Some 1,523 persons have now been awarded their certificates for residency and/or Belongership under the Virgin Islands Party administration.
The certificate recipients included persons from government’s Fast-Track Programme to regularise expatriate residents who had been living in the territory for more than 20 years. Other recipients were those who had backlogged applications from previous years.
“From the Fast-Track Programme, we have some 648 persons who will receive certificates of Belonger status, and 542 who will receive certificates of residency and Belonger combined. From the backlogged applications that were not fast-tracked, approved by the board, 129 for residency and 204 for Belongers,” Minister for Natural Resources, Labour and Immigration Vincent Wheatley stated at an official ceremony held at the Multipurpose Sports Complex in Road Town on Monday.
Minister Wheatley also advised the recipients that as new ambassadors of the territory, their actions, attitudes, and behaviours will be a reflection of the British Virgin Islands.
“With this new status which you have applied for and was graciously granted, comes some responsibility. Accepting this new status should mean that you have accepted BVI values, BVI customs, and BVI culture, and these are to be guarded, protected, celebrated and shared with great pride and enthusiasm to be guarded zealously,” Minister Wheatley added.
Not a Political Move
In congratulating the recipients, Premier Andrew Fahie said the initiative has nothing to do with politics and that persons who now possess the new status have the freedom to elect whomever they choose to in the future.
“I want you to know that in no way, was this a political move. If it was done in the fourth year, yes, maybe the third, but not the first. You are free to do and vote for whoever you want, go where ever you need to go to make the BVI better,” the Premier stated.
More Initiatives to Come
He also said that his government will be embarking on a number of other initiatives in the near future to further strengthen the Labour and Immigration department.
“We are completing the harmonisation, streamlining and the digitisation of Labour and Immigration to provide for better monitoring and enforcement. This will include the full implementation of the online work permit system, as well as the jobs board to support our workforce development programme.”
“When these and other initiatives such as the Electronic Border Control System come together, we will have a complete system that will better serve the interest of our people,” Premier Fahie added.
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