ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Immigration, Customs officers and other border control staff have begun specialised training to effectively carry out their duties when dealing with Caricom skilled nationals.
This is in light of recent challenges with skilled nationals who are reportedly not presenting their certificates upon their arrival into the country.
The Caricom Certificate of Recognition of Skills Qualification (Caricom Skills Certificate) gives Caricom nationals the right to seek work or engage in gainful employment in all Caricom member states as either wage earners or non-wage earners without the need to obtain a work permit in the member state in which he/she desires to work.
National Security Minister Dr Errol Cort said skilled nationals visiting the country now find themselves in a dilemma when they are given three months to stay as oppose to the six-month period granted to a certificate holder.
He said this is because they fail to present the requisite documentation upon arrival at VC Bird International Airport.
“Persons who hold a skills certificate would come in; they wouldn’t say anything to the Immigration officers so Immigration is not aware. They may get three months to remain in the country,” the minister said in an exclusive interview with OBSERVER Media.
He explained that once this happens it is difficult for the person or persons to get this rectified.
Upon arrival at a port of entry of a Caricom country, a skilled national is expected to present his/her skills certificate to the Immigration officers who automatically grant six months to remain in the country.
During that period, the holder is required to visit the Labour Department to have the certificate authenticated.
Once the certificate is accepted by the department, that holder would then received an indefinite stamp in their passports allowing them to work freely without hassle.
The training, which started last Thursday, is part of a Caricom initiative aimed at improving the treatment of nationals at ports of entry in the region.
The national security minister said the initiative is to also ensure that the immigration authorities are properly educated in dealing with these varying circumstances.
The training sessions, which are being financed under the 9th European Development Fund (EDF), follows a decision of the COTED in November last year for the commencement of comprehensive training for border control staff in member states.
(More in today’s Daily OBSERVER)