As the Government’s amnesty programme is set to wind up next week, the Cabinet has decided that immigrants whose applications are still being processed should be exempted from work-permit requirements.
However, this exemption ceases to have effect once an application for amnesty has been denied, the Cabinet says.
The amnesty announced by Prime Minister Gaston Browne commenced on March 1 and was expected to conclude on Saturday, April 30.
However, up to that time, hundreds of undocumented immigrants were still queuing to be processed at the Immigration Department. Accordingly, the amnesty period was extended by an additional 60 days – until June 30.
Persons close to the process said, then, it was a matter of money, since many immigrants simply could not come up with the required amounts within the initial time.
Now, with the temporary work-permit exemption, the same sources say it is a “last-ditch effort” by the Browne Administration to “reverse the exploitation” of the immigrant community.
They are referring to the drastic increases in work-permit fees instituted by the Labour Party Administration after it won the 2018 elections – with some categories reportedly doubling in cost.
The United Progressive Party has promised that, once elected to office, it will reduce those fees to much more affordable levels.
The Party’s promise to amend labour policies to make work permits applicable to an industry – rather than to a single employer – has already been co-opted by the Browne Administration.
Meanwhile, persons who have resided here for a continuous period of four years, but who have not yet completed seven years, will be granted residency under the amnesty.
Additionally, persons with seven or more years of continuous residency will be cleared for citizenship.