RMI Immigration Looks To Deport i-Kiribati Visa Over-Stayers

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Undocumented ‘off-the-books’ workers subject of complaints

By Giff Johnson

MAJURO, Marshall Islands (Marianas Variety, July 27, 2015) – The Marshall Islands Immigration department has launched a move to deport over 200 visa over-stayers from the country, mainly from its neighbor to the south, Kiribati.

Immigration Director Damien Jacklick said Friday that based both on complaints from the public and data compiled by Immigration, there are a large number of I-Kiribati who have over-stayed their visas and are currently in the country illegally.

A report on the number of resident aliens in the Marshall Islands in 2015 issued last week by Immigration shows 47 I-Kiribati registered to live in the Marshall Islands.

Based on a comparison of visitor arrival and departure records over the past year showed that there are about 200 I-Kiribati who have over-stayed their visas, he said.

"A major concern is there are a lot of undocumented Kiribati nationals, and the low number who are registered is in line with the complaints we’ve received," he said. Non-Marshallese working illegally is a big concern for the government, Jacklick said.

"We’re receiving many reports of Kiribati nationals working ‘off-the-books’ without a visa or work permit," he said. "It also means that employers are not paying the alien worker fees and taxes for these workers."

He said his office will be working together with the Labor Division to address this problem.

In recent months, Immigration had prepared and has been serving about 50 "removal orders" against I-Kiribati who are illegally in the country. Another155 new removal orders based on the review of arrival and departure data have been issued.

The challenge for Immigration is it has only a handful of staff — seven in Majuro, two in Ebeye — that makes it difficult to cover arrivals at the airport and seaport, staff the office, and track down over-stayers. Jacklick said he is appealing to government to assist in this regard.

The airport and seaport have become so busy that Immigration is frequently forced to lock its office because all staff are out in the field, which reduces service to the public, he said.

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