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Wednesday 22 January 2020
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Venezuelans worried about card expiration

Hundreds of registered with the TT government meet their first six months

Venezuelans wait outside the Immigration Division in Port of Spain to collect their registration cards on December 9.  PHOTO BY SUREASH CHOLAI - SUREASH CHOLAI
Venezuelans wait outside the Immigration Division in Port of Spain to collect their registration cards on December 9. PHOTO BY SUREASH CHOLAI - SUREASH CHOLAI

What many Venezuelans in TT fear is that the first six months of their work permit cards, granted by government, is coming to a close and they have no information on renewals to allow them another six months. Hundreds of people who received their cards in August, do not know what to do now.

Several of those registered have gone to the immigration office on Richmond Street in Port of Spain to try to know their new status, but they have not succeeded.

The government made available to Venezuelan immigrants, the chance to register for a one-year work permit. The registration period was held between May and June. More than 16,000 participated. Minister of National Security Stuart Young had said the permit would be for six months, to renew for six more months. Since then, he has not clarified how the system to register for the second six months, will be conceptualised.

"My card expires on January 25, I went in the last week of December for immigration and the official told me to return in January, but for now they are still busy handing out the cards," said Juan Carlos Pérez. The Venezuelan received his work permit at the end of August.

"We only know that to renew for six more months we must go to immigration, but the government does not give full explanations, they always do it halfway," he complained. Pérez lives in Point Fortin and works in the construction sector. He claimed his bosses are pressuring him to renew his card, otherwise he could be fired.

In addition to doubts about the extension of the work permit, he loses his work day when having to travel to Port of Spain to visit the immigration department. “I already lost a day and my boss is demanding...he doesn't want me to lose more days of work. The government should inform us publicly about the renewal process so we can take action,” said the young man.

Ángel Martínez was tougher and criticized the slow process. “Six months have passed since registration and they have not even finished delivering the cards. Immigration officials are not aware of what the next step will be and that further complicates things,” he said. Martínez lives in Diego Martin.

"On the Facebook and whatsaap groups of Venezuelans in TT, everyone is asking about the renewal of the cards to allow us to stay for the other six months. But nobody has information about this important step for our stability while in this country," he said.

Pedro Ravelo said he is very nervous over the government's silence. “It's a problem, we are not sure what will happen as the six months comes to an end. We do not know about the next six months, what will be our situation. There are many who have not even received their cards.”

He believes that legal status is important because it allows Venezuelans to have better treatment from employers. "The despair is because if the card expires we do not know how immigration officials will act, employers are already pushing and that does not help the situation for us who are here trying to make things better for our families left behind in Venezuela," Ravelo said.

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