New Arrivals without Cayman Connections

If you are looking to move to the Cayman Islands and are neither Caymanian, nor married to a Caymanian, nor married to a work permit holder or permanent resident, these are the normal ways you can become legally resident.

  • Work Permits
    • a)    Full Work Permits (FWP through a Gainful Occupation Licence)
    • b)    Temporary Work Permits (TWP)
  • Government Contracted Workers
  • Special Economic Zone Certificates (SEZ)
  • Student Visas
  • Certificate of Direct Investment
  • Residency Certificate (Substantial Business Presence)
  • Residence as a Person of Independent Means
  • Certificate of Permanent Residence for Persons of Independent Means

It is worth noting that an overriding principle of Cayman Islands Immigration legislation is that employment and career opportunities are offered to Caymanians before any other nationality. Caymanians are given preference over similarly qualified expatriates and employers must generally take steps to provide training opportunities to Caymanians who have the potential to fill a particular position. With the reality that Caymanians have already become a minority in their own Islands, efforts are made to ensure that a balance of other nationalities exists, so that no other nationality is culturally or numerically dominant.

If a Caymanian cannot be found for the position, then preference in employment opportunities is required to be given first to the holders of Residency and Employment Rights Certificates who are married to Caymanians, next to Permanent Residents with the Right to Work and finally, to other persons who are already legally and ordinarily resident in these Islands (including existing work permit holders and their approved dependants). As a general rule only if these categories of persons are unavailable for a position will  a permit be granted to a person who is from overseas.

Work Permits

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.

Government Contracted Workers

Any person employed as a Civil Servant in the Cayman Islands (or employed by other prescribed employers, including the Government of the United Kingdom) does not require a formal work permit, and will have appropriate permissions for them (and approved dependents) to live in the Cayman Islands stamped into their passports.

Special Economic Zone Certificate (SEZ)

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 Enterprise City’s SEZs which include Cayman Tech City, Cayman Commodities & Derivatives City and Cayman Maritime & Aviation City.

Student Visas

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.

Certificates of Direct Investment

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.

Residency Certificates (Substantial Business Presence)

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.

Residence as a Person of Independent Means

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 Director of WORC for a Residency Certificate which is valid for 25 years and is renewable.

Certificates of Permanent Residence for Persons of Independent Means

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 points system, for Permanent Residency.


Breaches of the Immigration Law are treated as quasi-criminal by the Department of WORC and can have very serious consequences for all concerned. Overstaying, working without or outside of the terms of permission granted, and any other breaches of the law may result in arrest and prosecution, not only of the individual concerned but anyone who facilitated such a breach, including the directors of a business which employs an expatriate without (or outside the terms of) a work permit.