Ask A Question  | Learn more about Cayman Islands

How can I gain British Overseas Territory citizenship in the Cayman Islands?

I am from a country with a weak passport and wish to relocate to the Cayman Islands for both a better life and a better passport. How do I obtain this citizenship?

  • Bedell Cristin
    December 15, 2018

    There are two paths under which you can apply for naturalisation as a British Overseas Territory Citizen (“BOTC”) and thereafter for a Cayman Islands passport; registration as a British Citizen; a full British passport; and finally the Right to be Caymanian (Cayman Status) on grounds of naturalization: Option 1 – Certificate of Permanent Residence for Persons of Independent Means. This Certificate provides the holder (and any qualifying dependants) with a lifetime grant to reside in the Cayman Islands without the right to work, although the holder or dependant spouse can apply for a variation of the Certificate once granted in order to permit the right to work. An applicant must invest a minimum of CI$2,000,000 (US$2,439,024) in developed real estate in the Cayman Islands (regardless of which Island on which they intend to reside) and although there is no specified minimum annual income, all applicants must be able to demonstrate that their financial resources are sufficient to maintain themselves and their dependents adequately. Because this 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 5 years. Essentially, the holder could not be absent from Cayman for over 450 days in that 5-year period (and in respect of the final 12 month period, for no more than 90 days). There are exemptions, such as if you were absent for educational, medical or business purposes and as the process is discretionary, it is still possible to obtain a grant without satisfying those requirements. Certainly, I have done it for other clients previously. Please note that once the holder of this Certificate has been naturalized (the process typically takes 8 weeks), the dependant spouse can apply for his/her own naturalization on grounds of marriage. Option 2 – Work Permit Route. You would need to seek employment in the Cayman Islands and obtain a work permit under which you live and work in Cayman for a period of 8 years. During each of those 8 years, you would need to be legally and ordinarily resident in Cayman, defined as being – “a person’s uninterrupted voluntary physical presence in the Islands for a period of time without legal impediment (other than a tourist visitor or transit passenger) during which period the Islands are regarded as his normal place of abode for the time being, save that - (a) absences abroad of six consecutive months’ duration or less for, inter alia, purposes of education, health, vacation or business during such period shall count as residence in the Islands; (b) absences abroad of more than six consecutive months but less than one year shall raise the presumption that there has been a break in residence; and (c) absences abroad for twelve consecutive months or more shall constitute a break in residence.” After 8 years’ legal and ordinary residence in Cayman, you would be eligible to apply for permanent residence under the points system (the application process is typically 6-12 months but can be much longer depending on the existing backlog). Once approved, you would be awarded a Residency and Employment Rights Certificate (“RERC”) which would enable you to continue living and working in Cayman on a work permit. After holding your RERC for a minimum of 12 months, you would be eligible to apply for naturalisation as a BOTC. Post-Naturalisation as a BOTC Whether you pursue Option 1 or Option 2, please note that naturalization as a BOTC would entitle the holder (and dependent spouse, if applicable) to apply for a British Overseas Territories (Cayman Islands) passport (a process which takes 6 weeks). Once you (and dependent spouse, if applicable) have obtained your Cayman Islands passport, you would be eligible to apply for registration as a full British Citizen (with all the privileges that entails, including obtaining a British passport) pursuant to the British Nationality Act. There is no obligation to surrender any existing citizenship during this entire process and once you (and dependent spouse, if applicable) are registered, you would be eligible to submit applications for full British passports. Finally, once naturalized as a BOTC for 5 years, you (and dependent spouse, if applicable) would be eligible to apply for the Right to be Caymanian on grounds of naturalization. That application usually takes about 2 months to process and once approved, you would be Caymanian.

  • Priestleys
    November 19, 2018

    To obtain British Overseas Territory citizenship by way of a connection to the Cayman Islands, you must: Obtain a work permit and reside in the Cayman Islands for at least eight years (you are allowed to be absent from the Island for a period of six consecutive months or less without causing a break in your continuous period of residency). In your ninth year, you must apply for a certificate of permanent residency (this application includes a requirement that you purchase a dwelling or have a certain amount of money in the bank). When 12 months have elapsed from the time you obtained a permanent residency certificate, you may apply for naturalization as a British Overseas Territory citizen.