In this section we discuss Cayman Islands immigration and entry requirements for all those wanting to visit Cayman as a tourist and those wanting to move here as a new resident.
If you are a visitor we discuss how many days you can come for a visit and what additional time you get if you can show you own a property here. We discuss how you can come here and what happens if you decide you want to stay and work here. Then we details all the different work permit options along with what you will need to submit and who has to pay for the permits (your employer not you). For the person who has lived in Cayman for nine years we detail how to apply for Permanent Residency (PR) and what happens to the person who does not think they will qualify (they get rolled over for 12 months). We give the new arrival, who thinks they may want to stay in Cayman forever, great tips on what and how to prepare in advance for their Permanent Residency application. For the person who has just married a Caymanian we explain how you cannot apply for a work permit and must instead apply for an Employment Rights Certificate as the Spouse of a Caymanian. An easy process but it involves a ton of paperwork. Tip: get prepared before you get married! For the wealthy retiree we have a category just for you – a Certificate of Permanent Residency for Persons of Independent Means. We love people in this category and there are a lot of you here in Cayman, so you will be in good company! There are also Permanent Residency categories for those who invest substantially in businesses in Cayman. Then for the people who have been here for 15 years (and has had PR for 5 years) we discuss how you can become Naturalised and in due course acquire the Right to be Caymanian and get a British passport as an British Overseas Territory Citizen.The process, to this point, is slow and not unduly onerous but it is definitely worthwhile! Cayman is a phenomenal place to live, work, raise your children and grown old!
But first, before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s start at the very beginning and assess the exact steps needed in the process of becoming a legal resident, starting out as a ‘New Arrival’.
Every new arrival to the Cayman Islands falls under one of two categories: those with Cayman connections (e.g. those marred to a Caymanian) and those without Cayman connections (e.g. not married or related to a Caymanian). Here we explain these two categories in-depth.
We are often asked how many days, as a visitor, one can stay in the Cayman Islands. Under the law a person that has no other basis to enter the Cayman Islands (i.e. a Work Permit) and with no right to residence (i.e. is married to a Caymanian) may be admitted as visitors for up to a total of six months, with extensions permissible thereafter.
If you are looking to move to the Cayman Islands and are not Caymanian, or married to a Caymanian, the process is slower. The first thing to do is find a job, or be offered a job, and then your Cayman employer has to apply for a work permit for you. Read on to understand the differences between Full and Temporary Work Permits as opposed to working under the Special Economic Zone and/or being classified under a Student Visa.
These certificates are in effect a special category of work permit. They are only available to employees of entities (“Special Economic Zone Enterprises”) established within Cayman’s first Special Economic Zone (SEZ), Cayman Enterprise City. Zone Certificates enjoy certain advantages over traditional work permits, including in many instances, a lower cost to employers, and an exemption from any requirement to prefer Caymanians or other legal residents for any employment. Accordingly, no advertising is required as part of the application process and the permissions are capable of being granted in only a few weeks. Applications are available from Cayman Enterprise City and from a number of local law firms assisting enterprises establishing within the Zone. See the Cayman Enterprise City page for more information on Cayman’s SEZ.
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:
A non-Caymanian who is 18 years of age or older, seeking to enter the Cayman Islands to attend a recognised educational institution on a full-time basis may be granted a student visa. The student should be self-sufficient or provide proof of support from other means.
They must also submit a medical questionnaire and a police clearance certificate when applying. The application process takes four weeks. The student visa does not allow the student to work. The student is expected to leave the Cayman Islands on completion of the programme. Student visas can be granted for a period of up to four years but may be extended for a further 12 months. A person on a student visa may, after the proper application, have a dependant added to their application.
Naturalisation and Acquisition of the Right to be Caymanian are two methods in which residents can apply to become a Caymanian.
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. For more information on how to become Naturalised and the process please read on.
Once a person has been married to a Caymanian for seven years they can also apply for the Right to be Caymanian. Under certain criteria, the surviving spouse of a Caymanian can apply for the Right to be Caymanian, and a child of a Caymanian, no matter the basis on which the parent became Caymanian, is generally considered a Caymanian if he/she is born subsequent to their parent becoming a Caymanian.