Thursday 3 December, 2020

Young: Venezuelan registration is not a path toward citizenship

National Security Minister Stuart Young said that the national registration process is not a path toward Trinidad and Tobago citizenship.

Speaking in Parliament on Monday, Young said slammed the Opposition for spreading disinformation and accused them of xenophobia.

“As we specifically said when we announced this policy, nothing with the registration of these persons from Venezuela gives them anything under the Immigration Act toward becoming citizens or residents of Trinidad and Tobago.

“This is a one-year period for humanitarian purposes and again, the continued introduction of misinformed information by those on the other side is very disheartening,” he said.

Young was responding to questions put forward by Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal after Venezuelan ambassador Carlos Perez reportedly said on a local radio programme that the registration programme would give Venezuelans an opportunity to apply for residency or citizenship.

According to the Immigration Act, a person can apply for resident status once they have been living in the country for at least five years (or with special permission from the Minister upwards of one year).

Anyone who arrived in the country illegally or has a criminal record is not eligible for residency or citizenship.

Anyone who leaves the country and stays for over one year (without a certificate of exemption) loses resident status.

Anyone who, after being granted residency, is convicted of a crime, loses resident status and could be deported.

Section 6 is as follows:

“6. (1) Subject to this Act and the Regulations, persons who come within the following classes may on application in the prescribed form, be granted permission by the Minister if he thinks fit, to become residents, that is to say:

 (a) a permitted entrant who—

 (i) by reason of his education, occupational qualifications, personal history, employment record, training, skills or other special qualifications has established or is likely to be able to establish himself successfully in Trinidad and Tobago in a profession, trade, self-operating business or agricultural enterprise and who has sufficient means of support to maintain himself and his immediate family in Trinidad and Tobago; and

 (ii) has been continuously resident in Trinidad and Tobago for five years or such shorter period (not being less than twelve months) as the Minister may in the special circumstances of any particular case accept;

 (b) a person who is the parent or grandparent of either a citizen or resident of Trinidad and Tobago, residing in Trinidad and Tobago, if such citizen or resident is willing and able to provide care and maintenance for that person;

 (c) the spouse of a citizen or resident of Trinidad and Tobago; and

 (d) a person who has ceased to be a citizen of Trinidad and Tobago by reason of his voluntary acquisition of citizenship of another country.

 (2) In determining the suitability of an applicant for the grant of resident status under this section, the Minister shall be satisfied, inter alia, that the applicant—

 (a) had entered the country legally;

 (b) is not in a prohibited class; and

 (c) is of good character as evidenced by a police certificate of good character.”

Under Section 17 of the Trinidad and Tobago Constitution, anyone born in Trinidad and Tobago is a citizen, with some exceptions.

"17. (1) Subject to subsection (2), every person born in Trinidad and Tobago after the commencement of this Constitution shall become a citizen of Trinidad and Tobago at the date of his birth.

(2) A person shall not become a citizen of Trinidad and Tobago by virtue of subsection (1), if at the time of his birth—

(a) neither of his parents is a citizen of Trinidad and Tobago and either of them possesses such immunity from suit and legal process as is accorded to an envoy of a foreign sovereign power accredited to Trinidad and Tobago; or

(b) either of his parents is an enemy alien and the birth occurred in a place then under occupation by the enemy."

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