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PICA Corner - Abandoned, with no proof of identity, but seeking lifeline

Published:Wednesday | January 27, 2010 | 12:00 AM

The Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency on Constant Spring Road, St Andrew. - File

Q I have been visiting Jamaica as a missionary for the past five years. There's a young lady in the St Ann's Bay Infirmary who has been a blessing to me in my travels.

She was born in Kingston with deformities but her birth mother abandoned her as a baby at the St Ann's Bay Hospital, so she does not have a birth certificate. I would love for her to come to Florida to visit and be a witness at our church. But she, of course, needs a passport. What can be done?

In order for this young lady to hold a passport, she needs to show proof of citizenship and proof of identity (valid photo ID). Given that she was abandoned by her mother, it is not clear whether she was registered at birth. The registration of birth is her proof of citizenship.

Checks should be made with the Registrar General's Department (RGD) to determine if her birth was registered. If there is no record of her birth, the necessary steps should be taken to have her registered by applying for late registration of birth at the RGD.

If, however, you are not able to register her birth because of a lack of information, she will need to apply for Jamaican citizenship before she is able to acquire a passport. To do this, you will need to obtain a referral from the RGD to support the application for citizenship. You may then visit our offices to begin the process of applying for citizenship.

Section 10 of the Jamaican Nationality Act makes provision for persons whose citizenship of Jamaica, whether on a question of fact or law, is in doubt. In such instance, you would be able to make an application for a Certificate of Citizenship In Case of Doubt.

The application is made in writing to the minister of national security for a document to identify the applicant as a Jamaican and the reason for the request. Include as much useful information as possible regarding the applicant's birth and background, for example:

(1) The applicant's date and place of birth.

(2) The applicant's parents' names.

(3) Number of children born to the applicant's parents.

(4) Whether applicant was baptised during infancy.

(5) The applicant's schools attended.

(6) The applicant's present occupation.

The application should be accompanied by:

(1) Evidence that unsuccessful efforts were made to secure a birth certificate from the RGD.

(2) Two passport-size photographs of the applicant, certified by a justice of the peace.

(3) School record

(4) Baptismal record

(5) Birth certificate of the applicant's two eldest children.

The fee for the certificate of citizenship is $1,000, which is payable when the application is approved. It is important to note that this is not a birth certificate but a document to certify that the applicant is a Jamaican.

Once she has obtained her citizenship, she can begin the process of applying for a passport. However, in the event that she was able to register her birth then, she may also begin the process of applying for citizenship.

As stated earlier, in addition to showing proof of citizenship, she will need a valid photo identification in order to apply for a passport. Given that she is a ward in an infirmary, she might not have an identification card; however, supporting documents from the infirmary could be provided to support her identity.

Second, the application form needs to be completed by and signed by the head of the infirmary. She would then need to submit her application in person to our office. If she is unable to sign her name, arrangements should be made to have her fingerprints taken by the immigration office in St Ann's Bay.

She may also have her application pre-checked at this location to ensure that everything is in order before she submits her documents.

Other requirements for her passport would be:

1. Two passport-size photographs, one of which must be certified by the head of the infirmary.

2. Application fee of $2,700 (if she is under 18) or $5,400 if she is an adult.

PICA Corner is a collaboration between The Gleaner and the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency. Send questions, comments and suggestions to and PICA will respond.