The Royal Assent was granted to the Residence Act on the 20th March, 2001. The Act is intended to provide for the registration of residents, and matters relating to the regulation of residence in the Island. The Act was drafted as an enabling measure with much of its detail being left for determination by means of subordinate legislation.
The Act is perceived by the Government as a piece of contingency planning : legislation to be kept in reserve and activated only in circumstances of necessity in response to a seriously deteriorating economic or social situation requiring Government intervention. It was, and remains, the Government's hope that it will not prove necessary to activate the legislation and that any future growth in population can be absorbed and will not create the circumstances which would warrant activating the Residence Act.
In general terms, the purpose of the Act is to impose controls on the growth of the population of the Isle of Man by means of a "Residency Register". An individual would not be permitted to reside on the Island unless he was either registered or exempted. The Act would operate when a person took up, or moved, his permanent residence on the Island. On registration, a certificate would be issued to the resident which must be produced to the vendor or lessor of a property on taking up permanent residence. A person would be regarded by the Act as a "permanent resident of the Isle of Man" if that person had resided in his home in the Isle of Man for a period of at least 6 months.
The general features of the Register are as follows:
- It would contain details of the name, sex, date of birth, last known residence in the Isle of Man of each registered person.
- It would take the form of computerised records.
- It would be open to inspection by the General Public.
- Entries in the register would be amended from time to time to take account of changes to registered persons circumstances - i.e. changes of address etc
Who would be registered?
Manx residents Everyone permanently resident on the Island on the date the Act comes into operation, would be qualified to be registered as of right and without imposition of further conditions. This is termed "unconditional registration". Existing Manx residents would be exempted from actually registering until they changed accommodation. However, they may register voluntarily at any time after the Act comes into operation. Other non-residents who have strong links with the Island through family ties or previous residence for a period of at least 10 years would also be entitled to "unqualified registration".
New residents who do not have any previous connection with the Island would only be permitted to take up residence here if accepted for "Qualified registration" (see section 3 of the Act). An applicant from outside the United Kingdom would, in the first instance, have to satisfy the provisions of the Immigration Act and Rules and would have to show that he has leave to enter/leave or indefinite leave to remain
A person who is accepted for residency registration would be exempted from requiring a work permit under the Control of Employment Act. Effectively once the Act is operative, the only persons requiring a Work Permit would be short term employees and foreign nationals under the Overseas Work permit Scheme.
As the Act only provides a skeleton, the detail of the system will be specified in Regulations currently being developed by the Council of Ministers. These will be subject to approval by Tynwald before coming into operation. The Regulations will specify the following details of the system:
- the conditions to be satisfied for conditional registration;
- the administrative details of the Register including its format and the way applications are to be made;
- the format of the Certificate of registration;
- exemptions from the requirements of the Act;
- the definition of "dependants" for the purposes of the Act;
- a requirement for a public authority or the operator of an educational or training establishment to keep records of students residing in residential accommodation and attending courses, and to make returns of such records to the Registrar
The Registrar is empowered to cancel registration in certain instances.
An applicant aggrieved by a decision of the Registrar has the option of making an appeal to a Review Tribunal chaired by the High Bailiff and two lay members appointed by Council of Ministers.
The Council of Minister may appoint "authorised persons" to investigate non compliance with the Residence Act.
If a person is convicted of an offence under the Residence Act, the High Court may make an order requiring that person to leave the Island.