BVI presses London for control of UK naturalization

| 09/12/2009

(CNS): The premier of the British Virgin Islands (BVI), Ralph O’Neal, plans to make a case for the country’s Cabinet to play a role in determining the award of British citizenship during the Eleventh Overseas Territories Consultative Council, which is taking place in London this week. O’Neal is raising concerns about the power of the territory’s governor as the only person who can naturalise people. “The Cabinet should have a say in it just like Cabinet decides on residents and belongership,” O’Neal has stated. Acknowledging the role of the UK Government in the process, the premier said elected officials ought to have a role as well.

“A person naturalised as a British subject would have the right to stay here as long as he wants. Therefore, the persons elected by the people of this territory should have a say in it. I think it is totally unreasonable to have the governor himself making the decision. I do not care what process it goes through, one process should be a matter of a Cabinet decision,” he said in London yesterday.

Meanwhile the premier of Bermuda, Ewart Brown, has said he intends to press the UK to hand over operational control of the police to the islands’ government.

Established in 1999, the OTCC meets annually in London, providing a forum to facilitate discussion of key policy issues between the heads of government in British overseas territories and the UK. The main council opened on Wednesday. However, a number of the elected leaders, including the Cayman Islands premier, McKeeva Bush, and other Caribbean territories met with the FCO Overseas Territories Minister Chris Bryant on Tuesday to discuss the events in Turks and Caicos, which have been on the mind of most of the region’s government officials.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    To even apply for UK citizenship in the BVI you have to have lived in it for twenty years – which was decided by the Government. Grant of this citizenship then takes up to threeyears and is not automatic. Until the Ministry (headed by Ralph O’Neal) approves the grant of citizenship the Governor is not involved, only at this stage does he see a list of names.  So in effect the Government has major input into the grant of citizenship.  Mr O’Neal is always looking for ways to reduce the Governor’s powers.  Whether this is for the good of the country or he wishes to be able to have the grant of citizenship entirely within his power possibly more the good of his party is debatable.


  2. Anonymous says:

    I am not sure this report is entirely accurate. Surely what Mr. O’Neall is referring to is the grant of British Overseas Territories Citizenship by virtue of the individual’s connection with the relevant territory. If so, there is obviously a case to be made for the officials of the relevant territory (rather than simply the Governor) to be involved in that process since it is gives the grantee the basis for residency status in that territory.There is of course no longer any such category of persons as "British Subjects", a term from the predecessor UK legislation.

    For those complaining about British Citizens being treated as foreigners in the terrirotires that is precisely what BOTCs were treated as in the UK right up until the Overseas Territories Act 2002. The Act granted BOTCs British Citizenship and therefore right of abode in the UK on a non-reciprocal basis. That change was quite deliberately only made after the return of Hong Kong to China and there was no threat of Britain being flooded by BOTCs. It is preposterous to suggest that 60m British Citizens should have the right of abode in the territories. This comes from a colonialist mentality – ‘the Englishman ought to have rights in his own territory.’ 

    • O'Really says:

      The fact remains that a BOT citizen now has the right to live and work in the UK. Through this right they can also live and work throughout theEU. UK and EU citizens do not have reciprocal rights, which whilst being completely understandable, nonetheless gives them BOT citizens an advantage. In this respect the playing field is tilted in favour of BOT citizens.

      Since granting BOT citizenship is effectively the same as granting British citizenship, it is completely reasonable for the ultimate authority to grant effective British citizenship to be vested with the UK. 

      With respect to the possibility that BOT citizenship could somehow be granted by the UK to individuals not approved by the Cayman authorities, there seems little practical danger this would happen. The 3 routes to BOT citizenship for Cayman are through residence, marriage and parental relationship. If an individual meets the criteria through marriage or parental relationship, then that individual almost certainly has other rights ( eg to obtain status ) that would allow them to remain in Cayman. With respect to obtaining BOT citizenship through residence, this process requires proof that the individual has status or permanent residence, both of which are within the control of the Cayman immigration authorities.

      • Hanson says:

        Oreally, I don’t if you’re going or coming…

        But we are not talking about BOT’s wanting English papers. Rather, we are talking about citizens from Great Britain wanting British Virgin Islands’ naturalization. The Premier is simply contesting the fact that the Governor has power to do it instead of the Islanders, which should not be the case! 

        • O'Really says:

          I was responding more to the post at 16.30 than the article, but I believe I understood the general point and was making a couple of my own.

          First, that since becoming a BOT citizen means that the individual can become a British citizen with a British passport, it is reasonable for the UK to have authority in this process. We may have to disagree, but I see no rational for allowing the governments of any of the BOT’s to be able to create British citizens.

          Second, based on my knowledge of Cayman’s position, which I have to admit I assumed ( always dangerous ) would reflect more or less BVI’s position, there are only a limited number of ways to apply for naturalisation as a BOT citizen; residence, marriage and through the parent/child relationship. Since the marriage and parent/child relationship paths clearly involve a Caymanian somewhere in the mix, my focus was the residency route. My point was that for Cayman at least, a pre-requisite for being able to apply for naturalisation is that status or permanent residency must have been held for at least a year before an application can be made. Since granting both status and permanent residence are processes very much under the control of immigration, it is not possible therefore for someone ( UK citizen or not ) to apply for naturalisation without any long term connection to the island and being subject to immigration laws. For want of a better description, the immigration laws in Cayman give the Cayman government the power of veto in this process, if not the authority to grant it.

          If the BVI situation differs markedly from Cayman’s and they do not have an effective veto through their immigration laws, fair enough. If this is the case I suggest they change their immigration laws because I don’t see them succeeding in getting the UK to relinquish its authority.

          • Sam says:

            The UK should relinguish its authority!  The people of BVI should be respected. This is just how it ought to be, O’Really, because it is the right thing! Get rid of your views of "who is higher than who," the people of BVI should be treated like a soveriegn entity – just like how they treat the country of "God save the Queen" and have to everytime sing it


            • O'Really says:

              It’s nothing to do with " who is higher than who." If that is how you look at the issue, fair enough, but it’s not how I look at it.

              My position is simple and is nothing to do with respect or lack thereof, but everything to do with how the system works in the real world. Drawing on your example, the UK is a sovereign entity and as such should have the authority to decide who can and cannot be a British citizen. BOT citizens are de facto UK citizens, so under your concept of sovereignty, how do you justify the government of BVI being able to create a citizen of the UK?





    • Anon says:

      mm I think the taking in by Bermuda of the suspected terrorists a couple of months ago show why the UK doesn’t want to give OT’s the power for random people to become British.

      As their Premier said, he wanted to naturalise them then send them over to live in the UK, while taking the nice little payout the US was giving away with them

  3. Anonymous says:

    There were a lot of words here.  I found trying to to work out what was being said by those words impossible.

  4. Anonymous says:


    When British Citizens have the same rights in the Cayman Islands as the people of the Cayman Islands and for that matter all of the overseas territories then they may have a say in this. Until this happens it is preposterous to entertain the idea of a country that gives no rights to British Citizens (treats them as foreigners) being able to issue or award British passports
    • Anonymous says:

      They are foreigners. Don’t be so pompous. The sun set on empire. It’s over. Get used to it.

    • Anonymous says:

      You mean when 700,000 people all come and live here demanding burgers and chips. Bollocks to that – and your argument is baseless. A village in Cornwall has a flood – massisve UK tactical response with helicopters and the works. Ivan – zilch. 


      Don’t complain to Caymanians about lack of equal treatment. 

      • Anon says:

        I know a British lady with a son at a British university living in Cayman. She just got status and it has saved her thousands in tution for her son.

        Why? OT citizens get the same tution rates as UK residents, UK citizens overseas don’t

        Fair treatment?

        Also didn’t we have the Royal Navy here for around a week after Ivan assisting the keeping of the peace? can’t remember seeing them in Cornwall?

        • Ivan Survivor says:

          The Royal Navy ships were following BEHIND hurricane Ivan. After many stressful weeks at sea they came ashore and wanted some hotel rooms for R&R. They were not interested in assisting with security and were quite upset over the unavailability of hotel rooms for them. Big Mac told them to pack their bags and hit the high seas, which is one of his most sensible decisions in my opinion. Those who were here and stood BEFORE the forces of hurricane Ivan had very little sympathy for them and as far as we were concerned it would have been better if they had gone ashore in Cornwall instead.

          • Anonymous says:

            Right….  Royal Navy personnel come ashore on a hurricane ravaged island for some R&R.  Whatcha been smokin’? 

            Actually, the Royal Navy fellows were not authorized to provide security.  They can’t just run ashore, armed to the teeth, wherever they feel like.  Somebody in the UK has to OK that sort of activity.  They did offer what assistance they could, filed a report to the "home office" so that further action could be taken (if approved) and left.

            At that point, Big Mac was in no position to tell anyone to pack anything as a state of emergency had been declared and the Governor, in tandem with other government officials, was seeing to running of the island.

            As far as we are concerned, you probably weren’t even on island for Ivan.

            • Anonymous says:

              Actually, I believe  the Governor of the day asked them to come ashore and provide security. He had authority over them. Nevetheless I understand  the UK countermanded that order, and the next night I got looted. The Royal Navy did not have a good week. Britannia failed to assist, after decades promising they would. Not their finest hour.

              • Anonymous says:

                That could very well be. The comment at the time was, "What you need is security and we are not authorized to provide that."  Would have been nice if someone had authorized them to provide security.

        • Anonymous says:

          The Royal Navy ships here actually refused to assist with security and offered us woolen blankets.

          The helicopters I saw on TV in Cornwall must have been the Russian Navy – sorry, I assumed they were British.

          Oh, and Cayman does not send unqualified lawyers to the UK to arrest sitting Judges…

          ..and then make the UK pay for its screw – ups.

          Fair is fair, I get it, but blindly saying Brits are entitled is shallow minded – anyway, don’t you usually complain about a Caymanian sense of entitlement? 


  5. Anonymous says:

    To Anon:  Are YOU kidding???  We are only now considered british subjects and when the UK is there no more, these naturalised citizens become our problem.  This is our country at the end of the day and we SHOULD have a SAY in who is naturalized.

    Fall flat on the face?  What you think the BVI Government is, they do not back down easily,  They go until they get what they want from the UK.  They have been known to pave the way for other OT’s because the others always have their heads in the sand and araid to approach.  So don’t take the BVI Government lightly.  I guarantee you this will not fall on the face or fall on deaf ears.


    • Anon says:

      Let me quote from your own post:

      From a British National about the UK : This is our country at the end of the day and we SHOULD have a SAY in who is naturalized. Not the BVI, not Cayman

      From a Caymanian about Cayman : This is our country at the end of the day and we SHOULD have a SAY in who is naturalized. Not the UK, not the BVI

      From the BVI about the BVI : This is our country at the end of the day and we SHOULD have a SAY in who is naturalized. Not the UK, not Cayman.

      See the link here? For the BVI to stand up and demand the right to determine who is a British national is totally unacceptable.

      I kinda smiled when you said you could guarantee it.

      I guess we will both find out soon enough who is right and who is wrong?



    • Anon says:

      I’ll tell you what, if you and the BVI want to decide who can become a British citizen (which is what they and you want) then it is only fair that the UK can decide who can become a Caymanian. no?

  6. Anon says:

    This guy is kidding right? If you were the UK would you allow another country to determine who has a right to be called British? NO WAY.

    Put the shoe on the other foot, would Caymanians be happy if the UK were the sole party to determine who is to be considered Caymanian? NO WAY again.

    I think this will fall flat on its face, and it need to.

    • Anonymous says:

      Did not Mac’s 3,000 status grants result in Cayman effectively making 10,000 people (so far) British. I am amazed the UK parliament has not called hearings on it? 

  7. Anonymous says:

    Now that really would be a step in the right direction. We have expatriate criminals here that the UK has naturalized.  They will never be Caymanian, and ought never to get a work permit, they are stuck here and we are stuck with them. We should round them all up and send them to London. 

    • anonymous says:

      What a garbage statement – do you have ANY statistics to back up that horrendous assertion?

      • Anonymous says:

        Yes actually – but (understandably) CNS won’t print the names. Look in to a recent shooting and acquittal for lack of evidence (all the witnesses fled).  Caymanian? No. Naturalized? Yes.

        • Anonymous says:

          And if acquitted they are not a criminal. . . . .

          • Anonymous says:

            So they are of good character then. They could marry your daughter? They could work in a bank? You would grant them your citizenship?

  8. Andrew says:


    The United Kingdom has long time not treated us as EQUALS, and should have allowed us more freedom to politically and economically run our own affairs, because we the people of these Islands, know our own home better than them. They say they want to look out for the best interest of Overseas Territories – our social and political well-being, yet the UK continues to treat the peoples of the territories INFERIOR to the peoples of the UK!

    Of course, we don’t want to tread the path towards Independence or Integration; we don’t need to go either of these extremes for our self-determination. But we do want and need for these Islands, is a PARTNERSHIP with the UK, an equal and reasonable “share in power” that amounts to “Free Association” with her. This is the fair way to go – I see no other way!

    And truly, this is hard for the UK to accept and approve when the United Nations is (in a way) protecting Cayman from their hidden desire to rule over us like colonial days (not bashing the British with conscience). They just love to rule or have the final say over the 50 thousand inhabitants of these Islands, which is a shame and shows the UK’s lack of democratic maturity. Now is the time for the UN watchdogs to crack down on the immaturity of the FCO!

    And what upsets me is that FCO Minister has the audacity to NOW (at this time) call all the OT heads to discuss the situation they have created in the Turks and Cacaos Islands in the name of good governance. They should have done this long time. Moreover, they should have never without the people’s say, “take over” the government. There intervention has done worst for the country’s economy and tourism than before in its corrupt state. It appears their intention was to keep the Turks and Cacaos humble enough to maintain their control and bring up the argument to the UN that the Islanders are not prepared to make national decisions on their own. “You can fool some, but not all the people, all the time!” Governor Jack and his corruption probes against these Islands… his attempts failed for now.

    Don’t get me wrong, people, we need the UK; we have prospered thus far with them, and do wish for this prosperity and “active interest” to continue, because there are people in the UK who mean us well and defend our cause for equality. Others are only seeing us for the money, what they can get from us, and want to continue some modern sort of colonial rule – yes, some even in UK parliament. But it is a shame, shame, shame… that there is no level playing field to this date, between the people of these Islands and the people of the United Kingdom… a total shame!

    When will they ever IMPROVE on their own broken system? We are treated like how a religious Islamic "nut" would treat his own wife – having this “sense of lordship” over her. The UK’ FCO have forgotten that we are people just like them, deserving the same rights and freedoms, and we know more about these Islands than they do.

    Ipray God set the record straight between us!

    • frank rizzo says:

      We will not be equal until we can outgun and outspend the UK. The only entities that "prospered" were the UK Treasury and the colonials who provided the goods (sugar, tea, tobacco, cotton, etc.) that drove the overseas trade and provided the tax base for the UK. In return, the UK did not sell or trade the colonies to the spanish, dutch, or whomever wanted in on the rum business.

      I read the transcripts of the TCI Commission of Inquiry and believe that TCI, still in bad shape, is better off than they were prior to the Commission and that the UK intervention, whilst not perfect, was necessary, warranted, and representative of the needs and wishes of it’s citizens.

    • Anonymous says:

      I’m not going to comment on all your points, but just something on the following: "that there is no level playing field to this date". You are most likely referring to governance here but surely the playing field should be level on all aspects?

      If that is what you want, why not allow all UK nationals to work here without a work permit and not be subject to the roll-over? Only then will you have a level playing field. Until then your view is, sadly like that of most Caymanians, – take, take, take and mine, mine, mine.


      • Anonymous says:


        Come on… be reasonable!  Are you saying that people from the UK should have access into the Cayman Islands like Caymanians have to the UK?

        Equality is good, but you will never have it in this instance!  Maybe, Equality in other instances, but how can it be in this one???  First, Cayman is too little to be in par with Great Britain, huge in size. You can’t have an effective "equal-rule of law" when you have such a contrast between the two, which is not an “equal” itself.

        I hope you are not suggesting that people from the UK can just come here and buy up property as well without having to go through Immigration channels – just because we, Islanders can go to the UK and do the same with little red-tape once we acquire our UK citizenship. If 10,000 Caymanians did this to the UK, it won’t affect the UK! But imagine 10,000 UK citizens coming to Cayman Islands and living here, it would definitely be detrimental to the people of these Islands and its culture. So you’re equality-suggestion in you comment, would not really turn out to be a “fair equal” situation, but a devastation to the tropical beauty, autonomy, and freeness of these Islands.   

        Thus, what appears unequal to you here… is fair to many. In this regard, the Overseas Territory Act 2002 is fair and protective of these Islands, since it upholds our Immigration Department to its rightful place.