Government Service Caribbean Netherlands RCN organized a joint town hall meeting Thursday, with representatives of Immigration and Naturalization Service IND, Social Affairs and Employment Unit SZW, the Police and Royal Dutch Marechaussee and the Civil Registry.
The meeting attracted a lower number of participants than previous town halls. Due to ongoing renovations at Eugenius Johnson Centre, the meeting was moved to Child Focus in Windwardside. Goal of the meeting was to have each stakeholder involved in the immigration process to present their distinct responsibilities with regard to admittance, registration and detection of irregularities.
IND Head for the Caribbean Netherlands George Mensche gave an introductory overview of the immigration process. He began with the Marechaussee’s role as border personnel, evaluating visas and stays of foreigners on the island. He also spoke of the regulations for work-based residence permits for foreign nationals, which the IND is processing. Upon the Executive Council’s approval of work permit requests, SZW evaluates compliance. Once the work permit is approved the IND issues the work-related residency status. Only following such approvals the Civil Registry can issue a residency card, which has to be renewed annually. Employers bringing foreign nationals must therefore request the processing of work permit residency papers well before the arrival of a foreign employee. This is a cumbersome process for employers.
Chief of Saba Police Herman Oosterveen, who is also a member of the Marechaussee, explained the structure of the force and their distinctive roles in the Caribbean Netherlands vis-à-vis local police responsibilities. Human trafficking, travel and identification, border security, and other aspects fall under the Marechaussee’s portfolio. It also operates an intelligence unit on criminal activities.
Mensche explained that foreigners can stay on Saba for up to three months, after which they require a residency permit from the IND. He presented the separate residency requirements for Dutch nationals and foreign nationals seeking Dutch naturalization.
He stressed that Saba IND does not handle visa requests. These must be obtained in the country of origin via Dutch embassies there.
Civil Registry Head Nellie Peterson also held a presentation, followed by Acting Saba Chief of Police Wingrove Baker on the controls on residency papers and other investigations conducted by the local police. He stressed that the identity of informants to the police becomes part of public records, yet the police relies on individuals’ civicresponsibility to volunteerinformation.
Social Affairs and Employment Unit SZW was represented by Martijn Schuuring. No representatives were present from the Island and Executive Councils. The town hall meeting ended with an extensive question-and-answer session.