Commish wants to clarify belongership issues

Monday, 29th September 2014 by bvibeacon.com

After observing a steady stream of unclear reports from public officials, journalists and commentators, Complaints Commissioner Elton Georges met with the press on Monday to try to clarify the Virgin Islands complex nationality and citizenship framework.

After observing a steady stream of unclear reports from public officials, journalists and commentators, Complaints Commissioner Elton Georges met with the press on Monday to try to clarify the Virgin Islands’ complex nationality and citizenship framework.

Asking journalists to help “spread the word,” Mr. Georges explained that the VI, as an overseas territory, has only limited control over its nationality legislation, but exercises autonomous control over its immigration laws and policies.

This means that while United Kingdom legislation and the VI Constitution are the legal authorities on who is born a belonger, it’s the local legislators — acting as Cabinet and via the laws they pass — who have the power to say who may go through an application process and become a belonger.

Part of the confusion stems from changes to the laws since the 1960s to reflect the changing needs of the territory and the “mother” country, resulting in a system in which the question of one’s nationality sometimes depends heavily on when one and one’s parents were born.

The much-discussed British Nationality Act, an act of Parliament, was updated in 1983. Under that law, people born in the Virgin Islands to married parents, at least one of whom was a British overseas territory citizen, were said to “belong” to the VI.

See the Oct. 2, 2014 edition for full coverage.