The pathway to citizenship needs to be reviewed too.
Having the right immigration ordinance is very important for a place like the Turks and Caicos Islands that is growing so rapidly. From the time I was growing up, the number of Turks and Caicos Islanders were few, but we were the majority. Nowadays, because of the growth that is taking place, we must recruit workers from abroad and as a result there are more non-Turks and Caicos Islander than there are Turks and Caicos Islanders. Furthermore, many Turks and Caicos Islanders are not having a lot of children, and some are migrating to UK and US making the population issue more complex.
The 2015 Ordinance tried to address some of our issues, but I personally thought that 2015 was too generous and had some loopholes. For example, a great grandchild cannot get status but a person who got status through marriage can pass that status onto their children.
Permanent Residence Status
In this proposed ordinance, the plan is to increase the number of years from 10 years to 15 years for someone to get permanent residence status. There is also an increase in the investment cost for those individuals who can get permanent residence through investment.
The thing is if you have a British Overseas Territory or a British Citizen with a Permanent residence for five (5) years, you are eligible to apply for citizenship through grant.
I think rather than increasing the number of years or increasing the investment, we should reconsider increasing the years someone with permanent residence can apply for a TC Islander Status.
I personally think that permanent residence should be encouraged and TC Islanders through grant should be discouraged since TC Islanders are already outnumbered.
Also, with the term limits on work permits, and it if is enforced, no one will be able to reach the 15 years requirement unless you have already been living in Turks and Caicos for the past15 years but don’t have the permanent residence.
Revocation of Permanent Residence Certificate
Under the current claws, the permanent residence certificate can be revoked for several reasons and two of those reasons are if a person has mental illness or disorder or a person has communicable diseases that poses a threat to the public. Under the proposed amendment, these two points will be removed due to discrimination. However, ironically, a work permit can be rejected because of communicable disease. While I agree with this but isn’t this discriminatory too.
Removal of freelance work permits
The proposal recommends the removal of freelance work permits as this has been abused. The intent of the freelance work permits was to accommodate great grandchildren who do not qualify for status. I believe that great grandchildren should be given status through acquisition of rights.
If freelance is removed, does this mean that great grandchildren will now be able to get status.
Duration of the work permit
I think the length of time for a work permit is a good initiative, but we must be very careful with this though, especially with skilled workers. Based on my experience, it is very hard finding skilled workers locally and internationally and so I think five years is too short. For instance, it is a challenge getting dialysis nurses and we should not restrict all skilled workers to five years.
Advertisement on electronic
With the advancement of technology, accepting advertising for jobs electronically is good. However, we must ensure that the ads are visible to the public and are advertised in popular spots.
Promotion of work permit holders
I like the idea of going full advertising for a promotion rather than promoting someone on a work permit.
Temporary work permits
Temporary work permits are being abused so I like the fact that new categories are being created.
Possession of status cards
I agree that the status cards should be always in the possession of individuals and should be provided to the Immigration officers if they stopped and searched you.
I like the proposal that “empowers the minister to certify the applicant as ineligible without the right to appeal.” I also like the idea of Refugee Review Committee. Currently, an application for asylum that has been refused can be appealed to the Governor.
Endorsement on an unskilled work permit holder.
I do have concerns with this. I believe if a work permit is issued to a married person or a single person with children under 18, they should be allowed to endorse their spouse and their children. We should not be promoting the separation of families as this can create a social problem in our country. If we don’t want to endorse spouse or children, then perhaps we should only grant work permits to unskilled workers if they are single and don’t have children.
What if an unskilled work permit gives birth in TCI, are we saying that that the child cannot be endorsed on that work permit? What will happen to that child? Will that child be illegal in Turks and Caicos?
I do like the fact that the Ordinance is being reviewed. However, our focus should not be on permanent residence status but rather should be on TC Islander Status. There are some people that really have made the Turks and Caicos their home and one thing we can do is to offer permanent residence status. Of course, our current immigration ordinance allows permanent residences an opportunity to get TC Islander Status. I think this needs to be amended.