. They do not have to wait the usual eight years of residency and do not have to take any test or be subject to the points system. They should also apply to be naturalised after having PR for one year and then apply for the Right to be Caymanian as soon as 5 years have passed, or they have been living in the Cayman Islands for a total of 15 years. Do not overlook your children’s Naturalisation and Status application in this process! However, many people just carry on having their Residency & Employment Rights Certificate as the Spouse of a Permanent Resident (RERC) ‘tied to’ their spouses’ PR since there is no time limit on the award.
A problem arises when one of the spouses applies for and is granted the Right to be Caymanian. At this point the RERC holder/spouse must have their Immigration status in the Islands ‘regulated’ within 45 days. In effect, the spouse can no longer be deemed the dependent of a PR holder when the person is now a Caymanian.

As it pertains to accompanying children, as long as they are under the age of 18 and the parent acquires Cayman Status they can apply for the Acknowledgement of the Right to be Caymanian by Entitlement within those 45 days. If there are some accompanying children who are over the age of 18 they must apply, within 45 days, for a continuation of their Residency under Section 32, but only if that child has been had a physical presence in the Islands for a minimum of 7 years. Being away for schooling does not affect their ability to apply and it is at the discretion of the Chief Immigration Officer. It is very important that this rule is understood, as applying for Permanent Residency under Section 32 of the Immigration Law grants the child PR independently of their parents.

Serious issues have also occurred when Permanent Residents have become Caymanians. The law requires that all dependent spouses have exactly 45 days to apply for Caymanian Status (if they have been married for over 7 years) or for a Residency & Employment Rights Certificate as the Spouse of a Caymanian (if they have been married for under 7 years). However, people have run into immovable problems if their marriage has broken down in the intervening years. One of the requirements in the Immigration Law is that you can hand-on-heart tick the box saying you have a stable marriage. If you cannot, then there is no particular rights remaining for you in the law: your certificate as the spouse of a Permanent Resident will become void in 45 days, and you cannot now swap it for Caymanian Status. Your life in Cayman is then in limbo and you may not be allowed to stay in the Cayman Islands. If you have children the consequences are devastating. This is why immigration lawyers worth their salt will always stress the need for spouses to apply for Permanent Residency in their own right, and then apply for Naturalisation and Cayman Status the moment they can.

Death or Divorce from a Permanent Resident

The surviving or former spouse of a Permanent Resident is required to notify the Chief Immigration Officer of the Caymanian Status & Permanent Residency Board of their change in circumstances within three months. Within these three months the surviving spouse, or former spouse, is encouraged to apply for the grant of a Residency & Employment Rights Certificate in their own right.