Premier Dr. the Honourable Natalio Wheatley has praised the passage of the Immigration and Passport (Amendment) Bill 2024, which introduces pivotal changes to immigration controls affecting children born in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) to non-belonger parents.

Premier Wheatley highlighted the delicate balance struck by legislators to address a longstanding concern regarding the status of these children.

The amended bill removes immigration control for children born in the BVI to non-belonger parents, a move that Premier Wheatley described as a necessary and urgent response to a grave issue facing the territory. He underscored that the amendment was crafted to resolve the uncertainty surrounding the status of these children, ensuring they have a clearer path to belonging in the community.

During the committee stage, legislators faced the challenge of finding a solution that would garner consensus. The final compromise, according to Premier Wheatley, reflects the best possible outcome that legislators could achieve under the circumstances.

Premier Wheatley reminded residents that under current regulations, children born to non-belonger parents in the territory are eligible for naturalization upon reaching the age of 10, provided they register to begin the process. This provision he said offers a route for these children to secure their status in the territory.

Additionally, Dr. Wheatley addressed the situation of children born outside the territory but who have spent most of their lives in the Virgin Islands.

The recent amendment allows such individuals to apply for residency status after ten years in the BVI and for Belonger status after twenty years.