A reader wonders if she has Bermudian status
A reader who was born in the US, and has a Bermudian parent and a Bermudian grandfather who resides on the island, has asked a question about her status.
She is 30, and while she has visited her relatives, she has never lived in Bermuda. Her Bermudian father recently died. She wonders if she can obtain, or legitimise, Bermudian status.
So, what does it mean to be Bermudian? Does anyone have absolute right to claim that designation?
Well, given all of the passionate, heated narratives over the years regarding immigration and Bermudian status regulations, this is an interesting query.
Moneywise is not an immigration expert, but we can reference Bermuda legislation to point her towards reference sites and resources in general terms. Ultimately, for absolute confirmation of her possible right to status, she may have to engage an experienced Bermuda immigration attorney.
The following is from the Bermuda government website, a link for which you will find at the end of this article.
You can apply for Bermudian status if:
• you possess a qualifying Bermudian connection (QBC) (Section 19);
• you are a spouse, widow or widower of a Bermudian (Section 19A);
• you have the right to Bermudian status in certain other cases (see below).
The first hurdle is that she is not a spouse, widow, or widower, and she does not appear to meet the “certain other cases” defined as:
• having been ordinarily resident in Bermuda on 31 July 1989; or
• ordinarily resident for the period of ten years immediately preceding the application; or
• be a British Dependent Territories citizen under the British Nationality and Status of Aliens Act 1914 (UK), or the British Nationality Act 1948 (UK) or the British Nationality Act 1981 (UK).
Now, based upon the website instructions, does she qualify under the qualifying Bermuda connection (Section 19)?
Of course, she does not know what Section 19 is. Our research verifies that it is the Consolidated Bermuda Immigration and Protection Act 1956 legislation for Section 19 and, aha, it appears on page 20 of the Act.
Section 19 has this to say about the right of persons with Bermudian connection to Bermudian status:
1, A person may apply to the minister under this section for the grant of Bermudian status if;
(a) he is a Commonwealth citizen of not less than 18 years of age; and
(b) he has been ordinarily resident in Bermuda for the period of ten years immediately preceding his application; and
(c) he has a qualifying Bermudian connection.
2, The First Schedule A shall have effect for the purpose of determining whether a person has a qualifying Bermudian connection under paragraph (c) of subsection (1).
The section numbers three to nine do not appear to have the relevance to our reader’s query.
We then go to the end of the Act to review First Schedule A in the hope of clarifying the “qualifying Bermuda connection” it states:
1, For a person to have a qualifying Bermudian connection under section 19 of this Act, he must fall within a class of a description set forth in paragraph two; and those descriptions are subject to paragraphs three and four.
2, The classes of persons referred to are a person who at any time answers one of the following descriptions:
(a) he was deemed to possess Bermudian status under subsection (2) of section 16 of this Act;
(b) he was deemed to be domiciled in Bermuda under paragraph (e) of subsection (1) of section 5 of the Immigration Act 1937;
(c) he would have qualified under (a) or (b) above had he been a Commonwealth citizen.
This section really appears to be more applicable to our reader’s father. So we shall take the different approach of researching whether our reader can claim Bermudian status through her father under Section 18.
Part III Section 18: Acquisition of Bermudians status by birth..
1, Where a person is, after 30 June 1956 and before 23 July 1993, born in Bermuda, he shall possess Bermudian status if he is a Commonwealth citizen and, at the time of his birth, one of his parents possessed Bermudian status.
2, Where a person is, after 30 June 1956 and before 23 July 1993, born outside Bermuda, he shall possess Bermudian status if —
[My comment: 1 and 2 — not applicable to her]
3, A person shall also possess Bermudian status if, being a Commonwealth citizen at the time of his birth —
(a) he was born in Bermuda on or after 23 July 1993 and, at the time of his birth, one of his parents possessed Bermudian status; or
(b) she was born outside Bermuda on or after 23 July 1993 and, at the time of her birth, one of her parents was domiciled in Bermuda and that parent also possessed Bermudian status.
Section 18 3 (b) may fit her immigration profile. Domicile is the key word here. Where was dad living prior to his demise? And does domicile and living (residency) mean the same thing? Can one be domiciled in Bermuda and live elsewhere?
Items 4 through 7 do not apply.
8, Where used in this section “domiciled” has the meaning ordinarily applied to that word at common law; and “domicile” shall be construed accordingly.
9, is not relevant to her case profile.
How important is the concept of domicile of her father in subsection 8 of 18 in this picture?
In another feature, we find out. We don’t have any answers yet, since we now have to pursue a rigorous definition of a Bermudian status person’s domicile, along with many additional categories under Section 18A of the Act.
The Consolidated Bermuda Immigration and Protection Act 1956 is an incredibly detailed document, some 111 pages, full of references to other sections using thereunders, whereases, as the minister determines, and other archaic, oblique terms.
Are laws written just for lawyers? One really has to ask this question just from the sheer frustration of an ordinary individual, when attempting to research applicable laws to individual circumstances that are not written in plain, every day understandable language.
As a planning professional fiduciary, my first and final recommendation, as always, would be to consult with an experienced professional Bermuda immigration attorney.
Readers, do you have any comments?
Stay tuned for future reader FAQs.
• Bermuda Government website: https://www.gov.bm/online-services/apply-bermudian-status
• Martha Harris Myron CPA CFP JSM: Masters of Law — international tax and financial services. Dual citizen: Bermudian/US. Pondstraddler Life, financial perspectives for Bermuda islanders and their globally mobile connections on the Great Atlantic Pond. Finance columnist to The Royal Gazette, Bermuda. All proceeds earned from this column go to The Reading Clinic. Contact: email@example.com
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