Summary

This Briefing Note relates to two processes by which an individual (and his or her family) can potentially be granted a right to reside in the Cayman Islands.

At Ogier, our Private Wealth Team can assist with the making of these applications and can ensure that the process is handled quickly and efficiently with the assistance of specialists who are familiar with the processes.

Introduction

Each year, a number of individuals from all over the world decide to relocate to the Cayman Islands under the Independent Means provisions.

Section 34 of the Immigration Law (2011 Revision) allows a person of "Independent Means" to obtain a "Residency Certificate". The holder of a Residency Certificate is permitted to reside in the Cayman Islands, but is not permitted to work within the Islands. A Residency Certificate for Persons of Independent Means will be issued for 25 years and can be renewed upon expiry.

An alternative, designed to attract entrepreneurial individuals to the Islands, is available under Section 37A of the Immigration Law (2011 Revision). This allows qualifying individuals the right to reside in the Islands if they invest with a view to running a business which brings employment and other benefits to the Islands.

This Briefing Note explains the qualification requirements for both of these options.

Person of "Independent Means" - Qualifying Conditions

The applicant must be at least 18 years of age and without any serious criminal convictions. He must be in good health and possesses adequate health insurance coverage. The applicant is required to attain a level of financial standing set out within the Immigration Law.

The level of financial standing required changes depending on whether the applicant wants to live in Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac or Little Cayman (the requirements are higher for Grand Cayman). In all cases, there is a need to evidence:

  • a continuous source of annual income in the "prescribed amount", without the need to engage in employment in the Islands. The "prescribed amount" is CI $150,000 (US $187.500) for those looking to reside in Grand Cayman and CI $75,000 (US $93,750) for Little Cayman or Cayman Brac.
  • investment of the "prescribed sum" in developed residential real estate in the Islands. The "prescribed sum" is CI $250,000 (US $312,500) for those looking to reside in Grand Cayman and CI $25,000 (US $31,250) for Little Cayman or Cayman Brac; and
  • other local investments in the "prescribed amount". The individual's total investment in the Islands must be CI $750,000 (US $937,500) for an individual looking to reside in Grand Cayman and CI $250,000 (US $312,500) for someone looking to reside in Cayman Brac or Little Cayman. In both cases, the investments in real estate, detailed above, are taken into account when calculating the overall investment requirement.

The Dependants of a Holder of a Residency Certificate for Persons of Independent Means

The spouse and any dependents (as were listed on the application form) of the holder of the Residency Certificate for Persons of Independent Means shall, once approved by the Chief Immigration Officer, be granted a Residency Holders (Dependant’s) Certificate. This permits the persons receiving the Certificate to reside in the Islands but it does not permit them to work here.

If the holder of the Residency Certificate for Persons of Independent Means dies, or divorces, the right of the surviving or former spouse to reside in the Islands may be revoked at the discretion of the Chief Immigration Officer. However, if that occurs, the widow / former wife has a period of 3 months following the revocation to make a separate application for a Residency Certificate for Persons of Independent Means, provided that she qualifies in her own name for such a Certificate. While that application is being considered, the wife is permitted to remain in the Islands.

In the case of a child who is granted a Residency Holders (Dependant’s) Certificate, those rights cease upon completion of the child's full-time tertiary education or when he reaches the age of 24 years, whichever happens earlier. It is, however, possible for a dependant in those circumstances to submit their own application for permanent residence under section 30 of the Immigration Law.

Direct Investment - Qualifying Conditions

A person who:

  • has made or proposes to make, an investment equal to or greater than the "minimum prescribed amount" (currently CI $2.4m; US $3m) in any "licensed employment generating business or businesses in the Islands" (whether already existing or a new venture, and in which he does or will exercise substantial management control);
  • has a substantial business track record or an entrepreneurial background, including specific professional, technical and other knowledge relevant and necessary to carry on the pertinent business or businesses;
  • can prove that his personal net worth meets the "minimum prescribed requirements" (currently CI $6m; US $ 7.5m); and
  • can prove:
    1. that he has available to him and under his personal control funds to the value of the proposed investment amount; or
    2. that he has already invested the minimum prescribed sum of money in a licensed employment generating business in the Islands,

may apply to the Chief Immigration Officer for a Certificate of Direct Investment. Provided that the application (and, where applicable, his spouse and dependant children) meet certain other requirements - essentially that they do not possess criminal records, are in good health and have adequate health insurance - the application can be issued with an "Approval-in-Principle Certificate of Direct Investment". This is valid for a period of six months.

If, within this 6 month period, the applicant can demonstrate that he has made the investment proposed and has obtained all required licences, then the Chief Immigration Officer may issue a "Certificate of Direct Investment". This is valid for 25 years and is renewable on application at the end of the period. There are a number of ongoing requirements to provide information to the immigration department of the government relating to the financial position of the businesses established by the applicant, and the employment created as a result of those businesses.

A Certificate of Direct Investment entitles the holder to reside in the Cayman Islands and to work in the business or businesses in which he has invested for the purpose of obtaining the Certificate. In addition, the spouse and dependant children (where applicable) of the holder of a Certificate of Direct Investment shall be granted a Direct Investment Holder’s (Dependant’s) Certificate, the holder of which is permitted to reside in the Cayman Islands.

The provisions which apply on the death of the applicant, or on divorce from his wife, are the same as those applying to the Residency Certificate for Persons of Independent Means. Similarly, the provisions regarding dependent children are the same as those applying to the Residency Certificate for Persons of Independent Means.