Resident visas and dependent visas are granted based on the applicants’ abilities and financial means to support themselves here said Immigration Director John Tarkong in response to Island Times inquiry.

“The decision to approve or deny a resident visa application is based on the application and supporting documents that the applicant submits to the Division of Immigration and whether the applicant has sufficient funds to support themselves,” Director Tarkong stated, adding that there is no Immigration law or regulation requiring  $10,000.

A Facebook post by an attorney Tamara Hutzler cited the struggles some of the Filipino workers that worked in Palau for years, contributing to Social Security, are facing, being forced to leave “unless these people can show they have $10k in the bank”.

The requires that all people (regardless of nationality) that work in Palau must pay into the Social Security System.  The law also mandates that a foreign worker receiving social security benefits upon retirement can only receive the benefit for 6 months while living abroad.  After 6 months, they lose those benefits.

Immigration has been denying resident visas to some of these foreign retirees based on their determination that these individuals don’t have the financial means to support themselves in Palau.

Director Tarkong said that they make such determination based on the information the applicant provides and it is based on many factors.

“What type of financial requirements does the applicant have to meet will depend on the supporting documents they submit, the evidence they provide, and the amount of funds that they will show. Applicants who have been living in Palau will have to show how much income they have compared to their expenses and living costs. Immigration will verify or check their income against the expenses that they report,” stated Tarkong.

In the public Facebook rant that has spread, Hutzler cited the discrimination and difficulties the Filipino workers are subjected to.

“These people work their butts off for crappy pay, often horrific living conditions and too often overt racism and most do so in order to earn money to send home to their families.  These people pay taxes on their income, pay into the Social Security System (SS), and are also subject to double taxation for any money they send off-island to their families.  These people have lives here, many have lived and world for 10, 15, 20 + years.  ROP won’t send them their SS to them in the Philippines and so many must stay in Palau to collect these payment.  Palau charges them $200 every 2 years to obtain a “resident visa” so they can stay and collect their SS.  Now the ROP has decided that it’s not enough to make them pay to be held hostage here for their SS and now, unless these people can pay show $10k in the bank (absurd amount), they will not be given a visa to stay and now forcing these retirees to leave Palau and back to PI where they CANNOT receive their SS.”

In the same post, Hutzler also denounces the government for requiring the children of workers to be separated from their parents unless they make $15k a year.  This, she said, is absurd as the minimum wage is $3.25 per hour and few people can meet these numbers. 

Many of the workers with dependents are not meeting the $15k eligibility based on their income tax in 2020 and 2021.  Due to the COVID pandemic, many of the workers were absorbed under the CROSS ACT and were paid minimum wage.  It was part of the effort to keep the workers here in preparation for quick recovery once the pandemic is over.

“So retirees are being sent home where they cannot collect their SS and children are being separated from their parents,” she said.  This is “inhumane, outrageous and a huge black eye to Palau.” stated Hutzler’s post. (By: L.N. Reklai)

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