(CHARLESTOWN NEVIS–THURSDAY, MARCH 25TH, 2010) In response to questions raised by residents and Citizens of Nevis, in a recent interview, Premier of Nevis, Hon. Joseph Parry has dismissed allegations of sending home non-nationals due to the January 25th, 2010 Election results.
According to the Premier, the ongoing propaganda related to immigration propelled by the Concerned Citizens Movement (CCM) was based on two issues – the deportation of illegal immigrants and the issuance of work permits.
“With regard to the deportation of illegal immigrants, we are all aware that Immigration is a Federal responsibility. The matter as it is being addressed is an immigration matter and is dealt with by the St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force. It is not a matter that the Nevis Island Administration (NIA) has responsibility for, or control over. The Police are simply doing their job, as they always do. There have been immigration sweeps done by the Police from time to time, at least twice per annum, for as long as I can remember.
“Yes we have had an election at the beginning of the year, and yes, the Police are carrying out an immigration sweep at the beginning of the year. This is the logical time to carry out an immigration sweep, this is the time when new work permits are requested or issued. Where is the mystery in this? Where is the conspiracy in this? Where is the victimisation? Is the CCM suggesting that the Police should ignore illegal immigrants and they should be allowed to remain illegally in Nevis forever?” asked Mr Parry.
On the issue of Work Permits Mr. Parry stated there were some basic facts that Nevisians need to be aware of and certainly the most junior of lawyers should know:
1. The authority that issues work permits in Nevis is the Nevis Island Administration.
2. The Work Permit is applied for and granted to the Employer on behalf of the employee, for a specific job.
3. The Employer pays for the work permit.
4. A Work Permit is granted for one calendar year, from the 1st of January to the 31stDecember. Renewal of a work permit is not automatic. Applications must be submitted by October of the issued year i.e. if a work permit is granted for 2009; application for renewal for 2010 must be received by October 2009.
5. The granting or the renewal of a Work Permit is discretionary and is based on the whether or not there is a suitably qualified national to fill the job vacancy;
The concept is that hiring a national, takes precedence over hiring a foreigner, regardless of whether a work permit has been applied for the first time, or is up for annual renewal. In every instance, a suitably qualified Nevisian should be given priority over any foreigner for any job on Nevis. This has always been the policy of Governments on Nevis.
6. Additionally, self employed work permits are granted only to persons where the skills cannot be acquired locally.
During the interview the Hon. Joseph Parry stated that the public outcry being made by the CCM about work permit applications in Nevis are in effect misinforming the public. He said, “The question must be asked, do the CCM live on Nevis?”
“The facts are as follows: The Four Seasons closed in October 2008, some 700 Nevisians lost their jobs. A large number of these Nevisians are out of work to this day, not because they are not seeking employment but because even with the sterling efforts of the NIA to create employment, creating 700 new jobs on Nevis in a short time is a tall order.
“In addition, over 1,000 work permits were issued in 2009 and these are up for renewal in 2010. In addition to those expired we are inundated with new work permit applications,” said the Premier.
The Premier suggested that members of the Opposition were saying that work permit renewals should be automatic.
“Are they saying that foreign workers should get jobs before unemployed Nevisians? Surely, allowing a foreigner to take a job that a Nevisian is willing and able to do would be the real victimisation.”