"Rise, fellow-countrymen, rise. The soil of Suriname is calling you. Wherever our ancestors came from. We should build our country*." This quote from the Surinamese national anthem is legally supported by the Act of 21 January 2014, establishing the status of Persons of Surinamese Descent and the Rights and Obligations arising from that Status ("PSA Act"). The PSA Act, also referred to as the "Diaspora Act" - due to the fact that people who used to be citizens of Suriname left Suriname because of various historical circumstances to settle elsewhere - allows people of Surinamese descent to live and work in Suriname without a visa or work permit under the conditions laid down in the PSA Act.
Purpose PSA Act
According to the Explanatory Memorandum to the PSA Act, the purpose of this Act is to lay down the relationship between the Republic of Suriname and people of Surinamese descent in order to give these people the opportunity to be eligible for the benefits that Suriname has to offer.
The PSA status is the status that can be obtained by a Person of Surinamese Descent ("PSA"), after he or she has indicated to the competent Surinamese authorities that he or she wishes to have this status, after which the status is activated through the competent authorities in accordance with the PSA Act.
Those who have obtained the PSA status can, in turn, invoke the PSA status for family members, a legal partner and minor (foster) children. A parent or guardian of minors who can be deemed persons entitled to the PSA status may seek the PSA status for the minors.
Persons entitled to the PSA status
The PSA status is reserved for three groups. First, the PSA Act considers a person entitled to the PSA status to be any person who does not have Surinamese nationality, and who (i) was born in Suriname, with the exception of those whose parents, who are or were not of Surinam descent, temporarily stay or stayed in Suriname in foreign employment or for study purposes or any other matter at the time of birth of that person. Secondly, a person entitled to the PSA status is considered to be (ii) any person (who does not have the Surinamese nationality and) who was not born in Suriname, but who has at least one parent who is of Surinamese descent based on what is mentioned under "(i)". And thirdly, a person entitled to the PSA status is any person who was not born in Suriname, but who has at least one grandparent who is of Surinamese descent based on what is mentioned under "(i)". This broad classification is - as stated in the Explanatory Memorandum - motivated by the assumption that the family ties in the first degree and the second degree provide sufficient bonding with Suriname among the people of Surinamese descent. After all, as indicated in the Explanatory Memorandum, the family ties and affinity between grandparent, parent and child is particularly strong 'in general practice in Suriname'.
Rights and obligations as a result of the PSA status
The PSA status entails different rights and obligations, which arise from the PSA Act. This concerns the possibility to make use of the right:
(i) to leave for Suriname at any time without applying for a visa or any other admission document for Suriname;
(ii) in case of an emergency, to seek the cooperation worldwide of Surinamese foreign representatives abroad;
(iii) to stay in Suriname up to six months after arrival, and to extend this stay at the Immigration Service by another six months;
(iv) to register in the population register as a resident on presentation of the guarantee that one can support oneself and disposes of housing;
(v) to obtain a proof of residence or permanent residence at the Immigration Service to prevent that persons of Surinamese descent are suddenly considered
illegal in Suriname after their status or the validity of the documents has changed;
(vi) to work during their stay in Suriname without the work permit required for foreigners;
(vii) to reside in Suriname for an indefinite period of time, until they deregister again when moving away from Suriname.
The obligations consists of providing (i) general information (personal data) and (ii) updating the general information.
The PSA Act is referred to as the "Diaspora Act" in the media, referring to the fact that people who used to be citizens of Suriname are scattered across the world because of various historical circumstances. A somewhat strange name. After all, the PSA Act aims to realize the opposite: bringing together Surinamese people anywhere in the world with the goal of opening the doors to an improved Suriname.
* According to the Dutch version of the national anthem of Suriname: "God zij met ons Suriname". The Surinamese text reads as follows: "Opo, kondreman un' opo. Sranangron e kari un'. Wans' ope tata komopo. Wi mu' seti kondre bun".