Free movement from Monday
CASTRIES, St Lucia – The St Lucia-based organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) says it is making final preparations for the August 1 free movement of nationals from the sub-region.
It said the initiative will involve the six independent member states namely Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and St. Kitts and Nevis, with Montserrat expect to join by September followed at a later date by Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands.
Lisa Louis-Phillip of the OECS Secretariat’s Regional Integration Unit said every effort was being made to ensure that all administrative arrangements agreed to by the working group have been put in place in time for Monday.
“We have been seeking to ensure that whatever procedure and arrangements that are in place are not complicated and does not prohibit nationals from moving from one state to the next,” she said.
“OECS nationals will require at least a valid ID card to benefit from the free movement of labour which takes effect from Monday August 1,” Louis-Phillip added. She said the committee had agreed to a number of procedures, such as the document to be used for re-entry.
“That is important as well as a completed ED form, these are the two most important documents that an OECS national moving to another protocol state would have to present to an immigration officer,” she noted.
“At that point the individual would be granted an indefinite entry into that state once immigration is satisfied that all security and other reasonable precautions have been taken,” Louis-Phillip added.
Earlier this month, OECS Chairman Stephenson King announced that from August 1 all restrictions on the free movement will be lifted with nationals required to present only a valid ID Card and Immigration form for entry into the participating states.
King, the Prime Minister of St. Lucia, said that OECS leaders, during their recent meeting in St Vincent, “recognised and unequivocally confirmed” that the free movement of persons and of labour were principal features of the new OECS Economic Union arrangement. (CMC)