… And neither are the Jamaicans, Filipinos, Americans and Canadians …
At least, that’s the message being propagated by the new points system for permanent residence under the Cayman Islands Immigration Law.
A person’s “nationality,” you see, is included as one of the 10 factors the Caymanian Status & Permanent Residency Board considers when assigning a numerical score to a PR application (along with occupation, education, finances, the notoriously idiosyncratic “history and culture test,” connections to Caymanians and age).
The maximum score an applicant can receive is 215 points. The minimum “passing” grade, allowing an application to be considered by the PR Board for approval, is 110 points.
The “nationality” factor counts for up to 10 points and is designed to promote “cultural diversity” by assigning more points to people of nationalities that are relatively rare in Cayman.
A person of a nationality that represents fewer than 5 percent of active work permits would receive the full 10 points. A person of a nationality that represents between 5 percent and 10 percent of work permits would receive five points. A person of a nationality that represents more than 10 percent of work permits would receive no points.
For example, according to the latest numbers from the Department of Immigration, just about 40 percent of Cayman’s 21,403 work permits are held by Jamaicans, and 13 percent are held by Filipinos. That means PR applicants from Jamaica and the Philippines would receive zero points for their nationality.
Applicants from the U.K. (9 percent of work permits), U.S. (6 percent) and Canada (5 percent) would be awarded five points. But applicants from India (4 percent), Honduras (4 percent), Ireland (1 percent), Nicaragua (1 percent) and South Africa (1 percent) — in addition to more than 100 other countries, from Turks and Caicos Islands, to Vietnam, to Kuwait (each of which has exactly one work permit holder in Cayman) — would receive the full 10 points.
Broken out in this fashion, it appears that rather than awarding extra points to people with culturally diverse backgrounds (whatever that means in this day and age, in an international financial center in the Caribbean), the “nationality” factor is just another way for Cayman’s government to punish applicants from two particular countries — Jamaica and the Philippines — while taking swipes at three other countries — the U.K., U.S. and Canada — who altogether provide Cayman with nearly three-quarters of its work permit holders and underpin the country’s human and economic capital.
(So much for the local apothegm — “the devil you know.”)
Most striking, perhaps, is Cayman’s backhanding of the British. After all, Cayman is a British Overseas Territory; our flag features the Union Jack; and U.K. appointees fill some of Cayman’s most important civil positions, including the Governor and Commissioner of Police. (Indeed, the portrait of Queen Elizabeth II graces our money — though we suspect our Cabinet would make an exception and grant her status if it were her royal wish.)
Practically speaking, the U.K.-Cayman relationship on immigration is not reciprocal. Caymanians (who have British Overseas Territory citizenship by virtue of living in Cayman) have free access to the U.K.’s market, including for education, residency and work. The Brits who want to live in Cayman, meanwhile, are docked five points on account of their origin.
Something here doesn’t seem right, and if we were British expatriates we’d be clamoring about the inequity.
Our experience with the succession of U.K.-appointed governors has instructed us that Cayman’s governors are strictly “one-way functionaries.” That means they are here to represent the U.K. government’s interests in Cayman, and not the other way around (i.e. Cayman’s interests in London), not even on behalf of their fellow U.K. passport–toting British subjects.