The Department of Labour has halted approval on all Notice of Vacancy (NOV) applications for work permits, in the wake of the 5.9 magnitude hurricane that hit Haiti on Saturday, October 6.
Labour Director John Pinder told Eyewitness News yesterday that since the earthquake, there has been an influx of applications for Haitian labourers, but he explained that an employee has to apply to the Department of Labour to get a Notice of Vacancy application to get a labour certificate, which then has to be submitted to the Immigration Department for a work permit to be granted.
On Monday Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis raised the alarm following the earthquake in Haiti, indicating that its prison facilities were possibly compromised and inmates could have escaped an attempt to seek refuge in The Bahamas along with other Haitian nationals.
“I’m not satisfied that the applicant is producing the necessary requisites for the person that is coming into the country when they make these applications,” Pinder said.
“I do not know if this person has a record or what their past history is. There is no rule that says supply these qualifications. I do not know if immigration verifies the qualifications and we don’t have any type of record to go on.”
Pinder stressed that the government has to ensure that Haitians impacted by the earthquake do not have relatives in The Bahamas applying for work permits.
“For this week alone, we have had about 30 individuals show up, which is unusual,” he said. “I made the decision to hold off until we get better guidelines from the minister on this.”
Pinder said he hopes to make recommendations to change the present policy.
“We have to be able to verify qualifications… in the past, we had an immigration officer in Haiti who applicants had to present themselves to before approval. That person has been removed and we have to find a way for us to do some proper vetting,” he said.