Crowd of Haitians interested in obtaining Dutch passport

Crowd of Haitians interested  in obtaining Dutch passport

The attendance for the seminar on naturalisation was above expectations.

PHILIPSBURG--Well over 150 legally-resident Haitian men and women attended a Haitian Association of St. Maarten (HASMA) seminar on Monday evening to receive information on how to obtain a Dutch passport.

  The turnout was above expectations. Initially scheduled to be held on the second floor of the Windward Islands Federation of Labour (WIFOL) building, the seminar had to be ceremoniously reconvened in the parking lot as the crowd grew beyond capacity.

  The purpose of the seminar was primarily to highlight the various pathways to citizenship, HASMA vice president Fabio Doralice said. “I am pleased and proud of the individuals that showed interest in this seminar. We did not anticipate this many people.”
  The information was designed to help lawful permanent residents and others interested in naturalisation learn about the naturalisation process, eligibility requirements, testing, citizenship rights and responsibilities.

  The seminar also served as a feeler to gauge interest in a pilot programme that will tutor the Dutch language in Haitian Creole. This programme is currently in development and will soon be available for input and review by the relevant stakeholders. Based on a quick survey, the attendees’ primary area of interest was how their spouse or children could obtain their citizenship.

  In attendance were also a few religious leaders, to gather information to further relay to their congregation. 

  “Seminars are part of our overall initiative to help better integrate Haitians within our community,” said Doralice. “We have individuals living and actively contributing to St. Maarten for many decades. Many are affable and decorous and have made St. Maarten their permanent home. It’s only right that they too become naturalised citizens.”

  In addition to the seminar, HASMA has put together an outreach help desk and assistance committee to aid and support interested persons on their path to citizenship. The “support centre” is not exclusive or limited to individuals within the Haitian community, but in fact is open to everyone, Doralice said.

  HASMA secretary Leyna Merlande added: “The community can look forward to us engaging more with these kinds of activities. We believe it is vitally important for individuals to have access to proper and accurate information to facilitate their needs.”

  The next seminar, providing information about immigration requirements, is scheduled for 7:00pm Monday, September 19, also at the WIFOL building in Philipsburg.

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