By Editor-Sunday, July 30th, 2023.
Dozens of Venezuelan migrant workers narrowly squeaked under the bar at Friday’s 4:00 p.m. deadline to deliver update-to-date documents to immigration offices to qualify for the fifth extension of their work permits. Many had problems with lost birth certificates, IDs, and similar documents that could not be easily retrieved from Venezuela.
Long lines of migrants were seen throughout this week in front of the Immigration Division office, Henry Street, Port of Spain.
Many of them arrived as early as 3 am on some days to try to get one of the numbers to be attended by the immigration officers.
On Friday at 4 pm when the office closed there people were still waiting but they were all taken care of.
“I have been here since 10 am waiting in the sun and the rain. I had to fulfill my commitment and I did it,” Marisela Perdomo told Newsday as she left the immigration building.
She said she had some complications because she did not have some of the required documents. The documents include forms of identification and birth certificates.
“My appointment was scheduled for Tuesday, but I did not have the birth certificate of my 12-year-old son with me. I had to go to the (Venezuelan) embassy and apply to be able to go back to immigration and deliver all my documentation.”
Perdomo, like all 9,000 Venezuelans who have had work permits issued by the TT government since 2019, had one month (June 26-July 28) to deliver originals and copies of documents, including for children, to the immigration offices of Port of Spain, San Fernando and Scarborough.
They also had to provide certificates of character issued by the police.
“The process was fast, but a bit cumbersome because many did not have the complete documents here,” said Carlos Pérez.
Some Venezuelans who having been here for several years and lost their documents were unable to renew them because they cannot go to their country.
There were also many who could not submit their documents because they missed their appointment days and asked the immigration authorities to extend the deadline for a few more days. One migrant said immigration officers were also unavailable as they were involved in a court case relating to the detention of migrants at St James bar a few weeks ago.
“There were several days immigration officials did not attend to the renewal of work permits because they were focused on the case of the 200 Venezuelans detained at the Apex bar, three weeks ago. They were several days late, so we hope all will be restored,” Pérez said. In this matter, many of the detainees were released as they had their registration documents.
The documents the migrants submitted to officials last week are to be reviewed for approval of the extension of work permits until December 31.
In 2019, 16,523 Venezuelans registered for work permits to remain in TT for one year. There have been several extensions over the past fours years although the number of registered migrants has decreased. Until 2021 there were 13,000 left and in January of this year, Minister of Security Fitzgerald Hinds announced there were now only 9,000 Venezuelans legally in TT.
Source: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday.