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48 persons received their certificates of naturalisation and are now British Overseas Territories Citizens.
At a ceremony at Government House earlier today, His Excellency the Governor Mr. John S. Duncan, OBE distributed the certificates and stated that he was glad to be a part of an event where persons are committing themselves loyally to new ties which would stay with them for the rest of their life.
“Many of you will have harboured this ambition for years. I hope and imagine that all of you are feeling a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction in attaining this citizenship status, conferring as it does the right to carry a BVI passport,” Governor Duncan said.
The Governor added, “To my mind this is a highly enriching process from which you as individuals and the BVI as a Territory can all gain. It has to be achieved within a clear set of rules and procedures. The controlled intermingling of cultures, ways of thinking, knowledge and skills, if properly managed, brings with it very clear and tangible benefits and rewards to our community.”
Acting Premier Honourable Ronnie W. Skelton congratulated the new citizens on making this step which cements their commitment to the Virgin Islands.
The Acting Premier said, “With Naturalisation comes new benefits and privileges. Over the years many of you have made remarkable contributions to the growth of this Territory. I urge you to take advantage of your new privileges and continue to make your contribution to these Virgin Islands.”
Meanwhile Registrar General Mrs. Stephanie Benn, who chaired the proceedings, urged the recipients to take care of their certificates and to avoid laminating the documents, as they will be needed on various occasions to show their status.
Mrs Benn said, “Today, you become citizens of the Virgin Islands and will be entitled to enjoy the constitutional rights that come with citizenship. The true test however, of citizenship is being truly committed to giving back; reaching out and touching someone’s life; being faithful and making a meaningful difference in the lives of your neighbors and communities.”
Following the distribution of their naturalisation certificates at the ceremony, the new citizens recited the Oath of Allegiance to Her Majesty the Queen, as well as a Pledge of Loyalty to the British Virgin Islands, before joining hands and singing “Reach Out and Touch - Somebody’s Hand”.
Other senior officials at today’s ceremony included the Acting Deputy Secretary in the Deputy Governor’s Office Mrs. Helen Seymour and the Acting Chief Immigration Officer Mr. Ian Penn.
Naturalisation is a process under the British Nationality Act of 1981 by which persons can become citizens of the Virgin Islands. Naturalised citizens become British Overseas Territory Citizens and as such they may obtain a Virgin Islands passport and are eligible for a United States visa waiver and can apply to register as a British citizen of the United Kingdom.