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New immigration laws change Belonger, PRC rules PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 02 August 2012 17:36

Becoming a Turks and Caicos Islander/Belonger by a grant from government will no longer be possible under new laws taking effect Aug. 13.

Other changes to immigration regulations set fees of $10,000 and $5,000 for Permanent Residence Certificates (PRC) with the right to work that once were as high as $50,000, and increase the amount of investment required to gain residency without the right to work.

During several months of public consultation, most residents agreed that the only ways to become a Belonger should be by birth, descent, adoption, by being married for 10 years to a Belonger, or by being the dependent child of someone who becomes a Belonger by marriage. It will no longer be possible for the child of a non-Belonger who marries a Belonger to acquire Belonger status as soon as the marriage takes place as a stepchild.

Having Belonger status gives a person the right to vote and to own certain types of businesses reserved for Belongers only. The 2012 census estimates that 42.5 percent of the population over 18 are Belongers.

While grants of Belonger status have been halted, the revised Constitution set to take effect in October requires an elected government to create a path and decide conditions for Belonger status to be granted in the future.

Changes in the law also make it possible to revoke Belonger status for people who got it on grounds of “an outstanding contribution to the economic and social development of the islands” if they are convicted of a serious criminal offence and not resident in the islands.

The law also makes “marriages of convenience” to be punishable with a penalty of up to two years in prison and a $10,000 fine for both the person gaining immigration advantage and the Belonger who marries them.

Changes to the law also confirm that Belongers, PRC holders and British Overseas Territories Citizens are free to enter, reside and work in the territory and cannot be excluded or deported.

New requirements for different types of residency certificates include:

  • People who invest $500,000 or more on Providenciales or West Caicos, or $250,000 or more on Grand Turk or the family islands can obtain a residence permit for up to 10 years.
  • The fee for a residence permit for the spouse of a Belonger will be $300 a year for up to 11 years. Dependent children can be endorsed on the permit for $150 per child.
  • The moratorium on PRCs will be lifted Sept. 10 for people who meet the new requirements and have held a work permit, other than as an unskilled worker; or a residence permit; or have been in the islands under Section 9, i.e., as a government worker, for 10 years or more. Unskilled workers for 10 years or more will also be able to qualify, but time spent as an unskilled worker will not in the future be able to lead to a PRC. The fees for all these PRCs will be $10,000.
  • PRCs will also be granted for young people who have been endorsed on their parents’ PRC when they turn 18; to young people who arrived in the islands before the age of five and have been through primary and secondary education here before Sept. 10; and to people who have been married to a Belonger for five years or more where the Belonger spouse has died. The fees for these PRCs will be $5,000.
  • All applicants for PRC must have a sound knowledge of the English language and of the islands. TCI Community College is developing tests and tuition to be charged.
  • In separate legislation, naturalisation fees will be increased to $1,000 and registration fees to $500.



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