Minister of National Security, Robert Montague, on Thursday, December 14 presented a total of 47 men, women and children with official documents identifying them as naturalised Jamaican citizens, during the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency’s citizen swearing-in ceremony.

At the ceremony held at the Police Officer’s Club in Kingston, it was announced that the 47 were part of a total of 167 persons who had received such status – the largest number at one time.

This is not the first time a citizenship[p ceremony is being held by PICA, in fact, nearly three thousand persons have received Jamaican citizenship since the start of 2017; however, this is the first the ceremony is opened to the public.

In his remarks, National Security Minister Hon. Robert  Montague stated that the ceremony is a commemoration of the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency’s 10 years of service.  In addition, he said it was a historic event in that over a decade and the granting of citizenship to 30-thousand persons, this was the first time that the Agency had hosted a ceremony of this kind.

He welcomed the new naturalised Jamaicans on behalf of the Jamaican Government and outlined the privileges and responsibilities that came with their adoption of the island as their homeland.

Being a Jamaican citizen is an exceptional honour and while you have been granted that right, nearly 2,000 persons were deported from our island last year, while about  537 were refused entry to this country.  So as Jamaicans we expect you take this new status seriously,” Minister Montague said.

He implored them to register to vote, pay their taxes, engage in community activities and use their various skills and talents to help build the country.

The Minister of National Security said there were about 15,000 to 20,000 persons living on the island illegally, and, announced that in 2018, the government will  declare a one-year amnesty to allow those persons to apply for permanent residence in Jamaica.

Also speaking at the swearing in ceremony,  Andrew Wynter, CEO of PICA noted that each year about  3,000 persons are granted Jamaican citizenship. According to Mr. Wynter,  when persons from another county decide to become citizens of Jamaica, it speaks to the love and commitment they have for the island.