Cabinet orders approved late last year that allow “snowbirds” a six-month visitor pass to stay at their vacation home do not apply to non-Caymanian workers who own property and who are coming to the end of their permitted work term, immigration officials confirmed this week.
The order, approved in December 2014, eliminates the requirement for propertied visitors to go back to the Immigration Department every 30 days to re-stamp their passports if they are here for an extended stay. Visitors who own property and have the financial means to support themselves can now get up to a six-month visitor permit before they are required to leave the islands.
“[The permit] is intended for frequent visitors, not somebody who’s ending their work permit,” said Ministry of Home Affairs Chief Officer Eric Bush.
Under the revised Immigration Law, work permit holders can be given 90 days to get their affairs in order if their application to remain in Cayman permanently is unsuccessful.
Local law requires all non-Caymanians who have been here for nine consecutive years to leave the islands for at least a year prior to returning for work. Visitors here on extended stays are not allowed to work.
Mr. Bush confirmed that the Immigration Department does not allow propertied visitors who do not have any other permanent resident status to stay in the territory for more than six months in any calendar year.
Some local attorneys had expressed concern that the six-month visitors rules had been written in such a way as to allow someone to stay here for six months, leave for a weekend and then come back for another six months.
“Immigration doesn’t do that,” Mr. Bush said.
In determining whether someone has the financial means to remain in the territory while not working, immigration officers are given some discretion, Mr. Bush said.
“[The visitor] needs to show some evidence they can support themselves and any dependents [during the visit] without working,” he said.
The financial means test typically does not apply to short-term visitors who come to Cayman for a week or two and stay in a rental accommodation. Those visitors are usually only required to give the address where they are staying during their visit.