By Elesha George
A bill to prevent people who gain Antigua and Barbuda citizenship through the Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) from losing their status during the Covid-19 pandemic was passed in parliament on Thursday.
The 2013 CIP Act allows the minister responsible for immigration to strip a holder’s citizenship if they do not spend at least 35 days in Antigua and Barbuda during the period of five calendar years after their registration.
Thursday’s amendment will however suspend that provision which may have otherwise caused thousands of people and their families to no longer be citizens of Antigua and Barbuda even after they met all the necessary requirements.
“This is a very simple amendment to make sure that individuals do not lose their citizenship,” Prime Minister Gaston Browne noted.
“Many individuals have been unable to travel here because of Covid and, as a consequence, we have had to make this amendment to make sure that we can suspend that requirement which would have called for the actual cancelling of the citizenship,” he explained.
The change applies during periods of outbreaks of infectious, dangerous diseases or other situations meriting the suspension of the 35-day requirement.
Browne said however that the amendment does not negate the need for these people to take up residency at some point.
The Bill passed as part of the Antigua and Barbuda Citizenship by Investment Programme Act without debate, and in the absence of opposition members, both of whom had momentarily left the House which was still in session.