The Immigration (Amendment) Law 2012 has now come into force, having been made effective on 5 June 2012. This new Law heralds major changes to the immigration system in the Cayman Islands, since it creates new categories of permissions for investors who wish to live in the Islands as well as business visitors.

Other changes that the amendment has introduced include removal of the previous requirement for persons wishing to apply for the Right to be Caymanian by virtue of being the child or grandchild of a Caymanian born in the Islands to be legally and ordinarily resident in the Cayman Islands on the date of application. It also introduces a welcome change to the composition of the Immigration Appeals Tribunal. It is anticipated that this will assist greatly in clearing the current backlog of pending appeals as well as substantially reducing the normal time period for processing appeals going forward.

Certificate of Permanent Residence for Persons of Independent Means

One of the new categories created is the right to permanently reside for persons of Independent Means. Unlike the traditional 25-year certificate for such persons, the new Certificate of Permanent Residence for Persons of Independent Means can be amended to allow the holder to work in the Cayman Islands and can enable the holder to eventually apply for the Right to be Caymanian.

The effect will be to allow a limited number of persons who meet the income and investment requirements to gain permanent residence with the right to work without needing to establish eight years of legal and ordinary residence.

In order to qualify for the certificate, applicants will be required to have invested a prescribed sum in developed real estate and possess sufficient financial resources to maintain himself and his dependents. An applicant will also need to demonstrate that he and his dependants are in good physical health and of good character. Details of specific requirements will only be known once the accompanying regulations have been published. Latest indications are that the Regulations are being drafted and will come into effect in the upcoming months. The number of these types of certificates will be restricted to an annual quota to be set by the Governor. However, to date, no annual quota has been determined.

Residency Certificate (Substantial Business Presence)

The amendment also creates the Residency Certificate (Substantial Business Presence). It is now available to persons who either own a ten per cent share in an approved category of business or will be employed in a senior management capacity within such a business. In each case, the business must have a substantial presence in the Cayman Islands.

An Approval-in-Principle Certificate, valid for six months and renewable at the discretion of the Chief Immigration Officer, is also available to individuals who have not yet met either of the requirements but who nevertheless propose to meet them within the six-month validity period. Holders of either the Approval-in- Principle Certificate or the Residency Certificate (Substantial Business Presence) are entitled to reside in the Cayman Islands and work in the business in which they are an owner or are employed in a senior management capacity.

Visitors Work Visa

Persons who are employed outside the Islands, and who wish to visit for up to five calendar days at a time in order to engage in commercial activity with a locally licensed entity or person (a â€Ssponsorâ€), can now apply on arrival for the grant of a visitor's work visa.

However, the Visa is not available to persons who are employed in a professional capacity or who are otherwise not entitled to a work permit by virtue of having reached their term limit.

The Visitors Work Visa also does not exempt persons from the requirement to obtain an entry visa if they possess a passport from a country which would otherwise require a visitor's visa to travel to the Cayman Islands. A business visitor will not be permitted to hold more than one Visitors Work Visa in relation to the same sponsor or sponsors within the same calendar month.


These amendments represent a significant development in the Immigration law, by creating opportunities for larger number of persons to not only live and work in the Cayman Islands, but to eventually become Caymanian. Of these, the Certificate of Permanent Residence for Persons of Independent Means will potentially create the most impact. Accompanying regulations will set out the specific requirements to be met by applicants, potentially restricting the number of persons who are eligible. Until such regulations are eventually passed however, it is difficult to say with any degree of certainty what the full repercussions of these changes will be.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.