The number of foreign workers on work permits in the Cayman Islands leveled off during the latter part of 2016, with just less than 24,000 non-Caymanians employed here as of early December.

The total number includes non-Caymanian workers here on government contracts, those awaiting word on permanent residence applications and individuals working at Cayman Enterprise City, which operates under a separate work permit regime. The number does not include those who have already received permanent residence or the non-Caymanian spouses of Caymanians.

Overall, the 23,739 permit holders were a slight decline from 24,077 recorded here in early July.

According to Immigration Department statistics provided to the Cayman Compass under the Freedom of Information Law each quarter since January 2010, the territory has seen a steady increase in work permits granted in the past six years.

Work permits and government contracts have increased from a low of about 18,500 in fall 2010 to about 20,360 in July 2014. The numbers increased again in January 2015 to 21,400, and then to 22,232 in July 2015.

As of February 2016, there were 23,097 permits and contracts held by non-Caymanians working in the islands, which was eclipsed by July’s figure, stated at 24,077.

The figures show an 18 percent increase in work permits in Cayman since 2014.

Work permit and government contract numbers are still far below what was in place during the 2007-2008 era. The government reported 26,659 permits and contracts held here as of November 2008.

Sister Islands

The Immigration Department’s data for this month also broke down the number of work permits in Cayman Brac and Little Cayman.

The vast majority of the permits held by non-Caymanians were in Grand Cayman, but immigration statistics suggest that roughly 36 percent of the populations on the smaller islands were made up of permit holders.

The immigration data states that 687 permits and government contracts were active on the Sister Islands this month. Population estimates in spring 2016 for both islands were just above 1,900 residents.


The most populous nationalities in the Cayman Islands have not changed for more than a decade, according to immigration data. They are: Jamaican, Filipino, British, American, Canadian, Indian and Honduran.

Those seven nationalities make up some 81 percent of the work permits and government contracts held in the islands.

However, there have been some increases in recent years to other nationalities working in Cayman.

The number of Irish people on work permits here has increased by nearly 70 percent since mid-2010, going from 198 to 334 permit holders.

The number of Nepalese in Cayman more than doubled in the same period. There were just 72 citizens of Nepal working here during mid-2010, compared to 171 this month.

Other foreign nationalities including Dominicans, Nicaraguans and South Africans have increased during the period, while others such as Cubans, Colombians and Guyanese have decreased.

If you value our service, if you have turned to us in the past few days or weeks for verified, factual updates, if you have watched our live streaming of press conferences or sent an article to a friend... please consider a donation. Quality local journalism was at risk before the coronavirus crisis. It is now deeply threatened. Even a small amount can go a long way to sustaining our mission of informing the public. We need our readers’ financial support now more than ever.