Ministry of Natural Resources, Labour and Immigration
OFFICIAL STATEMENT BY PREMIER AND MINISTER OF FINANCE
HONOURABLE ANDREW A. FAHIE ON THE
CLEAR PATH TO REGULARISATION: RESIDENCY AND BELONGER STATUS
TUESDAY, 7 MAY, 2019
Ladies and gentlemen; Brothers and sisters; Patriots, all:
At this junction, in this juncture; and in this defining moment in our history, I am pleased to announce that as your government and as a government and its people, we are about to set aside a process that will seek to do right by all loyal residents of these beautiful British Virgin Islands.
Today we shall announce a process that will restore the dignity of hundreds, and establish a foundation for empowerment and unity.
The book of 1 Timothy sets out clearly who we shall accept. In chapter 5, verse 10 it says, “And having a reputation for good works: if she has brought up children, has shown hospitality, has washed the feet of the saints, has cared for the afflicted, and has devoted herself to every good work.”
We firmly believe in the policy we are about to execute because we are of the view that a nation without a conscience, soon loses its soul.
In this context, I am pleased to announce that for a two-week period beginning Monday, 13th May, people who have been continuously resident here for more than 15 years, and have met all the other criteria which we will detail, can apply to have their status regularised.
This process provides a clear path to regularisation – in some cases residency and in others ‘belonger’ status and in most cases residency straight to belonger status.
Now, I want to speak to all of us, who will let scepticism and fear cast a shadow on what is right and just.
The hundreds of people who are likely to apply under this programme – are people we all know too well; they are our neighbours and our church members; they already work alongside us. These people whom we play ball together with; with whom we hang out with. These people whom we love; and whom we have accepted in our families; and who share the same dreams and aspirations for their children as we do ours.
These persons are here; have been here and ‘ain’t’ going anywhere.
And so by seeking to afford them their right and dignity; does not undermine ours; in fact it consolidates it.
These people are our people.
Their children already attend our schools; we run into them in the supermarket; and we sit at the proverbial lunch counters together.
These people’s children are our children and their grandchildren are their grandchildren. And all of us sit in this very room together today. We are now today, looking at each other.
We are not adding numbers to the society; instead we are adding value to it.
When anyone seeks to cast doubt on this journey and this policy, we must never forget the history of slavery nor the imported manifesto of bigotry that has sought, for more than 400 years to find artificial reasons why people of our like should be kept apart.
This fake theory that this process gives the Territory away, are just emotive tag lines to perpetuate disunity. We are not giving anything away. Instead we are all earning a lot by giving qualified people their dignity back.
And so if we continue to wallow in the filth of disunity, it will not only diminish the potential of the marginalised; it will also diminish the potential of all of us.
We sabotage our future, by not giving our family and friends theirs.
We have also heard the argument that we will lose money because people so qualified will not pay work permit fees anymore.
This Territory will grow and earn more over the long term by settled residents investing in themselves and their future and keeping most of their money right here.
What we are embarking on is the right thing on many fronts:
One – it is moral and it is just. We the people of Christian faith see this as one of our duties. In Jeremiah 22:3 it says, “Thus says the Lord: Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the resident alien, the fatherless, and the widow…”
Two – it is economically smart and wise. People who belong can now have the cloud of uncertainty lifted off their heads; and so they can invest in their own future and by extension that of this Territory.
Three – it strengthens our national security. People with more opportunities: who do not have doors being closed in their faces; are less likely to turn to illegal activities just to get by to survive or to move ahead.
Four – it is legal and in keeping with our Constitution. The rule has long been established – the people who have been residents here for 15 years and more, who do not provide a security threat to the society or do not have a criminal record, can have their residency confirmed. So what we are seeking to do is neither new nor radical. It does not unbalance the society but instead settles it.
So, for people so qualified and so interested, we will formally begin informational sessions so that you should attend where you will collect application packages and begin the formal process.
Informational meetings will be held on Tortola, Anegada, Virgin Gorda and Jost Van Dyke. The dates and times will be announced shortly.
Official information regarding "Clear Path to Regularisation: Residency and/or Belonger Status" will be posted on Facebook: Premier's Special Projects (which will go live at 5:00 PM on Tuesday, 7th May), on-line at www.bvi.gov.vg and by calling the special help desk number which will be given through the public information campaign.
To apply, each person must have the following:
- 1 Application Form;
- 2 Reference Letters;
- 2 Passport Photos;
- 1 Birth Certificate;
- 1 Original Local Police Record and other police records if deemed necessary;
- 1 Bank Statement;
- 1 Copy of Trade Licence (if applicable);
- 1 Copy of Non-Belongers Land Holding Licence and Land Transfer (if applicable);
- Certified Copies of Academic/Professional Qualifications (if applicable); and
- 1 Marriage Certificate (if applicable)
And the Cost of Application, in this fast track programme, is $810 for persons who have already received Residency and are ONLY candidates for Belonger Status and $1500 for persons applying for Residency and Belonger Status.
There is a finite date for application, which is Friday, 31st May by 6:00 PM. The collection period for applications will begin on Monday 13th May and will end on Friday 31st May, 2019. A collection point map and schedule will be published in advance of the dates.
Persons should note, that any document that is found to be falsified upon application and review will make the application invalid and the person will be subject to criminal investigation.
The application fee is refundable to those who are found ineligible for the status for which they have applied.
The special process initiated by my office and your new government has a sunset period and applications will not be entered or entertained after the deadline date.
So ladies and gentlemen, fellow BVIslanders, future fellow BVIslanders, let’s march forward together. There is more that unite us, than what should separate us.
Fear and suspicion gets us nowhere; except to a place where more powerful forces can divide and rule us.
Our journey – this journey -- is consistent with the dreams of our forefathers, and the hopes of our children.
We are on a path to building a caring and inclusive society that can proudly take its place among respectful communities all over the Caribbean – and indeed the world.
Our development; and the prosperity of our people are inextricably linked to each other. We pray together on our knees; but we go forward together on our feet.
I thank you.