( Dominica News Online ) Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit has announced that his government has discontinued the granting of citizenship to citizens of distant regions in Iraq, Belarus, and Russia.
Last month the British Home Office said nationals from Dominica who intend to travel to the United Kingdom (UK) must now apply for a visa due to changes in that country’s immigration regime. It was done due to concerns over the island’s (and another country, Vanuata) Citizenship by Investment Program (CBI).
“Careful consideration of Dominica’s and Vanuatu’s operation of a citizenship by investment scheme has shown clear and evident abuse of the scheme, including the granting of citizenship to individuals known to pose a risk to the UK,” Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, said in a statement to the British parliament.
The new visa regime took effect on July 19.
“We have discontinued the granting of citizenship to citizens of distant regions in Iraq, Belarus and Russia,” he revealed. “As a matter of fact, we are the first country that stopped accepting applications from Belarus and Russia.”
He continued, “We’ve issued regulations to restrict the changing of names by citizens because that was one of the concerns raised by the British, that they felt it was too easy for citizens to change their names in Dominica and on my request and with the advice of the attorney general we are putting systems in place to make it more difficult to change their names.”
The Prime Minister explained that all its CBI staff received anti-money laundering and countering terrorism financing training from a United States (US) based firm.
“We restricted the Citizenship By Investment Unit and engaged an expert compliance officer to ensure all procedures are updated and quality control is strictly followed and our IT [Information Technology] system is upgraded,” he revealed.
Furthermore, he indicated that his government issued notices of its intention to revoke the citizenship of citizens who made false declarations or misrepresentations regarding their applications for visas in partner countries.
“This is part of Dominica’s legal requirement,” Mr. Skerrit stated. “We introduced biometric traveling documents to improve security and revised and updated a certificate of naturalization, including by increasing its security features.”
He went on to state that in addition to the due diligence checks conducted by the international firms in the US and the UK along with the JRCC, “we engaged Dominica’s Financial Intelligence Unit to assist with the due diligence process.”
“We also developed a new robust risk assessment and engaged firms in the US or the UK to commence interviews of all CBI applicants,” Mr. Skerrit explained.