The Cayman Islands (‘Cayman’) has published in the Gazette the Immigration (Amendment) Law, 2018 (‘Amendment Law’), which is aimed at addressing issues with residency. In particular the Law addresses the right to be Caymanian; specialist caregivers; and includes provisions to establish a Refugee Protection Appeals Tribunal (‘Tribunal’). The provisions relating to the Tribunal will come into force at a date which has yet to be fixed.

Applications for the right to be Caymanian

The Amendment Law removes the limitations on certain individuals whose immigration status in Cayman has been uncertain for a number of years, the so-called ‘ghost-Caymanians’. These are people who were born or brought up in Cayman to non-Caymanian parents and who have found that they do not have Caymanian status once they reach 18. The Amendment Law removes the following deadlines on applying for Caymanian status:

-          reaching the age of twenty-four (This applied to those whose Caymanian status expired when they reached 18 (and those aged 17 who would lose it at 18));

-          21 December 2007. (This applied to those born in Cayman between 27 March 1977 and 1 January 1983; who were British Overseas Territories Citizens by virtue of being born in Cayman; and who had resided there since birth save for absences abroad for educational or medical treatment).

How does this help 'ghost-Caymanians'?

These changes will help those who have always understood that they had Caymanian status but who found out that this was not the case when they applied for a job or tried to travel out of Cayman. Some of those affected held a Cayman passport and permanent residence but did not have the right to be Caymanian. There was also concern at the potential that children of ghost–Caymanians might find themselves stateless because if their parents did not have the right to be Caymanian then they could not pass on that right to their children. If those children did not have the right to a passport from any other country then they could find themselves in what a former Chairman of the Caymanian Status and Permanent Residency Board described as a ‘no man’s land'.  Back in July 2018, Sharon Roulstone, the Interim Director of Cayman’s new department of Workforce Opportunities and Residency Cayman (‘WORC’) recognized the benefit the new legislation would bring to ghost-Caymanians: “There is a generation of people who are under the impression they are Caymanian. Unfortunately, the law does not recognise them as such. The amended legislation however allows these individuals to be regularised as Caymanians and it is our hope they will take advantage of the new provision to be recognised formally once and for all.”

Categories of permanent residence

The ability of the Caymanian Status and Permanent Residency Board and the Chief Immigration Officer (‘CIO’) to grant the right to reside permanently in Cayman to categories of non-Caymanian applicants has been extended to include: spouses who have been legally resident in Cayman for a minimum of 8 years; the spouse of a Caymanian; and also dependents of a Residency and Employment Rights Certificate holder who meet the relevant criteria.

Certificate for specialist care givers

The grant or renewal of a Certificate for Specialist Caregivers can now be based on employment for a period of at least one year preceding the expiration of the care-giver’s term limit -  provided that the relevant authority is satisfied that there are exceptional circumstances.

Powers to the new department of Workforce Opportunities and Residency Cayman

The Amendment Law gives the officer in charge of the new department of Workforce Opportunities and Residency Cayman the same powers, duties, functions, rights, privileges and immunities of the CIO except those in Parts VI (entry and landing); VII (asylum); and VIII (deportation); and  section 103 (authority for arms for immigration officers); and section 111 (reporting of marriages of convenience) of Part IX of the Immigration Law (2015 Revision) (‘Law’).


The sections relating to refugees will come into force at some later date, but the Amendment Law establishes the Tribunal and its procedures. The Tribunal will hear appeals from decisions by the CIO to refuse applications for asylum. A decision of the Tribunal may be appealed to the Grand Court but only on a point of law.

Solomon Harris

For further information about the Amendment Law and for assistance with all types of applications, appeals and any other immigration related matters, please contact Daniel Altneu.

The information contained in this article is necessarily brief and general in nature and does not constitute legal advice. Appropriate legal or other professional advice should be sought for any specific matter.


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