US denies waivers to Caribbean teachers
Stabroek News
July 28, 2004

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A number of mainly Jamaican and Guyanese teachers, whose immigration status remains in limbo, have been denied waivers to remain in the USA owing to a "high non-return rate", the United States State Department has said.

A release from the Caribbean-Guyana Institute for Democracy (CGID) said owing to the plight of over 70 teachers from the Caribbean who were recruited from the Caribbean to teach in schools in New York City, it had written a letter to the US Secretary of State Colin Powell on the issue.

In response the CGID said the State Department advised that the requisite waivers were denied because of a high non-return rate by the sponsoring organisation and policy considerations.

Of the seventy teachers, seven are Guyanese with the majority of the others being Jamaicans.

Meanwhile, the CGID said several New York City elected officials, including 12 New York Members of Congress, Caribbean-American organisations and activists, including the CGID have petitioned the New York City Depart-ment of Education (NYCDOE) and the US State Homeland Security Depart-ment.

According to the CGID, the US State Department is yet to respond to the petition from the twelve members of congress.

The release said that there is no available evidence that teachers who were recruited from other parts of the world have had similar problems with the US citizenship and immigration authorities.

The CGID said it would appear that that the teachers have been abandoned by their sponsors, the NYCDOE, and have been left to languish in uncertainty having been brought to New York to fill a dire need for qualified and skilled professionals.

The teachers were recruited to teach in the New York public education system, which has a large population of Caribbean immigrants. They were recruited under the two-year JI Exchange Visitors Visa Program.

Because the two-year duration of the JI Program has expired the teachers must be granted HIB visas for continued residence and employment in the US. The law requires that a foreign-residence waiver be granted by the US State Department in conjunction with the US Department of Homeland Security before HIB status can be issued under the circumstances.

The teachers from the Caribbean were also required to have no-objection letters from the governments of their country of origin. In the case of the Guyanese the letters were issued but in some cases after the June 30 deadline.

Even though the deadline has expired for the teachers to stay in the US, Stabroek News understands that the majority of them are still there.