The experience of “Mr T.” —  who, according to the complaints commissioner, tried unsuccessfully for 30 years to obtain residency here — is by no means unique. In fact, I would hazard a guess that hundreds, maybe thousands, of people have had the same problem. The application process seems to be completely controlled by the staff in the Immigration Department, who play fast and loose with applications just as they wish, long before forwarding them (or not) to higher authority for approval.

They do not appear to follow the law as laid down, and in fact it seems that there is no supervision or auditing of the department by their superiors. Non-response or non-acknowledgment of applications and letters has been the norm for many years.

My own experience was similar, with several years of waiting, with a polite inquiry each year as to the progress of our application. I mean, I don’t count, really. I only set up the basis for the territory’s communications and cable television (I know, I know!).

Eventually I thought, “These people work for the civil service, and the civil service is under the remit of the governor, so I will copy my inquiry letters to him.” This worked like a charm. I got apologetic letters of acknowledgment, and it wasn’t more than a couple of years later that we were called for interview! At that time they were using a questionnaire dated 1965, which had obviously been done on a duplicator!


The immigration officer insisted on asking the questions and filling in the answers herself. One of the questions was “How many countries have you lived in before coming to the BVI?” Fatal to ask me that, eh, readers! I had reeled off six or seven of them when she shouted, “Stop! Just give me the last three!”

We eventually obtained our belongership, but not before the first ceremony was cancelled without informing the recipients!

After the presentation, the then-chief minister said to me, “I suppose you are going to keep writing to the paper?”

“Too right!” I said.

Several of the ministers present said to several of the recipients that they were surprised to know that so-and-so had not already gotten status, having been here for years. Which just goes to show that they are not keeping a handle on the process.

Another interesting fact: When we came back in 1982 after 10 years away, we went down to the police station to see if we could renew our driving licences, which we had kept. To our surprise the officer just turned back two pages in the ledger to find our original applications! It’s all different now.

Other issues

I wish the media, or someone, would clarify what those people in North Sound mean by “superyachts.” We keep seeing pictures of megayachts (motorised small ships), but they are talking about racing and sailing? Do they mean large sailing yachts? I can’t imagine megayachts “racing” around the islands!

Regarding the new television channels, some advance notice would have been nice. The channel changes are said to be due to (a) regional programming requirements (whatever that means) and (b) customer requests. Did they canvas customers? Nobody asked me! And shouldn’t the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission have to agree to such changes? And somebody better tell publications that carry TV guides of the changes so that we can actually see what programmes are on the new channels, and not the original ones. It is noted that the local channels now cost extra over the basic cost, which means a lot of us will have lost the education programmes, local news and emergency communications. That’s really clever of them!

FCO letter

So now the deputy premier is in the limelight over the missing letter sent by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to the premier. Even if the premier did receive it, and maybe didn’t pay much mind to it — or didn’t realise its implications, or plain forgot about it (being busy with meetings in United Kingdom) — that is no excuse for it appearing in the public domain as it did. Certainly there is no contingent liability in this year’s budget, so it was probably overlooked.

Don’t you just love small newspapers’ small ads! Last week we had a “kitchen/sitting room with full bath” (shades of Victorian times), a “walking closet” (watch out), and some land at “House Path”! Finally we have a penthouse with “sheik” decor. Sheik with various spellings is a term for a Middle Eastern gentleman. The word should be “sheek,” which is a misspelling of the French word “chic,” and if you spell chic like that you have no idea what you are talking about! I need to get out more!