Immigration and Border Protection Service implementing an increasing its controls in 2015 and onward

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Philipsburg- The Director of the Immigration and Border Protection Service (IBP) is announcing to visitors and residents that the organization is implementing an increase in controls and stricter enforcement of its regulations in 2015 and onward. With an array of different issues affecting the country, a number of projects have been created over the last two years to curb the flow of illegal immigration to St. Maarten and to inform citizens about their roles in the process as well.

Duration of Stay

The IATA Travel Information Manual (TIM), used by all service providers in the travel industry, has recently been updated to reflect current policies and regulations. In particular, the most important changes include the clarification of the duration of stay for all tourists. For visa-restricted visitors and nationals not from the EU, USA or Canada, the maximum duration of stay allowed at entry is 30 days. These nationals are warned not to purchase tickets beyond 30 days prior to arriving on the island. Travel agents are also asked to refer to the TIM for updates on duration of stay. An official request for extension of stay, if a stay beyond 30 days is required, must be submitted to IBP Headquarters after arrival.

Visitors who overstay their allotted time without an extension will be pursued and penalized accordingly. This may include deportation or refusal of entry for a specified period of time. For those persons who have obtained a visa to enter St. Maarten, the visa will be cancelled and the relevant embassy will be informed in addition to the sanctions mentioned above.

Guarantors

Residents who invite visitors to the island through visa applications or a statement of guarantee, are now being held liable in the case that the visitor does not return to their home country within the allotted time. It is the norm for residents to invite family members or friends to the island for vacation and declare that they will be responsible for them however, in many instances, the intentions are for the visitors to stay illegally on the island. This will no longer be tolerated. Legal residents of St. Maarten must honor their role as guarantors by abiding by the law and ensuring that their visitors abide by the law as well.

Guarantors who have residence permits are warned that their permits may be revoked for the harboring of an illegal person. For persons who are Dutch, fines may be issued. Guarantors will also be blacklisted and disallowed from inviting persons to the island in the future. Criminal investigations may also be instigated if evidence exists that human smuggling/trafficking has occurred.

Minors

All foreign minors visiting the island for vacation are expected to fill out a yellow card in addition to the arrival card at the Airport or ports and report to Immigration Headquarters at least 2 days before their scheduled departure. Parents or guardians are warned that bringing children to the island and enrolling them into school without a residence permit is punishable by law. Parents can be fined or have their residence revoked if found to be breaking the law. If a parent who has legal residency would like to apply for family reunion, they must visit the IBP and request a permit for the minor prior to the child’s arrival on the island.

For more information on the TIM updates and travel information for tourists or visa information, please contact the IBP at immigration@sintmaartengov.org.