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Residents baffled by status request delays

Dozens of long-term residents requesting Bermudian citizenship have been left flummoxed by ongoing and unexplained processing delays.

Last month, lawyer Peter Sanderson wrote to his 20-plus clients who are seeking status, advising that those kept waiting should contact the Ombudsman “who can be quite helpful in resolving delays”.

All of the applicants have lived on the island for at least 27 years, some much longer, and most hold the Permanent Resident's Certificate.

Douglas Docherty, who applied in September 2014, claimed that the Government's plodding, apathetic approach to the matter was “ridiculous”.

Keith Musson said he was “curious” as to the status of his own application. He has also waited for almost two years, while his repeated requests for updates have been ignored.

Permanent Resident's Certificate holder Mr Docherty immigrated to Bermuda from Scotland in 1977 to join the police service, and has worked in the island's pharmaceutical industry for the past 25 years.

“My application is lying at the bottom of somebody's tray somewhere with cobwebs on it — as are a lot of other people's,” he said.

“I think the Government doesn't care. They're waiting for us to drop dead.”

Mr Docherty suggested that, although the “vast majority” of Bermudians did not want expatriates to acquire citizenship, he had the right to apply. “I've been here for 39 years, all of which time I've been renting, and I'm never in Britain anymore,” said the Glasgow native, who has a Bermudian ex-wife and no children.

Mr Docherty said he was not considering taking legal action to force through his application, and that he refused to deal with immigration services as it would be a “waste of time”.

“All I can do is wait and see. If I get it then I get it, if I don't then I don't,” he added.

Mr Musson moved to Bermuda from England in 1979 and works in the printing industry.

He holds PRC status, while his son was born on the island in 1988 and is a citizen.

“I would like to become Bermudian as well. I feel Bermudian and I think I'm entitled to citizenship,” he said. “I'd like to vote and I may think about buying property.”

After applying in October 2014, Mr Musson has found himself frozen out of proceedings.

“In the past year, I've heard nothing at all from the immigration department,” he said. “I've sent various e-mails asking if they can update me, and whether there's a problem. I've had no reply whatsoever.”

Mr Musson said he was more surprised than frustrated by the laborious and opaque nature of the process.

“I'm just curious why my application hasn't come through yet, where it stands and why I haven't been receiving updates,” he said.

A Ministry of Home Affairs spokeswoman said that the concerns of residents awaiting citizenship approval had been noted.

“The Ministry is committed to ensuring that applications of all kinds relating to personal services will be processed within a reasonable time without compromising quality, integrity and, most importantly, accuracy,” she added.

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Published August 16, 2016 at 9:00 am (Updated August 16, 2016 at 12:55 am)

Residents baffled by status request delays

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