Almost all persons who reach eight years of continuous legal ordinary residence in the Cayman Islands are eligible to apply for Permanent Residence with the Right to Work.
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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 a permission to continue working for no less than 90 days, following which they will be expected to leave the Islands. An application for Permanent Residence with the Right to Work can be administratively onerous although applicants, particularly those individuals who prepare over the years leading up to it, are 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 or Director of WORC.
The Points System
Factors considered in a Permanent Residence application include:
- 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.
- 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 under this factor.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 and assistance in a local service club will generate 1.5 points for each year. Other points can be gained through charitable donations. 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: email@example.com 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: firstname.lastname@example.org for an application form or further information. Applicants for points in these categories may be eligible for slightly higher points of they can demonstrate that the person they may be training or mentoring is a Caymanian.
- 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 (July 2019) the University College of the Cayman Islands is offering a four week course that covers the history, culture, political system, general facts and the evolution of the economy of the Islands. That course has proved to be particularly helpful to applicants.
- 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.
- 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 approximately 42% and 13% of work permits in force in the Cayman Islands. UK nationals presently comprise approximately 7% and can expect 5 points. Citizens of all other countries can presently expect 10 points.
- 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 persons falling within this range as at the date of application.
- 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 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 (Transition) Law seeks to ensure that only persons who will not become a burden on the society 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 any mortgage payments (including interest) will count in the assessment.
Permission to Continue Working (PCW)
When a person applies for Permanent Residency, he/she must apply for and be granted Permission to Continue Working (PCW) before any existing work permit expires, otherwise they will have to cease work when their latest permit expires. If the applicant’s final work permit has already expired, they are not entitled to work whilst awaiting the outcome of their application for permanent residence, until they have a ‘PCW’ stamp in their passport. A ‘PCW’ stamp attracts the same fee as a six month work permit and must be renewed every six months while the application is pending. Most Permanent Residence applications are however dealt with within four months, and so the renewal of PCW’s is now happily somewhat of a rarity.
Many people have asked what happens next once someone has been granted Permanent Residency (PR). Here we explain.
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 serve a formal Notice of Appeal on the Secretary of the Immigration Appeals Tribunal (IAT) – located in the Government Administration Building.Read More