The notice asking 613 persons to report to the Immigration Division of the Ministry of Home Affairs in relation to their “immigration approval documents” has to do with work permits and extensions of stay, an official has said.
The ministry had published a notice in the Sunday Chronicle asking the 613 persons, the majority of whom are Brazilians, to report to the Immigration Division and take along their passports. The passport numbers of the persons were also published.
When Stabroek News visited several hotels where Brazilians congregate on Sunday, persons who spoke indicated that they had not seen the notice and the copy this newspaper showed was the first time they were seeing it.
Yesterday, Stabroek News was told that the notice pertains to the granting of work permits and extensions of stay.
It was explained that when Prime Minister Samuel Hinds was in charge of the mining sector, a protocol whereby the fast-tracking of work permits was implemented. “When the person came into Guyana, it took a lot of time to have the work permit processed,” the official explained.
The majority of persons came to work in the goldfields and consequently, the protocol was implemented and all the worker needed to be allowed to work was a document from the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) indicating that the person had applied for a work permit.
However, many never returned to complete the process and during ‘Opera-tion El Dorado’ in the past months, some of these persons were netted. Sub-sequently, representation was made including by the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA) to the ministers of Home Affairs as well as Natural Resources and the Environment.
An agreement was reached whereby a non-governmental organisation, the Brazilian Institute, screens the Brazilian applicants while the ministry processes documents.
The ministry would periodically send a list to the GGMC to indicate the persons for whom work permits were being processed.
It was explained that there was a big backlog and now this is being cleared hence the notice. The official said it was “positive”
The length of time it took to process work permits has been a concern for foreign nationals.
In April, at a meeting with foreign immigrants and non-immigrants at the Guyana International Con-ference Centre, President Donald Ramotar sought to assure foreign nationals living and working in Guyana that his administration is trying to minimise delays in processing immigration applications and work permits and also to ensure their safety.
Ramotar and Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee, who was also present at the meeting, heard the frustrations of those gathered and tried their best to answer questions in relation to processing time and requirements for immigration paperwork.
Many persons complained about the extremely long waiting time to receive information on the status of immigration paperwork and even national ID applications from the ministry.
Other persons noted that there was discontinuity between work permits and visas, since work permits were being issued for three years, while visas are being issued for one year.