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Cayman Islands: Offshore Legal and Tax Regimes

Employment and Residence

This page was last updated on 28 June 2019.

In January 2007, amendments revising the Cayman Islands Immigration Law came into force. Changes imposed included work permit term limits, permanent residence, a new category of 'key employees' and the ability of the chief immigration officer to grant Caymanian status to certain categories of applicants. The law sought to clarify work permit rules.

Foreigners without Caymanian status seeking employment must apply for a work permit from the Immigration Department. Not all applications are successful. Work permits are valid for up to three years (up to five years for domestics, teachers, doctors and ministers of religion.) Five-year permits can also be granted to holders of certain positions that have been approved under a 'business staffing plan,' which the board now requires from firms employing 15 or more foreigners.

In January 2010, Cayman Prime Minister McKeeva Bush announced that an amendment to the immigration law had been drafted to encourage foreign financial services companies to remain in the jurisdiction.

Bush said that the government was fast tracking legislation to ease immigration laws imposed on those employed in the financial services sector. Under the proposed legislation, foreigners will be allowed to the island for extended periods, and the amount of time that they are required to reside outside of the territory after the expiry of their permit will be reduced.

On 28 April the Cayman Islands parliament passed the Immigration (Amendment) Bill 2010. This permits 25-year residence to wealthy individuals who invest in businesses that contribute to the prosperity of the islands, on certain conditions.

The new legislation introduces the opportunity for foreign individuals to apply for a residential certificate for investment. While this will cost KYD20,000 (USD24,000), it allows the investor, their spouse and any dependents the right to live in the islands without the need for a work permit on certain conditions. Under the new law, investors must:

  • Have a net worth of at least KYD6m;
  • Invest at least KYD2.4m in licensed businesses with workforces comprising of at least 50% Caymanians, that contribute towards the prosperity of the territory;
  • Pass checks on business competence, show financial records of their businesses’ stability, and show they undertake a managerial role in their given area; and
  • Possess a clean criminal record and be of sound health with adequate health insurance.

Bush underscored that the residential certificate for investment would not incorporate a trade and business licence and, if necessary for operations, this would need to be applied for separately.

The Immigration (Amendment) Law 2012 came into effect on 5 June 2012. This new law introduces major changes to the immigration rules on the island by creating a new category of permissions for investors who wish to live in the Cayman Islands as well as introducing new rules for business visitors.

The new certificate of permanent residence for persons of independent means now allows the holder to work in the Cayman Islands and eventually apply for Caymanian citizenship, without having to gain the previously required eight years of ordinary residence. To qualify for the certificate, applicants need to invest a minimum of KYD1.6m in developed real estate and be financially able to maintain himself and any dependents. The annual quota for this permit is 250.

A substantial business presence residency certificate is the second major change in the Immigration (Amendment) Law 2012. Applicants must either have a minimum 10% participation in an approved business with a substantial presence in the Caymans, or must be employed as a senior manager in a business with a substantial presence in the Caymans.



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