Another citizenship amnesty on the way

The Antigua and Barbuda government has announced plans to once again adopt an amnesty period that would allow legally resident non-nationals, who have been in the country for at least seven years, to apply for citizenship.

The statement coming out of Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting indicated that the government has agreed to adopt the necessary legislation to give effect to the amnesty. “[It] will allow those non-nationals who are still plagued by artificial ‘gaps’ in their lawful residency to be permitted to make their application for citizenship, provided they have resided in Antigua and Barbuda for seven or more years.

In 2015, Antigua and Barbuda passed the Immigration and Passport (Amendment) Act 2015 under which illegal immigrants could seek amnesty to have their time extended.

That amnesty period ran until the end of the year. Prime Minister Gaston Browne had raised the possibility of another amnesty a little over three weeks ago after reportedly receiving a number of complaints from non-nationals at a Labour Party event. “Too many innocent young people, mostly students who accompanied their parents to Antigua and Barbuda, have found themselves excluded from the early version of the amnesty.

The Cabinet agreed to provide an opportunity for this class and others to make use of this amnesty offering,” the statement read. The Citizenship Act requires that a person seeking citizenship be ordinarily resident in Antigua and Barbuda for no less than seven years, of which not less than five years in total must have been spent in the country.

In considering whether an application for amnesty should be granted, the Cabinet would look at whether the applicant has any criminal convictions, their family ties in the country where applicable, and any other information it deems relevant to the application.

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