BVI News

Legal reality: Expats could sue gov’t if ‘backlog’ is not cleared, says Premier

Premier Andrew Fahie. (BVI News photo)

Premier Andrew Fahie has said disgruntled expatriates could take legal action against the government for what they might believe to be procrastination with their applications for regularized status.

The Premier, who made the remarks at a recent sitting of the House of Assembly, was underscoring the reasons his administration was working swiftly to clear the backlog of applications.

“It is only a matter of time before an applicant becomes frustrated enough to sue the BVI for failing to resolve their application in a timely manner; based on policy or law or for unjustly denying them residency or Belonger status,” Fahie said.

He continued: “When we are talking about people whose applications have been pending for 25, 35 and 40-plus years it is easy to see how a court could find that they have a legitimate expectation and the BVI has acted in an unfair manner, or we have breached the rules of natural justice.”

Changing system on long-time applicants could also mean lawsuit

The Premier said the territory could be further sued if the backlogged cases were to be imported into a system with new criteria for approval.

“You see if you change the system mainstream on someone, they can go to the court and say they have been treated unfairly.”

He said there is a possibility that the court could rule in favour of a mandatory regularization or Belongership for the person.

“This comes from legal research. A legal precedence can be set, or it could take the form of a class action ruling, and the government could be forced by the court to regularize every single one of those persons without exception. So to prevent any complications down the road, we should try to start with a clean slate,” Fahie argued.

Archaic laws

In the meantime, the Premier said the laws pertaining to the issue must be updated to suit the territory’s ‘new realities’.

“Our Immigration and Labour system has been broken for a long time, so it has to be fixed, and the time to fix it is now. The current Immigration and Passport Act was enacted in 1977, those provisions would have been no doubt relevant time. But it has now been 42 years since those laws took effect and a lot has changed not only with the rest of the world but with the BVI itself,” he said.

Fahie said the overall objective of the Labour and Immigration reform that is currently underway, is to tighten-up the territory’s borders and put controls in place to reduce the incidents of persons merely staying in the territory indefinitely and then accumulating rights and expectations.

“We intend to make it clear to people entering our borders from this time forth what to expect before they hit our shores.”

Premier Fahie added that “the enlistment of expatriate labour in the BVI is inevitable”.

“It is a cold hard reality,” he said.

Fahie also said the United Kingdom could also make the decision for the territory since the issue has already made its way to the House of Commons.

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60 Comments

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  1. Albion says:

    BVI needs to be proactive on this. Everyone knows that our laws in this area are in a terrible mess. We should be the ones taking a lead in sorting them out. Not waiting until the UK gets frustrated and does the job for us.

    Like 39
    Dislike 1
  2. Good morning says:

    Mr fahie the expact is more slave hard worker in the BVI please with work permit under difficult condition and still working no local will work with there own local I must tell you that check for your self how many big man have expat wife here in BVI and big man have business in down island.

    Like 15
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  3. What a shame says:

    Legally they can sue you Mr. Premier for creating a legitimate expectation that they would receive their residence and belongers in a fast track manner. You also took their money in the form of a fee for the same when you didn’t do the things that a careful and prudent leader would do leading up to this process. Is it that no one has seen what Andrew Fahie is doing or the witch craft from election is still floating around? Now he is trying to change the topic to take the attention off his mismanagement of the process.

    Like 53
    Dislike 18
    • To what a shame says:

      You need to take a seat. The Premier strike the best balance that could have been done in this matter. The Premier must be commended.

      Like 17
      Dislike 24
    • Eyes wide shut says:

      Lanterns!!

    • Eyes wide shut says:

      Lanterns!

    • VI says:

      I agree with you totally. The plan wasn’t well thought out and to add insult to injury, he has now encouraged the folks to sue us if they don’t get what they feel that they are entitled too. Premier Fahie, you should put a bit more thought into your actions. Stop creating vulnerabilities.

      Like 13
    • Job says:

      This is so correct Fahie you talk too much you can be sue.

      Like 2
      Dislike 1
    • Meh son says:

      You are talking rubbish. Premier was crystal clear when he said that the fast track is only for processing the application and does not guarantee that the applicant will get residency or belonger.
      No expectation was created.
      Go siddong!

  4. Bull Bud says:

    None of what Fahie said is true. No applicant could claim reasonable expectation on an immigration status application. Fahie is spewing ideas of little merit for some unknown purpose. His scattershot approach to governing is going to destroy the BVI.

    Like 40
    Dislike 25
    • Query says:

      I’m thinking the same thing. Nowhere in the application process does it say you are guaranteed anything, you apply and wait! Ironically he is the one promising fast-track this and that and would more likely end up before the courts with respect to legitimate expectation. People made fun of Hon. Caines’ contributions to this matter but she is right. It should have been done quietly via the Immigration Board/Cabinet etc. as it has been done before. Once the backlog was cleared, then we could start dialogue with respect to charting a new course regarding application and granting of status in the BVI. Not sure who is advising the Premier but he should walk very carefully.

      Like 34
      Dislike 11
  5. Do for Do says:

    Then the people of the BVI could also sue the Government for its attempt to give away their birth right and also cause additional economic hardship on the people. It’s already tough for BVIslanders to get good jobs and this proposed change will make it even tougher.

    Like 33
    Dislike 46
    • the watcher says:

      when will it become apparent that having more long term residents here will actually increase the much needed job opportunities? Getting rid of qualified people through paranoia will damage the BVI. More people, more businesses, more economic activity, more jobs, more money circulating….oh well..I guess it will never sink in.

      Like 45
      Dislike 5
    • Privy Council says Fahie is right says:

      You should read the cases from the Privy Council before you post. At least read this news article which summarizes a recent Privy Council decision where a Guyanese challenge the Immigration Department in Antigua for taking too long to process his application and he won. Privy Council has already ruled on this so take heed. https://antiguaobserver.com/privy-council-puts-a-cap-on-timeline-for-citizenship-applications/

      Like 33
      Dislike 4
      • What??? says:

        Does Antigua immigration status say?

      • Indeed says:

        Same thing in cayman after Ivan, they let about 3,000 applications through quickly as they would have been sued and lost. The applicant does not have the right to a positive result but does have a right to a decision and to discretion being used properly and fairly. Prem is right on this one. Just needs the courage to follow through and regularise the wait time to around ten years in accordance with the high end of internationally accepted norms.

        Like 5
        Dislike 2
    • It’s already tough for BVIslanders to get good jobs, why is that so? says:

      hmmm

  6. UM says:

    No such class actions exists!

    Like 1
    Dislike 13
  7. Oh Please says:

    Andrew just HUSH. You just want to use this as another excuse as to why you want to speed up the process. Come better.

    Like 22
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  8. vip heckler says:

    More scare tactics? Up to his usual tricks

    Like 16
    Dislike 18
  9. son of the soil says:

    Ok then leh we deport um before that happens

    Like 12
    Dislike 22
  10. Expat says:

    Honourable premier, I know u mean good but if I were u I would just do what I have to do without the excitement. Just make sure u are following the law.
    Kind of tired of those news headlines that are bound to create more division.
    I am an expat living and working here for the past 20 years. I have given a lot to the BVI and I have received a lot. I just want to continue living in peace and unity with all expats and locals.
    At the same time, I know the country owes me nothing but based on my contribution to the territory I am hoping that the government and people of this territory will see it fit to afford me the privilege of calling here home. I know it’s a privilege and not a right so I really do pray and hope that we can resolve our issues peaceably.

    Like 83
    Dislike 3
  11. OK says:

    Let’s see:

    “He continued: “When we are talking about people whose applications have been pending for 25, 35 and 40-plus years it is easy to see how a court could find that they have a legitimate expectation and the BVI has acted in an unfair manner, or we have breached the rules of natural justice.””

    If applications pending 40 plus years, that mean they been pending 20 plus years when Fahie and VIP were in power …

    If I came to BVI at age 20, after 20 years I apply and ah now waiting 40 years for application to approve that means am now 80 years ready to drop … why I fighting for status again?

    Like 11
    Dislike 7
  12. Diaspora says:

    Hog wash! Nonsense! Stop piddling nonsense. The Premier is not a lawyer so he must have gotten his legal advice from some lawyer. If so the Premier was ill-informed and ill-served. The theory of the case is poor at best. What precedent is there that supports that if an applicant for residency was denied or delayed that he/she has a viable legal case? Becoming a Belonger is a priviledge, not a right. The Premier seemed to be grasping at every straw to support his poorly planned, non-consultive fast tracked residency initiative. For example to reduce the bitter sting, he threw in a bone bout castoff 3rd Generation Virgin Islander 6 week amnesty. .

    What the hell is a castoff 3rd Generation Virgin Islander? Here is a news flash for the Premier. There is no guarantee in law that if one meets the minimum residency requirements that one has a right to residency. Nonetheless, anyone can file a frivolous lawsuit, wasting the court’s time. Stop the nonsense and deal with many critical issues plaguing the territory, ie, bloated civil service, deteriorated road network, third world sewage programme, weak education platform, less than first world health system, less than reliable water distribution system, diversifying the economy, protecting environmental resources, preparing for global warming, improving electrical power, caring for the elderly and disable, rebuilding the territory post monster Irmaria, upgrading the port system, stabilizing the ferry system, referendum on political independence…….etc.

    Like 31
    Dislike 12
    • Reasoning says:

      @Diaspora, on your list of Critical things to fix in the country u forgot the “One-ferry/Cargo Dock” on Virgin Gorda that operates as follows: The ferries are afforded full use of the dock during daytime. Because its impractical for double usage during the day the cargo laden barges (with sand and gravel etc) takes over early evening and runs throughout the night until sunrise.
      The problem is tat with Virgin Gorda being so small at only 8-sq miles and many homes located close to the road, including the senior citizens home, makes it overly disturbing to listen to radio, tv or sleep undisturbed throughout the night. Waiting for a “Fast Track” on correcting this situation as well.

      Like 7
      Dislike 2
      • Diaspora says:

        @Reasoning, agree that separating ferry and cargo is urgently needed. Disrupting the sleep of all residents, especially the elderly, disable, sick….etc, is adversely impacting their health and quality of life. VG residents need to light fire under Hon Premier Fahie, Wheatley, Flax, Smith, Malone, de.Castro, along with Deputy Premier Rymer, feet on this issue. Frederick Douglass says: “If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning.“ Noel Lloyd and Pam agitated and made personal sacrifices to rescind the lose-lose agreement between BVI and Kenneth Bates-Hill on Wickhams Cay and 1/2 of Anegada.

        Like 4
        Dislike 2
        • Reasonable expectation says:

          Claude Skelton-Cline’s law suite against the NDP Government established a
          precedent that the reasonable expectation argument has no merit.

      • Shame says:

        As small as Virgin Gorda, this Premier is hell bent on making it even smaller.

    • A says:

      Virgin Islander only has to prove that they have ancestors who are Virgin Islanders. Clearly there is no time limit on who one’s ancestors are. The Premier is getting very poor legal advice.

      Like 1
      Dislike 2
  13. true says:

    NO he is wrong, they have no RIGHT to become Belongers but may apply, there needs to be a RIGHT that has been withheld to sue….

    Like 5
    Dislike 9
  14. Clearly says:

    It is clear most of you didn’t read the article because the responses show ignorance. In addition I heard the Premier when he said this and it is being reporter totally out of context.

    Like 6
    Dislike 1
  15. 2 Grand says:

    since when privilege has become a right

    Like 5
    Dislike 4
  16. curious says:

    I have been leaving here over 20 years, i completed gathering all the information and the form, the premier ask to submit in the first instance. When can i bring in my application. As i recall he did say 20 is the minimum but no indication on when to submit as of today.

    Like 7
    Dislike 3
  17. Eagle says:

    This statement is unbecoming of a Premier. He is fanning the fire of confusion to achieve his aim. Creating confusion in his own country for what???

    Opposition please start working on a Motion of No Confidence quick quick. This man is not fit to lead. See if you can get his government to vote with you all. They can all stand against him.

    This kind of confusion can’t go on for the next four years.

    Like 16
    Dislike 8
  18. mmario says:

    Belonger status is a right not a privilege. The constitution itself say, If you father or mother were born in the bvi you are entitle to the same rights. Reed first me son. Therefore, the government cant delay my application 20+ years just because. Cases like this should be taken to court to force them to resolve the issue in a reasonable time.

    Like 4
    Dislike 1
  19. PLEASE says:

    Premier, please get some kind of medical/mental health evaluation. Something seems to be genuinely wrong with you and I am really worried. You’re talking nonsense, and creating confusion… Please!!! I don’t know if you were sick along and it was being overlooked, or if the election campaign pushed it to the forefront. But whatever and whichever, PLEASE GET A MEDICAL/MENTAL HEALTH EVALUATION, PLEASE!!!

    Like 7
    Dislike 5
  20. PLEASE!!! says:

    Premier, please get some kind of medical/mental health evaluation. Something seems to be genuinely wrong with you and I am really worried. You’re talking nonsense, and creating confusion. If your wife is reading this, I hope she encourages you to seek medical attention. Please!!! I don’t know if you were sick along and it was being overlooked, or if the election campaign pushed it to the forefront. But whatever and whichever, PLEASE GET A MEDICAL/MENTAL HEALTH EVALUATION, PLEASE!!!

    Like 7
    Dislike 8
  21. Eyes wide shut says:

    All this is done to further distract from a bi election that they our hoping to have. This Government seems to taking advise from some evil source.

    Like 4
    Dislike 3
  22. Just saying says:

    This statement is unbecoming of a Premier. He is fanning the fire of confusion to achieve his aim. Creating confusion in his own country for what???

    Opposition please start working on a Motion of No Confidence quick quick. This man is not fit to lead. See if you can get his government to vote with you all. They can all stand against him.

    This kind of confusion can’t go on for the next four years.

    Like 4
    Dislike 6
  23. BVI says:

    I hope the Premier and his Government realize that we the people of these Virgin Islands are watching. And I mean we who don’t need status.

    Like 5
    Dislike 5
  24. Quiet Rebel says:

    Premier, really?

    Like 3
    Dislike 2
  25. :) says:

    Everybody only seem to know the constitution about how to resign in the HOA but ignorant to every other thing.

    Like 12
  26. So... says:

    When I apply for a job and I get no response, should I sue?

    Like 9
    Dislike 2
  27. What the?! says:

    “You see if you change the system mainstream on someone, they can go to the court and say they have been treated unfairly.”

    I don’t think mainstream was the word to use here, but then again I don’t speak “belonger”, I speak English so what would I know?

    Like 1
    Dislike 1
  28. Anegada descendant says:

    I wonder if I can apply the same reasoning to my application for land to which I have received no official reply since I applied about 9 years ago. If the policy is now that titles are being given because it is the right of Anegadians and their descendants to own land, then maybe I should threaten a law suit.

  29. Tis Sue yo relly warrn call? says:

    Let’s not kick off a culture of lawsuits or else
    1. Every small business need to sue government for discrimination in health inspections when they harass licensed and contained small businesses while vendors get away with murder. And for lossed revenue
    2. Drop in a pothole mashup car ok sue government
    3. Sue police for policies that go against basic human rights for small and large humans to be protected at school like any other situation
    4. Sue when government fails to address discrimination in workplaces against locals
    5. Sue when Government turn a blind eye to the many cases where people commit immigration fraud by using locals to access entry the BVI work market
    6. Sue when the government fails to charge Island associations for use of public property to meet.
    7. Sue when it rain and tourist are promised a sunny vacation
    SUE SUE SUE
    That’s surely a way to create jobs to address the upsurge in lawsuits.

    Government THINK

    Like 3
    Dislike 2
  30. really? says:

    I tend to believe that Premier Fahie is either inept or simply like confusion. In a manner befitting a simpleton with an over inflated ego, he is destroying this country. In the modern history of the BVI, there have never been a time in which such social tension exist with no end in sight. I honestly don’t think you are ready for this position. I am sad about that because I was really rooting for you. Now I just want you to Go Sit Down.

    Like 5
    Dislike 2
  31. Greatness says:

    Mr Marlon Penn You Have No Respect For Your Premier, The Bible Says You Should Respect Those In Authority, When You Need Prayer Who Do You Go To In The Church? The Expats!!

  32. Greatness says:

    Mr Marlon Penn You Have No Respect For Your Premier,The Bible Says Respect Those In Authority. When You Needed Prayer Where Did You Run To? The Expatriates In The Church Prayed For YOU!!

  33. local says:

    most of vip members with a expats

  34. True Tolian says:

    In respect to the Premier saying the Expatriates
    is garbage,you can apply for status but has to
    wait remember it is a privilage and not a right,

  35. Common Sense says:

    This is y the premier was suppose2 carefully overlook what he was do n wen he made that selfish decision. No persons who’s govern or surrounding by a body makes those kinda of decisions on they own. That’s a sign of dictatorship right there. After all u r responsible 2do the people’s business & part of it is strongly on keep n us n the light of any decisions u bout2 make especially wen it includes the B.V.I!!!

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