Barbados PM admits citizenship applications “not dealt with for over 12 years”

Prime Minister David Thompson admitted yesterday what anyone who has applied for Barbados citizenship in the past decade already knows: there really aren’t any clear rules and the system is a mess.

What Thompson didn’t say is how some people just sail right through the system and others never make it.

Money can grease the wheels sometimes, but other times it doesn’t seem to matter. Many folks – some rich and some ordinary – arrive in Barbados thinking that a decade of hard work and commitment, or marriage, will gain them citizenship as the law apparently says. I say “apparently” because, as the PM points out, there is a large element of “whimsical Ministerial or other discretionary and flimsy entitlements” that are in play.

So a word to foreign spouses, investors and retirees… whatever nice stories you’ve been told about obtaining Bajan citizenship aren’t worth the paper they’re not printed on.

Buy your house, promote the country, be a good sport and make a positive contribution to Barbados. Enjoy your 10 year vacation – because without citizenship your stay could end any time a government official gets “whimsical”. And that is the truth right from the Prime Minister’s mouth.

Good luck to the DLP government as they try to restructure a government service that is infested with the friends, relatives and supporters of the last BLP administration.

Read the Prime Minister’s press release: Barbados: Green paper on Immigration laid in house


Filed under Government, Immigration

25 responses to “Barbados PM admits citizenship applications “not dealt with for over 12 years”

  1. Frustrated

    As I read this article, I couldn’t help getting a little angry.
    My wife is Barbadian, I am Canadian, and we’ve having been waiting patiently for over three years and haven’t heard a peep from the immigration dept.
    I’m sure my application is sitting on, or in a desk drawer somewhere, never to be seen again.
    The immigration dept needs a ground up rebuild as right now its highly disfunctional.

  2. civilsociety

    There are so many intelligent, really qualified famillies on the waiting list! As a Barbadian, I think we should want many of these people to become Barbadian, and we should be proud that they have chosen our country. It is like the reverse of the brain drain scenario so many of our neighbours are facing. Prime Minister wake up and start reviewing these applicants because they are getting frustrated! They will move their money and their brain power out of here, and that would not be good for us.

  3. permres

    I am married to a Barbadian, we are both pensioners bringing in four pensions (two each)from the UK, and my current status is permanent residency (as my username implies!) I have not yet applied for citizenship, but I do think it would be NISE (!) if I was invited to do so.

  4. J

    Good luck to the DLP government as they try to restructure a government service that is infested with the friends, relatives and supporters of the last BLP administration.

    “infested” BFP? That is a bad word.

    What would you have any government of Barbados do?

    Fire every civil servant every time there is an election? You think that that would lead to better governance?

    That said I believe that most civil servants are capable and indeed do carry out their duties in a non-partisan fashion.

  5. Hants

    @ permres

    I am inviting you to apply for citizenship of Barbados.

    I am sure you may qualify but the system requires you apply like ever other non barbadian.

  6. Bradley 432

    I assume that you hold British Citizenship. Were you invited,NISEly to become a British Citizen?

  7. reality check

    “Fire every civil servant every time there is an election? You think that that would lead to better governance?”

    No just fire the ones standing in the way of accountability and doing their job. There are a number of very competent bureaucrats that just need clear direction and be allowed to do their job without political interference.

    Immigration should be supplying a list of the applicants to appropriate Ministry each month and a recommendation for acceptance or denial and the reasons for the recommendation. If the list doesn’t move significantly each month then people need to be replaced regardless of tenure.

    The alternative is more of the same which is nothing and not acceptable.

  8. permres

    Many thanks, Hants, that was nise!

    I really meant an invitation from the Government, making us really feel that we are welcome and wanted.

    A bit like, I guess, how I receive a birthday card from Sagicor for my life policy (I guess they hoping I am still alive!), and Emerald City for my patronage. perhaps the Government could send me their invitation every five years after an election, along the lines of:

    “Dear Mr. ….,
    We notice you have still not applied for your citizenship. We are very pleased you have chosen Barbados for your retirement, and hope that you are enjoying your stay with us.

    “We look forward to receiving your application in the near future, and feel free to enclose any comments you may care to make which might contribute to the further development of our beautiful (I hope you agree!) country.

    “Yours …..
    The new Government.”

  9. permres

    Well actually, Bradley 432, I was a bit too young to be invited. I was born there!

  10. Don’t want you to feel like the lone rangers with things like this.
    It’s pretty much the same here in The Bahamas.
    I think you’ll find all our laws give the “Minister” that latitude on everything, not just immigration matters.

  11. gosh !

    What a full hearted invite for permres, with his british pension and all. good for him. Bajans are so kind to this man who has travelled thousands of miles away.Now can i come too with my guyanese pension ? i was here once upon a time helping to build this beautiful country. Please sir .. Mr Hants, i shacked with a beautiful Bajan girl but we never got married. We do have 2 beautiful children who have lived on the island all their lives..what you think ?

  12. John Da Silva

    They really need to get rise of “Ministerial Discretion” and make every government department follow a clearly established and documented set of policies. This will go a long way to improve service from government departments and help to reduce corruption as well.

  13. Dennis Jones (aka Living in Barbados)

    @permres, with no disrespect intended. Governments should not be expected to ‘invite’ individuals to be citizens. That should be something the person chooses freely. Where you get ‘invited’ it is usually for odd reasons (look at countries that sell citizenships). Further, the machinery of government should not be looking so closely at individuals as to know that certain new arrivals are ‘worthy’ of keeping: that would open a sinister box.

    If you want to become a citizen, then I suggest apply. Then if you are blocked you have a set of reasons for objection. There are many who wish to be citizens but cannot be for legal, familial, cultural, diplomatic, etc. reasons, and a government might look foolish inviting them only to have its offer ‘rejected’. So better to cut through all that and let each decide for him/herself based on personal circumstances.

    If by whatever mechanism a government invites X (who feels that he/she is worthy) but does not invite Y (who also thinks he/she is worthy) then you are back to the mess that exists with ‘discretion’.

  14. permres

    Perceptive comment, Dennis, many thanks!

  15. Hope Springs Eternal

    The surest way to obtain your citizenship is to hire a lawyer who is affiliated with whichever political party is in power. He will know the “go-to-guy” who will take a “fee” for processing your application. This is the way that ALL things work in Barbados. “permres” take note.

  16. Hants

    @ gosh !

    You are also invited to apply for citizenship just like permres.

    I also invite you to consider moving to a land with more space and much greater opportunity like Canada.

  17. Dennis Jones (aka Living in Barbados)

    A good quick primer on the benefits of migration, by The Economist,

  18. Dennis Jones (aka Living in Barbados)

    PM Thompson is encouraging thinking outside the box. Here is a good example on the matter of ethnic minorities from The Economist again,

  19. Doug Newsam

    It is not only “foreigners” who receive this treatment. My two grandsons were born outside of Barbados. Their parents are Barbadian born and their parents are all Barbadians. Yet after nearly two years there has been absolutely no response from the Immigration Department to the application for recognition/citizenship etc. They will need this for the school system but the only response to date is that they do not respond to queries! Their application is straight forward one and one would think it could be processed easily and quickly yet it cannot get through the “system”. If this gets held up, imagine what happens to any that have ‘issues’ that need to be cleared.

  20. Izzmee

    @ John Da Silva – They really need to get rise of “Ministerial Discretion” and make every government department follow a clearly established and documented set of policies.
    You are not likely to see an end to Ministerial discretion anytime soon. Every Minister wants to keep the final decision at his whim & fancy. That is the meaning of “power” and no one ever gives up “POWER”. No one.

  21. Hants

    @ Doug Newsam
    Waiting for a response is not a good idea. Bajans like when yuh call from ova seas.
    Yuh have to become sumboby “new best fren”.

  22. Bajan

    Having read the feeds I found it was quite interesting to see how somethings are happening in this wonderful place we call paradise ….. or in some unfortunate cases… not happening.
    I was trying to get more info on this topic by calling the Immigration Dept but that has been pretty much useless in getting to speak to someone. I’m from Barbados and next year will be getting married to my fiance who is European. Seeing some of you have been in similar situations, what are the guidelines ?
    Is there a time limit for her stay without residency / citizenship even after we’re married ?
    Should I just have her apply for either after the wedding ?
    Any info would be greatly appreciated.

  23. viki


    I am Canadian, and my husband is Barbadian. We just got married here in Barbados, and even though I am applying for citizenship here and it will take 3 years.. apparently immigration is allowed to kick me off the island whenever they please. I do not understand how they can tell me to leave when I am married to a citizen of Barbados.

    Any ideas?

  24. usatobridgetwn

    what is the difference between permanent residency and citizenship?

  25. Pingback: Barbados citizenship still a whimsical process where luck and who you know count more than law | Barbados Free Press