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Is the Immigration Dept cruel & heartless after hurricanes Irma & Maria?

- Department in a press statement reminded public of requirements to remain in Territory while changing jobs or status
According to Acting Chief Immigration Officer Geraldine Ritter-Freeman, following the passage of the recent hurricanes, provision is being made for skilled workers or other workers deemed critical for the rebuilding and recovery efforts to remain during the transitional phase. Photo: Youtube
The Immigration Department is accused of being heartless for forcing work permit holders who lost their jobs only because of the killer storms Irma and Maria in September 2017 to still leave the Territory even after they found new employment. Photo: VINO
The Immigration Department is accused of being heartless for forcing work permit holders who lost their jobs only because of the killer storms Irma and Maria in September 2017 to still leave the Territory even after they found new employment. Photo: VINO
Both Scrub Island Resort (inset) and Long Bay Resort have been closed due to the recent hurricanes. One former employee of Scrub Island Resort and another from Long Bay Resort alleged they were still forced to leave the island even though they had found other employment and had only lost their jobs due to hurricanes Irma and Maria. Photo: VINO/File
Both Scrub Island Resort (inset) and Long Bay Resort have been closed due to the recent hurricanes. One former employee of Scrub Island Resort and another from Long Bay Resort alleged they were still forced to leave the island even though they had found other employment and had only lost their jobs due to hurricanes Irma and Maria. Photo: VINO/File
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI- There are growing concerns that the Virgin Islands’ Government, through the Immigration Department, is forcing work permit holders who lost their jobs only because of the killer storms Irma and Maria in September 2017 to still leave the Territory even after they found new employment.

Many employees, who called our newsroom over the past months to complain, reported that while they understand that one must be in the Virgin Islands for 5 years to remain while changing jobs, the department is “heartless knowing the only reason they are in the situation they are in is because of Hurricane Irma.”

In other words, their place of employment was affected, in some cases closed down, because of the hurricanes and even though they found new employment days after they were laid off and produced the evidence to the Immigration Department they are still forced to leave the Virgin Islands (VI).

Hurricanes or not, you must leave if not here for 5 years- Ag CIO

Speaking through the Government Information Services (GIS) a few days ago, Acting Chief Immigration Officer, Mrs Geraldine Ritter-Freeman said, “persons who have been working in the Territory for five years or more and are changing employers; and persons who have resided in the Territory for three years or more and are seeking to change their status to seeking employment, will no longer be required to leave the Territory during the transitioning process and can apply for a conditional permit.”

Mrs Ritter-Freeman added that such persons must satisfy the interviewing officer that their place of residence is in suitable living condition and that they are financially capable of supporting themselves during the transitional period.

However, three of the employees who spoke to this reporter on condition of anonymity, said this does not help them as they were here for less than three years. One lady worked at Long Bay Beach Resort, which was closed because of the destruction of Hurricane Irma, and another- a male- worked at Scrub Island, which was closed because of the hurricanes and also found new employment, but was still forced to leave the Territory despite the only reason they lost their jobs was because of Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

Another work permit holder told our newsroom that she was in the VI for 2 years and 3 months but lost her job following Hurricane Irma. She found new employment four weeks after, but was still asked to leave the Territory. “This is wrong and heartless, but I guess that is their law and they have no regard for how and why we are in this situation,” she said with tears in her eyes.

In response, the Acting Immigration Chief told GIS: “all other persons seeking to change jobs or whose status do not meet the requirements are required to notify the Immigration Department immediately as those persons will be required to exit the Territory and return, if applicable, on an approved labour clearance.”

She further stated, “following the passage of the recent hurricanes, provision is being made for skilled workers or other workers deemed critical for the rebuilding and recovery efforts to remain during the transitional phase.”

‘I understand both sides’- Julian Willock

Former Permanent Secretary and Businessman Julian Willock said this story was of interest to him after he saw it posted on this news site and called our newsroom to comment. Mr Willock, who has been in the news recently, bringing solutions to move the VI forward and is widely regarded as a candidate for the 2019 General election, said he just made representation for a young lady in a similar situation; however, “I understand both sides. Notwithstanding, I found Mrs Ritter-Freeman to be very professional in the way she explained to me her position on the matter, but it’s a tough public policy situation trying to balance the competing interests, while upholding the immigrations laws,” he said.

The Acting Chief Immigration Officer in a press statement though GIS said on December 1, 2017 that on a “case-by-case basis she will review exceptional circumstances. This policy seeks to ensure that Virgin Islanders, Belongers, Permanent Residents and persons that usually reside in the Territory are given due consideration and preference for available jobs, especially during these trying times.”

46 Responses to “Is the Immigration Dept cruel & heartless after hurricanes Irma & Maria?”

  • yardie (03/12/2017, 16:49) Like (20) Dislike (10) Reply
    Leave the people them stay if they found a work
    • ... (03/12/2017, 18:11) Like (22) Dislike (2) Reply
      Its not like when they send them home locals are getting the jobs anyways, so the policy does not make sense!!!
      • Hmmmm (04/12/2017, 10:27) Like (9) Dislike (3) Reply
        People dont just get jobs, they prove themselves worthy of a position within an organization no matter how menial the task. If all locals, especially the younger ones would actually show up to jobs when theyre given a chance that would be a good start
    • job (04/12/2017, 06:53) Like (6) Dislike (2) Reply
      Boy I feel sorry for the attitude of the BVI. The people from the work hard in making this country what it is. We now need to rebuild give those who can afford to remain and find jobs. At least give them 6 months. What do we have to loose?
      • Ageed (05/12/2017, 15:27) Like (3) Dislike (1) Reply
        " The people,,work hard in making this country what it is"...a crime infested relic with rampant looting murdering, prostitution, child molestation ,homicide and suicide combos, witchcraft,overpopulated prison,degraded education, career beggars etc.
        The BVI was a better place for humanity before "The people" make the country what it is. I feel sorry for the BVI.
        Hopefully, the much needed cleansing by Mother Nature will initiate a more thoughtful and selective approach to rebuilding the BVI with quality and useful imported products.

  • Xxx (03/12/2017, 16:53) Like (29) Dislike (31) Reply
    If they gotta go...they gotta go.
    • Vg man (03/12/2017, 19:37) Like (16) Dislike (5) Reply
      Alot of them have gone and more going. My tenat is goin cause we have nothing here to offer them. I need a tenant
      • Reply (03/12/2017, 21:18) Like (13) Dislike (4) Reply
        She has to understand her actions and how it can hurt the local struggling economy.

        Just my 3 cents
    • @ xxx (03/12/2017, 21:08) Like (10) Dislike (7) Reply
      Hope this applies to her uncle white head
      • John (04/12/2017, 21:13) Like (2) Dislike (2) Reply
        No it doesn't apply to so called white head. He is from here as well as his brother, ms Ritter-Fredman's fathed and his sister. Why do you newcomers have to talk about thinga you don't understand? And yes, Ms Ritter-Freeman is from here because her father is from here. Virgin Islander status is by descent.

        Why don't people that come here ever want to go home? There is no work for you, but you want endless work permit renewals. Don't you miss anyone or anything in your home? Don't you have any fond memories? After work permit, then you want permanent residence and then citizenship. That not being enough for you, you then want to run for elected office. But you don't want to go home.
        • . (06/12/2017, 14:13) Like (0) Dislike (2) Reply
          Exactly! Just wait, it going to get worse! They spoil off their own country, then they come spoil ours!
  • Liat 521 (03/12/2017, 17:02) Like (3) Dislike (7) Reply
    why JW in every cool But this is a serious issue I know persons in this dilemma
  • wize up (03/12/2017, 17:54) Like (39) Dislike (5) Reply
    the same thing happens in other countries all over the world so what's the big deal: why some folks seek to have little regard for the laws of the territory and this goes beyond immigration: the territory now have more workers than work following the hurricanes........
    • @ wize up (03/12/2017, 18:04) Like (12) Dislike (28) Reply
      Only the whites can stay you island people must go!
      • wize up (03/12/2017, 21:05) Like (2) Dislike (7) Reply
        @ @ wize up: not all island people have an issue if; or when asked to leave this territory; the white folks run things up in this place and been doing so for years(keep the faith)
      • boy blue (05/12/2017, 17:29) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
        Welllll...The Whites so far are not the contributors to the burden on the BVI's treasury or contributors to the degrading of the Baby's s quality of life.
      • Furious (06/12/2017, 21:29) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply

        Idiot wjo was d first to go back way day cum frm soon as d huricane done d whites d same whites left u locals to fix an deal wit ur sh*t

  • belonger (03/12/2017, 18:19) Like (39) Dislike (4) Reply
    If you're here for less than 5years, got layoff or fired, where is the best place for you to be? Ain't where you came from. I agree with the Immigration Dept. They have to keep a check and balance on enforcing policy and the law. So there's nothing heartless about that. What some establishment has chosen to do is to fire the bvislanders first, because if they fire the expats then they have to go home and that's a Shame. The bvislanders have the right to be employed.
    • @ belonger (03/12/2017, 18:57) Like (28) Dislike (8) Reply
      Boss whether they lay off expats or not no one wants to hire locals period including this government
    • me (03/12/2017, 20:10) Like (27) Dislike (10) Reply
      Can't believe your comment, "bvislanders have a right to be employed." Put that under the skills section of your resume. I'm a bvislander but I find that persons who hold this type of mentality, that they are owed a job just because they born here are always the most lazy workers. Attitude of entitlement. This is no better than a person feeling that because they have a lighter skin pigment they deserve a job over a person who is darker.
      • Good reporting Willock (04/12/2017, 03:43) Like (10) Dislike (1) Reply
        Companies that laid off staff should not get any work permit for new workers. Hope immigration and Labour on top of this and don't be tricked. These politicians will give directive to do what you all dont want to do. At times u all are between a rock and a hard place..
        • @ good reporting willock (04/12/2017, 07:17) Like (2) Dislike (3) Reply
          Since when mr willock is a reporter?

          The man busy running for politics so leave the senator alone please
      • Ignorant Politicians (04/12/2017, 03:52) Like (16) Dislike (0) Reply
        I heard some government ministers say they don't read bloggs. How ignorant. They are telling us that they are not interested in what we are saying. They better start reading. From the bloggs prior to last election I knew VIP was going to lose and NDP was going to Win. From the bloggs I Can tell you the people dont want neither VIP or NDP.
        • Dont believe it (04/12/2017, 07:36) Like (6) Dislike (0) Reply
          Yes they read the blogs. Don't let them tell you that S#!T.
  • officer (03/12/2017, 19:47) Like (22) Dislike (1) Reply
    Ok i get it. But this being the case with the 5 years rule n seeing who here long enough time n who a local kool. Hmm so then u all should be cancelling knew work permit n nor letting in anyone. Cause im sure some of the people who here less than 5 helping the economy in some way or to rebuild. Rather than bring in a total stranger.
    • @Officer. They failed us.. (04/12/2017, 03:01) Like (4) Dislike (1) Reply
      I heard officer at the Airport complaining last month November in anquish about so much people here out of work and people are coming in on new work permit...They all failed us in these ruff times. Govt. Labour. DDM. Immigration.. They dont understand suffering because the big ones are comfortable in their hotel rooms of with their tax payer generator giving them all the comfort they need with their big salary still going to the bank
  • island man (03/12/2017, 21:07) Like (7) Dislike (5) Reply
    Esteem you said she was professional? You are one of the lucky few
  • Who u kno and Who knows you (04/12/2017, 02:52) Like (5) Dislike (0) Reply
    I heard a lot of stories. Lots of people get real hard time and unneccessary bad treatment while others get queen and king treatment.. its all about who no you and who u kno Friends and associates do matter especially when their ars no clear policies and leadrrship is absent. Or missing.
    • Sensealone (06/12/2017, 03:59) Like (0) Dislike (1) Reply
      If you attend a certain church in da bay you can get anything from immigration even when overstating.
  • My Husband at Work (04/12/2017, 03:17) Like (20) Dislike (0) Reply
    He came home and said his company had a meeting and they will Cut salary by a third no one get laid off, every worker get cut top to bottom, he sounded sad but I was so happy to hear that, laying off is the News I didnt want to hear because he is on permit. I want to say thanks to that company God will bless you. I see those laid off Rite way workers walking the street daily and as a family person i know the heart melt. Cut everyone time and keeping everyone is a better option. This is no time for vengeance, tricks and greed. This is time to show love, to show care and to help.. These laid off workers were there working hard and willingly when things were good. Its now wrong to pick and chose let everyone make a sacrifice to keep everyone. Godly leadership. Thanks again to my hussy boss.
  • No One should get laid off (04/12/2017, 03:37) Like (5) Dislike (0) Reply
    This storm gives Weak bad minded bosses the chance for vengeance against staff that stand up for their rights. This the perfect opportunity to shut them up. Knock them off now they dont have anyone to complain to. Truth be told no one should get laid off cut everyone time in doing so the staff can be rotated in away that their is work and a pay check for everyone.
  • Proud Dominican (04/12/2017, 05:17) Like (14) Dislike (2) Reply
    The Hill man give me an extension even though I'm here less than five years and lost my job due to the hurricanes.
  • tola mi love (04/12/2017, 11:28) Like (14) Dislike (6) Reply
    They need to go back home, It will not hurt the economy there money dont stay the BVI people. Don't you guys see the lines sending out money everyday come on. They have a lot of bad things to say about the BVI but don"t want to go back home hmmm.... If they are not working how are they going to survive, robbing and stealing. you guy don't understand the worst of this has not came yet, let them go back home when we get our country back together they can come back.
    • Hmm (04/12/2017, 18:37) Like (4) Dislike (1) Reply
      Well in all fairness the only property they can own here is a vehicle. So why spend all the money here and then when it's time to go back to their home everything was in waste?
  • my three cents (04/12/2017, 13:59) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
    whole system dealing with foreigners of any definition here, is F----. it is so complicated, tangled and stupid,
    it defies description. bvi laws for foreigners to work here, live here or whatever - well belongers and citizens
    do come first. that much is fair. but how the rest is handled is like spitting on everyone else, and then not
    expecting trouble. stupid bvi.
    • brad boynes. (04/12/2017, 14:25) Like (3) Dislike (2) Reply
      U sound like a darm ingrate. I challenge you to fly home to your coob this weekend.
    • boy blue (05/12/2017, 17:18) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
      It is a humongous world and the wonderful thing is that in many instances people have choices. Why any one and so very many that it has become too many, the foreigners to whom you refer, make the choice to come to the BVI. The problem then, lies in the character and mental health of these foreigners. It would be fair, I think, to assume that they have been rejected by the wonderful countries , hence their desperation and ange ragainst the BVI, their last resort.
  • Proud Virgin Islander (04/12/2017, 16:29) Like (8) Dislike (5) Reply
    Why is it most of you think that we must break the laws to accommodate people. Mrs Ritter-Freeman don't compromise yourself for any one. Follow the law. They won't break the law where they come from to accommodate Virgin Islanders. I am sick and tired of hearing expatriates singing about building this country like Virgin Islanders didn't do anything to build it.
  • Obvious (04/12/2017, 16:57) Like (7) Dislike (0) Reply
    Some people just don't get it. The Law is there and the individuals needs to respect it. Immigration job is not easy and some individuals want the officers to not do their duty. There are laws that govern each country and where ever we go, we must adhere to the rules and guidelines, no exception....
  • Abide (04/12/2017, 17:43) Like (11) Dislike (1) Reply
    The only place in the world where people feel that the laws and rules of the land should not be followed is the BVI. In the USA if you visit on a visa even if it is for medical reasons if you go beyond three months you must leave and come back for more time. The rules are the rules.
  • faith (04/12/2017, 19:01) Like (1) Dislike (1) Reply
    Don't worry, hard hard hard days ahead for all. Time will tell.
  • boy blue (05/12/2017, 15:48) Like (8) Dislike (1) Reply
    For the life of me I cannot understand why people choose to be humiliated rather than go home. You should be rejoicing after talking so bad about the BVI and it's people. Always Karma will bite the ungrateful and their ingratitude. Wherever and whenever you folks go, times will get worse because the BVI is a blessed place and it was abused and mistreated by too many of you and your chldren. BVI had a cleansing and now it must rebuild. Who have to go is part of nature's doing.
  • Ms wize (07/12/2017, 10:04) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    I really deem it a privilege to be living in the Bvi. I know riles are there as guidelines, but rules can be bent. I will not say a word of bad about bvi rules. My place of work was damaged but still we can work in spite of. I see people got laid off but not because of Irma. They knew months prior. To be honest it's not fair to see some of the BVI landers on phone for more hours than they work while others are sweating bullets. I know it's bvislander first but if you don't step up to the mark businesses will not want to employ you. Just saying....
  • me (08/12/2017, 16:46) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Really???? Immigration has always been unfair to us all. Which is why I bowed out. Good luck born theres. I left you all your island.

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