Sunday, 14th July 2024

British Virgin Islands unveils final draft of new Immigration Policy

The Premier of the British Virgin Islands, Dr Natalio Wheatley, unveiled the final draft of the highly anticipated new immigration policy

Sunday, 7th July 2024

British Virgin Islands Premier, Dr Natalio Wheatley

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The Premier of the British Virgin Islands, Dr Natalio Wheatley, unveiled the final draft of the highly anticipated new immigration policy that is set to take effect soon. This step was taken to facilitate public consultation, which is seen as an important part of the process, before the policy is put into full effect. Wheatley has assured citizens that the policy has been drafted following extensive dialogue and consultation with relevant parties and reflects “the voices and aspirations of our people.”

Premier Dr Natalio Wheatley, came out with this update on the immigration policy during a public address held in the evening on the 29th of January.

“The policy's foundation is built on balance, balancing economic growth with cultural integration and social stability. It recognises the invaluable contributions of immigrants to our community while also safeguarding the interests and heritage of Virgin Islanders. This policy proposes the length of time required to attain permanent residence and Belonger Status," added Wheatley during his address.

He went on to add that, “It asserts that years of residence is just one factor to be considered in granting status. Prospective grantees must demonstrate a commitment and knowledge of the territory's customs and history while meaningfully contributing to social cohesion and sustainable development.”

The new policy states that applicants who seek permanent residence in the British Virgin Islands must reside in the nation for a span of at least ten years to be eligible. In the case of immigrants vying for Belonger Status, their applications will be eligible only if they have resided in the country for a minimum of 20 years.

The new policy and its stipulations are said to be based on an in-depth analysis of the nation’s labour market requirements, so as to help manage population growth via a quota system.

Wheatley said, “This approach allows for a more controlled and beneficial immigration process, contributing to the overall well-being and prosperity of the Virgin Islands. Ultimately, this policy clarifies residency and belonging status qualifications, addressing long-standing ambiguities, and laying a foundation for good governance.”

Adding that, “It is a significant step towards sustainable development, ensuring that immigration enhances rather than hinders our collective progress. As we move forward, legislative amendments will follow to enact these proposed policies. ensuring that our immigration framework is robust, fair and reflective of our territory's values and aspirations.”

The government has also put the final draft of the new immigration policy on its official website and has encouraged citizens to analyze the policy before sending in feedback by the 2nd of February 2024.

The expectation, at least from the government’s end, is that the policy will be well received and address many of the pressing issues that have been noticed in the nation’s current immigration apparatus.

The knock-on effects of the policy, in terms of facilitating progress in the nation’s job market is also seen as a positive development by representatives of the government.

Having said that, how citizens perceive the changes and additions proposed to the immigration policy, is yet to be seen. Their perspective will only be known with clarity after their feedback is compiled and assessed by the relevant authorities.

As far as preliminary assessments go, it is expected that the policy will pass this test with flying colours and be put to use soon, bringing in a new era in the dynamics of gaining a citizenship in the British Virgin Islands.

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