As the process for the re-registration of Venezuelan migrants ended yesterday, some migrants complained of having difficulties getting proof of address, job letters and filling out the Ministry of National Security forms in English.
Over 16,523 migrants were expected to be re-registered from March 8 to March 26. This re-registration will give them clearance to work legally in T&T for a further six months.
At the San Fernando Immigration Office at Knox Street yesterday, a steady flow of migrants arrived to drop off sealed envelopes in a dropbox set up outside the building. A source said about 200 people dropped off applications yesterday.
Some of them were women with new-born babies in arms.
Another migrant, who spoke with the assistance of a translator, said she was informed of the closure of the re-registration two days ago and had difficulty getting her forms filled out. She said a friend later assisted her but some of the required information could not be obtained.
For the re-registration process, migrants had to submit a completed pre-registration form in English, a copy of their migrant registration card, a recent photo, a copy of the biodata page on their passport, a Cedula card, proof of address and a job letter.
Coordinator of the La Romaine Migrant Support group Angie Ramnarine said many migrants faced similar hardships. She explained that initially, one of the requirements was a job letter.
“With COVID-19, many migrants were out of work so they could not get a job letter. Eventually, the Ministry of National Security said that a job letter was no longer deemed necessary criteria so more people eventually came out to register,” Ramnarine said.
She expressed relief that the process was so seamless, saying more people could have come forward. Ramnarine also said that the data collected by the ministry will be interesting, as it will show how many of the 16,523 registered migrants remained in T&T one and a half years later. Ramnarine also expressed concern for the hundreds of undocumented migrants who are being exploited for sex and labour in T&T. She noted that some formal programme has to be conducted to assist the undocumented migrants, many of whom have become destitute.
In San Fernando, for example, a group of migrants have been seen begging on the streets.
Efforts to contact Minister of National Security Stuart Young were unsuccessful yesterday. However, a communications official at the ministry said a statement will be issued about the re-registration process soon.