By Esther Durand, BVI News Staff
Fourth-generation British Virgin Islanders without regularised status in the BVI have now been included in government’s fast-track regularisation initiative to gain Belongership in the territory.
As BVI News understands it, fourth-generation Virgin Islanders are persons whose great-grandparents were born in the BVI and/or have status in the territory. Fourth-generation Virgin Islanders without Belonger status are those whose parents — and perhaps themselves — were born outside of the BVI.
Speaking in the House of Assembly for the second reading of the bill entitled the Immigration and Passport (Amendment) (No.2) Act of 2019, Premier Andrew Fahie said it was the local “population” that requested for fourth-generation descendants to be included in his government’s fast-track initiative.
But, besides being fast-tracked, Fahie said government will also make it easier for these class of fourth-generation Virgin Islanders to gain status in the territory.
“The Passport Office has advised that there is a need and there has always been a need to simplify the process to facilitate fourth-generation Virgin Islander descendants and to bring them under the ambit of the law the same way the third-generation descendants have been created for,” Premier Fahie said.
Descendants should not have obstacles in their way
The Premier said these descendants of Virgin Islanders should not have barriers in their way if they desire to return to the BVI.
“The fourth-generation descendants are the great-grand-children of BVIslanders. They are not strangers. They are family — a bit distant for some, but family nonetheless,” Fahie reasoned.
The Premier further argued: “It is about reuniting families, it is about completing families that are separated and torn apart by man-made laws — laws which may not have been created with any intention of harm but which, due to circumstances that were not foreseen at the time, were not provided for in the drafting of the law. So, the issue is not so much about Immigration as it is about repatriation.”
Benefits of accommodating the estranged fourth-generation
And while outlining reasons to accommodate these descendants, Premier Fahie said there will be benefits to the territory.
He said they will help in increasing the territory’s indigenous manpower pool, create jobs, and bring with them intellectual capacity and skills that are needed in the territory.
“We need people. People will always be coming here whether we like it or not. So, in the first instance, I submit, if people are always going to be coming here, why not give preference to our great-grandchildren who can inherit our heritage?”
He added: “When people relocate, they often move their wealth with them so that some if not all the wealth of our returning descendants will be brought into the domestic system.”
Incentive to stay
As part of government’s transformation agenda for the BVI, Premier Fahie said his government would also provide reasons for these descendants to remain in the territory.
Notably, Fahie said the amendment to accommodate fourth-generation Virgin Islanders will not require any additional resources from the government. He said the provisions that were already made in government’s fast-track regularisation programme will suffice.
Other amendments to the aforementioned legislation include increasing the tenure requirements for expatriates wanting to apply for Belonger status. Expats will now have to be living in the BVI for 20 years, which represents a five-year increase.
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