NEWS

Chaos, with immigrant victims

The confusion that has racked Greece’s immigrant registration system is set to continue tormenting many thousands of people, as the Interior Ministry yesterday clarified that it did not mean to «silently» extend until the end of September the deadline for applications for the renewal of residence permits. In a circular aimed at clearing up the misunderstanding caused on Monday, the Interior Ministry said that the deadline for applications was Monday, June 30. It said that only those migrants who had appeared at the relevant offices by last Monday and had been given a number so that they could submit their papers later would be accepted. This situation is related to the long and disorderly queues outside municipal and regional government offices which, for years, have not been prepared to deal with the hundreds of thousands of people who have registered for residence and work permits. Great numbers of immigrants who submitted their copious documents months ago (last year even) have not had their residence permits renewed. Now tens of thousands more are expected to find themselves living here illegally because they were not able to apply in time. In the Attica region alone, where 178,000 immigrants are registered as green card holders, it is expected that less than 120,000 will have applied for their extension in time. According to Athens municipality, of 54,000 applications, only 12,000 residence permits have been granted. Yesterday, the Interior Ministry and the regional governments of Athens and Piraeus decided on steps to speed up the processing of applications. Now that it is too late to help those who stood in queues in vain, Athens is to get some 40 more employees and funds.