Rarely discussed in investment migration circles are the ultra-premium residency by investment programs in the Caribbean, particularly those offered in the British Overseas Territories.
Anguilla launched an investor visa program in 2018, but Cayman Islands has had one for decades. Thanks to a recent Freedom of Information request, we are now able to present statistical data on the program that, as it turns out, has been remarkably lucrative for the nation of just 64,000 inhabitants.
Cayman Islands offers three separate routes to residence permits for investors:
- Substantial Business Presence
- Direct Investment
- Independent Means (25 years)
- Independent Means (Permanent)
The minimum capital requirement for the Direct Investment channel is US$1.2 million (an option that only two investors have ever chosen), while those who qualify for a 25-year residence permit based on independent means must invest at least US$1.2 million and maintain a local bank balance of US$500,000. For those opting for the permanent residency option, the minimum investment is US$2.4 million.
To read more about the terms of each option – all of which require seven-figure investments – visit our brand new Cayman Islands Residency by Investment Program Page.
While precise investment amounts are not made public and, in any case, would be difficult to quantify due to the qualitative definition of the substantial business presence category, we can arrive at a conservative estimate based on the minimum investment requirements in the remaining three categories.
Not counting government fees but including mandatory bank deposits, the Cayman Islands residency program will have raised, at the very least, some US$400 million in the last decade. Include the issue-fees, which can run into the six figures, and the “substantial business presence” investors, a category for which there is no fixed requirement, and the total figure over the last decade almost certainly exceeds half a billion dollars.
Questioned as to what drives interest in the territory’s investor visas in spite of the high investment thresholds, Sue Nickason of Dart Real Estate, which specializes in helping investors buy qualifying real estate in Cayman Islands, chalks it up to asset conservation advantages.
“Protection of wealth is important to HNWI’s and we see a growing number of them recognize the benefits of the Cayman Islands’ tax neutrality and establish residency here. Once resident, they do not pay corporate, income, capital gains, inheritance, or property taxes,” she explains.
Lifestyle considerations also play their part, she adds, pointing out that the cosmopolitan territory enjoys a year-round tropical climate, low crime rates, a low population density, first-rate international schools and hospitals, as well as first-world infrastructure and professional services.
“All of these factors make it very easy to live here on a part- or full-time basis,” summarizes Nickason.
Christian Henrik Nesheim is the founder and editor of Investment Migration Insider, the #1 magazine – online or offline – for residency and citizenship by investment. He is an internationally recognized expert, speaker, documentary producer, and writer on the subject of investment migration, whose work is cited in the Economist, Bloomberg, Fortune, Forbes, Newsweek, and Business Insider. Norwegian by birth, Christian has spent the last 14 years in the United States, China, and Spain.