As published on caymannewsservice.com, Wednesday 13 October, 2021.
(CNS): Since the Global Citizen Concierge Programme was rolled out one year ago, allowing the Cayman Islands to take advantage of ‘digital nomads’, 219 families have been granted the certificate that allows them to live in Cayman and work remotely for up to two years. Officials from the tourism ministry said this equated to around 430 people. Although they fall within the visitor category, WORC has confirmed that there is nothing to prevent these long-term visitors from becoming permanent residents via the various categories for wealthy people.
The ministry confirmed that the programme, which will remain open until November 2022, continues to attract new applicants and there are 34 currently pending.
The fee for two people is just US$1,469 per year, so government has made no more than around $330,000 in direct revenue. However, the hope is that these individuals will have contributed much more to the local economy through their general living expenses and renting accommodation.
To qualify, applicants must earn a minimum of US$100,000 annually if applying as an individual, or US$150,000 with a partner and US$180,000 with dependents. This money must be earned from work generated outside the Cayman Islands, since the aim is to attract people who can use technology to work entirely remotely from the source of their business or employer.
Although these wealthy individuals are not allowed to do any work based in Cayman, they are not prohibited from investing in property. This means they could stay much longer than the allotted two years by applying for permanent residency through the provision for independent means.
The special immigration group was created to attract short-term, wealthy visitors while the borders remained closed to tourists. But according to a spokesperson from WORC, there is nothing in the law that would prevent these digital nomads from applying for PR if they meet the criteria provided for the well-off in the five different categories that deal with people of independent means.
Purchasing property remains the easiest route for the well-heeled to put down long-term or permanent roots in the Cayman Islands. As little as US$1 million in property is enough to secure 25 years residency, which in today’s housing market is not very much at all.
This provision for the rich to settle without any other connection to the islands is considered one of several factors that has overinflated Cayman’s properly market, fuelled the excessive coastal development and pushed home-ownership beyond the reach of local people.