~ Permits to be revoked if visitors overstay ~
AIRPORT–The revocation of the residence permits of immigrants who stand as guarantors for persons who overstay their visit to St. Maarten is amongst the measures that will be instituted by Immigration and Border Protection Service (IBP) as it intensifies its control at the country’s main port of entry.
Dutch nationals who stand as guarantors for visitors who overstay can be fined, blacklisted and barred from standing as guarantors in future.
IBP said in a press release on Monday that it will be increasing its controls at the ports of entry and enforcing its regulations more strictly in an effort to stem illegal immigration in the country. IBP said with the many issues affecting St. Maarten, a number of initiatives have been put in place over the last two years to curb the flow of illegal immigration to St. Maarten and to inform residents about their roles in the process as well.
Duration of stay
IBP said the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Travel Information Manual (TIM), used by service providers in the travel industry, has been updated to reflect current policies and regulations. The most important changes include clarifying the duration of stay for tourists.
For visa-restricted visitors and nationals who are not from the European Union, USA or Canada, the maximum duration of stay allowed at entry is 30 days. “These nationals are warned not to purchase tickets beyond 30 days prior to arriving on the island,” the release said.
Travel agents are also asked to refer to the TIM for updates on duration of stay. An official request for extension of stay is required if the person wants to remain on the island for more than 30 days. The request must be submitted to IBP Headquarters after arrival.
Visitors who overstay their allotted time without an extension “will be pursued and penalised accordingly.” IBP said this may include deportation or refusal of entry for a specified period of time. For persons who have obtained a visa to enter St. Maarten, the visa will be cancelled and the relevant embassy will be informed in addition to the other measures that will be taken.
IBP said residents, who invite visitors to the island through visa applications or a statement of guarantee, will be held liable if the visitor does not return to their home country within the allotted time.
“It is the norm for residents to invite family members or friends to the island for vacation and declare that they will be responsible for them, however, in many instances, the intentions are for the visitors to stay illegally on the island, IBP said. “This will no longer be tolerated. Legal residents of St. Maarten must honour their role as guarantors by abiding by the law and ensuring that their visitors abide by the law as well.”
“Guarantors who have residence permits are warned that their permits may be revoked for the harbouring of an illegal person. For persons who are Dutch, fines may be issued.”
These guarantors will also be blacklisted and disallowed from inviting persons to the island in the future. Criminal investigations may also be initiated if evidence exists that human smuggling/trafficking has occurred, IBP said.
Foreign minors visiting the country for vacation will be required to fill in “a yellow card” in addition to the arrival card at the Airport or ports and report to Immigration Headquarters at least two days before their scheduled departure.
“Parents or guardians are warned that bringing children to the island and enrolling them into school without a residence permit is punishable by law,” IBP said. “Parents can be fined or have their residence revoked if found to be breaking the law. If a parent who has legal residency would like to apply for family reunion, they must visit the IBP and request a permit for the minor prior to the child’s arrival on the island.”
Additional information on the TIM updates and travel information for tourists or visa information, can be obtained from IBP at email firstname.lastname@example.org .