Venezuelans legally registered with the TT government since 2019 will receive a new extension of their work permits.
National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds made this announcement on the Eye on Dependency radio show on i95.5FM on Sunday morning.
He said the government has made humanitarian decisions regarding people of other nationalities who are in the country due to socioeconomic situations in their countries, and Venezuelans are among them.
Hinds recalled in the case of Venezuelans, the government has been granting permits for them to remain under better circumstances since 2019 and many have been in TT for more than eight years.
He said currently 9,133 Venezuelans have updated registration cards, but 449 who committed crimes or violated the law were sent back to their country.
Hinds said there are also a large number of Venezuelans who have returned to their country of their own free will and another 4,000 who are still evaluating their status. These make up the more than 13,000 Venezuelans who re-registered in 2021.
He said he has been working closely with the Venezuelan embassy in a joint collaboration on repatriation.
The official decree is expected to be published in a gazette in the coming days. This will be the fourth extension of work permits for Venezuelans since 2019, when 16,523 initially opted for an amnesty allowing them to stay in Trinidad and Tobago legally.
Hinds did not say how long this extension will last. He also did not talk about other benefits requested by Venezuelans such as education for their children, expanded services in the health system, driver’s licences or inclusion of new people in the registry.
The news was welcomed by the Venezuelan community. Hundreds of migrants said the extension of work permits will give them peace of mind.
Julmary Madriz Belle, a Venezuelan community leader, told Newsday on Monday the new renewal of work permits is a relief for those 9,133 people approved.
“It gives employers the confidence to continue giving them work,” she said.
However, Belle said it is important for the communication between the TT government and Venezuelans here legally to improve.
“There should be a direct channel of communication for all those complaints and recommendations of many people, directly and indirectly, affected. We must sit at a table together with the Ministry of Education to find a solution to the serious situation of thousands of children unable to study in the country losing years of learning that will affect them for life,” she said.
Belle also said there are many Venezuelans in the process of obtaining residency who were not granted work permits.
Other Venezuelans mentioned other needs and asked Hinds to attend to them.
Marilyn Godoy said: “Those of us registered should have permits to be able to go to Venezuela to visit our families and return to our jobs here without losing our registration.”
Marian Natera asked Hinds to have the approvals forwarded to all public and private bodies.
“Many people here don’t know our work permits have been renewed. That prevents us from opening bank accounts, keeping jobs, qualifying for employment benefits that by law should protect us, as well as qualifying for driver’s licences. Many Venezuelans could be hired as drivers but cannot because they do not have licences,” she said.
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