The Fast Track to the Regularization initiative that aims to present Belonger and Residency status on qualified expatriates recommenced this week after being paused for a while.
In an announcement by the Premier this week qualified persons were invited to make their application for the status from Wednesday 24 July. The Premier noted that the initiative was also extended to Third Generation Virgin Islanders.
The initiative which was originally launched on 7 May rocked the core of the Territory by bringing to the 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 public meetings were geared at sensitizing the public on what the amendment to the Immigration and Passports (Amendment) Act 2019 entailed.
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 an opportunity to get their status. The Premier explained that the Third Generation applicants will have six weeks to return their completed application forms and supporting documents to regularize as Belongers.
In making the announcement on 22 July the Premier mentioned the various consultations meetings that were held to discuss the initiative and noted that some of the points that were raised are shaping the process as it moves forward.
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 lull over the last weeks gave the Immigration Department the time that was needed to put the necessary measures in place to implement the fast-tracking programme.
Now that the programme is back on-track Hon. Fahie said that from Wednesday persons can collect their application forms for the fast track programme from the Immigration Department at RJT Edifice Building, Wickham’s Cay I, and they can also submit completed application forms at the same location. Expatriates applicants will have three weeks before the fast track window closes.