Philipsburg; – With Islands such as Barbuda somewhat completely destroyed, and others such as St. Martin terribly ravaged, the governments of several of the affected territories are examining the possibility of relaxing their immigration requirements to allow Guyanese construction workers to come with their tools and remain on a special work visa for up to one year.
According to a usually reliable source within the St. Marteen government, an announcement may be no more than two or three weeks away, after a more thorough assessment of the situation is done, and consultations with a selected group of construction firms are concluded.
“If the proposals are favoured then, construction workers from Guyana should be able to come easily”, he said
At worst, the source suggested that even if the visa rule is not completely removed, it will be greatly relaxed to allow construction workers from Guyana to come.
Similar sentiments were also expressed by the British Virgin Islands, whose authorities are already inclined to relax the requirements for Guyanese with the skillset to come and work in the construction and health sectors.
(Guyanese currently requires a visa to visit both St. Maarten and the British Virgin Islands)
While others like Anguilla are still considering, Antiguan authorities have already indicated that they have relaxed their immigration rules to some extent to allow Guyanese construction workers to come in as part of the drive to rebuild its sister territory of Barbuda.
However, most of the affected Island States have pressed home the same sentiments that they are still in the assessment stages, with the hope of finalizing a rebuilding plan which would certainly make it easier for legitimate construction workers and medical personnel to come from Guyana to their respective Islands to work as part of their restoration drive.
A similar initiative was undertaken by Grenada and the Cayman Islands after the devastation from Hurricane Ivan in 2004, and which had seen more than 500 Guyanese construction workers benefitting from relaxed immigration rules, which had allowed them to work in the construction sector of those countries for as long as five years.