In this 2019 file photo, Venezuelan nationals wait to get registered at the Queen’s Park Oval in Port-of-Spain.

Government will extend the registration of Venezuelan migrants for another six months beginning Monday, National Security Minister Stuart Young said at a media conference yesterday.

He said the exercise will run from March 8-26, 2021 and is aimed at updating information on the over 16,000 Venezuelan migrants who were registered in 2019. Young said once these nationals are processed and approved, they will be allowed to stay in the country for an additional six months.

Asked by the media whether Government will consider granting a longer extension, given that T&T’s borders remain closed, Young said, “At this time, this is the Government’s policy, we are doing it in a six-month cycle. I do not predict the future, so it may be in the future we may take a different decision but at this stage, we still continue to maintain a six-month cycle.”

Young emphasised that Venezuelans who are not currently registered will not be allowed to do so in the upcoming exercise.

“What we are requiring persons to do is download their forms. The forms, 17A, from our website, the Ministry of National Security website, all that information will be provided. You have to fill out the forms and there are requirements to provide certain information, copies of certain documents, et cetera and you are to drop these off in drop boxes,” Young explained.

He said drop boxes will be provided at various locations and all information about the process will be available on the ministry’s website and social media pages.

Between May 31 to June 14, 2019, the Government allowed Venezuelans, who came to T&T either legally or illegally due to the economic crisis in their country, to register to be allowed to work here for up to a year. However, due to COVID-19 restrictions and border closure over the last year, various extensions were granted to them.

According to Young, in the last few weeks, he has had to sign off on the cancellation of several registration cards. In some cases, he said Venezuelan nationals wanted to return to their home country while others had to be deported in light of criminal offences.

“I would have personally cancelled just under about 50 registration cards,” Young said.

In the last six months, Young said there were over 250 repatriation exercises, not including the 96 Venezuelans who returned to their country last week via the Venezuelan state airline Conviasa.

Asked to provide an update on the regularisation of the use of pepper spray meanwhile, Young said the decision to allow the use of pepper spray by the public was announced last month in light of nationwide calls by women following the disappearance and killing of Andrea Bharatt. He said the necessary amendments to the legislation were yet to be taken before the Cabinet by the Attorney General.

“I don’t know if it will come before us this week or hopefully next week,” he stated.