The Inquirer is a leading independent daily newspaper published in Liberia, based in Monrovia. It is privately owned with a "good reputation".

“Knowledge Is Power” –LIS Deputy Commissioner Tells Aliens, Others

The Deputy Commissioner General for naturalization of the Liberia Immigration Service (LIS), Asatu Bah Kenneth, has said that even though ignorance of the law is no excuse for punishment but it is also said that knowledge is power and when both the aliens and citizens are properly instructed they will be able to protect their rights or the rights of their friends, relatives and business partners who are not Liberians.

She made the disclosure recently during an “Alien Nationalization Awareness Program” in Jacob Town, a community initiative that is intended to bridge the information gap between the public, especially aliens and the Immigration and produce a friendly atmosphere between the two groups.

The engagement in Jacob is one of several initiatives that have been undertaken by the LIS under the leadership of the able Commissioner General, Robert Budy Sr. who has vowed to improve the LIS to regional and international standards during his induction.

“Some of you have no knowledge how the Immigration works; we are not going to arrest any alien or request for document from anybody; we are here to teach you how we work and processes leading to obtaining your documents from the Immigration,” said commissioner Bah Kenneth allaying the fear of the aliens.

Speaking of who can be a citizen of Liberia, she said only an individual whose both parents are citizens either by native or by naturalization can be citizen; but in an instance where a child is born to a family where only one of the parents is a Liberian the child will consider a Liberian from the day of birth till he reaches 18 years, thereafter he is no longer a Liberian unless he takes an oath of allegiance in court to be considered a Liberian.

She also mentioned that for an individual to apply for naturalization, that person must have lived in Liberia for at least two years and above with a clean record from both his native country and the period of time he had lived in Liberia, regularly renewing his resident’s documents.

“Immigration does not give citizenship but the court does,” she clarified, noting that LIS only works with the National Security Agency (NSA), and the Interpol to do background investigation on a person who wants to be a Liberian citizen and forward the results to the court who then decides whether he is qualified or not.

A Representative from the Visa Section, Victor Gborlee said people from the ECOWAS region do not need visa to come to Liberia, only people from the non-ECOWAS and non-African regions do.

According to him, the government is currently issuing two types of visas which are visa before arrival that can be applied for at the Liberia Embassy in the visitor’s native country and the visa on arrival which can be applied for at LIS Commissioner General’s office by a contact person based in Liberia on behalf of the visitor.

Michael T. Purser, representing the Registration Section, stated that as soon as an individual enters the country he has to get registerd at the point of entry for a 30-day stay, but at the end of the period he can apply for another 60 days if he desires to stay longer.

He added that the entire registration process is completely free for all ECOWAS countries but requires US$25 for no-ECOWAS, the rest of the African countries that are not part of ECOWAS and non-African and the rest of the world.

Additionally, Klron M. Blamo representing the Change of Status Section pointed out that if the visitor completes the 90 days or three months still desires to stay in the country then he has to apply for a resident permit referred to as change of status because he is transitioning from a visitor to a resident.

Concluding, she said it requires US$150 for ECOWAS citizens and US$600 non-ECOWAS citizens and US$700 non-African citizens.

 Many of those in attendance lauded the LIS for providing such civil education saying it was their first time to see LIS officers providing such important information in a friendly atmosphere.

Imam Ismai O. Sesay said if the Immigration continues the process many of the problems that exist between the aliens and the Immigration will be resolved.

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