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No one-stop processing of work and residence permits foreseen on St. Maarten

SATURDAY, 08 DECEMBER 2012

PHILIPSBURG–No one-stop processing of work- and residence permits is foreseen for any time soon by Justice Minister Roland Duncan. He was responding on Thursday to questions from Members of Parliament (MPs) about the double procedure applicants have to follow to acquire or renew their work and residence permits.

The work permits are issued by the Ministry of Labour, while the residence permit is the responsibility of the Justice Ministry.

Duncan said the “easiest thing” is for the Immigration and Naturalization Service (IND) of the Justice Ministry to issue both permits, because the Admittance and Expulsion Regulation LTU is carried out by that ministry.

However, he said, “At this rate I can’t see one-stop shopping” for the permits, it is a question of power.” The latter part of his statement refers to his belief that the Labour Ministry does not want to give up its power to process and grant work permits.

The IND is still working on issuing a credit card-sized residence permit card to replace the cumbersome legal-sized residence permit. This change will make the card more user-friendly and eliminate the need for people to walk with paper permits that can easily be torn or destroyed.

Negotiations were ongoing between the Civil Registry, a division of the General Affairs Ministry, and the Justice Ministry to issue the residence permit cards. However, those “discussions died,” according to Duncan, because the Civil Registry is reluctant to part with its card-printing machines. The minister said he could not understand the fuss, because the majority of the work the Civil Registry performs is related to the Justice authorities and procedures.

The Police Department has a similar card-printing machine. That machine is now being reviewed to see if it can be used to issue the residence permit cards.

Duncan has submitted draft amendments to the LTU to the Council of Ministers to review and approve, related to levying a fee for residence permits for the first time.

The draft amendment has set the fee for a “basic” residence permit at NAf. 1,500 per year, NAf. 2,500 for residence permit holders in managerial positions, and NAf. 5,000 for permit holders, who are directors. The residence permit fee for youngsters under age 18 will be NAf. 750. Payment of the fees will be for the account of the permit holders, not the business they work for. If the business wants to pay for the fee, it will be a private agreement between the employers and the permit holder, where such a relationship exists.

The funds will be used to finance the planned US $100 million Justice Park in Cay Hill.

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