The Cayman Islands is a British Overseas Territory, but having British citizenship won’t help a non-Caymanian’s chances of getting permanent residence under the new Immigration Law.
In fact, it may actually hurt those chances.
The current “points system” used to calculate whether a non-Caymanian qualifies for permanent residence – the right to reside in Cayman for the rest of their life – awards a certain number of points based on the nationality of the applicant.
The idea is to award more points to foreign nationalities that have less representation in Cayman and fewer points to those who already have a larger number of countrymen residing in the islands. If the person applying belongs to a nationality that holds more than 10 percent of the current work permits in the territory, they would not receive any points for that.
A person who holds a nationality that represents between 5 percent and 10 percent of the work permits active in the territory would receive five points, and nationalities that hold fewer than 5 percent of the active work permits would receive a full 10 points.
The government’s explanation for this in the law reads: “In order to maintain a vibrant and diverse community, it is desirable to ensure that the permanent population of the islands is made up of a balance of nationalities rather than domination by only a few nationalities.”
For instance, Jamaicans, the most populous foreign nationality residing here, held more than 8,500 work permits as of last week. According to government records, Jamaicans hold 40 percent of the active work permits in Cayman and thus would not qualify for any points under the “nationality” section of the PR application system. Filipinos, who hold more than 2,700 permits, also fall into that category.
Using another random example, Mexican citizens who work in Cayman held only 0.5 percent of the active work permits as of last week, so they would score a full 10 points on any PR application based on nationality.
Citizens of the United Kingdom – those from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – held 1,838 work permits as of last week, according to immigration statistics. They now fall “in between,” earning five points for their respective nationalities.
Work permits increase
Over the past six months, work permits in the territory increased significantly. In the beginning of 2014, the number of work permits held by non-Caymanians was around 19,500. Ten percent of that would be 1,950 – putting British citizens who apply for permanent residence perilously close to losing any points they might gain based on their nationality – in their own territory. If the number of work permits were to fall, or if the number of British citizens hired here on work permits were to increase by just a few hundred, that would occur.
Canadian workers in Cayman are on the opposite end of the spectrum. As of last week, Canadian nationals held 1,107 of the 21,403 work permits. That gives them 5.2 percent of the current work permits, enough for five points on the immigration nationality PR points score. If Canadian worker numbers fell just a little more, or if work permits increased slightly, they would receive a full 10 points for nationality on their application.
Only five nationalities – Jamaican, Filipino, British, American and Canadian – currently lose any points on the nationality scoring section of the PR application. The other approximately 120 nationalities residing in Cayman would receive a full 10 points on their applications.