The Cabinet of the Ministry of Justice on behalf of the Minister of Justice Anna Richardson on Monday issued the following statement as it pertains to holders of temporary residence permits as it relates to the temporary closing of the Immigration Office due to the COVID-19 State of Emergency.
The Minister of Justice says: Considering that the immigration laws are strictly enforced; Considering the temporary closure of the Immigration Office due to the COVID-19 State of Emergency, which has been declared by National Decree of April 4, 2020, no. 2020/ 0314; Considering that as a consequence of this closing some holders of temporary residence permits were not able to file for an extension of their permit with the Immigration Office on time; Considering that this may not, in all reasonableness, be held against them to have their permit extended.
Makes the following known: The laws and regulations regarding admittance and expulsion are strictly enforced and a restrictive admission and expulsion policy, focusing on, among others, the protection of the social and economic growth as well as safety and security of the country is already in place.
The aforementioned policy holds, amongst others, that applications for renewal of a temporary residence permit may not be made more than three months after expiration of the period of validity of the residence permit. If the renewal is filed later than three months after expiration of the valid period of the previous permit, the policy requires that the applicant has to leave St. Maarten and await a decision on his application outside of St. Maarten.
Therefore, residents who wish to have their temporary residence permit extended, must ensure that they file their application on time. These persons should also make sure that the application is complete and that they meet all the existing legal requirements.
The Immigration Office will assess every application according to the applicable laws and policy. In its assessment of the validity and timeliness of an application, the Immigration Office will however take into account its forced closure due to COVID-19 State of Emergency measures.
This means in practice that the forced closure of the office will bear no negative consequences in evaluating the timeliness of an application and in calculating the five year (uninterrupted residency) period, needed for the temporary residence permit holder to be eligible for permanent residence.
It is emphasized, that residents with a (temporary) residence permit will have to strictly adhere to the immigration laws and policy in order to keep their permit and not to run the risk of being expelled from St. Maarten. Making the necessary arrangements for the extension of the residence permit well ahead of time is fully your own responsibility. Failure to do so will have severe consequences for your stay in St. Maarten.