BVI to use 10 yr threshold for granting immigrants belonger status

Anyone, who has legally resided on the British Virgin Islands for 10 years and over, will now be able to apply to receive their belonger status.

Premier Dr. Natalio Wheatley told the House of Assembly yesterday that the government recently took a decision to follow the law, which allows belonger status to be granted to a legal resident after 10 years.

“We have set the target of having a suitable reviewer – to be agreed by the Governor and the Premier – in place by 1st September 2022. Cabinet committed that from 1st June 2022, the existing legislation on residency threshold – minimum of 10 years – would be followed pending completion of the above-mentioned review,” Wheatley stated.

Previous governments required a person to be a resident on the island for 20 years before considering their application for belonger status.

Having belonger status allows persons to vote in local elections and hold a British Virgin Islands passport.

Reviewing the process used to grant belonger status was one of over 45 recommendations made by retired British Judge Sir Gary Hickinbottom in his Commission of Inquiry report.

Hickinbottom found that cabinet members appeared willing and ready to step outside of the statutory criteria to grant status to persons, some of whom had criminal convictions in foreign countries.

The premier said more funds have been pumped into the Status Unit to process applications.

He also revealed that the territory would soon begin the “difficult but necessary subject” of reforming the immigration system.

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