Senator gives advice on obtaining British Overseas Territories passport
Home Affairs Minister Michael Fahy has advised Commonwealth citizens with Bermudian status how to get a passport with the word ‘Bermuda' on the front — thereby allowing them to travel to the US without a visa.
Senator Fahy told the Senate that such citizens could no longer obtain a Government of Bermuda passport from the Department of Immigration but instead needed to apply for naturalisation, in order to obtain a Government of Bermuda, British Overseas Territories passport, if they wanted to avoid applying for a visa waiver to travel to the States.
The Minister said the Department of Immigration had received several applications for Government of Bermuda passports in recent months but had not been able to issue them since May 2002.
After that date, the application process for passports moved to Washington DC and later to the UK. The passports issued there no longer include the Government of Bermuda on the front cover, which Sen Fahy said was at the “heart of the problem”, because it meant British and other Commonwealth citizens had to apply for a waiver to travel to the US.
“With the Government of Bermuda passport, they could travel visa-free,” he said, adding that British citizens here “remain disgruntled” about having to apply for a new passport to the UK and apply for a waiver to travel to the US.
He said they also complained that processing times for passports were now longer and impinged upon their travel plans.
“While the Department of Immigration can appreciate the frustration experienced by British citizens, there is little it can do to change the process,” the Minister said. “Notwithstanding this, there is one option availed to British citizens, which may diminish their current challenges.
“British citizens who have Bermudian status and who have found themselves in this dilemma have the option to be naturalised and of obtaining a Government of Bermuda, British Overseas Territories (BOTC) passport.”
He said BOTC passports allowed visa-free travel to the US and could be issued by Immigration.
Those interested in obtaining one should check they qualify for naturalisation under section 1(5) (2) of the British Nationality Act 1981 and then apply to be naturalised — a six-week process carried out by Immigration on behalf of Government House.
US law allows the citizens of Bermuda, in most cases, to travel to the US without requiring a visa — usually for up to 180 days. British passport holders have to apply for a visa waiver under the Electronic System for Travel Authorisation scheme.
More information can be obtained from the Chief Immigration Officer on 295-5151, extension 1444.