Venezuelans are waiting to see what will happen next, after Minister of National Security Stuart Young announced last week that their work permits will be automatically renewed for another six months. Some aspects of the renewal are yet to be clarified.
The immigrants were surprised that Young said, “The methodology is being worked on.”
Manuel Garcia said they have not yet been told how the renewal will be done, and if they must go somewhere to sign documents, or can simply carry on working.
Speaking to Newsday, Garcia, a construction worker, said despite the announcement of the renewal, the immigrants are still anxious about the government will do.
He said government officials “do not speak to us clearly. They continue to release information like drops of water.”
Another migrant, Luis Martinez, said, "I think the ideal would be to explain once and for all what will coming for the Venezuelans, because the lack of a concrete plan is also affecting many people’s job security.”
Many migrants complained on social media that they were dismissed from their jobs before Young’s announcement, because employers were afraid of having illegal workers.
In June last year, 16,300 Venezuelans registered for a six-month work permit, to be extended for another six months.
Young said people should go to the Immigration Division a month before the expiry of the first six months to get the extension. But last week, he announced it would be automatic.
Venezuelans are still joining the long queues every day at the Immigration office at Richmond Street in Port of Spain to collect their first card.
Despite the uncertainty they still feel, many Venezuelans consider the automatic renewal of the permit a positive move.
It gives them the opportunity to find better jobs, open bank accounts, and get visas to visit relatives in Venezuela, among other things.
Elsa Velásquez said, "It is good because we won’t have to go back to Immigration and lose days of work. There are also pregnant women who cannot go and line up.”
But she wondered what approach immigration officers would take.
"The card has an expiry date, and if we do not have a document that supports the renewal, will immigration officers respect that?"
Rosa Malave said, "If I have an automatic renewal, then I can apply for a visa to go to Venezuela and visit my family. Venezuelans feel this is something positive. We left our country years ago and now we can come and go with peace of mind."