More than 5,000 foreigners possibly in Guyana illegally

Last Updated on Thursday, 11 February 2016, 21:46 by Denis Chabrol

Minister of Immigration and Citizenship, Winston Felix.

Minister of Immigration and Citizenship, Winston Felix.

More than 5,300 foreigners are believed to be in Guyana illegally because there is no evidence in the immigration records showing that they have left here legally, Minister of Immigration and Citizenship Winston Felix announced Thursday.

He told the National Assembly during the debate on the 2016 National Budget that every effort would be made to clamp down on illegal immigrants who, among other things, burden the country’s social services.

“The flow of illegal immigrants to Guyana is as a result of the pull factor in certain developed countries but stringent checks at certain ports have forced these illegal immigrants from those countries to use Guyana as a transit point but unfortunately quite a number of them remain in this country,” he said.

He said the 5,300 foreigners remain here unaccounted and undocumented. “They are legally here but are now illegal because they have overstayed their time,” he said, adding that they could easily abused because they entered Guyana illegally or used forged documents to deceive immigration authorities.

Statistics show that 1,473 Guyanese visas were issued in 2014; 1,171 in 2015 and 445 in January 2016. In terms of citizenship, 94 foreigners from 15 countries became Guyanese in 2015 and 18 through nationalization.