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Key Employees FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions about Key Employees.
When must an application to nominate a worker as a Key Employee be made?
An employer may apply either at the same time as making an application for the grant of a work permit (other than a Temporary Work Permit) or, in the case of an existing worker, at any time prior to the expiry of the person's final work permit under the term limit provisions of the law or the expiry of his fixed-term work permit. (The term limit expiry date can be obtained from the Work Permit Board or Business Staffing Plan Board Secretariats.)
Does a worker have to stop working if an application for designation as a Key Employee has been submitted?
Provided that the key employee application has been submitted prior to the expiry of the worker's final work permit they may continue to work for the same employer in the same capacity unless and until the Board denies the employer's application. But any time spent working in this interim period will not count towards qualifying to apply for the grant of permanent residence on the basis of eight-year residence.
What are the criteria for designation as a Key Employee?
Before the Board can designate a worker as a key employee, the employer must provide at the time of requesting the designation a detailed explanation so as to satisfy the Board that the worker fulfills one or more of the following requirements:
  • he is recognised as having particular expertise in his field of practice, trade or employment and the Board recognises that there is difficulty in attracting such persons to the Islands or retaining such persons within the Islands;
  • he is or will be directly involved in training Caymanians or developing their skills in the field in which he is employed or practises and his expertise in this regard is important to the effective continuation of such training or development;
  • he is a professional employee whose expertise and skills are in short supply globally and are not available in adequate measure in the Islands and it is of economic and social benefit to the business or the Islands to attract such skills to the Islands;
  • his absence from the Islands will cause serious hardship to his employer, to Caymanians, or be detrimental to the Islands;
  • his business contacts are, or will be, of importance to the continued success of the business or its contribution to the Islands;
  • there exist other economic or social benefits to the Islands by virtue of securing or retaining his specialist skills or expertise; or
  • the circumstances of his particular case are considered by the Board to be exceptional and to justify a special reason to employ him or to allow him to be designated as a key employee.
Will the Board take anything else into consideration?
Yes. The Board will also take into account the following factors in so far as they are relevant to the application:

In relation to the worker-

  • his character, reputation and health, and where relevant, the character, reputation and health of his dependants;
  • his professional and technical qualifications and his experience and competence to undertake the position applied for;
  • the economic and social benefits which he may bring to the Islands;
  • the sufficiency of the resources or the proposed salary of the worker and, where his spouse is employed within the Islands, those of his spouse, and his or their ability to adequately maintain his or their dependants;
  • his facility in the use of the English language; and
  • the location, type and suitability of the accommodation available for the worker and his dependants, if any, throughout the term of the work permit.

And generally-

  • the protection of local interests and in particular of Caymanians
  • the availability of the services of a suitable person already legally and ordinarily in the Islands; and
  • the requirements of the community as a whole, including issues in relation to demographics, and such other matters that may arise from the application.
If the Board denies the application for designation as a Key employee, is there a right of appeal?
There is no right of appeal if the Board refuses an application for a worker to be designated as a key employee.
What happens to the worker's work permit if he or she is designated as a Key Employee?
If a worker is designated a key employee their employer will still be required to apply for the renewal of their work permit at the appropriate time but a presumption in favour of the renewal will exist until the worker reaches his new term limit. The presumption can, however, be rebutted:
  • in the interests of protection of local interests, in particular those of Caymanians
  • where any of the grounds upon which an application for a work permit grant or renewal may be refused or revoked are found to exist with respect to the key employee.
  • where the key employee is in breach of any obligation placed upon him by his employer for the purposes of being designated as a key employee or he no longer meets the criteria upon which he was designated as a key employee.
Is there a fee for making an application for having an employee designated as a Key Employee?
Yes. There is an application fee payable when submitting the application. If the application is approved, you will be required to pay a one-off fee equivalent to fifty percent of the worker’s annual work permit fee based on his occupation and the industry and location in which, at the time of his designation as a key employee he is, or will be, employed.