Staff Reporter

PALMA
THE Balearic Office for Foreigners in 2006 issued triple the amount of work permit renewals that it issued in 2005, with a figure of 25'515 renewals.
This figure has been growing since the year 2000.
According to the Spanish Government's representative to the Balearics, Ramon Socias, speaking yesterday, the increase in the amount of work permit renewals is directly related to the massive legalisation of immigrants by the Spanish Government in 2005.

This, he recalled, “included having a job, if you didn't have a job they would not grant you papers”.
Socias, who was accompanied at the presentation of the review of this department by its head Carla Merce, said that during 2006 the office increased its service to its clients, granting 70'000 permits.

Of the total, 4'227 corresponded to cases of families moving to be together, a figure which in 2005 was 1'123 and, just a year before was 886. In fact, Socias said that the most recent improvement was that it takes an average of 10 days to process initial applications for work permits.

He added that now the renewals can be done without having to go to the office, which will shortly be opening a “bigger and more comfortable” area for clients to be attended to.

Socias said that they have “eliminated” the image of the long queues of immigrants waiting from the early hours in front of the Representative's Office to transact any kind of business.

In total, the Office for Foreigners has 129'226 immigrants registered.
In 60 percent of the cases, they come from countries outside the European Union, and of these, 79.9 percent live on Majorca, 12.8 percent live on Ibiza or Formentera, and 7.3 percent live in Minorca.

Socias said that, in order to assess the real number of foreigners living on the islands, which represent a total of 148 countries, you have to add to the official figures between 10'000 and 15'000 people who, it is estimated, are still without legal papers.

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