Cayman Islands: Country and Foreign Investment
Entry and Residence
This page was last updated on 28 June 2019.
Citizens of the US, Canada and the UK and its dependent territories do not require visas to enter the Cayman Islands; passport or birth certificate plus photo ID is sufficient, along with a return or ongoing travel ticket. Other nationals require a passport plus ticket. Visitors may remain for up to six months.
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.
Seven years is the maximum length of time a work permit holder can work continuously in the Cayman Islands, although, in certain in exceptional circumstances, a worker may be designated as an 'exempted employee' in a business staffing plan. Caymanian status is granted on a quota basis to citizens from the UK and British dependent territories, and certain other countries including the US, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand.
The one-month temporary and six-month, short-term, work permits have been abolished. Instead, a temporary work permit may now be issued for a period not exceeding six months. All such applications will be made to, and decided by, the chief immigration officer or his designate.
Since such grants are not extendable or renewable it will be important for applicants to state clearly the length of time that the temporary work permit will be required. In deciding whether an application should be granted or refused, the same criteria will be used as for the grant of a full work permit, except that employers will not be required to advertise or to demonstrate that they operate a training programme. Employers should also note that a temporary work permit cannot be converted into a one-year permit. The one-year permit must be submitted and granted prior to the expiry of the temporary permit if the employee wishes to continue to work.
In 2010, 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 KY$20,000 (US$24,000), 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 KY$6m
- Invest at least KY$2.4m in licensed businesses with workforces that contribute towards the prosperity of the territory and comprise at least 50% Caymanians,
- Pass checks on business competence, show financial records of their businesses’ stability, and show they undertake a managerial role in their given area
- Have 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. It introduced major changes to the islands’ immigration rules, creating a new category of permissions for investors who wish to live in the territory as well as introducing new rules for business visitors.
It also introduced the certificate of permanent residence for persons of independent means, which 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 specified sum on developed property and be financially able to maintain themselves and any dependents. The amounts required will be published in new regulations.
A substantial business presence residence 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 one.