Longtime resident feels deceived by amnesty program and poorly treated considering concessions made to West Africans

A non-national resident is accusing the Gaston Browne
Administration of trickery regarding the amnesty program it
announced last year, 2022.

In a letter, the aggrieved immigrant says she is in the process of
obtaining Antigua and Barbuda citizenship, and the relevant fees
have already been paid, but the process, apparently, is being

After having gone to the Immigration Department, the person says,
she has been instructed to contact the Labour Department and
verify whether she is exempted from work-permit requirement.

The letter-writer claims she has lived in Antigua since the age of 13
and attended secondary school and the Antigua State College; but
she feels that the Administration has tricked non-nationals into an
“amnesty gimmick.”

According to the writer, she is young and does not have the amount
of money the system is expecting her to pay out.

Further, in light of the exemption from work-permit fees that was
granted to the recent West African immigrants, the woman says the
situation is unfair, since she has basically grown up in Antigua.
The Government’s Amnesty program was launched on March 1,
2022, and was expected to conclude on Saturday, April 30 last year.
However, it was extended for another two months and ended on
June 30, 2022.

The additional time was meant to enable all immigrants to
comfortably access the benefits of amnesty, the Cabinet said, then,
since a large number of undocumented residents were still awaiting
processing at the Immigration Department.

Persons who had resided here for a continuous period of four years,
but who had not yet completed seven years, were granted residency
under the amnesty.

Additionally, persons with seven years or more in residency were
cleared for citizenship.

Many people had expressed the opinion that the program was a
bribe – a scheme by the Browne Administration to ensure that non-
nationals would vote for the Antigua Labour Party in the January 18,
2023, General Election.