Immigration readies itself for implementation of new law

The call comes ahead of the full implementation of the Immigration & Passport (Amendment) 2015.

Chief Immigration Officer Lieutenant Colonel Ivor Walker said non-nationals need not wait until the Act is made law to investigate their individual statuses.

He also said systems are in place to deal with the influx of non-nationals who will be seeking to regularise their statuses.

“We are really prepared to handle those people who will be coming. We understand the intent of the Act, but we have not seen an influx of people coming in because, obviously, they have to pay to get their time and I suppose not everybody has the cash there and then,” Colonel Walker said.

The proposed law seeks to allow residents, who are currently lawful, but who had gaps in their time in the past, to pay for those gaps, among other fees, and have the time considered as lawful.

This would then allow those persons, provided they were resident in Antigua & Barbuda for seven or more years, eligible to apply for citizenship. However, they would not qualify if (1) they have criminal convictions, (2) are in ill health and (3) do not have family ties in Antigua & Barbuda.

Colonel Walker said based on his understanding, once the Act is made law a formal announcement will be made regarding its implementation.

He also indicated the reprieve of non-nationals is only for a specified period.

“A deadline will be given and once a deadline is given, then thereafter everybody has to fall in line with the normal situation,” Walker said.

Some quarters of the non-national community are currently preparing the relevant documents to ensure they are able to benefit from the impending law.

Residents from the Dominican Republic are currently holding mass registration for a particular document needed to complete their application for citizenship.

Guyanese nationals, who are also in preparation mode, have raised several concerns with regards to citizenships applications under the new system.

But the chief immigration officer said such matters fall under the ambit of the Passport Office.


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