Despite being a British Overseas Territory, the Cayman Islands are not part of the United Kingdom, nor indeed (unlike the French ‘Départements’ in the Caribbean) of the European Union. Therefore, no advantage is given to British or European nationals over any other nationality.
The vast majority of people wanting to work in Cayman will need to be granted a work permit before they can commence work, and as a reminder these work permits are required to be submitted and paid for by your future employer, not by you.
However, not every foreign national working in the Cayman Islands needs a work permit. There are specific categories of persons who are exempt from the requirements, for example, Cayman Islands Government employees (see more below). Others can be exempted subject to strict requirements, for example, journalists representing a recognised news organisation and non-executive directors of companies carrying on business in the Cayman Islands are allowed as working visitors, provided they remain in the Cayman Islands for no longer than ten days.
Other people and activities which are exempted include:
- Visitors who are coming to Cayman to organise, attend or speak at a conference or seminar
- Those representing an overseas educational institution who have come to promote or interview applicants for places
- Those visiting for the purpose of servicing or repairing products under warranty
- Attending at trade fairs and making purchases from Cayman Islands businesses
- Attending conferences and seminars as an ordinary participant
- Receiving training, techniques on work practices employed in the Islands, where that training is confined to observation, familiarisation and classroom instruction and if the person is employed by a company or organisation carrying on business outside the Islands
- Representing an overseas educational institution, to promote or to interview applicants for places at such institution
- Being a guest speaker at a conference or seminar where the event is a single or occasional event and not part of a commercial venture
- Organising or supervising a conference or seminar for up to ten days duration where it is a single or occasional event
- Participating in sporting events or trials or auditions, in connection with such events
- Covering a specific news assignment as a newspaper, magazine, radio or television journalist representing a recognised news organization
- Working for short periods for a non-profit or cultural organisation based in the Islands
- Giving professional or expert testimony in court or arbitration proceedings
- A non-executive director of a business being carried on in the Cayman Islands where the person is not involved in the day-to-day operations may visit in his capacity as a director only
- Being a representative of a foreign manufacturer coming to service or repair products under warranty.
It should be noted that the stand alone “attending meetings” exemption previously provided for in the legislation no longer applies, save with the consent of a Senior Immigration Officer.
Cayman Islands Government Contracted Workers
The situation is slightly different with foreign nationals who are employed by the Cayman Islands Government. 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.
Whilst no Term Limit is currently applied to such persons, they are eligible to apply for Permanent Residence pursuant to the points system, once they have been resident in the Islands for more than eight years. Care must be taken to ensure that any dependant children are able (should they wish) to remain resident in the Cayman Islands in the event that they cease to be classed as dependants on their parent’s Government Contract.