The Advance Passenger and Information Act has passed in the House of Assembly and will now allow the British Virgin Islands to be in line with CARICOM standards.
The legislation makes it mandatory for aircraft and vessels coming or leaving the territory to provide information on its crew members and passengers prior to their arrival or departure.
The 11-clause bill went through the debate process with no resistance from members of the opposition on Tuesday, June 16.
Immigration Minister Vincent Wheatley said that the passing of the Bill now signifies a leap forward in technological advancement for the Immigration Department and border security in the Virgin Islands.
He said: “This will allow for the department to be better prepared for any threat that may be in bound as well as to assist in the expediting processing of passengers who are in good standing. Moreover, the ability to share local passenger information in a timely manner will allow for the strengthening of already established relationships.”
Bill long overdue in the BVI
Government legislator Dr Natalio Wheatley said it was long overdue for the BVI to have powers to allow for Immigration officials to properly scrutinize an individual’s information in advance of coming to the territory, which was long overdue in the BVI.
He said: “If you have somebody and there is a red flag that pops up, you can actually stop that person from boarding the flight in advance of coming to the Virgin Islands, or you can know who you may have to question a little more, based on the information that has been provided.”
“We have long heard the cry about passing through our Immigration system and some ways in which it can be approved, so the Minister of Natural Resources Labour and Immigration, has helped us tremendously by bringing this amendment to the House of Assembly,” Dr Wheatley added.
Time frame to submit API data
In the meantime, all vessels and aircrafts inbound to the BVI will now have mandatory stipulated timeframes to submit advanced passenger information (API) to the Immigration Department, prior to their journey to the territory.
For a commercial or private aircraft, they will have no later than 48 minutes prior to departure, while vessels arriving from within the region, will have no later than one hour prior to their arrival.
Vessels or aircraft arriving in the BVI from outside of the region, will have to submit their API data no later than one hour prior to arrival.
Failure to submit API data may result in $10K fine or imprisonment
Failure by a master or captain to submit the necessary accurate API data to the Immigration Department is considered an offence, which is punishable by a maximum fine of $10,000 or imprisonment for up to one year, or both if convicted.
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