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. We also talk about the situation as it pertains to children.
We explain here how and why you should apply for Permanent Residency in your own right as soon as your spouse gains Permanent Residency or Caymanian Status. There is absolutely no reason why you cannot apply in your own right, and in fact many problems have arisen later for people who have simply left their residency status tied to their spouse's as a dependant.
Spouse and Child of a Permananet Resident
Permanent Residents will have to continue paying CI$500 per year per dependant until they (or the Permanent Resident) becomes Caymanian. If you are on a government contract, and receive PR, you appear to 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. There are other rules worth considering.
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 five 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!
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. This can however create problems down the line. For example, 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 (and children) must have their Immigration status in the Islands ‘regularised’ within 45 days. In effect, the spouse can no longer be deemed the dependant of a PR holder when the person is now a Caymanian – and if applications are not made promptly, they can lose the right to live in the Cayman Islands.
Permanent Residency and Acknowledgement of the Right to be Caymanian for Children
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 provided they have resided in Cayman for a minimum of 1 year. 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 39, but only if that child has been legally and ordinarily resident in the Islands for a minimum of seven years. Being away for schooling does not affect their ability to apply (provided Cayman has remained their home throughout). Such applications are dealt with by the Director of WORC. It is very important that this rule is understood, as applying for Permanent Residency under Section 39 of the Immigration (Transition) Law grants the child PR independent of their parents.
Warning to Avoid Problems Later
Serious issues have also occurred when Permanent Residents have become Caymanians. A policy provides that all dependent spouses have exactly 45 days to apply for Caymanian Status (if they have been married for over seven years) or for a Residency & Employment Rights Certificate as the Spouse of a Caymanian (if they have been married for under seven 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 (Transition) 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 have become void, and you cannot now swap it for Caymanian Status. You may not be allowed to stay in the Cayman Islands. If you have children the consequences can be 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 the Right to be Caymanian the moment they can, even if only as insurance against the unexpected.
Spouse of a Caymanian
The spouse of a Caymanian has no inherent right to live or work in the Cayman Islands (apart from any unexpired permission they may have held before being married to a Caymanian) unless they apply for and have granted a Residency and Employment Rights Certificate as the Spouse of a Caymanian.
The Cayman Islands Government has now amended the Law, and these RERC’s are now permanent in nature. Unlike other RERC’s, these place no restrictions on occupation, presently require no annual declaration, and require no annual fees. These certificates can however be revoked, and may become void in the event of a breakdown in marriage.
It can take several months to obtain an RERC as the Spouse of a Caymanian and so the soonest possible application is often recommended.