The ins and outs of Caymanian status

| 05/07/2016

What is the difference between being a Cayman status holder and being a naturalised Cayman citizen?

Auntie’s answer: Before getting into the specifics of your question, I must make it clear, as was pointed out by an immigration official, there is no such thing as a “naturalised Cayman citizen”; that term simply does not exist here.

The confusion may be due to our large neighbour to the north. In the US, there is a category for a naturalised US citizen, but that has no connection to the terms that the Cayman Islands Department of Immigration uses.

Here in Cayman, you can be naturalised as a British Overseas Territories Citizen, due to a connection with the Cayman Islands, but, the official explained, “that does not make you Caymanian or give the holder any right to live or work in the Cayman Islands”. Immigration permission is still required to enable someone to live and work here.

In addition, a person can be Caymanian and not be naturalised, or naturalised and not be Caymanian. A Caymanian status holder is a Caymanian, and someone who holds the right to be Caymanian is a Caymanian status holder. Starting to get confused?

The official explained that having “status” or the “right to be Caymanian” both mean the same thing: that you are a Caymanian. And you cannot be Caymanian unless you have Caymanian status.

Once you are naturalised, you can apply for a Cayman Islands passport, but that document does not confer status. However, you can then also apply for status (after the requisite number of years), the granting of which means you are Caymanian. Being naturalised does not make you more or less Caymanian than anyone else in the eyes of immigration (ignoring any naysayers out there).

One other thing, the official wanted to make it clear that if you have permanent residence and are naturalised you still have to pay your applicable annual fees until you become eligible to apply for the right to be Caymanian and your request is approved.

I don’t know about you, but I think I need to lay down for a while to let all of that sink in.

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Category: Ask Auntie, Immigration Questions

Comments (23)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Once granted the right to be caymanian what does the letter of approval say? Do you receive the cayman status certificate as soon as you pay the fee?

  2. Anonymous says:

    So according to Immigration and the law of the land, there is no such thing as “driftwood”, despite the views of a Cabinet Minister.

    • Anonymous says:

      Oh no, there is driftwood. Plenty of it, but it has nothing to do with how you are Caymanian.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Auntie, I think there’s an easier/clearer way to explain this.

    Being Caymanian (either by right or by grant of Caymanian Status) is an immigration status. It’s kind of like a nationality that has been given legal meaning in our Immigration Law, and other laws also now use it to confer certain rights and privileges on Caymanians. Whether or not you are Caymanian is governed under the Cayman Islands Immigration Law only. Grants of Caymanian Status and Acknowledgements of the Right to be Caymanian are determined by the Department of Immigration.

    British Overseas Territories Citizenship (BOTC) is the citizenship that is or may be granted to Caymanians and Permanent Residents, i.e. people with security of tenure in the Cayman Islands (or in Bermuda, TCI, BVI, etc). If you were Caymanian at birth and born in the Cayman Islands you are automatically a BOTC because under international law everyone must have at least one citizenship at birth. You can’t be ‘stateless’. But if you become Caymanian later in life through Staus grant or only apply to have your (birth) right to be Caymanian recognised by the Department of Immigration later in life you are not automatically a BOTC. But you are automatically entitled to apply to be naturalised as a BOTC.

    Permanent Residents and people who acquire Caymanian Status or are legally acknowledged as Caymanian by the Department of Immigration can apply to be naturalised as a BOTC. So can their spouses and children. They would already hold at least one other citizenship (the one/more they had at birth, which they gained based on the laws of the country where they were born and/or where their parents had citizenship) so they are acquiring another citizenship. The grant of BOTC is governed under the British Nationality Act and the process is overseen by the Deputy Governor’s Office.

    If someone is a BOTC they can also then apply for a Cayman Islands passport. So a passport is not sufficient proof of being Caymanian, only of being a BOTC. To prove you are Caymanian you EITHER need a letter acknowledging your right to be Caymanian or a certificate showing the date you were granted status – both are only issued by the Department of Immigration – OR (if you are Caymanian by birth) your birth certificate and the birth certificate of your Caymanian parent showing at least one parent was also born in Cayman.

    It’s confusing, especially because the Immigration Law and the British Nationality Act changed over the years and whether you have the right to be a Caymanian or to be a BOTC also depends on the year you were born.

    TL;DR: All Caymanians either already are BOTCs or can apply at any time to be naturalised as a BOTC. BOTCs, however, are not always Caymanian and don’t automatically have the right to apply to become or be recognised as a Caymanian. And Caymanian is an immigration status that only matters in the Cayman Islands, whereas BOTC is a citizenship.

    • Anonymous says:

      Except a number of non BOTC’s have been given Cayman passports in the past which is now creating chaos. Anyone else remember football players being given them so they could play on the national team?

      Some people renewing their Cayman passports are being asked to prove they are BOTC’s, and for good reason.

    • Anonymous says:


    • U.H. Gardner says:

      Can you be natural used through marriage to a Caymanian in a same sex partnership?

    • Anonymous says:

      Caymanians may be all able to apply to become a BOTC (if they have been Caymanian for at least a year) but a significant number will not qualify including because they do not meet the residency requirements or have a criminal background.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I have Cayman status through the “right to be Caymanian” through one of my parents. I do not have a Cayman passport. Do I just apply for a Cayman passport? or do I need to be naturalized?

    I ask because I have heard both yes and no and some individuals actually had to and some individuals just applied for the passport. Does this depend on the individual processing the passport application or how Caymanian the last name happens to be?

    • Anonymous says:

      As far as I’m aware, it actually depends on where you were born.

      If you were born in the Cayman Islands you should be able to just go apply for the passport using your birth certificate and your Caymanian parent’s birth certificate (if your Caymanian parent is your father, I think you also need your parents’ marriage certificate if they were/are married).

      That is what I did when I was a child. I have heard, however, that people who didn’t do this before they turned 18 are being told they need to apply to Immigration for a letter acknowledging their right to be Caymanian and then also need to be naturalised before they can apply for a passport. Maybe Auntie can confirm?

      If you were born outside of the Cayman Islands and already have one of those letters from the Chief Immigration Officer acknowledging your right to be Caymanian by virtue of having a Caymanian parent, you definitely have to apply to be naturalised as a BOTC first. Then once you have your Certificate of Naturalisation you can apply for a Cayman passport.

      You are only entitled as a matter of right to be a BOTC if you were born in Cayman to a Caymanian parent. (There are exceptions for people born in Cayman to non-Caymanian parents between 1977 and 1983, who are BOTCs but not Caymanians, but that doesn’t apply to you since you have a Caymanian parent.) and you need to be a BOTC before you can get a Cayman Islands passport.

      • Anonymous says:

        The difficulty I have with your answer is that my child and I were both not born in the Cayman Islands. My father is the born Caymanian and my child’s father is the born Caymanian. My child has a Cayman passport and did not require naturalization and it depends on who is sitting on the other side of the counter when I receive a response on whether I need to be naturalized or not.

      • Anonymous says:

        In recent years it makes no difference where you are born. A Caymanian born outside of Cayman is just as Caymanian as one born in Cayman. What matters is that one of your parents was Caymanian and settled in Cayman as at the date of your birth.

        If your parents were Caymanian but not settled in Cayman at the date of your birth, you may not be Caymanian.

        • Anonymous says:

          Why should that matter where the parents are settled? On that basis if I go off island and have a child outside of the island while in school (away for 6 years – undergrad+masters or med school) and both me and my significant other are Caymanian, then from what you are saying the child is not Caymanian.

          • Anonymous says:

            No – because you had an intention to return to Cayman they are Caymanian. If you had however moved away, they are likely not Caymanian without you or they having to make formal applications.

          • Anonymous says:

            Read section 21 of the Immigration Law. It confirms who is a Caymanian as of right. It states that if you are born after 1 January 2004 you are Caymanian at birth only if at the date of your birth at least one of your parents was settled in Cayman and was Caymanian.

            Settled is defined as requiring you to have been legally and ordinarily resident in Cayman.

            If you have been continuously outside of Cayman for more than a year you are not legally and ordinarily resident.

            If you are Caymanian otherwise than by descent, then it does not matter if you were settled in Cayman as at the date of their birth. Children of such persons born after 1 January 2004 are Caymanian anyway.

            • Anonymous says:

              Please explain that last paragraph. It is a bit confusing.

              • Anonymous says:

                It seems to mean that if you are Caymanian based on having had Caymanian ancestry and you live overseas when your children are born then they are not Caymanian.

                However, if you were granted status and then move overseas, your subsequently born children will be Caymanian.

                It is crazy, but then so is much of the immigration law. It is full of madness and has been for years. A total overhaul is needed.

                • Anonymous says:

                  So Caymaniand with ancestry cannot pass it on but Caymans by staus can?! Shouldn’t it be the other way around??

  5. Anonymous says:

    What rights do you have as a British Overseas Territories Citizen?

    • Anonymous says:

      None – unless you have it by registration by entitlement rather than naturalisation.

  6. Anonymous says:

    one must pay and is entitled to pay the other is entitled not to pay for anything

    • Anonymous says:

      You plainly have not understood Auntie of the erudite poster above. One is Caymanian, the other is not.

      • Anonymous says:

        Someone should explain that to the police, the prison service, the education department, social services, the eso, and everyone else who is operating their own made up versions of who is a Caymanian.