THERE have been about 4,000 interviews for permanent residency and citizenship in the past four years, reported National Security Minister Edmund Dillon.
He was responding to a question on Wednesday from Opposition Senator Wade Mark about addressing the backlog of outstanding permanent residence and citizenship applications caused by the closure of that section of the Immigration Division on Frederick Street, Port of Spain.
Dillon recalled the Public Services Association led a shut-down of the Immigration Office on April 8, 2014 and this closure led to the suspension of permanent residency, citizenship and extension services provided by that office. He said subsequently interviews took place at the administrative office at Henry Street and extension offices at Frederick Street on a limited basis.
He reported the Immigration Division moved to the Government Campus Plaza from October- December 2016, when full permanent residence, citizenship and extension services resumed.
He said the Chief Immigration Officer assigned ten officers to the permanent residence and citizenship section, an increase from four, to interview applicants in Port of Spain and to deal with the backlog that had been created between 2014 and 2016.
Interviews for permanent residence and citizenship began in January 2017 at the new location, he said, and about 255 scheduled appointments are made per week at Port of Spain, San Fernando and Tobago.
From 2014 and 2018 about 4,000 interviews were done and he added the ministry had set a timeline from January 2017 to April 2018 to clear the backlog “and we are well on our way to do so.”
Mark asked about the number of approved applications and applications still outstanding from the backlog. Dillon said he would provide that information by the next sitting.