The Immigration Department is conducting heightened inspections on households of persons renewing work permits or seeking to change jobs in the territory.
Acting Chief Immigration Officer, Geraldine Ritter-Freeman said Immigration will not renew permits if the department is not satisfied that applicants are living in ‘favourable’ conditions.
“We have a Surveillance Unit that always does site inspections. We have had to ramp that up, of course, because of the situation with the hurricanes and homes being destroyed, we want to ensure that persons are living in favourable conditions before we approve them to remain in the territory,” Ritter-Freeman said.
She said Immigration ‘double checks’ even when landlords write letters and testimonials claiming that homes are livable.
I’ve seen it with my own eyes
The acting Immigration boss said inspectors look out for certain signs when determining whether households are in good condition.
“When we go out, we report on what we saw and then a decision is made between myself and the Labour Commissioner and other persons to determine whether or not we think that is an appropriate situation. So, there is no checklist that we’ve established to say ‘this is right and this is wrong’. But certainly, 20 people living in a two-bedroom apartment; that is not favourable.”
“I can tell you that there are less than favourable conditions right now that I have seen with my own eyes,” she added.
Ritter-Freeman said favourable conditions are determined on a case-by-case basis and that Immigration officers have been instructed to be ‘empathetic’ and use discretion when evaluating these cases.
In the meantime, the public is being asked to be compliant.
“We are not trying to invade anyone’s privacy or anything like that. We have to do what we have to do to make sure that our environment is safe and that we are keeping our end of the bargain in terms of border security and national security on a whole,” Ritter-Freeman said.
“You just don’t want people to become a burden on the state and living in conditions that are not favourable.”
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