Wealthy retirees who can be given
permanent residence under the Cayman Islands Immigration Law cannot work or own
businesses without proper permits.
Chairman of the government-appointed
Immigration Review Team Sherri Bodden-Cowan said the issue needed to be
clarified following some confusing reports in the international press and other
public commentary last week.
Mrs. Bodden-Cowan said permanent residence
had at one time been offered to rich retirees here for as little as a $400
one-time fee and $150,000 in investment.
Premier McKeeva Bush said during a
Tuesday night public meeting that this amounted to “giving away” permanent residence
– the right for a foreign national to remain in Cayman for the rest of their
Government has proposed to up the
ante, offering permanent residence for US$1 million to those whose net worth totals
US $10 million and who have promised to invest some $2.4 million of that in the
“If we can attract such wealthy
retirees to our islands it will produce a much needed boost to our economy,”
Mrs. Bodden-Cowan told a crowd of some 250 people at Tuesday’s meeting in front
of the George Town
“Any reports that such people are
allowed to work without a work permit are false,” she said.
Earlier in the week, former
government Minister Charles Clifford said that the $1 million for permanent
residence proposal would mean that the country was essentially inviting in wealthy
businesspeople that would compete with local established companies.
Mrs. Bodden-Cowan said there has
been a misunderstanding on this issue.
“Nothing could be further from the
truth,” she said.
“The Premier had spoken earlier of a
25-year certificate for entrepreneurs and investors who would be allowed to invest
in employment and generating businesses in the Islands,”
she said, adding that the proposal was initially introduced in 2003 as a way to
generate inward investment.
“This does not give persons the
right to permanently reside, and it does not exempt them from having the necessary
licenses to carry on business.”
Mrs. Bodden-Cowan said those
investors would still be required to obtain a trade and business licence and
adhere to the principles of the Local Companies (Control) Law.
Islands requires all businesses domiciled here to be at least 60
per cent Caymanian owned.
Proposed changes that would allow
for the $1 million permanent residence offerings will have to be approved by
the Legislative Assembly.
Mrs. Bodden-Cowan said some
outright “lies” had been told regarding certain immigration issues – including
the award of key employee status to foreigners.
Key employee status allows a
foreign worker to stay in the Cayman Islands
up to nine years – long enough to apply for permanent residence.
Mr. Clifford said in a press
statement earlier this month that the ruling government wished to grant some
9,000 key employee designations to foreign workers in the Cayman
Islands – including those in the finance, tourism and construction
Mrs. Bodden-Cowan said certain
arrangements made to facilitate key employee applications for finance industry
professionals and domestic helpers wouldn’t even affect 10 per cent of Cayman’s
foreign work force – in other words, less than 2,500 people.
She said other industries could
apply for and obtain key employee status for their workers – but that those
companies would be required to show they were good corporate citizens.
“We will ensure that only those
companies who are in fact training and promoting Caymanians…are likely to have
key employees granted to them in the future,” she said.