Faster route to residency backed by MPs
A streamlined way to help long-term residents get permanent residency has been approved by the House of Assembly.
The changes proposed by Jason Hayward, the labour minister, opened a route to residency for non-Bermudian divorced people and unwed parents of Bermudian children who have spent more than 15 years on the island.
Children of Permanent Resident’s Certificate holders will also have an avenue to security.
Permanent Resident’s Certificates are available to non-Bermudians who have spent more than 20 years on the island for a $10,000 fee.
Mr Hayward said the move fulfilled Progressive Labour Party promises in the 2020 Throne Speech and was in line with the economic recovery plan, which includes an expansion of the population.
He added: “These are extremely controlled categories.”
Mr Hayward estimated about 850 people could qualify and that unmarried parents marked the only category where the Government could not predict the numbers.
He added that “estimates do not always indicate demand, because everybody that qualifies does not necessarily want to remain”.
Jarion Richardson of the One Bermuda Alliance welcomed the move but told the House it did not go far enough, particularly in light of the island’s economic problems.
He said: “We want to make sure we stop these horrifying humanitarian stories where people have come to Bermuda, contributed to Bermuda and all of a sudden they have to go.”
Crystal Caesar, a PLP MP who was involved with the immigration reform working group, highlighted the island’s immigration history, which was used to “violate Black Bermudian rights”.
She added: “We have to have a balanced discussion that there have been some bad actors in our time.”
She said there had been cases where Bermudians had been passed over in favour of work permit holders.
But Ms Caesar added: “I believe that, with time, the Bermudian population will understand that we definitely need to have more people here.”
The changes will not affect an application for PRC status made before the legislation comes into force.
The legislation was passed last Friday after a 45 minute debate.