Immigration data recently released by the Department of Immigration of Cayman Islands shows that 6600 individuals have become permanent residents of the country while 5600 individuals have become citizens of the country since 2008. Data indicates that 15% of the population of Cayman Islands has obtained residence or citizenship between 2008 and 2014.
This shows how the notion of being a Caymanian has become so radically different today as compared to fifty or even ten years ago. Further, the diverse background of individuals seeking residence or citizenship too is having a significant impact on the Caymanian society.
Many inherit their status as a citizen of the Cayman Islands from their parents or grandparents. Some others acquired the status after getting married to a resident of the Islands. Others have resided for the mandated period to become naturalized citizens while a fair number of individuals have used the investment immigration route to gain residence.
Half the new residents sought the status on the basis of being married to or being the child of a Caymanian. Around 3500 residents acquired the status without having family relationship with a citizen or resident of the Islands. For those seeking permanent residence, marriage was the most common route while around 1140 individuals employed in the Islands sought residence after the mandatory waiting period of eight years. The latter route requires application to the Caymanian Status and Permanent Residency Board.
Reviewing the data, the Premier of the Islands said that the numbers are proof that the existing system is adequately serving its purpose. The Premier also pointed out that the perception that a large number of individuals are granted residence or citizenship is incorrect and clarified that most individuals acquiring the status of being a Caymanian had descended from people already residing in the Islands.
The data includes retired individuals and individuals of independent means. Such persons make use of the investment immigration route and are granted the right to reside for a period of 25 years, which is subject to renewal upon expiry.
After the enactment of the new regulations related to immigration, around 2400 people have been granted permanent residency and employment rights. Most applications that were processed after the enactment of the new law had been originally filed under the previous law. Further, there are 33 applications filed under the old law that are yet to be processed.
Under the old law, individuals who were key employees residing in Cayman for a period of seven years could apply for residency. Under the new law, even those who are non key employees can apply for permanent residency in their eight year. Further, the rollover date has been increased to nine years.
Now, the holder of a work permit who is working and residing in the Islands for seven years can apply for permanent residency and, upon approval, continue living and working for a period of 15 years. After this period, the individual can apply for citizenship.
The new system has established a graduated and progressive system for determining residency. Now, a wide range of individuals can apply for permanent residency. The new system has introduced a points system with points allotted for various aspects like salary, health, occupation, local investments, and other savings of the applicants. All applicants are required to score at least 110 points to become eligible for permanent residence.
The residents of the Islands now face the question whether those who became residents or citizens in the past eight years are, in any way, inferior or different to those who have lived on the Islands for generations at a stretch. However, the law is very clear that all Caymanians are equal irrespective of the mode of acquisition of the status.
The Government is viewing the inflow of new residents and citizens as a positive thing that will only benefit the Islands in the long run. However, there are others who have the view that merely boosting numbers and facilitating population growth will not solve the problems faced by the country and that a well-planned immigration policy is a must for a small country like Cayman Islands.
The consensus view is that the country should seek to integrate those who have close ties to the country and prefer those who have demonstrably proved their commitment to the country and community in a significant manner. Immigration statistics indicates this approach has been followed in the past six to eight years.
However, the statistics cover the period when the old immigration law was in force. The new system, which was introduced in 2013, has made it tougher for expats to apply for obtain permanent residence. A drastic reduction in approvals for permanent residence may cause a demographic disadvantage to the country in the long run. The Islands may end up in a situation where it does not have a robust population that can pay for public expenses and liabilities even as it finances the nation’s infrastructure projects.
Source: www.compasscayman.comGeneral Information: Contact us to receive more information about this article.
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