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Beyond residency by investment: a pathway to British citizenship

15 September 2020

Clients regularly ask whether the Cayman Islands offers a pathway to citizenship for persons of independent means.

Whilst there is no immediate path to citizenship, Daniel Altneu, a managing associate at law firm Bedell Cristin, notes that the Cayman Islands does in fact offer citizenship options for holders of Certificates of Permanent Residence and that his clients are often surprised and enthused to learn that their entire family can qualify for both Cayman Islands and British citizenship.

Whilst each family's Cayman Islands immigration journey is different and requires bespoke advice spanning an array of applicable laws, the information below outlines the basic steps involved in acquiring citizenship:

  1. The Certificate of Permanent Residence provides the holder (and any qualifying dependants) with a lifetime grant to reside in the Cayman Islands on account of a minimum US$2.4 million investment in developed real estate.
  2. Because this option has no expiry, it qualifies the holder (provided certain other criteria are met) to become eligible to apply for naturalisation as a British Overseas Territories citizen once they have been legally and ordinarily resident in the Cayman Islands for five years. Applications for naturalisation are typically approved within three months of submission.
  3. Once naturalised, the holder can immediately apply for a British Overseas Territory (Cayman Islands) passport, an application process that typically takes six weeks.
  4. Immediately upon receipt of a Cayman passport, the holder can apply to register as a full British citizen (with all the privileges that entails, including obtaining a British passport). That two-stage application process typically takes four to six months.
  5. Dependant spouses and children are also eligible to apply for naturalisation, Cayman Islands passports and eventually for registration as British Citizens. Provided applications are submitted in a timely fashion and their consideration is not protracted, the entire family can acquire British passports six years after the initial grant of the Certificate of Permanent Residence.
  6. There is no obligation to surrender any existing citizenship throughout this process and once the holder has been naturalised for five years, they are eligible to apply for the Right to be Caymanian on grounds of naturalisation. Once granted, the dependant spouse can apply for the Right to be Caymanian on grounds of marriage and provided the children are under the age of 18, they can apply for Acknowledgment of Caymanian Status.

For further information about any matters concerning residency and citizenship in the Cayman Islands, please contact Daniel Altneu.

Author - Daniel Altneu, Managing Associate, Cayman Islands.

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