Premier Andrew Fahie is following through on his promise to regularize qualified expatriates, granting them a two-week amnesty period to apply for status in the territory.
This announcement was made by the Premier at a media conference held today May 7 to officially announce the process for which qualified individuals will have to undertake to gain permanent status.
“Beginning Monday, May 13th people who have been continuously resident here for more than 15 years and have met all the other criteria which we will detail, can apply to have their status regularised. This process provides a clear path to regularisation, in some cases, residency and in others Belonger status, and in most cases, residency straight to Belonger status,” Premier Fahie said.
He also said an amendment to the relevant Immigration legislation is scheduled to be made in the upcoming week to support the project.
“We are going to make an amendment to the law which will come into the House of Assembly on the 17th. That law which we will be making the amendment to will allow for this initiative to come into being,” Premier Fahie said.
Reasons for initiative
Premier Fahie listed a number of reasons he believes this initiative is the right thing to do. He said he views it as a duty that is well deserved to long-time expatriate residents who have earned the right to become a Belonger or permanent resident.
“People who belong can now have the cloud of uncertainty lifted off their heads and so they can invest in their own future and in extension that of the territory. It strengthens our security. People with more opportunities who do not have doors being closed in their faces are less likely to turn to illegal activities just to get by, to survive or to move ahead,” the Premier reasoned.
He added: “It is legal and in keeping with our constitution. The rule has been long established that people who have been resident here for more than 15 years or more, who do not provide a security threat to the society and do not have a criminal record, can have their residency confirmed.”
Dissemination of information
Premier Fahie also revealed that there will be information sessions available for qualified interested persons on the four main islands in the near future. Persons who attend these sessions will be able to receive application forms to begin the process.
He further said official information regarding how to apply for the residency or Belonger status will be readily available on the Premier’s ‘Special Projects’ Facebook page, the government’s official webpage (www.bvigov.vg), and by calling the special help desk number which is to be announced through a public information campaign.
Documents required and cost
The Premier said, to apply, each person a must have “one application form, two reference letters, two passport photos, one birth certificate, an original local police record and other police records that’s deemed necessary, one bank statement, one copy of a trade license, one copy of non-belongers landholding license and land transfer if applicable, certified copies of academic professional qualifications if applicable, and one marriage certificate if applicable.”
Persons who have already received residency status will pay $810 to start the process to become a Belonger, while persons who have to apply for both residency and Belonger statuses will have to pay $1,500.
The cut-off date in collecting application forms from qualified individuals is May 31t and the Premier said he expects applications to be fully processed and finalised within the following month.
“I’ll put it for you this way, in June, we already have the ceremony planned when everybody will be attending. I told them I’m not passing June with this, so whatever manpower is needed, I told them to let me know and we’re going to bring the manpower in,” the Premier said.