Minister of Home Affairs, Information and Public Affairs, Wilfred Abrahams, recently toured the offices of the Immigration Department at the BTI Corporate Centre, Princess Alice Highway, and had an opportunity to chat with the staff. (Photo: S. Medford/BGIS)

Senior staff of the Immigration Department were reminded of the important role they play in the tourist industry and in the national security of Barbados.

Minister of Home Affairs, Information and Public Affairs, Wilfred Abrahams, stressed this recently after being taken on a guided tour of the offices by Chief Immigration Officer, Wayne Marshall.

Minister Abrahams stated: “You are the first human interaction that a visitor has with the island, and your interaction and decisions can lead to a positive or negative review of the island.”

Speaking on the role the Immigration Department will play in the Barbados Welcome Stamp Programme, the Home Affairs Minister noted that it is a tourism project being replicated by many countries, since it was announced by Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley.

“And the reality is, our success depends on our ability to deliver our product, better and faster than anybody else.  And that is where you come in.  The processing of applications, and the major decision of who will be approved and who will not rest with the department.  So, improvement of our processes have to occur,” Minister Abrahams said.

He commended the department for achieving its mission and vision over the years, but noted that there are some areas that could be improved as it continues to accomplish its vision.  The Minister suggested that the officers should not appear to be “territorial or xenophobic”, and that it was important to provide more e-services platforms.

During his talks with staff, some senior officers gave their feedback about present processes that they believe are ‘archaic and unnecessary’, along with suggestions on how to improve them.

Services performed by the Immigration Department are: Control entry/departure of persons at Barbados’ ports of entry; processing of applications for various forms of immigration status: Barbadian Citizenship, Permanent Resident Status and Immigrant Status; Work Permits/Training attachments; Renunciation; Student Visas; Extensions of Stay; Entry Visa (non-Nationals); Special Entry Permits; Replacement documents and Issuing of passports.

The department is currently in the process of digitising all of its files.  It is the first department to undergo digitisation, under the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Technology’s Modernisation and Digitisation of the Public Sector Programme.

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