Video: Ministers On Long Term Residents

August 2, 2021 | 17 Comments

[Updated] Minister of Labour Jason Hayward and Minister of Finance Curtis Dickinson are holding a press conference this afternoon [Aug 2] regarding the “permanency of Long Term Residents.” We will have additional coverage later on and in the meantime the live video is below.

The Minister said, “The Government proposes to expand the eligibility criteria for the granting of a PRC to include any person who has been ordinarily resident in Bermuda for 20 years or more.”

“The Ministry of Labour has reviewed the fee structure and has determined that the Permanent Resident Certificate application fee shall be reduced from $50,000 to $10,000,” he added.

Update: The live broadcast has concluded and the 29-minute replay is below

Update 3.30: Minister Hayward’s remarks:

Good day to members of the media and the listening public.

Introduction

The Ministry of Labour wishes to inform the public of the Government’s plan to make legislative amendments to address the long-standing challenge of providing a means for Long-Term Residents to secure permanency in Bermuda. This initiative is in direct alignment with the immigration reform strategic priority to achieve a simplified, fair, and modern immigration legislative framework.

As indicated in the November 2020 Speech from the Throne, this Government is committed to making, “revisions to the Bermuda Immigration & Protection Act 1956 that will advance comprehensive immigration reform by providing a framework for persons to obtain permanent residency in Bermuda.”

In August 2000, a Report entitled Bermuda’s Long-Term Residents: A Discussion Paper, was presented to the Legislature by the then Minister of Labour, Home Affairs & Public Safety, the Hon. Paula A. Cox JP. MP. The Report described the untenable situation of Long-Term Residents who have no legal way to regularize their immigration status.

Two decades later Bermuda still struggles with providing many long-term residents with a legal means to secure permanent residency in Bermuda.

Long-Term Residents include persons in a variety of different personal circumstances. For the purposes of the legislative amendments, the Government seeks to define Long-Term Residents to include the following:

  • a. Persons who were born or arrived in Bermuda at an early age, and have been ordinarily resident in Bermuda;
  • b. Persons who have been ordinarily resident in Bermuda seeking to remain and who have continuously contributed to the Bermuda community;
  • c. A divorced parent of a Bermudian child;
  • d. An unwed parent of a Bermudian child; and
  • e. Children of 1st and 2nd generation Permanent Resident Certificate holders who have been ordinarily resident in Bermuda.

Problem Overview

In developing a policy and legislative solution for the issue of Long-Term Residents, the Government has identified three problems it is attempting to address.

1. Problem 1 addresses the issue of Long-Term Residents generally.

Many non-Bermudians have embraced, integrated into, and contributed to Bermuda for an extended period. These non-Bermudians should be afforded some level of security to enable them to remain. This includes but is not limited to:

  • i. Persons who were born in or arrived in Bermuda at an early age, and have been ordinarily resident in Bermuda for an extended period of time;
  • ii. Persons who have continuously worked in Bermuda for a significant period and seek to continue to make Bermuda their home.

The Government has heard the concern from members of our community. There are many individuals who were born in Bermuda or been in Bermuda from an early age, call Bermuda home, but have no way of normalizing their residency in Bermuda. The ability for some of these individuals to remain in Bermuda with their families is tied to their ability to secure a work permit. This issue must be addressed.

2. Problem 2 addresses the issue of Long-Term Residents who are Parents of Bermudian Children

Currently, non-Bermudian parents of children who possess Bermudian Status must leave the island after the child’s 18th birthday. In this case the parent either takes the children with them or is separated from the children. This includes:

  • i. A divorced parent of a Bermudian child; and
  • ii. An unwed parent of a Bermudian child.

As the Minister of Labour, I have experienced first-hand the stress, anxiety and anguish that parents of children with Bermudian Status must face as their children turn 18. Currently, there is no clear provision that will allow a mother or father to remain in Bermuda after a certain age. It is never my intention as Minister, or the intention of this Government, to bring grief to a parent who simply wants to remain in Bermuda with their child. A parent should not have to choose between living with their child or leaving without their child.

3. Problem 3 addresses the issue of 2nd generation PRC holders who are unable to pass on PRC to their 3rd generation children

Persons who obtained a Permanent Resident Certificate, or PRC, under Section 31A of the Act can pass that PRC on to their children, who are the 2nd generation, by means of Section 31B.

However, the children of those 2nd Generation PRC holders, referred to as the 3rd generation children, do not have residency rights in Bermuda, despite, in some cases, being born in Bermuda. The exception to this general situation is those persons in this category who are eligible to apply for PRC until 2022 due to the recent Repatriation & Mixed Status Families legislation passed in 2020. This problem also needs to be addressed.

Proposed Solutions

As a solution to all three problems identified, the Government proposes expanding eligibility for persons to obtain a Permanent Residency Certificate [PRC] outlined as follows:

1. Proposal #1 addresses Long Term Residents Generally

The Government proposes to expand the eligibility criteria for the granting of a PRC to include any person who has been ordinarily resident in Bermuda for 20 years or more. This includes persons who were born in Bermuda or arrived in Bermuda at an early age and have been ordinarily resident in Bermuda, as well as persons who have continuously worked in Bermuda and seek to continue to make Bermuda their home.

2. Proposal #2 addresses Parents of Bermudian Children

The Government proposes to expand the eligibility criteria for the granting of PRC to include the non-Bermudian parent of a child with Bermudian status who has been ordinarily resident in Bermuda for 15 years or more. This includes but is not limited to a divorced parent of a Bermudian child; and an unwed parent of a Bermudian child.

3. Proposal #3 addresses the children of 2nd generation PRC holders

The Government proposes to expand the eligibility criteria to allow Permanent Resident Certificates to children born to 2nd Generation PRC holders who have been ordinarily resident in Bermuda for 10 years or more and are at least 18 years of age.

This Government’s proposals seek to provide a more effective solution for Long-Term Residents living in Bermuda. This solution will enable Bermuda’s Long-Term Residents to gain a Permanent Residency Certificate. It also improves upon the Repatriation and Mixed Status Families amendments made in 2020 and supports the principle that families should not be separated.

The Government’s solution to this long-standing challenge will provide a more fair and consistent process of securing permanency for Long-Term Residents.

Additionally, the policy proposals eliminate gender, racial and financial bias by giving equal opportunity and security of tenure to Long-Term Residents.

The recommended time period required to grant Permanent Resident Certificates to individuals who have been ordinarily resident in Bermuda is very conservative. Approximately 96% of the 200+ jurisdictions examined have significantly shorter time requirements for permanent residency.

The current application fee for a Permanent Resident Certificate under Section 31A of the Act is $50,000. The Ministry of Labour believes this fee is not in alignment with its principle of eliminating gender, racial and financial bias as this fee perpetuates unequal access for persons seeking to normalize their long-term residency.

As such, the Ministry of Labour has reviewed the fee structure and has determined that the Permanent Resident Certificate application fee shall be reduced from $50,000 to $10,000.

The current application fee for a Permanent Resident Certificate under Section 31B of the Act that relates to spouses and children of PRC holders will remain unchanged at $3,150.

Balanced Approach

This Government has taken the balanced approach needed to provide a simple and effective solution for Long-Term Residents to obtain a Permanent Resident Certificate in a fair and reasonable way and provides a sensible solution to the identified problems.

Although we are faced with many challenges, this Government will remain steadfast in moving Bermuda toward a more sustainable future. The policy proposals provide a more effective means for Long-Term Residents to be granted permanent residency thereby allowing families to remain together and allow individuals to continue contributing to the local economy, as well as the social fabric of the community.

Finally, the Government will shortly release a Position Paper on Long-Term Residents to formally articulate the Government’s position as I have described today.

Simply put, the granting of Permanent Resident Certificates to Bermuda’s Long-Term Residents is the right thing to do.

Thank you. The Minister of Finance will now discuss the economic realities facing Bermuda and the critical role of Immigration. After those remarks, we will take questions from the media.

Minister Dickinson’s remarks:

Good afternoon.

I will start my remarks by thanking healthcare workers for all that they have done and continue to do in the midst of a global pandemic. Thank you for your courage, dedication and persistence.

Congratulations to Somerset Cricket Club for winning Cup March 2021! Congratulations to both clubs as well as the organisers for your performance and for your dedication to the sport.

I thank the Minister of Labour for inviting me to join him here today.

Immigration is a key issue in many countries. This is, in part, because rates of net inward migration into developed countries have been rising over the last two decades according to the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development [OECD]. According to the 2016 Census, there are more than 19,000 people residing in Bermuda who were born in another country, accounting for 30% of Bermuda’s population. The population of immigrants is diverse, with just about every region represented.

In the ongoing discussions about immigration policy in Bermuda, the impact of long-term residents on the economy has been a central point of disagreement. Because there are many perspectives, successive Bermuda administrations have adopted a piece-meal approach to resolving the status of such persons in Bermuda.

The notion that the Government can pursue international economic openness by insulating the economy from changes to immigration laws is incorrect. Ignoring this fact demonstrates why it is important to accurately identify the current state. As with all residents, long-term residents add to the labour supply, they consume goods and services, thereby creating jobs. In other cases, they may be job creators. More importantly, they are our friends, our families, and our neighbours. People we see and interact with on a regular basis.

For decades, a gap exists between those who are able to obtain a Permanent Resident Certificate and those who fall under the category of long-term residents as highlighted earlier by the Minister of Labour. The examples of inconsistent immigration policies are confusing, uncertain, and risk averse. We have an opportunity to transition to a more inclusive society by prioritizing our social values in the same way we prioritise other aspects of our economic model to address societal differences.

Bermuda’s birth rate has not kept up with an ageing population and so our future prosperity depends significantly not only on attracting new job makers to Bermuda but also on how we successfully integrate all residents into our society. The population 65 years and older will represent one-quarter of the population in 2026, according to the 2016 Report on Bermuda’s Population Projections, published by the Department of Statistics. In 2019, the birth rate in Bermuda amounted to 8.2 live births per 1,000 inhabitants according to the 2020 Bermuda Digest of Statistics.

In that context, together with the Government’s aspiration to rebuild the economy, in a manner which is consistent with its economic recovery plan, now is the time to accelerate immigration reform for long-term residents within three areas identified by the Ministry of Finance together with our widely recognised specialists on international economics, the Fiscal Responsibility Panel, as follows:

  • Rising health care costs;
  • Rising costs of support for the elderly; and
  • The underfunding of pension schemes.

In the language of finance, it matters a great deal whether long-term residents play complementary roles in the local economy. As for other residents, our revenue model makes little distinction between a Bermudian and other categories of workers. We need to eradicate the notion that we are incapable of transforming beyond this state.

Against this background, the Government of Bermuda considers, that a growth-oriented immigration policy should not be limited to policies related to the entry of new persons into a country. A growth-oriented immigration strategy should also consider persons who have already made their home in Bermuda. An immigration system that allocates all responsibility for fairness and proportionality to lawmakers, should not avoid the necessity for timely reform.

In addition, in addressing the challenges caused by the pandemic, the Government has identified 31 priority initiatives it will move forward with to accelerate medium-term economic growth, in parallel with immigration, health and education reform.

Led by the Cabinet Office, the economic recovery plan will be coordinated by a new team, reporting to the Cabinet Committee on Economic Development and the Premier.

Work is ongoing to stand up this team up. The Government is working with key stakeholders to assist in the staffing of a Project Management Office who will oversee the execution of the Economic Recovery Plan. Updates on the progress of the ERP will be reported regularly.

With that, we are happy to take your questions.

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Comments (17)

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  1. Joe Bloggs says:

    No! The House of Assembly must not be permitted to discuss immigration reform!

    Surround the House of Assembly.! Do not let MPs enter! When the police come, put the elderly and infirm nearest to the police!

    This cannot be allowed!

    Where is the People’s Campaign?

    • Mark says:

      LOLOLOLO…Hypocrisy at its finest…wheres that foreign preacher? What abour furbert? We need to investigate the politicians who drummed up that mass and they should be held accountable.

  2. White Wash says:

    But when the UBPOBA tried to do this it was wrong and people had a mass protest. LOLOLOLOL

    • watching says:

      Its not the same thing, as the UBPOBA wanted to grant status to all these individuals. Status and PRC are two distinctly different things.

      • Joe Bloggs says:

        “Its not the same thing, as the UBPOBA wanted to grant status to all these individuals.”

        Not quite. The UBP/OBA wanted to DISCUSS and DEBATE a way forward. They were not allowed to even do that.

        When Michael Fahey went to Town Hall Meetings to discuss matters with the public he was shouted down by PLP supporters and no real communication was allowed to happen.

        When the OBA sought to debate options in Parliament, the PLP and Rev. Genevieve (using the name Tweed) organised a mass rally to prevent even the discussion of immigration reform.

        But thank you for your spin on matters.

  3. Reg says:

    20 years!?
    It should be 10 – that’s the UN ruling.
    It will get legally challenged.

  4. Sandgrownan says:

    Give them status. Now.

  5. Sara says:

    Isn’t this the whole reason of the pepper spray incident that is STILL being talked about today? Looking back (and hindsight of course is always 20/20) would it have not benefited Bermudians 1000 times more if they had protested perhaps the sugar tax (which caused the price of ALL groceries to escalate even duty free goods such as produce)?

  6. Tightrope says:

    I don’t think charging $10,000 is exactly eliminating gender, racial and financial bias. It should be the $3,150 everyone else pays.

    • Joe Bloggs says:

      Keeping the fee at $10,000 means that “blue collar” workers (such as gardeners or mechanics) will still be unlikely to be able to afford it, so we can continue to use them and dispose of them while keeping the ones with money to spend. It’s all about the dollars, not the people.

  7. Observer says:

    Not good enough, full Bermuda citizenship needs to be offered here. The problem will still exist and that is a declining Bermuda population which in turn creates a stagnation of internal creativity and commerce.

  8. Dunn juice says:

    Shrew de grape vine I hurd, you buy a ,multi million dollar home your auto given prc..
    Not pcr …. ya boy been hanging with the multis again

  9. no mas says:

    they shouldnt be charged a penny. give them what they deserve.

    • Joe Bloggs says:

      “give them what they deserve”

      According to many PLP supporters that would be deportation.

  10. trufth says:

    This is all well and good, and long overdue, but it is merely a govt policy and could be wiped out and nullified at the drop of a hat in the future.

    Nice gesture but it’s nothing more than merely placating and pacifying.

  11. paul says:

    I agree give them status now….this Island is full of elderly people,we need new blood,and also some sensible voters,come on leaders let us here more from you….and voters do not vote on colour we need to vote for the betterment of we Bermudians.

  12. Ringmaster says:

    It seems like everyday the PLP come up with more anti Bermudian regulations. SDO’s to allow more land and property to be sold to non Bermudians; new regulations to allow more PRC and allow them to buy land and property. All the while not a whimper of complaint from the same people who a few years ago were used (and pepper sprayed) and told to march to oppose the same proposals put forward by the OBA. Bermuda really is another world.

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