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47 foreign nationals granted citizenship

Sunday, December 17, 2017

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KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) — Forty-seven foreign nationals living in Jamaica have been granted citizenship by the Government.

They were presented with documents formalising their status by the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA) during a swearing-in ceremony at the Police Officers’ Club in St Andrew on Thursday.

The ceremony was attended by National Security Minister, Robert Montague, who has portfolio responsibility for PICA.

Montague said the occasion was a time to celebrate the fact that despite the challenges facing the country, there are still hundreds of persons from other nations who want to make Jamaica their home and “want to share this privilege with those of us who are born here”.

Noting that some 2,000 persons were deported from the island last year, with another 537 being denied entry, the minister emphasised that the participants had been afforded an “exceptional privilege” by being granted citizenship.

“We are happy to welcome you. (While) each person has a different background, what unites us is that you are now Jamaicans. You have varying skills and talents, which can now be used to help your new country. You will now take on the duties and responsibilities of Jamaican citizens… and you must take these very seriously,” he added.

Montague encouraged them to engage in community activities and civic duties while honouring their statutory obligations.

Meanwhile, Chief Executive Officer of PICA, Andrew Wynter, pointed out that approximately 3,000 foreigners are granted Jamaican citizenship annually.

He said that the latest batch of 47 persons represents the largest number of candidates granted citizenship on a single occasion, adding that PICA has granted citizenship to some 10,000 persons during its 10 years as an executive agency.

“This is a watershed moment for the agency, as we have come to recognise that there are approximately three to five million Jamaicans in the diaspora who have descendants, relatives and others who are eligible for Jamaican citizenship. It is our intention to reach out to them to be a part of the family of this our great Jamaica,” Wynter said.

Citizenship recipient, Dr Ehis-Oje Pius Areghan, who responded on behalf of the group, described the occasion as an opportunity that “comes with responsibilities”.

“It now becomes our responsibility (as new citizens) to exercise our civic duties, especially to help one another,” he said.

Areghan, who is originally from Nigeria, is based at the Cornwall Regional Hospital in Montego Bay.

“I am happy to be (here). The joy and love I have gotten from Jamaicans, I doubt I would ever get it in any other country,” he added.

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