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Guyanese among Caricom nationals to face St. Kitts-Nevis immigration clamp down

Saint Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister, Timothy Harris.

With the expiration of an amnesty for persons in breach of immigration rules on Friday, the St. Kitts and Nevis authorities are about to clamp down on Guyanese and other persons overstaying in that twin-island federation.

There is a large community of Guyanese residing there, many putting down roots since they had been hired to work as cane harvesters in the now closed sugar industry.

The amnesty, which began in July 2015 and expired on October 16, 2015, had allows undocumented Caricom nationals in St. Kitts and Nevis to regularize their status regarding outstanding payments for work permits and residency once they had no criminal record. Under the amnesty, outstanding payments for years prior to 2015 had been waived.

The Saint Kitts Nevis Observer reported that that country’s Prime Minister, Timothy Harris told a caller on the debut edition of the weekly radio talk show ‘Working for you’ that the Unity administration is looking to enhance the country’s immigration system and therefore will be allocating more funding for that agency in the upcoming budget.

“We hope that we will have enhanced immigration services. We hope that we will have proper policing of persons who are overstaying in our country by the immigration officers.”

Additionally, the government is looking to clamp down on those individuals who are working illegally in the private sector.

“We hope that those persons who are working without work permits… also will be dealt with by the relevant agencies of the government.”

The government will make the Immigration Department more “civilianized”, the Minister revealed, pointing out that it would be removed from under the control of the Police Force and be made an independent agency.

“We are working on that plan, and in the budget coming we will be able to say more on that and to put some resources in the execution of the civilianization of the immigration support services,” said Prime Minister Harris.

In a recent interview with the Observer, Federal Minister of Labour, Vance Amory had indicated that there are a number of undocumented workers in the federation, and the government is currently trying to remedy that situation.

He informed that the relevant agencies are currently carrying out an investigation to pinpoint where those illegal workers are. Amory called on them to get “straightened”.