Government of the Turks and Caicos Islands
Ministry of Home Affairs and Public Safety
Introduction and Essential Definitions
This serves as a means of informing the public about the facts concerning Naturalisation. In order to do this, we must first explain some common but often misunderstood terms.
A Belonger is an individual who is free from immigration restrictions in relation to the amount of time they may remain in the islands, having acquired Belonger status under the relevant law. Belonger status is acquired in the following ways:
By a person who,
- was born in the Islands, and at the time of his birth at least one of his parents had Belonger status
- was born outside the Islands and
- (i) at least one of his parents had Belonger status at the time of his birth ; and
- (ii) at least one of his parents was born in the Islands;
- was born outside the Islands and lawfully adopted in the Islands by a person who had Belonger status at the time of his adoption;
- has been granted a Certificate of Belonger Status by the Governor for having made a significant social or economic contribution to the development of the islands.
- is the dependent child of a person to whom any of the foregoing paragraphs apply; or
- is the spouse of a Belonger who has made an application to the Governor in Cabinet, and has lived with his spouse for a period of five consecutive years.
Naturalisation is the process whereby an individual becomes a British Overseas Territories Citizenship (B.O.T.C). Because the Turks and Caicos Islands are an overseas territory of Great Britain, we do not have our own nationality status. Naturalisation is not Belonger status.
Registration is the process by which a minor (child under 18) acquires British Overseas Territories Citizenship.
- Freedom from Immigration Control
To be free from Immigration Control, one must have immigration status in the Turks and Caicos Islands. There are only two ways to be free from Immigration control in the Turks and Caicos Islands, to be either a Belonger or a Permanent Resident.
- Legal Requirements
The things one must demonstrate in order to become naturalised, as described in the British Nationality Act of 1981 (BNA).
- Sound Mind
You must have the ability to make your own decisions. A person will not be considered to be of a sound mind if they do not understand the purpose of making an application for naturalisation.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN NATURALISATION AND BELONGER STATUS?
Belonger status and naturalisation are two terms which are very often misunderstood. A person may be a British Overseas Territories Citizen (deriving that status from a connection with the Turks and Caicos Islands) without being a Belonger of the Turks and Caicos Islands. As well as a person may be a Belonger of the Turks and Caicos Islands and not be a British Overseas Territories Citizen.
Because the Turks and Caicos Islands are a dependency of Britain, we do not have our own citizenship. According to British Law, dependent territories fall under the British Dependent Territories Citizenship, which means that they do not have "right of abode" in the United Kingdom. The description "British Dependent Territories" originated in the British Nationality Act of 1981. The British Dependent Territories were left to determine what link there should be between citizenship and immigration control. The immigration laws in each dependent territory determine who has a "right of abode" in the particular Country. The United Kingdom is a single jurisdiction, for immigration purposes; the dependent territories are not, although they share a single citizenship. Each Dependent Territory has its own immigration laws. Unless and until any territory chooses otherwise, citizenship is not relevant to immigration control.
Belonger status does not refer to nationality. Belonger status gives all the rights which normally come with citizenship, however there is one difference; it does not give you nationality. Nationality comes from Great Britain, which the Turks and Caicos Islands is a colony of. Only a Belonger has the constitutional right to be free of immigration control - having what in the United Kingdom is termed "right of abode". Belonger status is of profound importance in the Islands. Only Belongers have all the rights which are normally associated with citizenship, such as voting.
Your immigration status is very important in determining whether you qualify to make an application for citizenship through naturalisation. The reason for this is that no person may be naturalised unless he/she is free from immigration control. Only a person who has a Belonger status or Permanent Residence Certificate is free from such restriction. The grant of naturalisation does not free a person from any conditions attached to a Permanent Residence Certificate, nor does it give Belonger status.
Naturalisation is for the sole purpose of obtaining British Overseas Territories Citizenship (BOTC) which gives a person the right to a BOTC Passport.
AUTOMATIC ACQUISITION OF CITIZENSHIP UNDER THE 1948 BRITISH NATIONALITY ACT (BNA)
Citizens under this Act were called Citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies(C.U.K.C) It was acquired in the following ways:
By birth where
- A person was born in the T.C.I after the 1st of January 1949 and before the 1st of January 1983.
By descent where
- A person was born after the 1st of January 1949 and before the 1st of January 1983 where that person's legitimate father was a citizen otherwise than by descent at the time of his birth.
AUTOMATIC ACQUISITION UNDER THE 1981 BNA.
Persons acquiring Citizenship under this act were referred to as British Dependent Territories Citizens, and they acquired it in the following ways:
By birth where
- He/she was born in the T.C.I after the 1st of January 1983 and at the time of his birth his legitimate father or mother was a B.D.T.C, or was free from immigration restrictions to remain in the islands.
- A new born baby is found abandoned after the 1st of January 1983.
By adoption where
- After the 1st of January 1983 an adoption order is made in respect of a minor who is not already a B.D.T.C, where the adopter is a B.D.T.C. In this case the minor will be a B.D.T.C as from the date of the adoption order.
By descent where
- A person is born outside the T.C.I after the 1st of January 1983, and at the time of his birth his legitimate father or his mother is a B.D.T.C otherwise than by descent, that is either by birth or by Naturalisation.
HOW DO YOU QUALIFY FOR NATURALISATION?
Legal Requirements for Naturalisation
Each applicant must meet the following legal requirements before submitting an application for Naturalisation:
- Must be aged 18 or older when you apply
- Must be of sound mind, so that you understand the steps you are taking
- Intend to continue to live in the Turks and Caicos Islands, or to continue in Crown Service.
- Must be able to communicate in English to an acceptable degree, as determined by the Immigration Officer conducting the interview process.
- Must be of good character.
- Must have held their Belonger Status or Permanent Residence Certificate for a period of at least12 months prior to making an application for naturalisation.
- Must be resident in the Turks and Caicos Islands for a minimum of five years before making an application for naturalisation.
- For those persons applying on the basis of marriage to a BOTC in addition to 1-6 above, you must have been resident in the Turks and Caicos Islands for a minimum of three (3) years.
RESIDENTIAL QUALIFYING PERIOD
You MUST have been physically present in the Turks and Caicos Islands 5 years before the application date (3 years if married to a British Overseas Territories Citizen). The application date is the date on which your application for naturalisation is received by the Ministry of Home Affairs. For example if your application is received on 20/08/2007 you should have been physically present in the Turks and Caicos from 21/08/2002 (or 21/08/2004 if married to a British Overseas Territories Citizen). The Period between this date and the application date is called the residential qualifying period.
Time spent in the Turks and Caicos Islands while exempt from immigration control (for example, as a diplomat) or while in any place of detention, (or unlawfully absent from such a place) does not count as residence in the Turks and Caicos Islands for the purpose of calculating the residential qualifying period. It is usually treated as absence from the Turks and Caicos Islands.
BREACH OF IMMIGRATION LAW/ IMMIGRATION TIME RESTRICTIONS
You should not have been in breach of Immigration law during the residential qualifying period. You should not have been here illegally. In other words you must have had the necessary permission under the immigration laws to be in the Turks and Caicos Islands. Your application may be refused if you have been in breach of immigration laws during the residential qualifying period.
In addition you must have been free from immigration control for at least 12 months prior to the submission of your application for naturalisation. The only exception to this requirement is for those persons making applications on the grounds of marriage to a British Overseas Territories Citizen.
ABSENCES FROM THE TURKS AND CAICOS ISLANDS
During the 5 year period you should not have been absent from the Turks and Caicos Islands for more than 450 days of which no more than 90 days should have been taken in the last 12 months. If you are married to a British Overseas Territories Citizen you should not have been absent for more than 270 days during the last 3 years, of which no more than 90 days should have been taken in the last 12 months. There is discretion to allow absences above these normal limits.
- Applicants who have been outside the Turks and Caicos Islands for 6 months or more in any one of the 5 years residence period would have 'broken' their residence. However, this does not apply where the applicant has been Absence from the Turks and Caicos Islands, for a period not exceeding 12 months for an important reason such as pregnancy and childbirth, serious illness, study or vocational training, or an overseas posting.
A child born in an Overseas Territory may be entitled to registration as a BOTC if:
- Prior to the child's birth, one of the parents becomes a BOTC. Application must be made before age 18.
- The child lives in the Country until age 10.
FILLING IN THE APPLICATION FORM
You must ensure that your name, date of birth, and the place and country where you were born are clearly written in BLOCK LETTERS, using black or blue ink. These details will be shown on your certificate. Any mistake you make is likely to end up on your certificate and may cause difficulties and delay in you becoming a British Overseas Territories Citizen or obtaining a British Overseas Territories Citizen Passport.
Make sure that all the information is correct before you submit your application. It is a criminal offence to give false information knowingly or recklessly.
Applying for naturalisation is a straightforward process, which does not require the use of specialist agencies. You should be capable of applying successfully by following procedures provided in this guide and ensuring that you are able to satisfy the requirements.
All information you provide will be treated in confidence but may be disclosed to Government Departments and the Police where it is necessary for Immigration or nationality purposes, or to enable these bodies to carry out their own functions.
Enter the date you were given indefinite leave to enter/remain in the Turks and Caicos Islands, for example the date of issue on your Permanent Residence or Belonger Status Certificate.
Enter your surname or family name as you want it to appear on your certificate.
Enter your other names as you want them to appear on your certificate.
Enter your present nationality. If you do not have a nationality then insert "stateless".
Enter your date of birth, the Island or the Country where you were born. Please be cautious when filling in these entries as they will appear on your certificate of naturalisation. If they are different from the details shown in your passport/birth certificate you should explain why through an affidavit.
Indicate your marital status by ticking the appropriate box.
Enter your full present address and telephone number.
It would be helpful if you would provide contact details through a mobile telephone number or e-mail address to enable us to contact you in a timely manner.
If your application is approved, you will need to take part in a citizenship ceremony, where you will have to take the Oath of Allegiance. This may take place in Grand Turk or Providenciales, which will be decided by The Governor.
Enter the date you first arrived with the intention of remaining in the Turks and Caicos Islands on a long-term basis. Remember that one of the legal requirements for naturalisation is that you must have been resident in the Turks and Caicos Islands for 5 years (3 years if married to a BOTC) prior to the submission of an application for naturalisation. If you came to the Turks and Caicos Islands as an illegal entrant you must have evidence that you were here legally during the residential qualifying period.
Fill in the table showing the periods you have been away from the Turks and Caicos Islands during the last 5 years ( 3 years if you are married to a British Overseas Territories Citizen). Insert the number of days you were away from the Turks and Caicos Islands in the last column ignoring the day you left and the day you arrived back in the Turks and Caicos Islands. If there is not enough room for all your absences then continue overleaf. Add up the total and write it in the space indicated. You should also check that you were physically present in the Turks and Caicos Islands 5 years (3 years if you are married to a British Overseas Territories Citizen) before the date that the application will be received by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
To be of good character you should have fulfilled your duties and obligations as a resident of the Turks and Caicos Islands. Checks will be carried out to ensure that the information you provide is correct. If you are not honest about the information you provide and you are naturalised on the basis of incorrect or fraudulent information your British Overseas Territories Citizenship is liable to be taken away and you will be prosecuted. It is a criminal offence to make a false declaration knowing that it is untrue.
You do not have to give details of family law proceedings such as divorce, decrees, guardianship orders, parental responsibility orders etc.
You must give details of all criminal convictions.
Criminal record checks will be carried out in appropriate cases. If you do not declare any conviction, your application may fail.
WHAT IF YOU HAVEN'T BEEN CONVICTED BUT YOUR CHARACTER MAY BE IN DOUBT?
You must say if there is any offence for which you may go to court or which is awaiting hearing in court. This includes having been arrested for an offence and waiting to hear if you will be formally charged. If you have been arrested and not told that charges have been dropped, or that you will not have to appear in court, you may wish to confirm the position with the police. You must inform us if you are arrested or charged with an offence after you make your application and while the application is under consideration.
You must say whether you have been involved in anything which might indicate that you are not of good character. You must give information about any of these activities no matter how long ago this was. Checks will be made in appropriate cases. If you are in any doubt about whether you have done something or it has been alleged that you have done something which might lead us to think that you are not of good character, you should say so.
You must also say whether you have had any involvement in terrorism. If you do not regard something as an act of terrorism but you know that others do or might, you should mention it. You must also say whether you have been involved in any crimes in the course of armed conflict, including crimes against humanity, war crimes or genocide. If you are in any doubt as to whether something should be mentioned, you should mention it.
You must provide two recent passport sized photographs of yourself. Each photograph must show the whole of the front of your face in reasonable light. It should not show your face wholly or partly concealed by your hair (beards, sideburns and moustaches are an exception) or by a scarf or traditional dress. It should not show you wearing dark glasses or a hat, hood, cap or scarf.
Your application must be endorsed by two referees. Referees must have known you personally for at least 5 years. One referee should be a person of professional standing, such as a doctor, a minister of religion, civil servant or a member of a professional body e.g. accountant or Attorney (but not representing you with this application). The other must be the holder of a current British Overseas Territories Citizen passport. Each should be:
- Aged 25 years or over
- Not related to you
- Not related to the other referee
- Not your Attorney or agent representing you with this application
DECLARATION BY APPLICANT
Before signing the declaration, you must ensure that all the information entered on your application form is true and correct to the best of your knowledge and belief.
You must sign the form yourself. If you cannot sign you must make a mark or a fingerprint and ask one of your referees to sign saying that it is your mark or fingerprint.
If the declaration is not completed, it will be invalid. You must sign the form to ensure it is valid.
WHAT DOCUMENTS SHOULD I SEND WITH THE APPLICATION?
This section tells you the documents you will need to send for us to consider your application. Applications will not be accepted unless we have supporting documents.
ALL APPLICATIONS FOR NATURALISATION AS A BRITISH OVERSEAS TERRITORIES CITIZEN MUST INCLUDE:
Evidence of identity
- Your passport or birth certificate
APPLICATIONS MADE ON THE BASIS OF RESIDENCE IN THE TURKS AND CAICOS ISLANDS
Evidence of lawful residence during the 5 (or, if the applicant is married to a British Overseas Territories Citizen, 3) years before the date of the application
- Your passport OR say why you are unable to provide one on page 13
- Letters from employers, educational establishments or other Government Departments indicating the applicant's presence in the Turks and Caicos Islands during the relevant period OR
- Letter confirming that you were enrolled in a course of study.
If you are a self-sufficient person
- Evidence of funds in the form of bank accounts covering the relevant period.
If you are retired
- Evidence that you are receiving pension.
If you have been unable to engage in economic activity due to incapacity
- Submit a doctor's letter or medical report as confirmation of this. The doctor's letter or medical report should state if the incapacity is likely to be permanent.
APPLICATIONS MADE ON THE BASIS OF MARRIAGE TO A BRITISH OVERSEAS TERRITORIES CITIZEN
- The applicant's husband or wife's passport and/or birth certificate AND
- Marriage Certificate
Once you have completed and signed the application form and enclosed the documents, you must arrange to pay the correct fee at the Government Treasury. Exact cash amount is preferred.
NOTE: It is important that you be cautious in completing the form and in making sure that you satisfy the requirements for naturalisation. You also need to make sure that you have paid the correct fee as stated on the application form. If you do not pay the correct fee your application will be returned to you unprocessed.
WHAT CAN YOU EXPECT FROM US
ALL APPLICATIONS MUST BE SUBMITTED IN PERSON at the Ministry of Home Affairs in Grand Turk, or the PRC Office in Providenciales. Once we have received your application we will compile a file with your application and accompanying documents, assign a file number and enter the information into a database.
The documents will be checked to ensure their authenticity. If you provide forged or fraudulently obtained documents you may be investigated and prosecuted.
Your file will then be sent to the Attorney General's Chambers in Grand Turk, where the Legal Requirements will be checked, to ensure that you qualify to be naturalised.
Once the legal requirements have been met, it will be sent to the Governor's Office for signature. At some point soon after the Governor signs the Certificate of Naturalisation, you will be called to arrange the taking of the Oath of Allegiance. We undertake to process your application quickly and in accordance with the law and agreed policy and procedures. We will deal with any enquires courteously and promptly. You must keep us informed of any changing circumstances including change of address or contact numbers.
You may be asked to attend an interview. You may be asked to give more details about your application. The person interviewing you will expect you to talk without an interpreter.
If your application is unsuccessful we will write and tell you why. You will be allowed to make representations if you consider that a decision to refuse your application was not soundly based on nationality law or prevailing policy and procedure as described. Representations must explain why you think we have not correctly applied the law and policy in your case. We will respond either by confirming that law and policy had been correctly applied or by answering particular points you may raise concerning the way that law and policy were applied.
While we try to deal with cases quickly this cannot be guaranteed and you can not be naturalised until we are satisfied that all the requirements have been met. There is a general waiting period of 3 months from the date your application is received by our office. This is however, only if your application has been filled out completely and all supporting documents have been certified or notarized as required and attached.
The length of time you have to wait for your application to be decided will not affect your existing rights in the Turks and Caicos Islands.
DEPRIVATION OF CITIZENSHIP
You may be deprived of British Overseas Territories Citizenship, if it is found to have been obtained by fraud, false representation or the concealment of any material fact. The Governor may also deprive you of British Citizenship if, in his opinion, it would be in the public interest for him to do so and you would not thereby be made stateless. A certificate of naturalization will, as a matter of law, be ineffective from the outset if it is obtained by means of impersonation.
WHAT WE EXPECT FROM YOU
Applications will be considered quickly, usually within 3 months of receipt. We expect you to respond to enquires or requests for documents within the period we allow.
While the application is under consideration we expect you to tell us about anything which alters the information you have given us. This will include changes of marital status or home address. It also includes police investigation or anything that may result in charges or indictment.
We also expect that you treat our officials politely and with respect. GOOD CHARACTER INCLUDES YOUR ATTITUDE TO OFFICIALS.
CITIZENSHIP CEREMONIES- TAKING OF OATH OF ALLEGIANCE
WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO DO?
At the ceremony you will be asked to affirm or swear an oath of allegiance to Her Majesty the Queen. Following this, you will be presented with your certificate of naturalisation as a British Overseas Territories Citizen.
Making the Oath (or Affirmation) and Pledge at a citizenship ceremony is a legal requirement, and the point at which you will become a British Overseas Territories Citizen. You are therefore expected to attend the ceremony. If you have a special need or concerns about saying the Oath (or Affirmation) and Pledge in English, you should bring these to the attention of the Governor's Office once you have been notified of the date.
We hope that this guide has helped you to prepare and successfully apply for British Overseas Territories Citizenship.