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Existing law & Cabinet policy on Residency for Belongership ‘not fit for purpose’- Premier

- said review of the existing 'immigration regime' will begin by end of September
Noting that the topic of Immigration and Reform is one of the most sensitive issues that the Virgin Islands must address, Premier and Minister of Finance Dr the Honourable Natalio D. Wheatley (R7) has said a dialogue must begin in earnest on what is in the best interest of the Virgin Islands, beginning with the granting of Residency status for the purpose of Belongership. Photo: Facebook
Consultation with the Virgin Islands public on Immigration Reform, including matters concerning Residency for Belongership in the Virgin Islands will begin at the end of September 2022. Photo: VINO/File
Consultation with the Virgin Islands public on Immigration Reform, including matters concerning Residency for Belongership in the Virgin Islands will begin at the end of September 2022. Photo: VINO/File
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI- Noting that the topic of Immigration and Reform is one of the most sensitive issues that the Virgin Islands must address, Premier and Minister of Finance Dr the Honourable Natalio D. Wheatley (R7) has said a dialogue must begin in earnest on what is in the best interest of the Virgin Islands, beginning with the granting of Residency status for the purpose of Belongership.

He said that dialogue with the people of the Virgin Islands will begin at the end of September.

Both Law & policy ‘not fit for purpose’

According to the Premier in a statement today, July 25, 2022, both the existing law and longstanding policy are not fit for purpose and have been the cause of much confusion.

The Premier explained that over the years in the Virgin Islands governments have instituted various arrangements to determine who has earned the privilege of residency for belonging ship. He said the existing eligibility criteria contained in the Immigration and Passport Act was put in place over 20 years ago. “It was passed in our House of Assembly, which at the time was referred to as the legislative council. This law permits persons to apply for residency for Belongership as early as 10 years of living in the territory.”

Dr Wheatley noted; however, that a subsequent government that saw the amended law as "open-ended, convoluted and unsustainable," because it would change the social fabric and political landscape of the Virgin Islands, adopted a policy in Cabinet in 2004 that doubled the duration of time to 20 years before an application for residency for Belongership could be made and limited the number of persons that could be approved annually for residents to 25.

Cabinet policy questioned

“However, the legality of that policy was questioned in a report by the Complaints Commissioner as early as 2013, due to its inconsistency with the law. The policy’s contradiction of the law was also captured in the Annual Report of the International Ombudsman Institute 2012-2013. This problem was also picked up on during the Commission of Inquiry.”

The Commission of Inquiry Report recommended a review of the existing residency policy and processes for granting Residency and Belongership status, including the open discretion by Cabinet to grant such statuses and the length of residence required for Belongership, among other things.

“Where we find ourselves today is that we have an immigration law on the books that allows for applicants to apply for residency for the purpose of Belonging ship after 10 years and sets no set limit on how many applications can be approved per year.”

He said the VI also has had a policy in place for some time that is inconsistent with the law because it doubles the time required to begin an application for Residency for belongership and severely limits the number of approvals per year.

“Both the existing law and longstanding policy are not fit for purpose and have been the cause of much confusion.”

Residency for Belongership not a right in VI- Premier

Premier said the answer has always been to further amend the Immigration and Passport Act, as opposed to the various fixes that have been tried; however, residency for the purpose of obtaining belonging ship is a privilege and not alright.

“It is not automatically given after a decade in the territory, so while applications for residency for such a purpose can be submitted as early as ten years under the law there's a process that must be followed to consider whether applicants have earned the privilege of being granted residency.”

Unity Gov’t will amend law

Premier Wheatley continued that previous governments have failed to amend the law or change policy as was previously recommended but the Government of National Unity will do so in a manner that is clear, fair and socially and economically sustainable; however, it is not going to make any legislative amendments without consulting the public.

“This is why we must begin a structured dialogue to find the best way forward. We will be announcing public meetings very soon. These will be complementary to the review of the existing immigration regime review that will begin by the end of September that will also help inform any changes to be made.”

He said, in the meantime work will continue in the Immigration Department to ensure that all records are up to date and accounted for and that the administrative systems and processes of the department are working.

27 Responses to “Existing law & Cabinet policy on Residency for Belongership ‘not fit for purpose’- Premier”

  • Just saying (25/07/2022, 14:22) Like (12) Dislike (35) Reply
    This man selling out our country daily
    • @Just saying. Can't blame the Premier... (25/07/2022, 16:05) Like (17) Dislike (1) Reply
      It's in the constitution. Ronnie..Frazer...Att Farara and all prominent BVIslanders were on this constitutional review and committee. So don't blame the Premier..
    • seller (25/07/2022, 18:32) Like (9) Dislike (1) Reply
      Your country has been on sale for decades. He just giving the owners/buyers an easier way to become residents.
  • Father Send Help (25/07/2022, 14:24) Like (19) Dislike (15) Reply
    yall gave away 1500 belonger and residency status in a matter of WEEKS when yall first got into power and now you looking to have discussions at the END of September? TWO months from now?

    Tell us Honourable Premier Puppet PHD, when end of September comes around, exactly how many 10 year belonger status' would your administration have given out by then?

    PPl of the VIrgin Islands STOPPPPPP letting this man and this government play yall for fools...PLEASE!!!

    Natalio knows exactly why he is doing this now, his Caricom buddies and their representative Pastors here in the BVI (no need to call names, we KNOW who HE/THEY are) pressured him to make it happen for the sake of their support.

    I thought the SPecial Envoy Premier had more sense and sensibility than this but I can tell its something that runs in their family....

    • Only the white can set us free. (25/07/2022, 16:01) Like (40) Dislike (12) Reply
      They did it in Slavery and they are doing now. Thanks to the white man. A Full and complete Britain take over would have been better...My head hurts can't believe what I'm reading. How black could hate and fight black so.. I love white people bad.
  • @father (25/07/2022, 14:35) Like (5) Dislike (1) Reply
    nope, it was being sold not give away.
  • Runako Francis (25/07/2022, 14:43) Like (18) Dislike (23) Reply
    Xenophobia is ingrained in the psyche of B V Islanders. They don't like people of their own color but adore white people. This is the result of years of conditioning by the British. It is this mentality that keeps BVI a colony and this will be the case for the forceable future.
  • Citizen (25/07/2022, 15:09) Like (11) Dislike (8) Reply
    Why don't you just give UK status to all those people your government gave belonger status to so that they can move to the UK. The Governor have you giving away the country to all the who so ever will may come while they driving foreigners out from the UK.
  • Reparation now... (25/07/2022, 15:58) Like (4) Dislike (3) Reply
    This inhumane unlawful act cannot be taken easily...This the same constitution Frazer and Ronnie and high paid lawyers were on that said 10 yrs. They know what's in it. This is Criminal.Now NDP that got 90 percent of Belongers vote turn Judas on Xpats. .By getting together and doing what they want to punish the same Xpats that voted for them. NDP done..
  • Nothing changes (25/07/2022, 16:05) Like (11) Dislike (3) Reply
    If the Premier knew the antidote to fix this problem why then introduced a fast track program as soon as they came into power. Why didn't they amend the laws and put systems in place to deal with the problems, as a matter of fact past administrations should have done this, you really wonder sometimes the type of people we put in government.
    The bvi can't have an open door immigration policy, its nonsense, its a recipe for disaster, look at Bermuda and Cayman and see how they dealt with it. By September every jack man will put in an application, so I assumed this is not an urgent matter for your administration.
  • Big Richard (25/07/2022, 16:10) Like (2) Dislike (4) Reply
    “best interest of the Virgin Islands”. —best interest of the big family names.
  • money talk (25/07/2022, 16:26) Like (11) Dislike (12) Reply
    If the United State government take away the use of their currency's from this country transactions done. You know why? Let me tell you why. The down Islanders only love to be here because of the US $ . You all don't love the Bvi per say. Only the money it produces. So aryo hush.
    • Citizen (26/07/2022, 08:47) Like (4) Dislike (2) Reply
      The white here for the money to. The pounds are dropping.
    • be quiet (26/07/2022, 11:51) Like (4) Dislike (3) Reply
      You all make it hard to love you with all the hatred you all are spreading
    • @moneytalk (27/07/2022, 12:36) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
      Two days ago, we remembered the sinking of the 'Fancy Me', a boat that was on its way to the BVI bringing home people who were returning from working in the DR's sugar cane fields. BVI wasn't always prosperous and its people had to travel to other peoples' countries to find work to support their families. You can't pick and choose which part of history to remember otherwise you're no different from the Republicans in the US with their biased reaction to what is being taught about slavery and the Jim Crow era. Remember that, just as the pendulum swings, fortunes change. As the elders say, "Today feh me, tomorrow feh you"!
  • tola (25/07/2022, 19:01) Like (8) Dislike (4) Reply
    When is election? I cant wait to get rid of this guy
  • @ MONEY ???? TALK (25/07/2022, 20:44) Like (13) Dislike (13) Reply
  • BVI IN TROUBLE (25/07/2022, 20:56) Like (15) Dislike (9) Reply
    BVI is in trouble. 10 years is not enough sorry to say this place is to small for this ruling it's not new it has been in the constitution long long time. The power that be in our territory know it will not work so they moved it to 20 years. Fast track it to 15 years. Now col said the rules on the books long time follow it. Motherland said no way so my be they have the answer until everyone head to the UK and take their jobs.
    Even if 40,000 people go to UK they will not feel it but this little islands called nature's little secret/BVILOVE/ the Virgin Islands will feel it most.
    This 10 years measure will cost this little territory if you can't see it wait for the evidence. Some of us may be long gone but it will happen. The indigenous BVILANDERS are already out numbered and we can see their pressure presently and you are going to add more pressure on them.

    I beg of you people in authority to do what is right including motherland to act right and amend some of what is been recommended by col. Make the necessary changes to the constitution or else this territory will fail its people. The people's voices need to be heard and not fall on deaf ears.
  • guy hill (26/07/2022, 07:24) Like (15) Dislike (0) Reply
    From the creation of The Immigration Act, the laws for applying for Residence and Belonger status was written in it. Over the years, the Abuse of process,manipulation of interpretation and special interest has turn the Act into a disgusting spectacle. And note to all interested. A Belonger Card is NOT a Travel Document.
  • Bring it on (26/07/2022, 08:34) Like (11) Dislike (8) Reply
    7 years maximum and they have to leave and reapply
  • The Nation (26/07/2022, 10:46) Like (3) Dislike (1) Reply
    There goes this puppet again...there was EXTENSIVE CONSULTATION WITH THE VIRGIN ISLANDS PUBLIC BACK IN 2019...the Virgin Islands people spoke loud and clear and as a result what we have now is what was compromised. The long term effects on reducing the time period will be a unjustifiably detriment to the indigenous Virgin Islanders.
  • PT09 (26/07/2022, 11:40) Like (2) Dislike (3) Reply
    They should have to go through a process to determined who you give Residency status or Belongership to, not because you are in the BVI for 20 or 10 years shouldn't give you a right to get one or the other. There are a lot of expats that call down the BVI and its people everyday but still want to live among us for that US dollar, we need to find out who they are and deport them they are no good for this small Island.
  • Live chat (26/07/2022, 21:34) Like (2) Dislike (1) Reply
    When you all shows up in America with the unborn child.
    To deliever at thier hospital
    Who screams Not from here
    People stop
    I said before heaven do not have sections written from here
    Is it you who made the clouds, sky, land and every thing that makes the universe.
    Mr & Mrs all powerfull. Invite Christ in your & stop the hate. God forgive them for this high level of stupidity .Amen
    • Road Town Rebel (27/07/2022, 01:25) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
      People show up in the Virgin Islands with unborn children also. What is your moot point?
    • indigenous (27/07/2022, 03:11) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
      @live chat where yours born heaven still waiting to rejoice when the indigenous people see them and will ad them to the number just hurry up, USA don't need them BVI do. So make sure to go by Peebles/ Dr.D. Smith Some are sick and are in need of a physician not only physically but mentally. We are not talking about no born here or anywhere we are stating facts about the people of the territory voices need to be taken into consideration. Let the people fight for what is rightfully theirs they can't go in another man's land and fight them down. Put some common sense in the head for sense is not so common today. Emotions are getting the best of people instead.
  • Norris Turnbull (27/07/2022, 06:48) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
    The government needcto regroup and revisit immigration with serious intentions. There are persons here with very good knowledge about immigration matters that can be consulted but then again they will prefer to get someone not from here or familiar with the culture or life here to make decisions and policies for all of us to like and abide by. Get real. God people country.
  • resident (19/12/2022, 07:56) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    Still waiting on updates on this. I feel like you all are holding back on accepting persons application :/

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