Senate Minority Leader Richard Lewis says non-nationals who find themselves ineligible for citizenship – due to gaps in their residency here – will welcome the amendments to the Antigua and Barbuda Citizenship Act.
The Bill was passed in the Senate on Tuesday, March 23, without alteration.
The mover of the Bill, Senator Mary-Claire Hurst, says the amendments bring the requirements for citizenship in line with those required for a resident permit under the Immigration and Passport Act.
Hurst says the previous Act was unfair, since it preventedimmigrants with gaps in their time from obtaining citizenship unless they re-started the mandatory seven years of continuous residency.
Persons who remained outside of Antigua and Barbuda, for whatever reason, for certain periods of time were considered to have created a gap in their time.
This determination was based on the discretion of the Immigration Department, however; but Hurst says it created some problems.
Under the new amendments, there is a set time frame that has to be considered.
Senator Lewis says the issue of gaps in time has been around for decades. He notes that the Government sought to amend the Immigration and Passport Act in October 2020, when the issue of accumulated gaps of less than six months was addressed
Lewis agrees that these amendments to the Antigua and Barbuda Citizenship Act bring it in line with those made last year.
He says these changes augur well for persons who, over the years,have been prevented from obtaining citizenship in a timely manner due to such gaps.