Important changes made to Immigration rules:
The Cayman Islands has seen a marked upturn in its real estate industry in recent times. Overseas investors and would-be part-time or full-time residents have seen the Islands as a brilliant place in which to invest and also, just as importantly, to enjoy the fruits of their investment with their family and friends. Therefore it has been extremely important for us in the real estate industry to keep abreast with recent changes to the immigration laws here in the Cayman Islands, because those changes directly impact anyone wishing to reside here, full-time or for just part of the year.
Investing in real estate has long been a means by which people can gain residency here. The two main ways in which people can reside here are by applying for a Residential Certificate for Persons of Independent Means, which is generally used by retirees, giving them 25 years of residency and a Certificate of Permanent Residence for Persons of Independent Means, for wealthy individuals who wish to reside here without working.
On 26 May the Immigration (Amendment) (No. 4) Regulations, 2017 were published, changing the requirements for qualification of the above.
Changes include the fact that an individual now only has to demonstrate that they have sufficient means deposited in a local bank account (minimum of CI$400,000) to maintain themselves, rather than having to demonstrate an income of no less than CI$120,000 without having to work here. This is excellent news for wealthy individuals wishing to obtain their Certificate of Permanent Residence for Persons of Independent Means but who don’t want to invest their money to generate the previously required CI$120,000 annually. However, the option is still there to show income as an alternative to funds held on account, if the prospective resident so wishes.
On the downside, retirees wishing to reside here permanently or semi-permanently will now have to invest more in property than before. The minimum required investment in the Cayman Islands for a retiree seeking residence in Grand Cayman through a Residential Certificate for Persons of Independent Means has doubled – going from CI$500,000 to CI$1 million. The required investment has also doubled for people wishing to live on Cayman Brac or Little Cayman, increasing from CI$250,000, to CI$500,000.
The good side of the reform
The good news is that the CI$1 million or CI$500,000 investment (depending where the retiree wishes to reside) can be in something other than developed real estate (for up to half the investment value). Retirees can therefore invest in things such as raw land, shares in local businesses, as well as a home. It should be noted that cash paid by way of stamp duty does not count towards the threshold. The grant fee remains CI$20,000, with an additional CI$1,000 payable in relation to each dependent.
For the wealthy looking for a Certificate of Permanent Residence for Persons of Independent Means, the required minimum investment in developed real estate here has increased from CI$1.6 million, to CI$2 million. There is no requirement that the investment be in residential real estate. The grant fee remains CI$100,000 with a further CI$1,000 payable in relation to each dependent.
Another important change that affects only those looking for a Residential Certificate for Persons of Independent Means (but not a Certificate of Permanent Residence for Persons of Independent Means) is that they are now required to not only pay CI$1,000 upon grant in relation to any dependent, but are also now required to pay CI$1,000 per dependent each and every year. It is unclear whether or not this new payment will be required from existing holders of these certificates in respect to their dependents, even though it was not needed to be paid when they were granted their certificates.
While some changes will be welcomed and others may not, the Cayman Islands remains an idyllic place in which to live and it’s one that welcomes new residents to our beautiful shores.