An additional 44 foreign nationals living in Jamaica have been granted citizenship by the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA).
They were presented with their certificates and other documents during PICA’s fourth swearing-in ceremony for candidates, at The Knutsford Court Hotel in New Kingston on Thursday (June 27).
The group comprises 19 women, 17 men and eight children from 17 countries, including Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Canada, Cuba, Guyana, Haiti, Hong Kong, India, Nigeria, Philippines, Russia, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States of America, and Venezuela.
Nine of the recipients are descendants of Jamaicans; 20 have been granted citizenship by virtue of being married to Jamaicans; 11 are from Commonwealth countries; one individual has attained citizenship by naturalisation; while three minors have been registered as citizens.
PICA’s Chief Executive Officer, Andrew Wynter, said the ceremony “brings to life” the National Motto – ‘Out of Many, One People’ – adding that “as of today, you [new citizens] will enjoy the rights and privileges of born Jamaicans”.
He noted that acquiring citizenship is special, “as it is one of the highest honours that a country can give to a person who does not have birthright”, and as such, “is to be treated with respect and deeply appreciated”.
Mr. Wynter acknowledged the “great sacrifices” that many of the newly minted citizens have made, “to be members of this wonderful country we call Jamaica”.
In her remarks, PICA’s Director of Citizenship, Carol Saunders Hammond, who presided over the swearing-in exercise, noted that many of the applications received for citizenship are generally from persons of Jamaican heritage living overseas, who are able to apply locally or from the diaspora.
“We are hoping to make the service more accessible to the diaspora soon, as many persons by descent desire to connect with Jamaica and their roots and contribute to the development of Jamaica. This is good, as we recognise the importance of our total contribution, wherever in the world you are, as a Jamaican,” she said.
For his part, newly minted citizen, Jerry Bayeshea, who originates from Nigeria and who responded on behalf of the recipients, expressed gratitude to the authorities for considering and facilitating their applications.
“We understand the importance of adding value to this great nation and, to that extent, I want to promise, on behalf of myself and other members, that we will do our best to contribute… to the social, political and economic growth of this great nation,” he added.