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Monday 27 January 2020
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Hundreds of Venezuelans wait to collect permits

LUCKY JESUS: Venezuelan Rangel Garcia Leonel Jesus displays his government-issued permit which he collected yesterday at the Immigration Department in Port of Spain. PHOTO BY SUREASH CHOLAI - SUREASH CHOLAI
LUCKY JESUS: Venezuelan Rangel Garcia Leonel Jesus displays his government-issued permit which he collected yesterday at the Immigration Department in Port of Spain. PHOTO BY SUREASH CHOLAI - SUREASH CHOLAI

It was a case of deja vu for hundreds of Venezuelans who, as they did back in May when they first went to register, lined up for hours yesterday outside the Immigration Department in Port of Spain to collect the government-issued cards authorising them to legally work and live in TT for a year.

The National Security Ministry had stated the Immigration Department is now authorised to deliver the cards and yesterday, hundreds flocked to the Department at Government Plaza, Richmond Street, several with babies in arms, hoping to be first in line for the permits. They can go directly to the office from Monday to Friday between 8 am to 3 pm, for the cards.

Immigration Division staff were available to ensure the collection of registration cards went smoothly and provide general instructions. However, the process still took all day leaving many Venezuelans tired, frustrated and still without their cards.

In order to collect the permits, recipients must present the receipt given to them on registration, as well as a valid ID document, a statement from the National Security stated.

The statement also said no one can collect a card on behalf of someone else, as everyone must sign for their card. National Security Minister Stuart Young said in October that more than 10,000 of the 16,532 Venezuelans who applied to register were successful.

Young told Parliament then that more than 8,000 cards had been prepared for those who qualified. People who were approved were called to the Immigration Division to receive their cards.

News of the new system of delivery on Saturday surprised hundreds of Venezuelans who have not yet received their cards.

Carolina Olivero told Newsday, "I was one of the first people who attended the registration in PoS and they haven't called me.

“Last week I went to the Immigration Division to ask about my card and the officer told me that I should wait for the call.

"Now they say I should go back to the office. I don't understand so many changes."

She expressed concern that six months had passed since the registration and the first period that the TT government gave is about to expire.

"I have not been able to get a stable job because I still don't have the card. This is a total mess," added Olivero.

She said registered Venezuelans are also concerned over renewal when they reach the initial six months.

Another registered national, Luis Perez, said, "There is very little information about it. The TT government does not clarify doubts and only generates more. How, when, where and what will be the system to renew permits?"

Yesterday, an official at the department said everyone will be processes and granted cards, but with over 14,000 applicants, it will take time. He did say the process was moving smoothly and the Venezuelans were co-operating.

Mariangel Perez, accompanied by other members, said they were turned away and told to return next week. Gabriella Navarro patiently waited in line because she has a baby in Venezuela, and needed a job to provide for her child. She works in a restaurant to make ends meet as she rents an apartment in Trinidad.

The Venezuelans stood patiently as they awaited their turn. Asked about claims that applicants were being turned away, the official said once the applicants had all their documents in order, they will be processed accordingly.

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