Overhaul of Immigration Bill needed, Senate Minority Leader says

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By Theresa Goodwin

[email protected]

A United Progressive Party (UPP) senator is calling for a wholesale revision of the Immigration and Passport Bill to address what he says are deficiencies.

Senate Minority Leader Richard Lewis made the argument on Monday during his contribution to the debate on the Immigration and Passport Amendment Bill 2022.

The Upper House of Parliament approved changes which, among other things, establish the current March 1 to April 30 period in which migrants can apply for amnesty.

But Lewis said constant amendments prove the bill’s existing format falls short.

 “The system is broken and the fact that this is the fifth amendment in under two years tells us that the system is broken.

“We have to find a way to fix it because, if we do not, I guarantee you that sometime in the near future we will be back here trying to do something to make changes to the lives of individuals who come here to make life better,” Senator Lewis said.

“One way we can help to solve the situation is to take a look at work permit fees and extension fees because, obviously, some individuals cannot afford it, and it is as a result of this they now have a gap in their extension.”

The Senate Minority Leader also pointed to his party’s proposal for industry-based work permits as another option to eliminate the fees associated with obtaining the document.

Meanwhile, Antigua Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) Senator Shenella Govia welcomed the amendments which she said were a timely adjustment to help foreign nationals.

She also applauded the fact that the government has moved to make work permits transferable between employers to reduce the costly process of reapplying for a new permit each time a worker changes jobs.

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