A final draft of the British Virgin Islands’ new immigration policy has been unveiled by the government for public consultation.
Premier Dr Natalio Wheatley unveiled the draft last evening as he noted it was completed after extensive consultation and embodies “the voices and aspirations of our people.”
“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,” he stated in a public address last evening.
“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.”
Under the new policy, applicants must be ordinarily resident in the BVI for at least 10 years to be eligible to apply for permanent residence.
An immigrant can apply for Belonger Status after at least 20 years of ordinary residence.
Included in the new policy is a plan for a “careful analysis of labour market needs” to ensure that population growth is managed via a quota system.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
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