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A long journey – 32 residents now British citizens

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Thirty-two more persons living in the British Virgin Islands are now British citizens.

They were previously naturalised as British Overseas Territories citizens.

The new citizens yesterday accepted their certificates, and recited the Pledge of Loyalty to the United Kingdom (UK) as well as the Oath of Allegiance to Her Majesty the Queen.

Governor John Duncan, who presided over the ceremony at Government House, congratulated the new citizens who have completed their journey towards British citizenship.

“I know that, for many of you, today is a very historic day in your milestone as you have just become subjects of Her Majesty The Queen and citizens of the whole of the United Kingdom. For many of you, I know that represents the culmination of a long chain of effort, and perhaps of some hardships that you had to undergo to get here today,” he said.

The governor highlighted the importance of the new-found responsibilities in being British.

“Today’s ceremony reminds you of the responsibilities that you now carry on becoming a British citizen. These include respect for law and order, defending everyone’s right to his or her opinion under the principle of freedom of speech, and tolerating and respecting other people’s beliefs – including their religious beliefs.”

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The ceremony was chaired by Registrar General Stephanie Benn, who encouraged the recipients to treat their certificates with special care.

Those certificates, she added, are among documents that will be needed to apply for a British passport.

British citizens have the right to live and work in the United Kingdom or any other European Union country.

They may also travel to the United States under the visa-waiver programmme for UK citizens.

British citizenship was extended to all British Overseas Territories (BOT) citizens as a result of the British Overseas Territories Act of 2002.

Persons naturalised as BOT citizens following the enactment of the Act on May 21, 2002 do not automatically become British citizens. But they are eligible to register as British citizens.

The extension of British citizenship to British Overseas Territories citizens was part of the UK Government’s 1999 White Paper entitled ‘Partnership for Progress and Prosperity,’ which outlined the UK’s policy in respect of its overseas territories.

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