The Immigration Department. (FP)

Less bureaucracy, more rapid responses, reduced levels of paperwork, less queuing and significantly enhanced levels of service.

These are just some of the improvements the Barbados Immigration Department is promising as it continues a systematic overhaul of its objectives and operations in order to offer “the best citizen-centred service possible”.

Permanent Secretary in the Division of Defence and Security, Timothy Maynard, speaking on behalf of Minister with responsibility for Immigration, Senator Darcy Boyce, reported that in the last few years, the Department’s efforts had concentrated on finding comfortable staff accommodation; diagnosing its weaknesses and failures; and reorganising and strengthening its internal systems.

While these tasks were ongoing, he said, in the next three years, there would be a more concentrated focus on implementation in order to bring the department “squarely into the 21st century”.

Mr. Maynard was delivering remarks last Monday on the occasion of the handing over of the Technical Assistance Report on e-Visas and Business Intelligence Analytics at Government Headquarters, Bay Street.

This report, prepared by the International Organisation for Migration with the support of the European Union, would be extremely useful in helping to shape the way forward, the Permanent Secretary said.

In relation to electronic visas, he submitted: “Moving to an e-Visa system is inevitable and the sooner the better…If we are to be competitive internationally, we must keep pace with new and emerging technologies since the world is not going to pause for us.”

When using the e-Visa system, he explained, travellers would be able to apply for visas online, pay online and print out the visa once issued. “Clearly, this is a tremendous convenience for travellers, who would be able to apply for all types of entry visas, for example, short-term work permits, regular visitors’ visas and student visas.”

He further explained that the emphasis on business intelligence and analytics would help the Department to collect, manage and interrogate data more efficiently…to “not only satisfy immediate citizen needs but also assist in strengthening the nation’s security”.

The Technical Assistance Report identified 21 recommendations for the development of the visa application and business intelligence systems.

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