STA, 29 August 2019 - The government has decided to help 47 Venezuelans of Slovenian origin settle in Slovenia under a law that permits repatriation from countries hit by a severe political or economic crisis.
Acting on requests it received in June, the government decided on Thursday to immediately launch repatriation procedures.
Seven ministries will be involved and the effort coordinated by an interdepartmental task force, said Minister for Slovenians Abroad Peter Jožef Česnik.
"There are 47 applicants in total ... These people have decided that the situation is unbearable," he said. Several Slovenian companies have expressed readiness to hire skilled individuals from the group.
According to the Office for Slovenians Abroad, Slovenia has limited experience with repatriation: the only repatriation carried out so far was for a family from Syria in 2013 due to the civil war there.
Under the law on Slovenians abroad, individuals of Slovenian descent are eligible for repatriation when their countries of residence are hit by a severe political or economic crisis.
Since the outbreak of political turmoil in Venezuela and the ensuing economic crisis, the government has received multiple requests for aid.
A key condition to launch repatriation proceedings is Slovenia designating the situation a grave economic and political crisis. This has already been done several times before by the Foreign Ministry.
Slovenian Interior Ministry data puts the number of Slovenian citizens living in Venezuela at 335, while the total number of people of Slovenian descent is estimated at 1,000.
Repatriation status can be used by individuals for a maximum of 15 months. In this period they have the right to free healthcare, Slovenian language lessons, a work licence, enrolment in higher education institutions under favourable conditions, as well as to favourable treatment when applying for a job compared to third-country citizens.
To accommodate repatriated individuals, the government can set up an immigration home where basic provisions are secured, including financial aid for those below the minimum income threshold.
The 15-month status cannot be extended, meaning the repatriated individual needs to secure a different status as the basis for continued residence in Slovenia, for instance Slovenian citizenship, the status of a Slovenian without Slovenian citizenship, or an appropriate status of a foreign citizens with a residence permit.