New fees for processing Venezuelan passports abroad went into effect from October 31.
Venezuela's Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Venezuela issued the new regulation, which applies to Venezuelans in Trinidad and Tobago.
The fees are charged by the consular offices and consular sections of Venezuelan embassies abroad. They increased the cost by US$40 in addition to the previous cost(US$80), according to the official Gazette no 42,485 last Saturday.
Venezuelans in TT who wish to obtain a new passport or an extension must pay US$120. This is in addition to the $200 each Venezuelan pays to the Administrative Service for Identification, Migration and Immigration (Saime), the agency responsible for issuing passports.
In total, a Venezuelan currently living overseas must pay US$320 for a new passport.
Newsday understands those under 18 are exempt from paying this consular fee.
This new regulation generated thousands of comments in the Venezuelan community in TT. Many questioned the increase in the consular fee.
Luisa Perdomo spoke with Newsday on Monday, saying she does not agree with the new price.
“Embassies are supposed to have their annual budget from the Venezuelan government. Venezuelans are already supposed to pay US$200 to Saime for new passports. I don't understand what's causing the increase,” she said.
Perdomo is worried because she was saving to get new passports for her two grown children, her husband and herself.
“Now it is much more money we must look for. Before, the amount for four people was US$320 in consular fees. Now it will be US$480. It is a considerable difference, to which we must add US$800 for the payment to Saime. In total we need US$1,280,” she said,
Venezuelans in TT are also criticalbecause the new fee applies to everyone with an appointment at the embassy, even if they made it before October 31.
Carlos Martinez told Newsday on Monday he applied for a passport through Saime's website last week, before the announcement of the new fee.
“I had the US$ 80 ready to pay the day of my appointment at the embassy. Now I have to find US$40 more. It is not fair this applies to everyone – it should be only for those who apply for their passports after October 31, not for those who applied before,” he said.
Newsday spoke with ambassador Álvaro Sánchez Cordero, who said it was a government decision.
"The payment mechanism is through our bank account and everyone must first go to the embassy, where they will be told the fees that applies, if one is necessary," said Cordero.
These payments are made in TT dollars at the current exchange rate and depending on what the applicant needs.
He did not confirm if these new fees also apply to processing a provisional passport, which currently costs US$50. This provisional passport is only approved for trips from TT direct to Venezuela.
Last week the Venezuelan embassy in Port of Spain delivered 1,203 new passports and 99 extensions of expired passports which had been requested this year.