The Premier’s Fast Track to Residency and Belonger status that was the bone of contention in the Territory six months ago will soon have a successful ending as Cabinet has signed off on the issuing of both certificates to the qualified applicants.
In a mention in the 25 October Cabinet Decisions it was disclosed that 400 applications were approved from the granting of Certificates of Residence and Belonger Status to four hundred applicants, who, have met the legal requirements of Section 2 (4) and Section 3 of the Immigration and Passport Amendment Act, 2019.
The presentation of these certificates will wrap-up this part of the programme which was originally launched on 7 May but had to be paused for a few months and restarted on 24 July.
The initiative rocked the core of the Territory by bringing to surface a contention that has been brewing for decades which is a locals versus expatriates type of divide. It was this argument that prompted Premier and Minister for Finance Hon. Andrew Fahie to pause the programme and embark on public consultations.
The legislation was subsequently passed in the House of Assembly, during which time the Premier announced that the process would be extended to provide status to Third Generations Virgin Islanders.
When the initiative recommenced in July, Hon. Fahie particularly noted that not all of the applying expatriates will qualify for status: “The ceiling for consideration for Belonger Status was increased from our initial proposed time of 15 years to 20 years. Only persons who have met the existing criteria and who have been making good contributions to our society will qualify for consideration. I want to emphasize that submission of an application to this fast-track programme by expatriates does not translate into automatic approval of Belonger or Resident status. Additionally, no procedural requirements are being circumvented. All applications will be subjected to the normal criteria, scrutiny and procedures, and only those applications that meet the requirements will succeed,” he said.
The Premier also explained that the pause in the Initiative gave the Immigration Department the time that was needed to put the necessary measures in place to implement the fast-tracking programme.
16 August was the deadline for submission of applications for Residence and or Belonger Status through Government’s fast track initiative.