Passport of St. Kitts and Nevis.
Passport of St. Kitts and Nevis.

On Thursday (May 16), Prime Minister Timothy Harris clarified any misperception as it relates to his Cabinet’s recent policy shift regarding the number of years an individual can be married before citizenship can be granted, noting that the Cabinet took into consideration the provisions provided to persons under the Constitution of St. Kitts and Nevis.

The Cabinet of the Government of National Unity approved that effective Monday, May 13, 2019, the Ministry of National Security can now process application for citizenship by marriage on requests subject to the relevant legal documentation being provided.

In clarifying his Government’s reasons for its decision, Prime Minister Harris stated the Cabinet took note of the Constitutional provision at clause 92 [of Chapter VIII] which states that, “The following persons shall, if they do not already possess citizenship, be entitled, upon making application, to be registered as citizens: (a) any person who is married to a citizen…”

Dr. Harris said, “What happened at some period in the past under the former administration, a decision was taken to impose a three-year requirement before a person who got married could in fact apply. In recent times, as the environment gets more litigious, lawyers and other persons versed in the law and versed in the issue of justice have come to the Government; they have gone to the Governor General; they have written and said that that policy decision run counter to the Constitutional provision that they are entitled.”

After thorough research and in conjunction with the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs, the Cabinet concluded that there is no legal requirement to prevent persons from obtaining citizenship by marriage except for any unwritten policy which seems to be at variance with the law.

Harris noted that the Cabinet acted upon the advice from the Attorney General’s Office “to avoid these matters going to the courts of law and persons being vindicated at a heavy cost to the Government.”

“The policy, for whatever good the intention may be, could not subsist in the face of the Constitution and the law, so we have simply said we will abide by the law,” Harris said.

He said that there still remains a strict due diligence process that follows a person’s application for citizenship through marriage “to ensure that the person is a fit and proper person” for St. Kitts and Nevis citizenship.