Monday 24 February, 2020

Venezuelans to be registered, pay taxes

Beginning on May 31, Venezuelan nationals in Trinidad and Tobago both legally and illegally will be able to register for the opportunity to work for a period of one year in this country.

The period of registration, which is expected to cost Government some $5 million, will come to a close on June 14. There is no extension following the close of the registration period, and after this time the enforcement of existing immigration laws will resume.

National Security Minister Stuart Young made the announcement at the Post Cabinet briefing on Thursday.

The opportunity to register will also be extended to Venezuelan nationals currently being detained at immigration detention centres for violating immigration laws. Young said these individuals will be released and also allowed to register.

Five registration centres located in Port of Spain, San Fernando, Arima, Cedros and Scarborough will be open from 7 am to 5 pm during the two week period. Interpreters will be present at each centre.

It’s anticipated that approximately 28,000 people will come in to be registered.

As part of the registration process, Venezuelan nationals will be fingerprinted and photographed, and will be expected to provide evidence of their nationality, local address, among other pertinent details. They will also be required to undergo medical examinations.

Registrants will be required to sign a statutory declaration that all the information provided is true and accurate.

Venezuelan nationals will receive a registration card and their photo identification after registration. Once registered they will be considered to have been granted the equivalent of a “Work Permit Exemption”, which will be initially valid for six months.

Young assured that due diligence will be conducted post registration to determine the accuracy of the information provided. If any of the information provided is false the “Work Permit Exemption” will be revoked and the migrant deported.

Young indicated that those who cross the applicable income threshold will pay income tax (PAYE), but will not be asked to pay National Insurance (NIS).

Registered Venezuelans will have access to emergency medical services, primary healthcare and public health, but there is no guarantee to the right to education, training or any other Government service.

Young said that these individuals will be subject to and protected by the material laws of Trinidad and Tobago which protect citizens, residents of Trinidad and Tobago and foreign nationals permitted to be employed in Trinidad and Tobago.

On conclusion of the one year period, barring an extension by Cabinet, the Minister said migrants would not be granted any further time to stay in the country and will be required to return to Venezuela.

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