Investors in Cayman Islands real estate are able to qualify for and achieve benefit from a number of opportunities under the Cayman Islands’ Immigration Laws. Unlike competing jurisdictions, the Cayman Islands actively encourages foreign investment in property in the Islands, with a particular advantage given to those who invest in developed real estate.
For foreign investors looking to simply benefit from the ability to enjoy a vacation home for the use of themselves, their family and friends, without seeking residence in the Islands, no express permissions are required. It should be noted, however, that persons who wish to spend more than approximately 180 days in the Cayman Islands in any year may risk a determination that rather than visiting as a tourist, they are treating the Islands as their home. In such cases, applications for some advanced form of immigration permission may become appropriate, or even be required.
There are no specific permissions required should a foreign national (whether resident or not) aim to act as a landlord and rent up to two units of property belonging to them to third parties. Should any person seek to act as a landlord in relation to more than two properties appropriate mechanisms can be readily implemented to facilitate such activity including by contracting with agents to operate rentals on their behalf.
Where a property purchaser seeks residence in the Cayman Islands, the type of residence which is best suited to a particular individual’s needs will in part be dependent on whether or not they are or will be engaged in gainful occupation (defined as the carrying on of any business or vocation for gain or reward) or, for example, hope to be able to advance towards any level of citizenship. Whichever option is chosen, there is provision for spouses and dependants to also become the residents. Arrangements can also be made for existing household staff etc. to reside and work in the Islands.
All foreign nationals residing in the Cayman Islands are generally required to be able to demonstrate an ability to adequately maintain themselves and their dependants and have in place adequate health insurance. Ability to demonstrate good character, suitable residential accommodation and (if in employment and of pensionable age) participation in a Government-approved private pension scheme is also required. Children of school age are generally required to be enrolled in private schools.
In general terms, the two options available for any person who is not already resident in Cayman, but is seeking to become legally resident in the Islands on the basis of a property purchase, are Residency for Persons of Independent Means and Permanent Residence for Persons of Independent Means. These are described more fully below. Various other options, not dependent on investment in real estate, are also available and can be tailored to suit particular circumstances, including, for example, while an investor is building their own home on land they have purchased or are otherwise yet to take the title on completion.
This form of residency is usually best suited to retirees and has an initial duration of 25 years.
It is available to any person who invests a minimum of CI$500,000 (US$609,756.09) in the Cayman Islands, of which at least CI$250,000 (US$304,878.04) must be in developed real estate (residential or commercial), where seeking to establish residence in Grand Cayman. The requirements for residence in the neighbouring islands of Little Cayman and Cayman Brac are less and are restricted to housing. In relation to those islands, the requirement for investment is no less than CI$250,000 (US$304,878.04) of which a minimum of CI$125,000 (US$152,439.02) must be in developed residential real estate.
In addition to the investment in developed real estate, in order to qualify for this permission, applicants must be able to demonstrate (in respect of intended residence in Grand Cayman) an annual income of no less than CI$120,000 (US$146,341.46) and in respect of intended residence in Cayman Brac or Little Cayman, an annual income of no less than CI$75,000 (US$91,463.41).
These income requirements must be satisfied without the applicant needing to engage in Gainful Occupation in the Cayman Islands.
Any applicant should also generally have a clean criminal record (please note that for the purposes of Cayman Islands Immigration requirements there is no such thing as a “spent” or “expired” conviction), be in good health and possess adequate health insurance. The authorities will need to be satisfied that these funds and other resources are sufficient to adequately maintain the applicant and any dependants, and must also be satisfied as to the character and health of any dependants.
The holder of a Certificate of Residence for Persons of Independent Means is entitled to reside in the Cayman Islands for 25 years. The Certificate does not provide any right to work, in any field or capacity and holders of such certificates are ineligible to apply for permission to work without first surrendering any such certificate. If the residence is to continue past 25 years, it can be renewed. It is not intended to be possible for the holder of such a certificate to advance towards citizenship while such a certificate is held.
An application fee (for grant or renewal) of CI$500 (US$609.75) is payable on application.
A grant fee of CI$20,000 (US$24,390.24) is due on issuance, with a further CI$1,000 (US$1,219.51) payable in respect of each approved dependant.
No fees are due thereafter for the duration of the permission. The holders of such a permission (and approved dependants) are free to remain in the Cayman Islands and will be formally treated as Cayman Islands residents. Dependent children have the opportunity to seek permanent residence in their own right and to transition towards British Overseas Territories (and British) citizenship, and (ultimately) the Right to be Caymanian.
This is the ultimate permission which can be sought and obtained pursuant to clearly prescribed criteria. It provides an opportunity to acquire Permanent Residence, including (on the subsequent application) with the Right to Work based on investment, rather than having to wait for eight years before being eligible to apply and even then, being subject to a wide-ranging points system.
Unlike Residency for Persons of Independent Means, this option has no expiry and accordingly qualifies a holder (provided other criteria as to actual physical presence are maintained) to become eligible to apply for naturalisation as a British Overseas Territories Citizen once they have been legally and ordinarily resident in the Cayman Islands for five years. Once a person has been naturalised, they are entitled to a British Overseas Territories (Cayman Islands) Passport and can, upon successful application, become registered as a full British Citizen (and thereby obtain a British Passport with all the rights and privileges that entails).
There is no obligation under Cayman Islands Law to surrender any existing citizenship.
Once a person has been a British Overseas Territories Citizen by virtue of their connection with the Cayman Islands for five years, they are eligible to apply to become Caymanian.
A Person of Independent Means who seeks a Certificate of Permanent Residence in this manner is required to first invest a minimum of CI$1,600,000 (US$1,951,219) in developed real estate in the Cayman Islands. They must also generally have a clean criminal record, possess adequate health insurance, be in good health and have financial resources that are sufficient to adequately maintain the applicant and any dependants.
Once granted, the Right to Work can be sought and obtained through application to the Caymanian Status and Permanent Residency Board to vary the Certificate to add a prescribed occupation or occupations.
An application fee of CI$500 (US$609.75) is payable on application.
A one-off grant fee of CI$100,000 (US$121,951.22) is due on issuance, with a further CI$1,000 (US$1,219.51) payable in respect of each approved dependant.
An application to vary the Certificate to add the Right to Work requires payment of a further CI$500 (US$609.75). In addition, holders of Permanent Residence with the Right to Work are required to pay an annual fee equivalent to that payable by a work permit holder in the same occupation.
Any obligation to pay ongoing annual fees whilst engaged in Gainful Occupation is extinguished once the holder becomes a Caymanian.
It is possible to obtain Residency in the Cayman Islands (including with the right to work) by a number of alternative avenues which do not depend on immediate property investment. These options can be particularly attractive to prospective investors who seek an opportunity to become familiar with life in the Cayman Islands without first having to commit to the substantial capital investment. Details of these alternatives can be provided upon request but include establishing a business presence or becoming employed under the work permit regime in your own or any existing business.
Prime Locations Cayman has access a full service law firm, with a wealth of experience in Immigration and Property work who are exceptionally well placed to provide all the legal and administrative assistance needed throughout any residency application process.
Our partners also offer corporate services to purchasers, developers and prospective investors.
Our partners can manage your application from start to finish, and in particular, provide the following services: