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Diaspora Conference | Diaspora could get special immigration card

Published:Tuesday | July 25, 2017 | 12:00 AM

A recommendation has been made for the establishing of a Global Jamaican Immigration Card for members of the diaspora who seek closer ties to their homeland, says Dr David Panton, chairman of the Economic Growth Council Diaspora Task Force.

This would require an amendment to the Immigration Act to facilitate the issuance of a special immigration card and which would be similar to what other countries have done for their diaspora population who no longer have their home-country citizenship.

"This card would be for members of the diaspora, who have a foreign passport but when they come to Jamaica have to go to the visitor line, and if you go to the Jamaica line, they say, well, you are not a Jamaican, you have a US or Canadian passport," Panton noted.

He was delivering his presentation under the theme 'Harnessing the Power of the Diaspora', at yesterday's opening session at the Jamaica 55 Diaspora Conference in Kingston.

He said there was a general understanding that the new development, should it become law, could lead to added benefits.

"One of the things that we have done is that we have worked with the Ministry of National Security, as well as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, to establish an identifier fund and to help us with a feasibility study on the Global Jamaican Immigration Card," he said.

The Sir Arthur Lewis Institute for Social and Economic Study has been selected to look at the feasibility of the project.

In addition, he said there is a need for increased financial participation from its members regarding establishing a bond, with the aim of raising money for investing in Jamaica.

"So we have been working closely with the Ministry of Finance and the legal representatives to the Government of Jamaica. The challenge is to do a retail bond in the United States, in Canada and the United Kingdom, and we have started that process," he revealed.

The bond could be launched later this year or early next year, according to Panton.