Minister of Home Affairs, Edmund Hinkson, speaking at the citizenship induction ceremony at the National Union of Public Workers headquarters recently. (B.Hinds/BGIS)

The Cabinet of Barbados has approved the framework of a comprehensive review of the existing immigration policy and legislation and, come January, a new Immigration Bill will be presented to Cabinet.

Minister of Home Affairs, Edmund Hinkson, made this disclosure during the recently held Citizenship Induction ceremony at the Horatio Cooke Complex at the National Union of Public Workers, Dalkeith, St. Michael.

Mr. Hinkson stated: “A new Immigration Bill which we aim to present to the Cabinet in January [2020] and thereafter to Parliament, once approved will expand our categories of citizenship and permanent residence, abolish the status of immigrant and rectify some still existing inconsistencies between our legislation relating to this concept.”

One of the proposed amendments to acquiring citizenship will be by way of grandfathering. “In other words, if you are a grandchild or great grandchild of a Barbadian citizen, you will be entitled to Barbadian citizenship,” he explained.

The Home Affairs Minister noted that one aspect of the new policy will be the reduced time for application. He gave as an example applying for citizenship by marriage, where persons currently have to wait until after three years of marriage before applying. In future, that time will be reduced to two years.

Mr. Hinkson also addressed the difficulty CARICOM skilled nationals experience in attaining Barbadian citizenship, and pointed out that with the new policy, Government was proposing that “as a right, CARICOM skilled nationals, their spouse and dependents, are entitled to become permanent residents and then citizens through qualifying by way of time being spent in Barbados”. 

“Those who have currently been residing in Barbados for more than seven years would be eligible to be grandfathered into citizenship on their application,” he added.

The new immigration policy will also allow for persons who wish to open a business or have substantial capital and are willing to invest significantly in the economy, to acquire permanent residence then citizenship. Persons who ordinarily reside in Barbados for four years would be eligible for permanent residence.

The Home Affairs Minister pointed out the Immigration Department was the first of two government departments to be transformed by way of digitization in an effort to provide a more efficient service and shorter time frames for processing applications for passports, residency and citizenship.

He expressed his appreciation to the Department for the “critical” role it is playing in ensuring national development and protecting national security and reassured the staff that their hard work and commitment had not gone unnoticed.

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