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Tuesday 19 March 2019
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State agrees not to deport Jamaican students

THREE Jamaican students who were denied renewal of their student permits to stay in Trinidad to study Hinduism at the Chinmaya Vidalaya High School, in Couva have received a judge’s permission to challenge the Immigration Division’s decision.

Justice Ricky Rahim today granted leave to Ravi Rambarran, the students’ sponsor, to file for judicial review and seek an injunction preventing their deportation back to Jamaica.

The State has however agreed not to deport them until the case is determined by the judge. The matter has been adjourned to February 22, next year.

Attorney Saira Lakhan, in October, wrote to the Chief Immigration Officer (CIO) for an explanation, and filed the action in the San Fernando High Court, where the judge granted leave.

A certificate of urgency filed in support of the injunction application said there was urgency since the three students want to visit their family for the Christmas holidays and are at risk of being removed from Trinidad.

The lawsuit contends that the three expressed a strong interest in Hinduism and its teachings which were not available in Jamaica. The lawyer said the three lived in a tenement yard in Jamaica, and since their parents were not able to support them financially in Jamaica, Rambarran agreed to sponsor them so that they could attend the Chinmaya Vidalaya High School.

The lawsuit also said the three were accepted by the school June 8, 2017, and they followed all the necessary guidelines for registration of a non-national in a school locally.

They were also granted student permits, which expired in July, and their sponsor paid their school fees.

The three went to the Immigration Division in July to renew their permits and filled out the necessary paperwork.

On September 25, they again met with an immigration officer who stamped “approval” on the permits, and the extension fees were paid. Their school fees were also paid by their sponsor.

The lawsuit claims on October 12, another immigration officer contacted the school, telling them the students’ permits were declined and that the institution was liable to a fine of $50,000 for having the three remain there.

It also adds that, to date, there has been no official correspondence from the Immigration Division on why the students’ permits were declined.

The three said they were devastated and distressed about having to return to school in Jamaica and accused the Immigration Division of depriving them of opportunities for religious and educational advancement.

In his order, Rahim granted Rambarran permission to seek several declarations, and an order compelling the Chief Immigration Officer to make a decision within seven days on their application for an extension of their student permit, and an order that they receive that extension.

Rambarran was given 14 days in which to file his judicial review claim.

Appearing for the CIO was attorney Tinuke Gibbon.

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