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Can I become a British citizen through a Cayman Islands investor route?

I recently received a 25-year permanent resident permit through a direct investment project on Grand Cayman. I read I can’t make this permit into a British Overseas Territory passport. Is this true? How can I upgrade my residency to citizenship?

  • Bedell Cristin
    March 13, 2019

    No, it is not possible to progress to citizenship by virtue of your certificate of direct investment. Your certificate, valid for 25 years and renewable thereafter, entitles you as the holder to reside in the islands as a high net worth investor, to work in the business(es) in which you have invested, and to have your spouse and dependent children reside with you but without the right to work. However, because your certificate has a time limit (and this advice also applies to the other two 25-year residency certificates), it is considered as a long-term residence category (not a permanent one) and therefore prevents eligibility for naturalization and ultimately, the right to be Caymanian. The only possibility for persons of independent means to progress to citizenship is by obtaining a certificate of permanent residence on account of making an investment of a minimum of $2 million Cayman dollars in developed real estate in the Cayman Islands (regardless of which island on which they intend to reside). That certificate provides the holder and any qualifying dependents with a lifetime grant to reside (and work, if desired) in the Cayman Islands. Because that certificate has no expiry, it qualifies the holder (provided certain other criteria are met) to become eligible to apply for naturalization as a BOTC once they have been legally and ordinarily resident in the Cayman Islands for five years. Please note that once the holder of this certificate has been naturalized (the application process typically takes eight weeks), the dependent spouse can apply for his/her own naturalization on grounds of marriage. Naturalization entitles the holder and dependent spouse to British Overseas Territories (Cayman Islands) passports (the application process for this first Cayman passport typically takes six weeks) and once obtained, and as a BOTC, the holder and dependent spouse are immediately eligible to apply for registration as British citizens based on their status as BOTCs. Once the requisite applications and supporting documentation has been submitted to the Office of Deputy Governor in the Cayman Islands, they will confirm everything is in order before sending the package to the U.K. Home Office for processing. The guidelines state that the registration process takes six to 12 months, but every application that I have handled thus far has resulted in a successful issuance of registration certificates within three to four months. Once I am in possession of those certificates, I can immediately apply for the holder and spouse's full British passports (this final application process typically takes six weeks). Finally, please note that if you choose to “upgrade” your 25-year certificate of direct investment to a certificate of permanent residence, I have been successful with other clients in asserting that time already spent residing in the Cayman Islands under your 25-year certificate would count toward the 5-year legal and ordinary residence requirement for eligibility to apply for naturalization as a BOTC.

  • Priestleys
    March 15, 2019

    Unfortunately, the news you received as to limitations to PR is correct for these reasons. To obtain a British Overseas Territory passport, you must first become naturalized; this makes you a British Overseas Territory citizen. Next, you apply to become a British registration citizen. Only then, with those two tasks completed, can you apply for a BOTC passport. The problem you face is that you cannot embark on step one due to the restriction in the type of residency you currently have. The immigration law states: “Any person who has been legally and ordinarily resident in the Cayman Islands for a period of at least eight years, but not more than nine years, other than the holder of a: residency certificate for persons of independent means; residency certificate for retirees; the holder of a certificate of direct investment or a direct investment holder’s (dependent’s) certified; residency holders (dependent’s) certificate; certificate of permanent residence for persons of independent means; a person who was granted permanent residence previously in circumstances analogous to (i) and (ii) above may apply to the chief immigration officer / Caymanian status and permanent residency board for permission for himself, his spouse and his dependents, if any, to reside permanently in the Cayman Islands. Have you considered cancelling the 25-year direct investment route?