The updated Admission Policy

Minister Glenbert Croes, the minister of Labor, Energy and Integration recently presented the updated Admission Policy, a bit different than the last one introduced in 2018.

But the situation now on the island is different than in 2018.

We’ve had an explosion of new businesses, that require more working hands.

And there are many more businesses in the pipeline.

According to the Minister of Economic Affairs, 459 new business permits were issued January to August,  2023. The minister reported that 1,195 different business permits were issued by the authorities, among them 38% to new businesses, a total of 459.

The minister published those findings to prove his office has made changes and that the road to permits is now more efficient — making good on his fast-track promise.

However, I speculate that the main driver of this post-pandemic business boom is the desire of Arubans to become entrepreneurs and to work for themselves.

So where will we find the working hands to, among others, flip burgers and make beds, provide the type of service we dream of delivering to our discerning visitors?

The Minister of Labor had promised last year, publicly, in an AHATA meeting, that he will make progress in the plan to introduce some of the undocumented, skilled manpower, already on the island, into the workforce.

The minister recruited for that purpose some of the international organizations working here such as HIAS, a refugee protection organization and IOM, International Organization for Migration, but with all due respect nothing major happened.

They were supposed to inventory the skills and help ease the process of turning some of the alleged 16.000 undocumented residents into productive, tax paying, compliant locals.

According to the island’s social insurance bank, SVB, we need it, we have an aging population and we need more younger people to help pay for their benefits.

It is all presumably happening, but very slowly.

A number of major businesses already filed for permits for skilled undocumented workers, but the process is lengthy, and suffers from a lack of goodwill.

The minister had on numerous occasions pledged improved collaboration between government departments such as DIMAS and DPL, in charge of immigration and labor. But ALAS, it really doesn’t help  the cause that DIMAS and the minister simply don’t get along.

Bad chemistry between the two, the minister and DIMAS, is to blame for tardiness, and arrears, which have not been handled.

So what’s the good news about the updated Admission Policy?

The introduction of the multi-year permit. The foreign-born professional will be spared the misery of applying for a permit each year, if an application for a multi-year permit is filed, up to five year, but he/she would need deep pockets, as the annual permit fee runs between Awg 2,000 and Awg 2,500 for an entrepreneur.

Another positive aspect is the electronic filing and the digitalization of the process.

Also a positive development, in some cases, you may wait for your permit on island, while before you were required to wait overseas, now some exceptions exist, and you may already be on island, not working, but on standby.

In all cases, the person applying for the permit must have entered Aruba lawfully.

Anyone arriving illegally, will not be eligible for consideration.

In the area of Family Reunification requirements changed a bit too. The applicant doesn’t have to wait three years before applying, and applications may be filed for same sex partners.

(Of course, this did not address the housing, schooling and healthcare challenges involved.)

I talked to two legal eagles who deal with immigration challenges, and both had interesting comments about the updated Admission Policy.

“It’s a kind of facelift not really a root canal. We still have to wait a very long time. In the days of minister Wever and the strictest immigration laws, the notorious Swiss Model, we had clarity. I don’t miss those dreadful days, but there are still many uncertainties in the updated version and we pray for insight. The question remains: Do we really welcome immigration or are we just doing the tiniest minimum to fend off the rumor that we are hostile.

I did not study the update at length, says another immigration lawyer, but  at a superficial glace, some conditions became even stricter, and we are far from the “EFFICIENT, HUMANE, AND TRANSPARENT ADMISSION, MIGRATION, AND INTEGRATION POLICY,” the minister publicly announces.

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September 24, 2023
Rona Coster