Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 17th 2014 Contents Last Friday, the PSA, led by president Watson Duke, together with an immigration officer,
appeared before the Industrial Court after contempt of court proceedings were filed by
Labour Minister Errol Mcleod, who charged that the union and its representative were in vi-
olation of an Industrial Court injunction which sought to have protesting workers return to
their respective work places.
The matter was adjourned to July 18.
Last Thursday, a press release from McLeod called the ongoing action "illegal" and said the Government
must protect the economy.
"The Industrial Court continues to play a vital role in safeguarding the economy as a whole, since its
judgements are not confined to the immediate disputants before it, but also take into account the interest
of the community as a whole. It is a superior court of record, which is equivalent to that of the High Court
of Justice.Thus, violating this injunction is violating the rule of law and can lead to anarchy, if not stemmed
According to the release, the Chief Immigration Officer has noted that the disruptive
action of the staff at the Immigration Division has also resulted in the following:
(i) Extensions of entry certificates for non-nationals to remain in the country are not
(ii) Interviews for permanent resident status are not being conducted;
(iii) Interviews for foreign student permits are not being conducted;
(iv) Visas are not being processed and issued to non-nationals who require them;
(v) The inability to issue new machine readable passports has placed citizens who
hold the old passport, which are only valid up to the end of June 2014, in the position of
being unable to obtain the new machine readable passports and therefore unable to
(vi) Citizens who have been unable to obtain their passports for travel have had their
constitutional freedom of travel as guaranteed by the Constitution of the Republic of
T&T taken away.
(vii) Citizens who are out of T&T and cannot have their passports renewed are at risk
of not having any valid form of identification while abroad and/or may not be able to
travel on expired travel documents and so trapped abroad.
(viii) The department's ability to administer the immigration laws of the country is se-
verely affected including the enforcement of the department, which deals with persons
or permitted entrants who are no longer so to be treated.
The release stated the Government is exploring all options to ensure that the backlog is cleared up
It is a longwinded process. From a business
perspectives, this just increases our overheads
and it is pointless. But this is about the union
fighting the Government. It is the job of the
Government to take control," he said.
Denis Pierre, director of Pro Language Insti-
tute School in St James, told the Business
Guardian on Monday the problems at the
Immigration Division have been affecting for-
eign students for the past two months.
"We have been affected and we send our
students with all their documents to the Exten-
sion Department, which is a branch of the
"They have been closed for almost the last
two months. The students go for a student
permit there. The entire thing is about $700
and they pay it in two parts," he said.
Pierre described the process for the Venezue-
lan students as a "long one."
"Venezuelan students have to apply to the
government for US dollars but, at the pref-
erential rate, which is ten times cheaper than
the real rate. The black market rate is real high
and they cannot afford that. So they need to
register in advance of about three months with
language schools like our own before they
make that application. They apply with us
and we give them a document to take back
to Cadivi, which is the Venezuela state depart-
ment responsible for issuing foreign currency,"
Pierre said Venezuelan students then have
to open a US bank account in T&T for the
Venezuelan government to transfer funds to
cover living expenses in T&T.
"The money for school tuition is transferred
directly to the language school," he said.
Pierre said the problems at the Immigration
Division is "bad for everyone."
"Students worry as they are here 'illegal' as
they do not have their visas. The Colombians
and Venezuelans worry as they think it looks
as they were here illegal when that is not the
case. This is a loss of revenue for the Gov-
ernment. If you multiply $700 by the number
of students, it is a lot of money," he said.
Joan Jeatto, director of English For Personal
Advancement (EPA) based in Diego Martin,
said the problems at the Immigration Division
are also affecting foreign students financially
who need a student visa to study English here.
Although she noted some of her students
from Guadeloupe do not need student visas,
other South Americans, like Venezuelans, do.
"They have to go to the Immigration Division
and it takes 14 days to get their student visas.
During that time, they would be here in T&T
basically illegal without their documents to
get started," she said.
Labour relations and investment
Prakash Ramadhar, political leader of the
Congress of the People, in a walkabout in
Chaguanas last Saturday told the media that
what is happening at the Immigration Division
and the industrial action would "deter foreign
"Messages that are being sent could be very
hazardous to the well-being of individuals
who wish to invest in this nation, even local
investment and foreign investment. They
always look at your labour relations and how
things are conducted here and I want to say
in the longer term, what might be short-term
gains in the minds of few would bring long-
term pain," he said.
JULY 2014 • WEEK THREE www.guardian.co.tt BUSINESS GUARDIAN
NEWS | BG5
Money woes for foreign students
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