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Long lines still haunt Immigration & Labour Departments

ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI - It was some eight months ago following Hurricanes Irma and Maria that the Immigration and Labour Department found itself overwhelmed with long lines—an influx of people (close to four thousand) arriving to help rebuild and others trying to address their status after they lost their jobs. Photo: VINO/File
As of today August 14, 2018, not much has improved at both the Immigration and Labour Departments. Photo: VINO/File
As of today August 14, 2018, not much has improved at both the Immigration and Labour Departments. Photo: VINO/File
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI - It was some eight months ago, following Hurricanes Irma and Maria that the Immigration and Labour Department found itself overwhelmed with long lines—an influx of people (close to four thousand) arriving to help rebuild and others trying to address their status after they lost their jobs.

Criticised in the press and on social media, both the Immigration and the Labour Departments and Ministers holding the portfolios, came up with policies to reduce the long lines and make the process go smoother, as it took sometimes up to three days to be sorted out, depending on the matter being addressed. 

There was also controversy, in terms of how, many expatriate persons felt they were treated, having had to leave the country because their places of employment were destroyed by the Hurricanes—even after many had secured new employment.

Many human rights activist and local commentators felt the policy was discriminatory, as it only appeared to affect persons from the Caribbean Islands.   

The Immigration and Labour departments, subsequently put in place an appointment system for renewal of work permits, dates to take photos and an immigration system to process extended request times and other immigration related matters.

Discrimination & casualty  

Former Acting Chief Immigration Officer Mrs Geraldine Ritter-Freeman, was also ousted—many speculating, because she stuck to the rules that were already in place, despite calls from politicians requesting favours and for her to compromise the Immigration laws.

As of today August 14, 2018, not much has improved at both the Immigration and Labour Departments. 

The lines are still long, there is much confusion—sometimes on the polices—and there is an impression that Caribbean visitors and workers are ‘knocked about’—those who are usually ‘black,’ while North American and European visitors and potential works are given the red carpet.

A few months ago out going Premier and Co-Leader of Government Business, Dr the Honourable D. Orlando  Smith (AL)—also the Minister for Immigration—announced a six-month ‘visa free’ policy for Chinese visitors, while there are four neighbouring  Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Islands with a visa requirement imposed.

They are Jamaica, Haiti, Guyana and the Dominican Republic.

Opposition Leader Honourable Andrew A. Fahie (R1) has called for a level playing field.

 

12 Responses to “Long lines still haunt Immigration & Labour Departments”

  • Ha! (14/08/2018, 15:46) Like (21) Dislike (3) Reply
    No person from the UK who came here to work was ever given the red carpet. it takes days of work off your employer, treated like dirt based on the very fact of being white. There is no reciprocity like the privileges available to BVI Nationals if they move to the UK. The immigration system is very bad for everyone. If you say there is snobbery to people in manual work (no matter what race - try seeing how Filipinos are treated vs a Trinidadian barrister) or a similar but different resentment held for people from the rest of the Caribbean, correct.

    Point is EVERY SINGLE AREA of BVI life, for BVI citizens more than anyone, is held back by this messed up system. Education, healthcare, amenities, economical and entrepreneurial opportunities are all thwarted. The individuals client facing have improved immeasurably the but laws and systems and working facilities do not keep up. A quick and easy fix is to pick a place it works better (Cayman? Singapore? Bermuda?) and cherry pick the best bits.
  • BRAD BOYNES (14/08/2018, 15:47) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
    "Former Acting Chief Immigration Officer Mrs Geraldine Ritter-Freeman, was also ousted—many speculating, because she stuck to the rules that were already in place, despite calls from politicians requesting favours and for her to compromise the Immigration laws."

    Yet guy hill was a dam demon? This political will feel it at the polls. I Brad Boynes sey so.
  • Truth (14/08/2018, 17:11) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    We need a home affairs ministry
  • Luvz (14/08/2018, 20:09) Like (10) Dislike (0) Reply
    Wow! I had thought an appointment scheme was implemented to remedied the long wait in lines. Seems like things have gone worse to out of control. I do hope this situation is remedied quick.
  • ReX FeRal (14/08/2018, 21:57) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    Immigration and Labour lacking experienced management. They had opportunity to fix those system but failed to do so. The get the management they can control so the results are what they are. Who to blame?
  • two cents (14/08/2018, 23:17) Like (7) Dislike (0) Reply
    Services to persons requiring a work permit and time to work in the Territory will not drastically improve, until three things happen; One, the introduction of data management technology, that also allow for persons to submit their work permit application online, (track the process online , receive a decision online and pay online). Two, Work Permit processing is transferred from the Labour Department to the Immigration Department and Three, some work permits are issued beyond one year.
  • musa (15/08/2018, 07:41) Like (0) Dislike (1) Reply
    great services come with polices in place and i think that u guys are doing a good job base on my 30 yrs in the bvi
  • six pence (15/08/2018, 08:27) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    the internet and telecommunications is so bad in the Virgin Islands, might be best to not get further dependant on
    that as a method to get something done. As far as a 'red carpet' - where? Maybe for those REALLY connected to
    the British Gov, and who are citizens of related countries that were once under British rule, and of course the existing
    dependancies and territories. Citizenship and 'honorable belonger' status seems to be bestowed by a Governor,
    and such don't need work permits. But quite a few arrogant snobby people have been allowed in. For all the bad
    press, the US is easier to get a work permit if you are a foreigner. But now the visa is difficult to obtain. Red
    carpet? More like carpetbaggers fleecing foreigners. unless they are criminals.
  • @therealdonald (15/08/2018, 14:37) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    The BVI is racist at heart towards others, no matter what benefit they bring. Policies should be set but the implementation and processing of such policies should not be then used as a means of discouraging migration. Once someone is approved by labour they should be given the red carpet. They will pay through taxes for the wages and prosperity of BVIslanders.
    • Bohannon (16/08/2018, 09:59) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply

      Stop your silly red carpet talk. What other country in the civilized world does sh*t lIke that? Does your native country do this ? Sheese man.

  • Observer (16/08/2018, 16:52) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    You failed to mention how many BVIslanders, well regarded and respected gentlemen, seem to find the express route to a work permit and immigration stamp for their Spanish-speaking cuties, "employees" with little or no English speaking abilities, and whose "professional skills" seem under-appreciated by so many in the community.


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