Prime Minister of Dominica, Dr Roosevelt Skerrit, addressed the nation after the United Kingdom suspended the visa waiver. He added that every country has the right to continuously review its immigration policies and attitudes to address contemporary challenges and opportunities.
He emphasized that the issue of immigration is multi-layered and both a challenge and an opportunity for all nations.
“The decision of the United Kingdom to suspend visa-free access for holders of passports from a number of countries, including Dominica, must be understood in that general context. The British Government has made it clear that this decision to suspend visa-free access does not represent a deterioration of relations between the two nations, nor it is indicative of any diplomatic or other fallout.”
Prime Minister said that the UK had cited concerns for Dominica’s CBI Programme earlier. He assured the public that several changes have already been made to the structure and management of the programme. He added that the Government will continue to strengthen the programme’s structure and management in the weeks and months ahead.
He added that the Commonwealth of Dominica has one of the most proactive and robust due diligence procedures. Adding that, the country vets all individuals seeking to attain second or alternative citizenship.
“The multi-layered process is multi-layered and managed by some of the top-rated due diligence agencies based in the United Kingdom and the United States.”
Prime Minister said that Dominica took the lead in the region by implementing six CBI principles proposed by the United States, including the implementation of interviews for applicants for the citizenship by investment programme.
“The steps highlight Dominica’s commitment to cooperation with international stakeholders to increase the due diligence process with the aim to reduce threats posed by illicit actors,” he added.
Furthermore, he added that countries offering citizenship by investment programmes in the Caribbean are utilizing a proactive approach in addressing international concerns about the programme.
He added that Dominica is also very cooperative and implementing different measures to clamp down on individuals who may want to use these programmes as entry points to countries like the United Kingdom.
PM said that the due diligence procedures carried out by Dominica are one of the finest and leave very little chance for illicit individuals to be accepted without suspicion.
Prime Minister Skerrit said that the checks happen on the ground, online and now in person following the implementation of mandatory interviews that must take place.
Notably, PM Skerrit said that the country will continuously evolve due diligence processes and ensure they meet international standards.
“As a matter of fact, we shall engage the services of a European-based entity that shall come in to do a comprehensive review of our entire programme,”.
He also added that the UK is also setting up its own Electronic Travel Authorization Programme where anyone entering the UK who does not require a visa to apply for an ETA to enter the UK.
“We appreciate that, at this time, the imposition of visa requirements will create an inconvenience for many of our citizens who visit the UK for vacation, to visit family and who transit the UK frequently. This, however, does not prevent Dominicans from travelling to or through the United Kingdom. Dominicans are still welcome in the United Kingdom,”.
Prime Minister Skerrit said that the British Government introduced a progressive programme to facilitate travel for Dominicans seeking entry into the United Kingdom.
He said that to ensure minimal disruption to Dominicans residing in their homeland, the Government has set up an innovative system. Following this setup, applicants can now conveniently submit their visa applications online and have access to an on-demand office located in Dominica. This office will enable them to submit their biometric data and finalize their visa procedures efficiently.
Moreover, Prime Minister said he recently assumed the chairmanship of CARICOM with a bold agenda to ensure the deepening of the regional integration movement.
“By March next year, all Dominicans, not just a special category of people, will be able to move freely among the many nations which are members of the CARICOM; this Caribbean shall increasingly become your home, and home of all its people free to leave, work and play. We have come to understand the ability of seamlessly move people, goods, and services around the region and beyond.