Venezuelans meet deadline for work-permit renewals

Venezuelans line up outside Immigration Division, Henry Street, Port of Spain to renew their work permits. - File photo by Grevic Alvarado
Venezuelans line up outside Immigration Division, Henry Street, Port of Spain to renew their work permits. - File photo by Grevic Alvarado

Scores of Venezuelans made it to Friday's deadline to deliver up-to-date documents to Immigration offices to qualify for the fifth extension of their work permits.

Long lines of migrants were seen throughout this week in front of the Immigration Division office, Henry Street, Port of Spain. Many arrived as early as 3 am on some days to try to get a number to be attended to.

On Friday at 4 pm, when the office closed, people were still waiting, but they were all taken care of.

Marisela Perdomo told Newsday as she left the building, “I have been here since 10 am waiting in the sun and the rain. I had to fulfil my commitment and I did it.”

She said there were some complications because she did not have some of the required documents. They include forms of ID and birth certificates. The migrants also had to provide police certificates of character.

“My appointment was scheduled for Tuesday, but I did not have the birth certificate of my 12-year-old son with me. I had to go to the (Venezuelan) embassy and apply to be able to go back to Immigration and deliver all my documentation.”

Perdomo, like all 9,000 Venezuelans who have had work permits issued by the TT government since 2019, had a month (June 26-July 28) to deliver documents, including those for children, to Immigration offices in Port of Spain, San Fernando and Scarborough.

“The process was fast, but a bit cumbersome because many did not have the complete documents here,” said Carlos Pérez.

Some Venezuelans who have been here for several years but have lost their documents were unable to renew them because they cannot return to their country to get replacements.

Others could not submit documents because they missed their appointments. They asked the immigration authorities to extend the deadline for a few more days.

One migrant said immigration officers were also unavailable.
Pérez said, “There were several days immigration officials did not attend to the renewal of work permits because they were focused on the case of the 200 Venezuelans detained at the Apex bar  (in St James) three weeks ago.”

In that incident, many of the detainees were released as they had their registration documents.

The documents submitted to officials last week are to be reviewed for approval of the extension of work permits until December 31.

In 2019, 16,523 Venezuelans registered for work permits to remain in TT for a year. There have been several extensions over the past four years, although the number of registered migrants has decreased. In 2021 there were 13,000 left and in January of this year, Minister of National Security Fitzgerald Hinds announced there were now only 9,000 Venezuelans legally in TT.


"Venezuelans meet deadline for work-permit renewals"

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