Cayman Islands tourism growth sparks residency interest

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Grand Cayman. Photo: YouTube

GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands — The Cayman Islands has welcomed more than 1.3 million tourists by air and sea in the first six months of 2018, according to the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism, and this number is on track to beat last year’s record-breaking statistic.

According to a recent article by Alastair David, this is leading to a corresponding increase in real estate transactions and, with it, interest in the opportunities for people to acquire residency in the Cayman Islands through investment in real estate.

These options include a certificate of permanent residency for persons of independent means and a residency certificate for persons of independent means (a permission ideal for retirees).

In order to qualify for a certificate of permanent residency for persons of independent means, applicants must invest a minimum of CI$2 million (US$2.4 million) in developed real estate in the Cayman Islands and be able to support themselves and their dependants. This certificate allows the right to reside in the British Overseas Territory and, eventually, the opportunity of naturalisation as a British Overseas Territories Citizen (BOTC) and thereafter, the right to be Caymanian.

For people who wish to reside in the Cayman Islands without the right to work may qualify for a residency certificate for persons of independent means. The qualifications vary depending on which of the three islands they plan to reside. Applicants must be at least 18-years-old, have a continuous annual income of no less than CI$120,000 (US$146,000) for Grand Cayman and CI$75,000 (US$91,000) for Cayman Brac or Little Cayman, or instead of an annual income, they must have a deposit in a local account of at least CI$400,000 (US$500,000).

The required investment for Grand Cayman residency is CI$1 million (of which CI$500,000 must be developed real estate in Grand Cayman). For residency in Cayman Brac or Little Cayman, the required investment is CI$500,000 (of which CI$250,000 must be in developed real estate in Cayman Brac or Little Cayman).

Therefore, David writes, half of the required investment can be used in something other than developed real estate, such as raw land or shares in local businesses. A successful applicant for a residency certificate for persons of independent means will be granted permission to reside in the Islands for a period of 25 years (renewable).

In any instance, both types of certificates will need to demonstrate that the applicant is of good character and conduct, and possesses local health insurance.

The government of Anguilla, another British Overseas Territory, recently announced its intention to implement a “residency by investment” programme as part of its medium-term agenda. It will allow foreign nationals to acquire permanent residency status in Anguilla by making a financial contribution to the island and after proving to be of good health and good character.

The government was due to host an information session on the subject on August 23, 2018, which will show the purpose and benefits of the programme, give a preview of the proposed residency by investment programme, the application process and fees, and its plans for implementation.

In 2014, a claim by promoters of a resort in yet another British Overseas Territory, the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI), that investors are immediately eligible to apply for a permanent residency certificate and BOTC passport, was refuted by the British government.

According to Tom Lawrence, at the Home Office Communications Directorate in London:

• Eligibility for BOTC is governed by the British Nationality Act 1981. Citizenship is granted by the governor of the territory and Overseas Territories are not able to grant BOTC status other than in accordance with that Act.

• Residency and other requirements for BOTC status apply, so anyone who has not lived lawfully in the territory for a number of years is unlikely to qualify.

• Criteria for the grant of BOTC include residence requirements, a good character requirement and an intention to make the principal home within the relevant territory.

• Generally, the residency requirements are for a minimum of five years residence immediately preceding the application, during which total absences must not exceed 450 days with a maximum of 90 days absence in the last year. The applicant must not have been in breach of immigration rules at any time during those five years and the last year of residence must have been free of any immigration control.

• BOTCs do not have the right of abode in the UK unless they later become British citizens.

“There is no direct route to BOTC and the investor will have to meet the eligibility requirements as noted,” the TCI governor’s spokesman confirmed at the time.

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