Venezuelans get one-year work permit extension

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

In this file photo, Venezuelans wait outside the Immigration Division, National Security Ministry, Port of Spain to collect new registration cards.

Venezuelans who registered for the amnesty granted by the government in 2019 will be allowed to live and work in Trinidad and Tobago for one more year.

In Legal Notice no 53, published in the Gazette of March 1, the Ministry of National Security extended the validity of Venezuelans’ registration cards until December 31.

The statement said: “A Venezuelan registrant who is issued a permit is exempt from the requirement for a work permit to engage in employment in TT as prescribed by regulation 10 of the regulations.”

The notice was signed by National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds on February 9. It will apply to the 13,500 Venezuelans who re-registered in March 2021.

Initially, 15,523 Venezuelans were registered, but some have left TT or did not re-register.

This will be the fourth extension of the work permits of registered Venezuelans.

The first extension was approved in August 2020 until the end of that year, owing to the covid19 pandemic. Cabinet then approved a second six-month extension and re-registration. In September 2021, Venezuelans were granted a third extension, through a label on their cards that expired on December 31.

Newsday spoke with several Venezuelans about thelatest extension.

Carla Martínez said: “Thanks to God and to the TT government, those of us who have the work permit can rest easy for one more year.”

But she said she was a little disappointed that the exemption did not include other benefits.

“I have two children who are seven and nine years old and they are not studying. They have been here with me for three years and they are missing out on their education. I don’t understand why the TT government still refuses to give migrant children the right to education,” she said.

Alfonso Rodríguez was also grateful for the extra year to stay in TT, but said he expected more.

“It’s been almost three years now that we have simple work permits. There are no other benefits like education and health, beyond emergencies,” he said.

Rodríguez believes the TT government can do more for the Venezuelans.

“Venezuelans can contribute much more to this country if the authorities sit down to talk with us. There are many professionals who can contribute their knowledge to boost the TT economy,” he said.

Carlos Perdomo said Hinds should have elaborated on the information.

“We do not know if this year we will be able to leave TT to visit our families in Venezuela and return to our jobs with peace of mind, without fear of being returned by immigration at ports or airports.

“The cards say they expired since 2020, and that raises doubts for many immigration officials.

“I think the government could provide a new card with a valid date and other benefits,” he said.

The statement also did not mention the Venezuelans who did not register in 2019.

Newsday sent WhatsApp messages to Hinds but gor no response.