The BVI must undergo an immigration transition if it is to properly address and overcome some of the residency and Belongership obstacles that it has continued to face over the years.
This is according to Premier Dr Natalio Wheatley, who shared recently that the BVI has been functioning on a decades-old approach to its immigration policy.
However, Dr Wheatley explained that the population has expanded quite a bit since then and may have outgrown a strategy that was first adopted as far back as the 1970s.
Dr Wheatley pointed to the Commission of Inquiry
) review on the issue of Residency and Belongership that was conducted by Kedrick Malone and said residents will soon be able to participate in a series of meetings across the community as the government seeks to establish a new immigration policy.
“We understand now that there’s time to make a transition to ensure that persons who have been in the territory, they have their children in the territory… [that] we ensure that we’ve properly integrated persons who have served this community for a number of decades,” the Premier said.
According to Dr Wheatley, among those considerations is a number of young persons graduating from school and returning to the territory. They are expected to help in ensuring there is an adequately trained workforce which can take up opportunities in the community.
He added: “So all of these things would have to be discussed and considered in the context of an immigration policy and, of course, a labour policy as well, because both of them work together.”
However, Dr Wheatley cautioned that the conversation surrounding an immigration policy is one that needs to be had in a responsible way and not in a divisive and ugly way as has happened in the past.
“We have to have it in a way where we look out for the best interests of the people of the Virgin Islands
,” he said.