Immigration review: A tale of three salaries

Permanent residency applicants’ salaries counted in different ways

The Cayman Islands newly-proposed system of granting permanent residence to non-Caymanian workers will end up counting applicants’ salaries in three, or possibly four, different ways, effectively penalizing applicants for having non-Caymanian dependent children with them in the islands.

In one case, the applicant’s monthly salary will be counted when calculating his or her total investment within the Cayman Islands.

In a second instance, the applicant’s annual salary will be counted as it is when the new permanent residency points system calculates the person’s “financial stability” – unless that person supports dependents or has a spouse earning additional income.

And in yet a third instance, the applicant’s aggregate annual salary will be counted over a five-year period when calculating the cash deposits they hold in a local financial institution.

The government calculations use algebraic formulas to determine a person’s investment in the islands relative to their salary. However, that salary can suddenly become different when the person’s “financial stability” is calculated.

For example, individuals making $6,000 a month [$72,000 a year] would count their total investment against the $6,000 per month figure. When plugged into the government’s formula for total investment, that monthly salary divides into the total investment amount for the applicant. Basically, the higher the applicant’s monthly salary relative to the level of his or her investment, the fewer points would be received toward permanent residence.

That same applicant’s annual salary of $72,000 would be used to calculate financial stability on the permanent residency application. If that applicant maintained two dependents [a spouse and child], he or she would have a total of $24,000 or $27,000 [if the child was in school] subtracted from the annual salary – giving the applicant an actual annual salary of $48,000 to $45,000 when calculating financial stability.

However, that lower salary of $48,000, which provides a monthly income of $4,000, would not be used in the calculation for total investment, where a lower earning level actually benefits the applicant.

Conversely, an applicant with a working spouse and a dependent would be eligible to add the spouse’s earnings to his or her own on the financial stability portion of the permanent residency application. So, the same person making $72,000 per year – minus $12,000 for the child-dependant – and a spouse that earns $40,000 per year, would be considered to be earning $100,000 per year.

Again that $100,000 per year salary, roughly $8,333 per month, would not be used in the calculation of total investment in the islands, where it would adversely affect the applicant’s chances of earning points toward permanent residence.

A third way of evaluating a person’s cash and savings held locally uses an applicant’s salary to determine a percentage that awards points on the permanent residence scale. The higher the percentage of savings maintained to salary earned over five years, the greater the number points the applicant earns.

However, that salary amount – aggregated over five years – would again be different from any calculations used to determine “financial stability”, as a person’s income may have changed over the period. Also, a lower salary based on subtractions for dependents – that would again assist an applicant in the permanent residency point system – is disregarded, while a higher salary based on spousal earnings that would penalize them in the area of cash deposits is also not considered.


  1. I’m not a mathematician so I really don’t understand how all these calculations actually work. But what I get out reading this is that you need to have a lot of money to get Permanent Residence which is something I am sure most Expats don’t have, at least the Blue Collar worker. So I am quite sure you won’t see any House Keepers or Landscapers get approved for PR and probably not even any Administrative Assistants or Clerks. And for the folks that people describe as sending all their money home, their chances are slim to none.

  2. I agree with Michael. And also, those with higher salaries and lots of disposable income will generate lots of cash. But who in their right mind would want to keep their cash sitting in Butterfield bank earning 0.01%?

  3. The viewpoint of someone about to be let down by the system

    An Open Letter to the Premier

    I don’t want to come across as complaining about my situation or not being empathetic toward unemployed Caymanians. I believe everyone, everywhere has the right to work a job, should they be qualified and should they commit to the requirements set by the employer to fulfil a position.
    That being said, having been a law abiding, gainfully employed resident in the Cayman Islands since 2005, I feel I am not getting a fair shake at what I have worked for while here. I knew the rules when I came to live here my second time around and played them to the letter of the law. I did my community service, I trained Caymanians, and I opened a small business. I also purchased property, all the while never taking anything for granted.
    I refused to sign a TLEC, believing I was taking the more difficult path and as I did not want to sign my legal rights away as those choosing sign the TLEC, I applied for and was awarded a Key Employee designation.
    Fast forward to this year, this new government, I feel as though the rug has been pulled out from under my feet. I am in the home stretch and the law is to change with the finish line in view. It raises the bar beyond my middle class capabilities, just as our business was beginning to grow and our future was looking bright. If we are not here to run our business it will wither and die, period. Nobody can run a small business from offshore and expect it to thrive. Small businesses are the cornerstone of the economy along with middle class society.
    So ultimately I really want to know why the government is persecuting those who took the harder path to Key Employee and did not sign their rights away as those signing TLEC have done. Why would you not hold TLEC holders and their employers to the contract they choose, in some cases on behalf of both parties? Everyone on every side knew the day would come, why is this a large, shocking issue to them now? It was destined.
    I guess this is written in frustration; I, for the life of me, cannot figure why someone would be granted a designation and have the rules that apply to it change in the middle of the program? Why would you not give people the chance to finish what they started on the same playing field? If you want to abolish Key Employee, abolish it. However, would it not be decent and fair to create changes to the Permanent Residency requirements applicable to the next wave, not those on the one breaking on the shore?

  4. Dave, I feel for you and understand you’re frustration. But I don’t and you shouldn’t expect any understanding from the Caymanian community, for the most part they will only feel that you are taking something from them just by your presence on the island and if you own a business the impression will be that you stole that opportunity from a Caymanian. And the CIG does not for a minute consider the repercussions of their constant policy changes on individuals such as yourself. What I have noticed is that policies in Cayman change like the wind with every incoming government and unless you are a multi-millionaire they can really care less about what concerns individuals such as you and me. So keep that in mind when you invest so much of your life Into Cayman. Make sure that you always have something to fall back on because if you put your all into creating a life in Cayman it will most likely come to an abrupt end, so always make sure you have somewhere and something to go back to.

  5. Thanks for that Michael, really and truly it has just been a frustrating time. But hey we will take a shot at running our business here from abroad and rent our home, we will take every penny we earn from this and spend it elsewhere.In the end you will probably see other small business owners doing this, taking away and spending very little here.

  6. Dave, I think you get the picture now, for the most part a foreign investor in Cayman will most likely not be welcome as a true member of the community and whatever you invest into will have a time limit on it. So it is in your best interest to spend the least of money you can and save for the day you have to leave. You may have luck renting your home but as far as running a business from abroad, I expect you’ll get ripped off at every turn. This I know from experience. Also, When renting your home make sure you get a reputable Real Estate Management company to handle it for you. I tried at first with one of the smaller ones and it wasn’t a good experience at all, but once I started dealing with one of the larger companies it worked out quite well.

    Good Luck.

  7. Michael, Bob and Dave. I sympathize with most work permit holders that now face this but it appears you’re trying to paint a picture showing Cayman as the only country to take a protectionist stance when it felt threatened.
    I too am not sure if the current stance is the correct one BUT I am fairly confident that we cannot maintain the status quo.

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