'Permanent Residence': What a line!

The trials of applicants seeking permanent residence continue to multiply without cease. The only explanation we can conjure up is that government does not want anyone to qualify.

Rules governing qualification for the right to remain indefinitely in these islands were rewritten in October 2013.

To this day, not one of the approximately 400 applications under those new rules has been adjudicated, in part because critical parts of those rules were left undefined. Some of the initial hurdles have been cleared recently, but problems remain, not least the “updated” 40-question (previously 20-question) history test.

When the answer to one question is that a George Town canning factory shipped turtle meat overseas for five months before its November 1915 bankruptcy, we wonder what government thinks applicants should know about Cayman’s social and political development.

Next, consider the documentation that government requires applicants to gather: notarized birth certificates; notarized educational certificates; notarized passport copies; notarized marriage certificate; medical records, including X-rays and blood tests; photographs; CVs; professional certificates; proof of property ownership; proof of community service; a letter from your bank and bank records; police clearances; proof of employment and employers’ letters with salary records; proof of a pension plan and health insurance; and a personal cover letter.

Does your spouse also seek PR? Double the above. Do you have children? They must supply much of the same.

Notarized recommendations from Caymanians are no longer required under the new rules, although to include them cannot harm your application. If they form part of your library of documents, they must be accompanied by notarized copies of authors’ passports, birth certificates or other proof they are Caymanian.

A complicated schedule of fees is charged – some considerable. Simply filing an application requires a $1,000 non-refundable payment; an “issue fee” calculated according to your income is due, ranging between $500 and $12,500; $400 per dependent must be paid; and the annual work permit fee (often in the thousands of dollars) is due in advance. Should the bid fail, government will refund everything but the application fee.

Another $200 will purchase a seat in a four-week Cayman-history course offered by the University College of the Cayman Islands to help you prepare for the history test, and if you want to take it one step further, you could buy $150 or so worth of books to help you study.

Other fees along the way are generally modest: $20 here, $10 there, but collectively send the message “we don’t want you here.”
Finally, should “permanent residence” be granted, it’s not necessarily “permanent” after all. Changes in circumstances may be grounds for revocation, including if you sell your house and don’t replace it with one of equal value; if you change your line of work, your title, gain a promotion and work in your new position without prior consent; if you lose a significant portion of your wealth; if you marry or divorce or your spouse dies; and if you are convicted of a crime.

A permanent resident must file an annual affidavit that the above circumstances have not changed, and then still pay the fee for an annual work permit.

We return to a statistic we cited earlier: Of the 400 or so applicants who have applied for permanent residence since the new law went into effect in October 2013, not one has even been considered. Zero.

Is this the way we want to treat people who desire to become permanent residents of the country?



  1. If in 2013 there were 400 applications there must be at least eight hundred now or more. Patience my friends, patience; Rome was not built in a day. Ever tried applying for American residence and status? The only question not on that paper maybe is have you ever travelled to the moon.
    Applicants may feel that by pestering and rushing will get quicker results; maybe so, but by doing this may result in getting what you do not want.
    Now this media need to put down the fan, because fanning the fire under this is doing no good. When applying for residence in Canada, USA, Europe or anywhere else you just wait. So why cant we just do he same thing here.

  2. I agree with the editor that the immigration is perhaps overly cumbersome and not being reviewed as efficiently as it should.
    However, it’s not supposed to be easy, cheap or free to become naturalized here. This isn’t the size of the USA. Cayman for example cannot absorb a significant amount of poverty and not have it look like the ghettos of Mexico overnight. It doesn’t take many crime elements to radically change the crime rates. This isn’t to say Cayman doesn’t produce its own crime elements, but we certainly do not need to add to it. It also doesn’t take very much additional dependency placed on the government to skyrocket the costs. As such, more diligence is required perhaps more so than anywhere else in the world.
    The having to own property law or other form of interest like a business is a good law. Having to show employment and salary records is a good law and it makes sense. Having to pay during the PR stage of the residence is a good law. which goes away after status. But during the PR stage, it is wise to ensure the persons/families are able to sustain themselves without government assistance.
    If someone can’t afford a $1,000.00 filing fee, then perhaps they can’t afford to live outside of their home country. The people in the $12,000 range means they can afford $12,000. Is it expensive? perhaps, but 12K is a drop in the bucket for someone making 200K+ a year in Cayman.
    Unlike the income taxes in the US, this isn’t simply money confiscation just because you have it and have it redistributed.

  3. This is the way you act when you don’t really want anyone to want to apply unless they are super rich. It’s rather obvious that Caymanian society welcomes you here to spend your money and you’re welcome to stay and enjoy the island as long as you keep your mouth shut and you are willing and able to continually spend your money without expecting any rights or the respect of an equal.
    This is specifically why most long term visitors keep to themselves and avoid casual intermingling. Simply because once you get past the CaymanKind campaign and start to talk and listen to the people here, locals and other visitors, you start to see the real picture and realize that no matter how much you do, you will be looked on as an outsider with no more respect than a piece of driftwood. Why would anyone want to become a permanent part of that.
    There’s a few things about this that irk me the most, one is the fact the you can come to Cayman and work for years, marry a Caymanian, buy a home, lay down roots and have children. However after all this if your spouse dies you have to now leave the place you worked so hard to call home. Added to this if you grow old and are no longer as healthy as you used to be, sounds like you will most likely be considered a burden and have your PR status revoked.

    Sounds to me like the smart choice would be to keep ties with your home country so you can go back when you”re no longer worth the trouble to Cayman.

  4. The headline should have been – Stuck in the Cayman Island’s bureaucratic purgatory.
    Michael’s comment is spot on. Why would anyone want to become a permanent part of that?
    Is that really true if your spouse dies you have to leave the place you worked so hard to call home? Can’t be.

  5. Nonperformance : failure or refusal to perform or fulfill a condition, promise, etc.
    When one party, CIG, takes money of another, $1,000 (application processing fee), and doesn”t process the application for 3 years, what are the legal consequences of such inaction?
    When one party takes $1,000 from 400 people, fails (or refuses) to perform for 3 years, but keeps the money, what is a legal definition of such transaction?
    Who reviews, monitors, and supervises the responsible department of CIG?

  6. A small comment on Twyla Vargas” post. Twyla, I don”t know how many Caymanians are aware of this, but under the 2002 British Overseas Territories Act all Caymanians became full British citizens and this means that you are all EU citizens with the right to enjoy freedom of movement within the European Union. So, if you fancy living and working in Europe there should not be any need to apply or wait. Mind you you could lose this right before the end of 2017 if the UK votes to leave the EU. Strange that you can lose your right without having a vote in the referendum.

  7. How many applications would there be if there were no ”Rollover” policy?

    It seems like the rollover policy is irrelevent in the presence of a robust immigration/residency policy, and was created in the absence of the later.

    The ultimatum is ”apply or leave”, which has resulted in the current log jam.

    If rollover were to be removed, and applicants had the option to withdraw their PR applications and return to the previous status quo, (fees being refunded), I suspect the truth about how many applicants WANT permanent residence vs. how many just need to keep their job would rapidly become clear.

  8. In my day in the seventies one needed three references from Caymaians , a knowledge test on the history and geography of the Cayman Islands and an interview by the board including the chairman. You had to explain just why you wanted status and what you had contributed to the island.

    It was most effective and I fail to see why this procedure changed. It was very fair and most effective.