The Virgin Islands now has a new service for processing passports for persons applying for British nationality.
Effective July 25, the Civil Registry and Passport Office will accept biometric information through a biometric enrolment service for customers applying for British nationality.
Biometrics consists of fingerprints, a live photograph, and a signature. The enrolment equipment is compliant with all United Kingdom (UK) security and data protection legislation and is hosted on a standalone, securely encrypted system.
The service does not store biometrics on the equipment, but sends the information directly, within seconds of enrolment, to the UK via a secure link. Once received safely in the UK, all details are immediately deleted from the equipment in the Civil Registry and Passport Office. There will be no additional charge to enrol biometrics.
Registrar General for the Civil Registry and Passport Office, Mrs. Stephanie Benn said that new rules for how biometric information will be managed will now be available for customers. She also added that the biometric service will help align existing legislation and strengthen security checks for those applying to stay in the UK.
In explaining the process, Mrs. Benn said that British nationality customers are to submit applications and fees to the Civil Registry and Passport Office upstairs of the Burhym Electric Building.
Once received in the UK, the Nationality Unit at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office will return a biometric enrolment letter to the applicant. Subsequently, the applicant should contact the Civil Registry and Passport Office to schedule an appointment to give their biometrics. If an application for British nationality is successful, and upon completion of the Citizenship Ceremony, biometrics will be deleted from the United Kingdom’s biometric database.
Customers’ biometrics are required under the nationality regulations and are securely stored and handled in the UK in accordance with UK Data Protection and Government Information Security regulations. If necessary, the biometrics can be used to check a customer against UK immigration and criminality databases.
Mrs. Benn said, “This new biometrics service will make it easier to verify people’s identities, for individuals to prove their status in the UK. In addition, it is, of course, great news that customers will no longer have to travel to Barbados at great expense to give their biometrics as the service will now be available here in the Virgin Islands.”
The new biometric enrolment service is only for customers applying for British nationality. Additionally, any foreign national who wishes to visit the UK and who requires a visa cannot use this service to give their biometrics as part of a visa application.
Mrs. Benn added that the service will be available twice a week on Monday and Wednesday during the hours of 1:30 to 4:00 p.m.at the Civil Registry office upstairs the Burhym Electric Building.
For more information, persons may visit the Civil Registry and Passport Office located on the second floor of the Burhym Electric Building or telephone the team at 468-3442.