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Colombia Plans Temporary Work Permit for Undocumented Venezuelans 


Venezuelan Gabriel Valles, a 32-year-old systems engineer and opposition activist who spent four years in Venezuelan jails, poses for a portrait in Bogota, Colombia, June 18, 2019. Valles currently has permission to work and live in Colombia for 90 days.
Venezuelan Gabriel Valles, a 32-year-old systems engineer and opposition activist who spent four years in Venezuelan jails, poses for a portrait in Bogota, Colombia, June 18, 2019. Valles currently has permission to work and live in Colombia for 90 days.

Colombia is preparing a temporary work permit for undocumented Venezuelans, part of an effort to reduce off-the-books jobs that often pay less than the minimum wage while depriving state programs of revenues, a government official said on Monday.

Colombia has been the top destination for Venezuelans fleeing their country's crippling economic crisis in recent years, putting pressure on its public health, education and welfare systems while fueling concerns about impacts on wages.

"We cannot permit that the migrants' main asset is that they are cheaper to hire informally," Colombia's deputy labor minister, Andres Felipe Uribe, told journalists.

"That's why we're going to start to put in place rules for a special work permit so that the moment a Venezuelan is hired illegally they can receive a formal work proposal," Uribe added.

FILE - People cross the Colombian-Venezuelan border over the Simon Bolivar international bridge in Cucuta, June 10, 2019.
FILE - People cross the Colombian-Venezuelan border over the Simon Bolivar international bridge in Cucuta, June 10, 2019.

Uribe said Venezuelans must receive the same labor rights as Colombian workers, including wages of at least 925,148 pesos ($288) per month and enrollment in health and pension programs.

In 2017, Colombia created a two-year special permit that allowed Venezuelans to work and reside in the country, but stopped accepting new applicants months later. Today, less than half of the 1.3 million Venezuelans in Colombia live there legally, according to Colombia's immigration department.

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    Reuters

    Reuters is a news agency founded in 1851 and owned by the Thomson Reuters Corporation based in Toronto, Canada. One of the world's largest wire services, it provides financial news as well as international coverage in over 16 languages to more than 1000 newspapers and 750 broadcasters around the globe.

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