St. Maarten Immigration Department clears request backlog

POSTED: 06/14/12

St. Maarten- The Immigration Department no longer has a back log on documents that had to be processed. Secretary General of the Immigration and Naturalization Department Udo Aron embarked on a project to clear the backlog as a priority starting in January.

Before the project started it took roughly four months for an application to be processed. As of January the time was reduced to two months and all the requests being handled now are for requests that were submitted in May. This means that applications are now being handled within the legally stipulated six week period.

Aron says the department has gotten positive reviews for completing requests faster, but a small group continues to press for the applications to be handled immediately. The department can’t do immediate “granting” because it must conduct background checks to ensure that the information they receive is “sound and legal.” People whose documents are in order are contacted by the department with the answer on their request.

Aron also stressed that first time applicants must be outside of St. Maarten when they file their requests. The law remains that way so that the government will not have major issues finding and expelling a person if the application is denied.

Aron has also noted that people who are detained for not having the required documents to live in St. Maarten are no longer being held in police cells for extended periods of time. The law only allows for them to be detained for five days. He also said that the police only detain people if there is sufficient grounds to expel them and affirmed that living here without the necessary legal documents is a violation of the Penal Code and the National Ordinance on Admittance and Expulsion (LTU).