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Cayman Parent | Articles | Expert Advice | Immigration Rules: When Your Child Turns 18 | Part III

Immigration Rules: When Your Child Turns 18 | Part III

A ‘Caymanian by Entitlement’ Turning 18

Please note that a child who is a ‘Caymanian by Entitlement’ will lose this status when they turn 18. In order to continue to be Caymanian after their 18th birthday, an application must be made to the Caymanian Status and Permanent Residency Board for ‘continuation’ of their Status. Such an application ought to be made when the child is 17, and before they turn 18, or they will automatically lose their Status upon turning 18. If a child forgets to apply to continue their Caymanian Status, they can reapply at any time, however, they may be unable to work or apply for a scholarship until they have had their Status regulated. A student visa or alternative immigration permission may be needed to fill any gaps. An application can only be granted if the child has been legally and ordinarily resident for five out of the seven years immediately preceding the date of application. Provided that an application is made before the child turns 18, they will (once the application is granted) be deemed to have been Caymanian without break. If the child is the subject of an application after their 18th birthday, they will (if the application is granted) be deemed to only be Caymanian from the date of the grant. Under the Immigration (Transition) Law, absences necessitated by health and education may nevertheless count as legal and ordinary residence in the Islands provided that Cayman is ‘home’ for the relevant period of absence (which cannot in any event be for more than 12 months).

Permanent Resident’s Child Turning 18

An expatriate child of a Permanent Resident (even if the child has a Cayman Passport) must in most cases apply for Permanent Residence in their own right under section 39 of the Immigration (Transition) Law. They can do this without being subject to the points system, provided they have been legally and ordinarily resident in the Cayman Islands for seven years prior to the application being made. This application must be made before the child turns 19 (ideally even before they turn 18) but if the parent’s Residency & Employment Rights Certificate has been varied to allow the child to be a dependant past 18, it can be made up until the child is 24, provided the child is still in tertiary education or within six months of the end of such education. They will then be able to apply to become Caymanian once they have been in Cayman for 15 years, or five years after having been naturalised and become a British Overseas Territories Citizen (BOTC). An expatriate child, who is the child of the spouse of a Caymanian and whose parent holds a RERC (Residency & Employment Rights Certificate) as the spouse of a Caymanian, can be added as a dependant on their parent, but only until they are 18, unless they continue into tertiary education and their permission is varied.

Work Permit Holder’s Child Turning 18

Dependant children can only remain on a parent’s Work Permit after the age of 18 if they are: in full time tertiary education or special circumstances apply (such as the child is unable, for medical or other exceptional reasons, to maintain themselves). Should your child turn 18 before they finish secondary school, the immigration authorities will usually allow your child to remain in Cayman, although not formally as a dependant on your work permit. However, if your child chooses not to go on to university or college, and they want to continue living in the Cayman Islands, then their only option is usually to try and get their own work permit. At this point they are competing with every Caymanian and Permanent Resident school leaver who will have precedence over them, placing them at a distinct disadvantage when seeking job opportunities.

Gap Year Dilemma

Despite numerous requests, the Immigration authorities have, to date, declined to confirm their treatment of students seeking to take a gap year, and the Law does not appear to make any provision for them.

Work Experience for Expat Kids

Children of work permit holders cannot accept paid work experience without having their own work permit, and an unqualified 16-20 year old is very unlikely to ever be granted a work permit. However, there is nothing in the Law to say that the children of expats cannot accept unpaid internships if they have been resourceful enough to go out and find work in their school holidays! In fact all children, expat or Caymanian, should be encouraged to seek work experience as soon as they are over the age of 16. It not only keeps them busy, but it also teaches them the value of money and to have a good work ethic – invaluable tools for life!

Naturalisation as a BOTC (Section 18 (1) Grounds of Residence at 18)

If you are a Permanent Resident (PR) and not married to a Caymanian then getting Naturalised as a British Overseas Territories Citizen (BOTC) is an essential step in the process of acquiring Caymanian Status. Once you have had Permanent Residence for 12 months, and have lived in Cayman for at least five years, you can apply under the British Nationality Act for Naturalisation as a BOTC by virtue of a connection with the Cayman Islands. Please note that you will still need to pay your Permanent Resident work-related fees every year once you are Naturalised. However, the spouse of a Caymanian does not pay these fees. The spouse of a Caymanian will (provided their Caymanian Spouse is a BOTC), be able to apply for Naturalisation 12 months from the date that their RERC was approved, provided they have been resident in the Islands for at least 3 years and seek to apply on the basis of marriage to a BOTC. The application is made to the Deputy Governor and must include an up-to-date travel history covering the last five years (you can obtain this from WORC), as well as certified copies of your relevant documents and a fee of CI$825. Please note that a child under the age of 18 can (on successful application) be registered as a BOTC and the cost is CI$450

Need Legal Advice?

Contact either of the world-class law firms listed below who offer experienced family law teams and immigration experts.

Need to know more about immigration?

Read our articles on Immigration rights to children born to Caymanians, non-Caymanians, and Immigration rules in Cayman for divorce.

This article was written by Nick Joseph, a partner at HSM. Nick deals primarily with the provision of advice in relation to a broad range of regulatory matters including immigration and employment issues with an emphasis on relocation advice. Nick is a leading immigration lawyer in the Cayman Islands and was a partner for almost ten years at a major offshore law firm in the Cayman Islands before joining HSM in early 2013.

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