Prime Minister Charlot Salwai has created a new regulation under the Citizenship Act [CAP 112], to establish the Development Support Program (DSP).
The DSP will replace the Vanuatu Economic Rehabilitation Program (VERP) that will offer Honorary Citizenships for an estimated overall value of US$132000, around Vt14 million per applicant.
Applicants of the Program are required to pay a non-refundable contribution of US$ 130,000 (Vt 14,501,500) which will cover the applicant, his or her spouse and two children.
Additional fees of USD 5,000 (Vt 557750) per child are applicable for additional children and US$ 10,000 (Vt 1115500) if the resident dependant is between the ages of 18 and 25 years.
If the resident dependant is 65 years of age or over, they will be required to also pay US$ 10,000 (Vt 1115500).
In addition to the fees, each applicant must pay a fee of US$ 2000 (Vt 223,100 for due diligence to be made to the applicant by the FIU.
Salwai made the regulation under Order No. 215 of 2016 The order provided for the establishment of the DSP including designated agent for the program, procedures for applications for citizenship under the program, and prescribed fees.
Privileges for “Honorary Citizenship Act [CAP 112], were set out in another regulation made by the Head of State Baldwin Lonsdale under Order No. 216 of 2016.
The DSP is established for the purpose of section 20 of the Citizenship Act where applicants will have to apply through a “Designated Agent” who will be appointed by the Citizenship Commission.
The Designated agent must be a citizen of Vanuatu and have a main registered office in Port Vila.
Procedures for application for the Program will firstly requires the designated agent to receive and provide to the Citizenship Office, all applications.
The Citizenship Commission will then arrange for a meeting of the Screening Committee to screen the applications before the applications may be considered by the commission.
Part of the role of the screening committee will be to carry out due diligence checks on each application, through the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU).
On the occasion where the FIU confirms that the applicant has no criminal record, the Screening Committee will submit the application to the Commission who will consider and make a decision on whether or not to approve the Citizenship.
It is the duty of the Secretary General of the Citizenship Office to inform the designated agent of the decision of the Commission on each application within two weeks from the date which the Commission made the decision.
After the Commission has made a decision of the application, the Commission will submit to the Prime minister the name of the person and his or her spouse and resident dependants, whose Citizenship have been approved.
The PM will then advise the President on the names of the persons to be conferred with honorary citizenship under the DSP.
Applications of persons with criminal records will not be considered.
The regulation signed on 15 December 2016 commences on January 1 this year.
Pursuant to Regulation Order No. 216 of 2016, the Head of State ordered that a person and his spouse being conferred with the honorary citizenship under the DSP are entitled to the following privileges of a Vanuatu passport and a child and any residing dependant of the person or his or her spouse are entitled to Vanuatu passport.
The President’s order was signed December 20, 2016 and is effective as of January 1 2017.
The VERP which was established after Tropical Cyclone Pam.
It will come to an end on January 31, 2017.