Antigua Daily Observer – Antigua & Barbuda has been reprimanded for failing to honour its obligations and to grant OECS nationals an indefinite stay stamp immediately upon their arrival into the country.
Currently, when OECS citizens arrive on island they must present themselves to the Immigration Department where they must apply and pay a fee before the indefinite status is granted.
“The free movement is supposed to be what it is,” Director General of the Organization of the Eastern Caribbean States Dr Didacus Jules told OBSERVER media at the end of the second OECS Assembly yesterday.
“We have raised those concerns with the Cabinet and prime minister, and he said the matter will be addressed.
Dr Jules said Antigua & Barbuda is the only independent member state of the OECS that does not grant the stamp immediately upon arrival.
He noted that government has asked for “administrative respite” in implementing the measures, “but we expect that Antigua will be taking steps to comply with what all other member states do”.
Under the Revised Treaty of Basseterre, member states agreed to the implementation of the administration arrangements to give effect to the free movement of people. As part of the arrangement, upon arrival, nationals who are part of the OECS Economic Union will be offered an Indefinite Stay Stamp by Immigration.
Apart from making an in- person appearance at the Immigration Department, a fee of $75 and a passport- size photo, and a job letter for those employed, also applies.
The waiting time for the stamp can vary from one to three hours, according to individuals who went through the process.
But Dr Jules said, “Treaty obligations are treaty obligations” adding that it would pose an interesting scenario if someone refuses to go through the process.