Sunday, January 5, 2014

No more A-2 visas for T&T citizens to work at NY consulate

AG Anand Ramlogan
The Attorney general has determined that expired A-2 visas for locally-recruited staff (LRS) attached to the New York-based Consul General’s office will not be renewed. 

Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Dookeran had referred the matter to the AG's office after staff complained that their visas were not being renewed, causing them to be deprived of employment.

The A-2 visa is a diplomatic, non-immigrant document that allows non-diplomatic foreign accredited officials to enter the US and engage in official activities of their government. 
The holder of such a visa has immunity from prosecution and is guaranteed unrestricted travel to and from and also within the country.

The Sunday Guardian reported that it has seen correspondence that show that Ramlogan and "two senior legal minds at his office" concluded that it is “improper and unethical” to use the power of the T&T consul’s office to obtain work visas from the United States State Department. 

The paper said the AG wrote to Dookeran stating: “This policy should therefore cease with immediate effect."

According to the Guardian, Ramlogan said using the consulate’s office to obtain work visas for people living illegally in the United States was “a misuse and abuse of diplomatic protocol.” 

The Guardian quoted from Ramlogan's letter: “Foreign missions should only hire persons who are lawfully resident and entitled to work in the host nation. Missions should therefore desist from hiring persons who are not lawfully entitled to reside and work in the host nation in accordance with the relevant immigration laws."

The consul offices can hire two categories of people, home bound staff (HBS) who are based in T&T and the LRS, made up of people already holding a green card or people with American citizenship. 

“There is no need to apply for an A-2 visa (or any other kind of visa) to facilitate the employment of locally recruited staff in the host nation. Such persons would already be lawfully resident and entitled to work in the United States of America,” the Guardian quoted Ramlogan as stating.

“If, on the other hand, the employee is not legally resident and entitled to work in the USA, the employment of such a person using the A-2 visa is improper and unethical. It is a backdoor method of regularizing their immigration status in circumstances where they are otherwise not entitled to legally live and work in the USA,” he added.
Nan Ramgoolam
Consul general Nan Ramgoolam first raised the concern and refused to continue to facilitate the visa renewals. On Saturday she told the Guardian she was did not know what decision was made. 

However in an interview with the paper she explained the nature of the problem. "What happened is that you had people coming to the US with a visitor’s visa and they were being hired even though they were not legally allowed to work in the US."

She added, “Some were working at the Mission without proper documentation and I was expected to carry on that custom,” she said. "I am vindicated now that the Attorney General has made this determination," she added.

"You cannot breach the laws of another country and once one of these visas come to an end, I am not renewing them,” she said.

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Jai & Sero

Jai & Sero

Our family at home in Toronto 2008

Our family at home in Toronto 2008
Amit, Heather, Fuzz, Aj, Jiv, Shiva, Rampa, Sero, Jai