National Security Minister, Robert Montague, says the government will introduce a year-long immigration amnesty in an attempt to regularize the approximately 20,000 people living illegally in Jamaica.

He says the details of the amnesty are still being discussed but it will be launched sometime next year.

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According to Minister Montague, the people who take advantage of the amnesty will be granted permanent residency. He says they can then apply to become citizens.

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Minister Montague was speaking today at the first-ever public citizenship ceremony at the Police Officer’s Club in St. Andrew.

More than 160 persons were granted citizenship today. About 40 of them were officially presented at the ceremony.

Minister Montague says the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency, PICA, chose to have the public ceremony in order to celebrate the occasion of people becoming Jamaicans.

The Minister also says thousands of people have been granted Jamaican citizenship over the past 10 years.