Remarks By The Honourable Dr. Natalio Wheatley, Premier Of The Virgin Islands
22nd January 2024
Proposed Policy for Permanent Residence and Belonger Status
Greetings to the people of the Virgin Islands.
Today we unveil the final draft of the Government’s new Immigration Policy, which is a testament to our collective vision and commitment to the sustainable development of the Territory. This policy is the culmination of extensive consultations across our islands, embodying 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 recognizes 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. 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 policy stipulates that guidelines will be published detailing the criteria upon which applicants will be considered.
The new Immigration Policy proposes planning and decision making processes that will inform the sustainable management of statuses granted. A careful analysis of labour market needs, population density, and availability of resources will ensure balanced growth. 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 Belonger Status qualifications, addressing long-standing ambiguities and laying a foundation for good governance. 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.
I invite each of you to engage with the final draft of this policy and to provide your insights and feedback. Together, we will shape a future that is inclusive, prosperous, and sustainable for generations to come.
God bless you and God bless these beautiful Virgin Islands.