Foreign spouses of Caymanians will no longer be treated unequally when it comes to requirements for British Overseas Territories citizenship.

Amendments to the Immigration Law debated Wednesday in the Legislative Assembly will allow non-Caymanian wives or husbands of Caymanian nationals to apply for, and receive, British Overseas Territories citizenship before they obtain Caymanian status.

The proposed changes were supported by lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle.

The strange anomaly that has existed within Cayman Islands Immigration Law for years was first noted by Savannah MLA Anthony Eden in 2014. The rules make it far easier for spouses of non-Caymanian permanent residents to obtain British Overseas Territories citizenship than for spouses of Caymanians to obtain the same status.

Under current Immigration Law, a non-Caymanian who receives permanent residence can have their spouse apply as a dependent on that grant of residence, essentially obtaining permanent residence themselves during the currency of the marriage. No less than one year after that residency status is granted, the spouse is eligible to apply for British Overseas Territories citizenship. That citizenship status allows the holder to carry a Cayman Islands passport and is the penultimate step to receiving Caymanian status.

The non-Caymanian spouse of a Caymanian, under current law, must wait seven years before applying for the right to be Caymanian themselves.

The Immigration Law currently does not allow those people to apply for British Overseas Territories citizenship until after they obtain Caymanian status – a seven year wait.

For the purposes of local law, British Overseas Territories citizenship is not the same as a grant of Caymanian status, which confers the right to be Caymanian. Non-Caymanians can apply for the right to be Caymanian if they have remained resident in the islands for at least 15 years or, in the case of a marriage, have remained married to a Caymanian for at least seven years.

The legal change will allow spouses of Caymanians to legally be considered “permanent” in the territory so that they may apply for British Overseas Territories citizenship in the same way as spouses of non-Caymanian permanent residents.

Premier Alden McLaughlin said Wednesday that government was glad to address an issue which had troubled many local families for some time.

Deputy Opposition Leader Alva Suckoo also supported the change, but noted it was “disheartening” the matter took four years to come before lawmakers in the form of an amendment bill.

“It’s a little bit late,” Mr. Suckoo said.

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  1. The Law change in making Caymanian spouses equal in citizenship claims of which is being enacted currently certainly addresses the making good on the inequality of spouses. In retrospect, I pose the following, should this not be a retroactive legislation as surely those spouses of the past whom some were permanent residents for 10 years or more also may have been married to a born Caymanian spouse for over 20 years. Additionally, does this mean that the inequality correction being proposed today will not or does not address the inequality of the past. I humbly address the aforementioned as we enter the eve of Emancipation Day, of which represented a much higher level of inequality and yet it addressed all past, present and future persons whom were or was going to be treated in an unequal manner. I note that within the Caribbean region the British territories were the first historically between 1833 & 1838 to recognize EMANCIPATION / EQUALITY prior to the Danish, Swedish, French, Spanish and lastly the Dutch. In my opinion, based on the proposed change of this Cayman Law predicated on the realized execution of inequality upon both past also current spouses of which consequently presents a historical comparison as stated for there were many economical arguments compounded by factors re a French Revelation also the great Civil War. In closing, generally this current day equality initiative is constructive similarly to the equality recognition of Ghost Caymanians, on the other-hand we should recognize the overall humanistic burden of past inequality which should address those spouses whom were the initial martyrs of this somewhat twenty first century action of emancipation; this is also long over due.

  2. The whole thing with Cayman Status and BOTC is still confusing.

    With every other country if you have the passport you are a citizen. And if you are a citizen you are entitled to a passport.

    But here, I assume because this is a Crown dependency, someone can have a Cayman Islands passport, without being a citizen.

    Conversely someone can be a Caymanian, with the right to vote and work, without the right to a Cayman Islands passport.