110 points, not 100, now required
The point system that determines whether a non-Caymanian resident who has lived in the Cayman Islands for at least eight years can obtain permanent residency would be made more strict, according to proposals released late last week by government.
According to the bill that will be debated in the Legislative Assembly this month, the minimum number of points required for a non-Caymanian worker who is not married to a Caymanian and who applies to stay in the territory for the rest of his or her life will be 110,– or 10 points more than what is required currently.
The bill, if passed, would also allow Cabinet members to adjust the points system as the government deems necessary at least once per year – without a ratifying vote of the Legislative Assembly, since the points schedule will be placed in regulations to the Immigration Law.
“It is certainly going to be more difficult to get permanent residency under the new regime, more difficult than it was than under the old regime,” Premier Alden McLaughlin said Friday. Previously, the premier has said the permanent residency qualification system would have to be made more stringent due to the abolishment of “key employee” status for foreign workers under existing immigration law. Key employee designations are now required for any non-Caymanian worker to be able to stay in the territory long enough to apply for permanent residency, unless that worker is married to a Caymanian or has some close Caymanian connection.
The Caymanian Compass has analyzed each section of the permanent residence points system in the Immigration [Amendment] [No. 2] Bill, 2013:
Non-Caymanian workers can earn up to 30 maximum points based on the types of jobs they hold.
The first 15 points will be awarded for current occupation. The points allocated are based on what the government judges to be “current demand” for that job based on the ratio of Caymanians to non-Caymanians in the labor market.
An additional 15 points can be awarded if government believes the occupation should be given priority, meaning it is one that is needed for “the advancement of economic, cultural and social objectives” in the long term. The government indicated it would publish a list of priority occupations at a later date.
No points would be awarded here if the applicant is unemployed.
Education and Training
An applicant for permanent residency can be awarded up to 10 points for the number of years he or she has worked in the occupation, one point for each year in the relevant field – after a minimum threshold of two years – for a maximum of 10 years.
Anywhere between zero and 15 points can be awarded for the applicant’s education level; 15 for post-graduate degrees, 12 for a bachelor’s degree, eight for an associate’s degree, five for a high school diploma or equivalent and zero points for no high school diploma. A similar scale is in place for vocational degrees or qualifications, ranging from 15 to zero possible points.
Points can be awarded for either educational level or vocational training, not both.
A rather complex calculation has been factored into the points system to determine an applicant’s investment in local property or in a locally licensed company. It is as follows: total investment divided by 0.4 x average monthly income or salary x 60. The resulting number is then multiplied by 30.
According to the proposal, total investment is calculated over the last five years with a minimum investment of $50,000. Maximum investment of $500,000 will be awarded the maximum 30 points for the category. Only the applicant’s income is taken into account and only the investments in their name will be counted.
Total investment is either the purchase price and stamp duty paid for the property, less total liabilities remaining on that property or total payments toward the residential mortgage for the last five years, whichever is the higher number. Personal funds invested to make improvements in the property (not including borrowed or gifted money) which was transferred as a gift can also count in the points total.
Investments in privately owned local small businesses that are solvent and the market value of stock investments in locally licensed and operated companies will also count toward the points total.
Either 10, five or zero points will be awarded on a permanent residency application based on where the individual is from. However, it will be calculated a bit differently than under the current system where specific nationalities are awarded specific numbers of points.
In the new proposal, countries with fewer residents, measured by work permits in effect at the time the application is heard, would be awarded more points than countries with higher members resident.
Though the draft of the points system does not make it clear, it appears that any nationality exceeding 10 percent of current work permits in effect would be awarded zero points; any application from a country which represents 5 percent to 10 percent of current work permits would be awarded five points; and those from countries not exceeding 5 percent of current work permits would be granted 10 points.
Points are proposed to be awarded based on an applicant’s age.
Based on the number of points awarded, it would seem that 25-35 is the most desirable age group, being awarded 10 points on a permanent residency application. This group is followed by ages 36-45 (eight points), ages 46-60 (six points), ages 18-24 (four points) and age 61 and older (zero points).
“Points allocations to particular age groups is based on the number of working years that an applicant has remaining before retirement and this in turn impacts factors such as productivity, pension planning and state health care usage,” according to the proposal.
Cash deposits in local banks can grant permanent residency applicants up to 15 points under the new proposed system, but they are calculated based as a percentage of their aggregate salary over five years.
If those deposits are 5 percent or more of the aggregated five-year salary, the person will be awarded the maximum 15 points; above 4 percent – 12 points; above 3 percent – nine points; above 2 percent – six points; above 1 percent – three points; and less than 1 percent would be granted no points.
Pension contributions and savings would not count as “deposits” for purposes of the points system.
A person’s salary can earn them between 15 and zero points based on a sliding scale. Non-Caymanians earning $150,000 or more per year would get the maximum 15 points, and the scale drops in increments from there. For instance, someone earning $130,000 to $149,999 per year would be granted 14 points, a salary of $70,000 to $89,999 would garner 11 points, a salary of $30,000 to $39,000 would be awarded three points, and no points would be awarded for any salary under $15,000 per year.
The proposed points system would subtract from an applicant’s salary based on the number of dependents they have attached to their work permit/permanent residency application.
Any school-age child who is not Caymanian would result in a deduction of $15,000 per year from the applicant’s salary on the points scale, if the child is living with the person on the islands. If there are dependents who are not school-age, a deduction of
$12,000 per dependent per year would be made from the salary calculation.
The income of an applicant’s spouse would be combined with the applicant’s salary if there are dependents included. Otherwise, the applicant’s salary stands on its own.
Essentially, an applicant’s volunteer work can be awarded a maximum of 20 points, based upon the discretion of the immigration officer or relevant board hearing the permanent residence submission.
Two points would be awarded for each year an applicant trains or mentors Caymanians outside of normal work hours or employer-sponsored activities; personally sponsors a Caymanian’s university education to a minimum of $3,500 per year; and actively assists in the rehabilitation and mentoring of criminal offenders.
One-and-a-half points would be awarded for each year an applicant provided a minimum of 35 hours of service to the following groups (up to eight years maximum points of 12): youth assistance training, mentoring and training of Caymanians within normal work hours, participation in a sports program, arts program, local service club or local church program activities, and personal donations to community-minded activities up to a minimum of $2,000 per year.
Letters confirming participation in community activities from board members or the Caymanian beneficiary must be submitted along with the permanent residency application. There is no mention of general reference letters being submitted on the applicant’s behalf in the proposed points system
In addition, a Caymanian history and culture test will be administered, with a maximum of 20 points available. One half-point is awarded for each question answered correctly (40 questions).
Close Caymanian connections can grant the permanent residence applicant 40 points, if the applicant is the son, daughter or parent of a Caymanian, and 20 points if the person is a brother, sister or grandchild of a Caymanian.
At the discretion of the person or board evaluating the application, up to 100 points can be subtracted for criminal convictions, health issues (not extensively defined, but communicable disease is one example given), administrative fines for statutory offenses and lack of a reasonably funded pension fund.
If any points are deducted from an application, the proposal states that the relevant board or chief immigration officer shall provide a “full explanation” in writing to justify the decision.
Other deductions for “mitigating factors,” the negative points for which are unlimited, are included at the end of the proposal.
According to the explanation: “This includes situations where it has been proven that the applicant has mistreated fellow workers in the workplace, Caymanians or non-Caymanians.”