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PICA Corner - Retiring in Jamaica - will I run into problems?

Published:Wednesday | March 10, 2010 | 12:00 AM

My wife and I are nearing completion of our retirement home in Jamaica with a view to moving to the island permanently. My wife will be a returning citizen and has a Jamaican passport and I am an Irish citizen.

The website of the Jamaican Embassy in Washington indicates that I do not need any visa, as I am married to a Jamaican national - for more than 29 years - and I only need to register on arrival with the Ministry of National Security. Is this so?

The website of the Jamaican Embassy is correct in stating that Irish nationals are not required to be in possession of a visa to come to Jamaica, regardless of the purpose of travel.

However, this is not because of your marriage to a Jamaican, but in accordance with Section 2 (1) of the Nationality Act, in which Ireland is not classified as alien and is, therefore, treated similarly to that of a Commonwealth country. In general, nationals of Commonwealth countries are not required to be in possession of a visa to travel to Jamaica, save for a few exceptions.

Registration is typically required of nationals of non-Commonwealth countries (aliens) over the age of 16, who will be residing in Jamaica for more than six months. There is no registration requirement, however, for any national who is married to a Jamaican and wishes to reside here permanently. The options available to anyone who is married to a Jamaican and who wants to live permanently on the island are permanent residence or citizenship.

Persons applying for permanent residence must be in the island at the time of their application and should satisfy the immigration requirements for their stay here. That is, you would need to visit the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA) offices and apply for an extension of stay, which would allow you to remain in the island while you await the processing of your application for permanent residence.

Generally, persons qualifying for permanent residence fall in one of the following categories:

Retired persons who have resided in Jamaica for more than three years;

Spouses of Jamaican nationals not necessarily meeting any prolonged residence requirements; (that is, spouses do not need to be residing in Jamaica for any specified period of time)

Adults and minors who have claim to Jamaican nationality (citizenship) without meeting any residence requirements;

Minors who have no claim to Jamaican nationality, but who have resided in the island for a period exceeding two years;

Persons employed in Jamaica and living on the island for no fewer than five years.

To apply for permanent residence, the following documents/information are required:

A completed extension of stay application form;

A valid passport (at least six months prior to expiration);

Evidence of financial status (for example, pension, bank account, investments, etc.);

Birth certificates for both you and your spouse;

Marriage certificate (where applicable);

Medical certificate;

Police certificate issued by the country you are migrating from (if you have not been living here);

Passport-size photographs;

A letter stating the reason for wanting to live in Jamaica (must be addressed to the chief executive officer, Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency, 25C Constant Spring Road, Kingston 10);

Provide two character references with your application.

Please note that all the requisite documents must be furnished before permanent resident status can be considered. The process may take upwards of eight months.

Application for permanent residence attract a non-refundable processing fee of $30,000.

Remember, also, that if you are not in favour of applying for permanent residency status, you may also consider an application for citizenship by virtue of marriage to a Jamaican. If you wish, you may submit your application for Jamaican citizenship prior to coming to the island.

Send questions, comments and suggestions to and the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA) will respond.