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Immigration Corner | How do I become a citizen?

Published:Tuesday | October 24, 2017 | 12:00 AM
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Dear Ms Powell,

I was born in the Haiti and my mother was born to a Jamaican citizen. She took me to the United States (US) when I was 10 years old. We have not been able to get US citizenship, so we went to Canada. My mother checked with a lawyer in Canada and he said we could apply to stay, but he can't guarantee that our application will get through. I don't like the cold in Canada and I met a nice Jamaican online. How can I apply to get Jamaican citizenship? I don't want to go back to Haiti.


Dear M.U.,

There are a number of factors involved in the application for citizenship in a country in which one was not born. In Jamaica, the citizenship rules stipulate that for an individual to become a citizen you must demonstrate that you are married to a Jamaican citizen, or demonstrate that you have a first-generation connection, that is, your parents were born in Jamaica; or that you have a second-generation connection. That means that you can become a Jamaican citizen if your grandparents were born in Jamaica. So if your parents were not born in Jamaica, but you have a grandparent who was, you are eligible for citizenship on the basis of descent.

In order to apply for citizenship by descent, an individual must complete the citizenship application form and pay the requisite fee. An individual can find this form on the Passport Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA) website, any Jamaican high commission or consulate.

When applying for citizenship on the basis of descent of a Jamaican grandparent, all of the following documents are required:

- Applicant's full birth certificate.

- Applicant's passport.

- Applicant's marriage certificate (if applicable).

- Father's/mother's passport and birth certificate.

- Maternal/paternal grandparent's birth certificate and passport (preferably Jamaican).


Other documents pertinent to your case


Once you have submitted verifiable documents and lineage is established, a certificate of citizenship will be issued. The full process is estimated to take between six to 12 months, if all of the correct documentation are provided to PICA.

In the event that you cannot establish descent through a parent or grandparent because of a lack of documentation, there are other factors considered in granting someone citizenship, such as:

 - A non-Jamaican can seek citizenship by virtue of marriage.

 - If a person has lived in Jamaica for a minimum of five years prior to the submission of the application and is of good character and financially solvent, he/she may be granted citizenship by naturalisation.

- A Commonwealth citizen who has resided legitimately in Jamaica for at least five consecutive years, and is of good character, can make an application for registration as a Jamaican citizen.

- A minor of any citizen of Jamaica can apply to be registered as a citizen of Jamaica by the parent or guardian.

Your case is unique, so I strongly recommend that you consult directly with an immigration lawyer to provide you with personalised advice.

- Deidre S. Powell is an immigration lawyer with office in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Contact her by sending an email to info@deidrepowell.com. You can also find her at www.facebook.com/jamaicanlawyer. Call 613-695-8777/ 876922.4092