According to the proposed rules for obtaining belongership, proficiency in the use of the English language will be required to obtain permanent residency status and belongership.
This is but one of a number of suggested changes put forward by the interim government as a result of wide consultation with locals. This process began with constitutional consultant Kate Sullivan during the administration of former Governor Gordon Wetherell. Sullivan, an Australian national, in her first round of meetings appeared to have already made up her mind on these and many other important issues. In subsequent meetings, she was open to suggestions and took notes.
One of the primary concerns expressed by islanders was the five- year rule wherein foreigners obtain belongership after being married to a TCI belonger for only five years. It is now suggested that this be extended to ten years and, if it is found that the marriage was entered into for the singular purpose of obtaining belonger status only, the parties will be subject to prosecution.
To obtain permanent residency certificates (PRC), immigrants must have paid for work permits for at least ten years. Unskilled workers may not be qualified for PRCs.
Stepchildren of belongers cannot obtain status unless they are adopted. It is unclear how this will affect adult children where a foreigner obtained status through marriage for a prolonged period.
Ten-year renewable PRCs will be available for foreign home buyers who purchase or build a home in Provo valued at $500,000. In Grand Turk and the family islands, the home need only cost $250,000. It has not been announced what the cost of this PRC will be. In the past, those applying for this type of status paid a fee of $15,000. This discouraged retirees from settling in the islands and bringing their foreign wealth to the TCI.
Those serving jail time of 12 months or more may be excluded from obtaining status.
These new suggested provisions for obtaining status were due to be debated this week by the Consultative Forum and the Advisory Council.