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IBP to revoke permits of parents who enrol undocumented kids in schools

PHILIPSBURG--Parents who are legally residing in St. Maarten, who bring their children to the island and enrol them in schools without papers, face being fined or having their residence permits revoked.

Immigration and Border Protection Services (IBP) said in a statement on Friday that foreign minors visiting the island for vacation are expected to fill-in a yellow card in addition to the arrival card at Princess Juliana International Airport SXM 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. Parents can be fined or have their residence revoked if found to be breaking the law,” IBP said in the release.

This measure is part of efforts by IBP to increase its controls and more strictly enforce its regulations.

IBP said residents, who invite visitors to the island through visa applications or a statement of guarantee, will be held liable in the case that the visitor does not return to their home country within the allotted time. IBP said “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. This will no longer be tolerated.”

“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. Guarantors will also be blacklisted and disallowed from inviting persons to the island in the future. Criminal investigations may also be instigated if evidence exists that human smuggling/trafficking has occurred.”

IBP said that International Air Transport Association (IATA) Travel Information Manual (TIM), used by service providers in the travel industry, has recently been updated to reflect current policies and regulations. The most important changes include the clarification of the duration of stay for all tourists.

The maximum duration of stay allowed at entry for visa-restricted visitors and nationals from countries (excluding European Union, USA and Canada) is 30 days. IBP urges these nationals not to purchase tickets beyond 30 days prior to arriving on the island. An official request for extension of stay, if a stay beyond 30 days is required, must be submitted to IBP Headquarters.

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. The visa will be cancelled for persons who have obtained a visa to enter St. Maarten and the relevant embassies will be informed in addition to other sanctions.

IBP said also that joint and random controls will be increased. It urges the public to have a valid St. Maarten ID card in their possession when in public. Visitors should have their passports on them “at all times” and “if found to have overstayed will be taken into immigration custody to be processed.”

“With an array of different issues affecting the country, a number of projects have been created over the last two years to curb the flow of illegal immigration to St. Maarten and now inform citizens about their roles in the process as well,” IBP said.

Additional information on the TIM updates and travel information for tourists or visa information, can be obtained at:

www.sintmaartengov.org .

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