How Can I Obtain Jamaican Citizenship?

by Yolanda King
(Chicago, Illinois, USA)

QUESTION about: How Can I Obtain Jamaican Citizenship?

I have been considering for a long time the possibly of moving to Jamaica. I just need to know what does a non-citizen of Jamaica has to do to live there. Do I need to know someone who can vouch for you? My father was born in Jamaica and so was most of my family but I have lost touch with any relatives that I might still have over there. If my father was a Jamaican citizen does that help me with being able to move over there without jumping through too many hoops?

ANSWER: by Kesha Stewart


Hello friend,

I think it’s awesome that you want to connect in a real way with your roots. In fact citizenship is the ultimate connection and since you are seeking to become a Jamaican citizen then our Passport Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA) is the place to start.

PICA has an online presence so I decided to do my first checks there. I learned that individuals like you who have parents from Jamaica, are qualified to apply for citizenship in a category known as Citizenship by Descent.

Incidentally, citizenship can also be acquired when a foreign national and a Jamaican national are officially (legally) married.

Just in case an 18 year old of unquestionable character has been living in Jamaica for no fewer than 5 years on aggregate he/she can make an application for citizenship. Additionally he/she must have been in Jamaica for at least 12 months immediately before making the submission for citizenship; this is Citizenship by Naturalization.

There was a category I found interesting titled “Citizenship In Case of Doubt.” So this is how it works. You basically have no documents to prove that you are a Jamaican, not even a birth certificate. This is a really scary position to be in (I think).

Of course each category is explained in detail on the site.

Since your question leans to Citizenship by Descent I will focus my response there. To summarize the information from PICA’s website, to qualify in this category you will have to say yes to any of these statements below:

1. I was born in a foreign country before 6th August 1962 and my mom/dad is/was a citizen on 6th August 1962, (it also works if)

2. My mom/dad would have been Jamaican citizens but was unable to assume same on 6th August 1962 due to death.

3. I am a person born in a foreign country after August 6, 1962 but I have a parent who was a citizen by birth, descent or registration by way of marriage to a Jamaican at the time of my birth.

Sounds like you? Just provide the requested documentation such as your birth certificate plus that of your mom/dad as well as two certified passport sized photographs done to specifications and proceed with your application or you can visit the Jamaican High Commission or Consulate nearest you. You will need other documents you will see a full listing of the other supporting documents.

There are also features such as FAQ and a window to submit your specific queries.

As a Jamaican citizen you immediately become entitled to:

1. Acquire a Jamaican passport.

2. Vote in local elections – please note however, that you have to be legally registered to vote. It is a separate process from the acquisition of citizenship. In addition Jamaica does not allow you to vote if you are not physically present on Election Day.

3. Work without a permit

4. Exemption from the payment of international fees at local universities

PICA has a careful outline of how applications are to be submitted and by whom, its fees and how payable as well as the timelines accompanying each specific request. I would advise that you check to see when public holidays are in effect so you will have a good working knowledge of the timelines as you make your application and guide your expectations as you await processing and delivery.

All the Best!

Kesha Stewart
Associate Writer

Some information sourced from the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA) @ www.pica.gov.jm

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