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UPDATE: Online application for entry permits being tested- Premier Smith

- said companies can have their employees’ work permits processed by sending all documents directly to Immigration Department
In a statement this afternoon, February 16, 2018 Premier Dr The Honourable D. Orlando Smith (AL) spoke of two changes which he believes will help to ease the long wait and lines at the Department of Immigration. Photo: VINO/File
Premier Dr The Honourable D. Orlando Smith (AL), right, has stated that changes will be made at the Department of Immigration and an announcement on it will be made on February 16, 2018. Photo: VINO
Premier Dr The Honourable D. Orlando Smith (AL), right, has stated that changes will be made at the Department of Immigration and an announcement on it will be made on February 16, 2018. Photo: VINO
On a daily basis more than one hundred persons are turned away from the Department of Immigration, most of them seeking extensions to remain legally in the Territory while their work permits are processed. Photo: VINO/File
On a daily basis more than one hundred persons are turned away from the Department of Immigration, most of them seeking extensions to remain legally in the Territory while their work permits are processed. Photo: VINO/File
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI- Amid the long lines at the Department of Immigration and the many complaints from members of the public, Premier and Minister of Finance Dr The Honourable D. Orlando Smith (AL), who is responsible for Immigration, had promised on February 15, 2018 that he would announce some changes to the Department today, February 16, 2018 that would bring some relief to the public.

In a statement this afternoon, Dr Smith spoke of two changes which he believes will help to ease the long wait and lines at the Department of Immigration.

“We have therefore decided that as of Monday, February 19, [2018] any company can have their entry permits processed for the employees by having all the documents for the employees sent from the company directly to the Immigration Department. This would also apply for the owners or managers of companies.”

Dr Smith added that Government is also now testing an online application process for entry permits and “we expect this to be up and running within the next few weeks.

“Again, this will add to the efficiency of the application process at the Immigration Department.”

Volunteer workers must apply to Immigration Dept

There have been reports that the Department of Immigration and Marine Police have been stopping volunteers from working on Jost van Dyke due to lack of documentation.

Premier Smith said the VI welcomes volunteer groups who are coming to assist with the rebuilding and restoration process.

"We ask that the organisation or person responsible for volunteer groups or the volunteer to apply to the Immigration Department. Persons must write to the Chief Immigration Officer, indicating the name of the parent organisation; when persons are expected to arrive in the Territory and the length of the stay. This request will then be facilitated by the Immigration Department.”

Silence on Ritter-Freeman being replaced

Dr Smith; however, did not state whether Acting Chief Immigration Officer Mrs Geraldine Ritter-Freeman will be removed from the post.

Senior National Democratic Party (NDP) officials, who spoke to our newsroom, have confirmed that Mrs Ritter-Freeman will return to the Premier’s Office in her substantive post as Deputy Secretary by the end of March 2018.

Meanwhile, former Acting Chief Immigration Officer, Virgin Islander Ian B. Penn, who has a law degree, is expected to take over from April 1, 2018, according to the same source.

During a press conference at the Alamanda Conference Room, Office of the Premier, on February 15, 2018, Premier Smith was asked by a reporter to confirm whether Mrs Ritter-Freeman is still the Acting Chief Immigration Officer.

“At the moment she is, yes,” Dr Smith had responded.

See previous article published February 15, 2018

Changes will be made @ Immigration Department!- Premier Smith

- said an announcement will be made tomorrow, February 16, 2018; Changes will result in reduced waiting times & long lines

The Department of Immigration continues to face heavy criticisms from the public for failing to address especially the long waiting times and long lines that worsened since hurricanes Irma and Maria struck the Territory in September 2017.

Persons were particularly disturbed to learn that even volunteer workers from overseas have had to endure waiting an entire day to get their documentation sorted, providing that they show up way before 8:30 A.M. and are lucky to get a number.

There are reports of persons turning up at the Department even before 4:00 A.M. to hopefully be one of the firsts to get a number when they are shared.

On a daily basis more than one hundred persons are turned away, most of them are persons seeking extensions to remain legally in the Territory while their work permits are processed.

During a press conference at the Alamanda Conference Room, Office of the Premier, today, February 15, 2018, Premier and Minister of Finance Dr The Honourable D. Orlando Smith (AL), was asked by a reporter if he was willing to make any comment on the situation at Immigration Department, where there seems to be a lack of efficiency.

Changes will be made

Premier Smith stated that changes will be made at the Department and an announcement on it will follow.

“What is happening is the Immigration Department is going about its work in the normal way and because of the disaster, because of the need to have many people coming in to work and rebuilding and reconstructing, it became a bit excessive, the workload, but I’ve had discussions with the Immigration Department and we are going to be instituting some changes, which I will make an announcement on tomorrow [February 16, 2018]. We’re just going to conclude the discussions.”

The leader of Government business assured there will be results once the changes are made.

“These changes when instituted will definitely result in reduced waiting times, removal of those long lines from immigration and much more efficiency in what we are doing.”

Will Ritter-Freeman be moved?

There have been reports that one of the changes could be the removal of Acting Chief Immigration Officer Mrs Geraldine Ritter-Freeman.

When asked to confirm if Mrs Ritter-Freeman is still the Acting Chief Immigration Officer, Premier responded, “At the moment she is, yes.”

See link to related article:

41 Responses to “UPDATE: Online application for entry permits being tested- Premier Smith”

  • Not a Clue (15/02/2018, 21:52) Like (10) Dislike (1) Reply
    pyour reaction
  • £££££ (15/02/2018, 21:54) Like (8) Dislike (1) Reply
    ......IN, Ritter OUT__- LOL
  • vex (15/02/2018, 22:07) Like (15) Dislike (13) Reply
    Mr zzzzzz giving away country
    • Good News (16/02/2018, 05:45) Like (22) Dislike (14) Reply
      Doc is a good man with good intentions. He listens. He loves people. He often get fight down and bad council from his ministers...Please fix labour also..
  • luk tubble (15/02/2018, 22:14) Like (0) Dislike (4) Reply
    Oh no, Dr ZZZ is up! Heads will roll...he now Dr FFF
  • sense (15/02/2018, 22:17) Like (31) Dislike (6) Reply
    Finally, thank you Dr Smith. It's not about giving away country, it's about being smart and human! Do the right thing! The BVI has taken a flogging on this matter lately. Time to clean this place up! Go Doc
    • Street Reporter. Street News (16/02/2018, 05:40) Like (39) Dislike (1) Reply
      Not good when 95% of the public talking negatively about labour and immigration. These departments good service is of most important.. Time for personel changes seems like too much Squre pegs in Round holes and the managers cant control them. They are sure they are good personality staff in other departments. Than can render a more professional service..
  • See (15/02/2018, 22:48) Like (47) Dislike (2) Reply
    Too bad it takes near riots to get action . Let's wait and see what they come up with . But there is power in speaking up fellow citizens .... never forget
  • Officer Immigration (16/02/2018, 00:53) Like (4) Dislike (1) Reply
    Ok. So when did the Premier had this talk with Immigration? Things that make you go.Hmmm.
  • Brother Josh. (16/02/2018, 01:07) Like (16) Dislike (0) Reply
    That department need a strong, fearless and experienced leader. They had one but they railroaded him in a disrespectful way. Wasn't Ritter a uniquely qualified person according to now ex PS Penn.? Poor we.
  • weed (16/02/2018, 01:09) Like (11) Dislike (14) Reply
    Immigration officers have families and a life just like you people so be nice to them
    • rewrsdffds (16/02/2018, 09:05) Like (7) Dislike (2) Reply
      Good advice that should apply to the customers too. BVI needs outside help, so be nice to those people who are here
    • ? (16/02/2018, 09:16) Like (0) Dislike (6) Reply
      Donald Trump and Harvey Weinstein have families too...
  • pat (16/02/2018, 01:11) Like (6) Dislike (1) Reply
  • B V ISLANDER (16/02/2018, 05:15) Like (24) Dislike (0) Reply
    I am asking this question to EVERY ONE reading
    Does it seem as if the ( NDP ) Government only acts “ after “ something happens?
    Does it seem as if “so many things “ that they did are incompleted or just plan did NOTTmake sense ?
    We need to find out WHO are advising the ADVISORS
    Some thing is NOT right in this little country.
  • Labour is Worst. (16/02/2018, 05:35) Like (13) Dislike (0) Reply
    This is a good Start. From my experience though labour is worst. Just promises you getting to rush you out their office.. Then you never hear from them. To get Doc P to do something is like talking to a Rock..
  • well sa (16/02/2018, 07:22) Like (37) Dislike (0) Reply
    I wish somebody would report the truth. Immigration is not the problem the LABOUR DEPARTMENT is. Labour not giving people their work permit and making them have to keep going back to immigration for extension.

    People begging labour for their work permit and labour telling them they cant find it and if it ready they have to go back in 2 months to pick it up by appointment only. Utter nonsense.

    People on the street talking the truth but nobody listening. So every body seeing long line by immigration and now immigration is the problem.

    Wake up premier and take a long hard look at labour and you will find the root of your problem. The public need your help to get their work permits that been held up in labour from before the hurricanes. When you do that they wont have to be flocking to immigration.

    We who not from here know the truth and what we does experience but ayo bvi people dont listen. Its labour department knockkng people about and making immigration look bad
  • Soledad Brother. (16/02/2018, 07:28) Like (2) Dislike (1) Reply
    Seize the time
  • Patriotic (16/02/2018, 08:35) Like (15) Dislike (0) Reply
    The country is growing, so obviously immigration needs to decentralized to better served the people. Need to have secondary offices in populated areas to manage the workload effectively. We some point we have to stop pointing at erma and Maria as excuses, it has been approx 6 months now. We need to move on.
  • Paper (16/02/2018, 09:25) Like (13) Dislike (0) Reply
    too many of our processes are third world and from the last millenium and done badly at that. The technology is available to make this far more efficient.

    The renewal process is the easy kill. I understand this may be on the cards to be addressed. Why one admin person cannot take the passports to be stamped (with a cheque or when electronic receipt of payment is confirmed) is a mystery.

    Bahamas, not considered normally up there with Singapore, HK and the other BOTs in financial services, is instituting a 15 day limit for approval of permits. Even if just for the FS and tourism jobs, this should be easily attainable with the staff numbers available and with better more streamlined process.

    The are business and social media discussions of how people are finding BVI systems, not just the hurricane damage, just too unreasonable and they are moving elsewhere even if it costs a little more up front.

    It's HIGH time for all of us in BVI to bind together and defend our economy and our future.
  • Doc you still sleeping (16/02/2018, 09:26) Like (3) Dislike (8) Reply
    You going to move the best person that immigration has had in a while seems like...its a shame. Immigration is government stepchild. That department is the scape goat for labour problem on top of their own. I surprise it still have some decent staff there because for how that department does get put down moral must be extremely low. It serm like every year there is a new chief for the past 5 plus years... thats rough. Only god knows who moo moo going lead immigration with these changes and what other dumb changes are going to be put in place. Poor immigration
  • Concerned (16/02/2018, 09:28) Like (5) Dislike (2) Reply
    Do not disturb the Premier about mundane things like Labot & Immigration. He is busy thinking about a new airport!! Do not confuse the man. Only the Chinese will listen. They hear $'s trying to be given (even if they have to share).
  • Gosh man (16/02/2018, 09:40) Like (5) Dislike (0) Reply
  • Citizen (16/02/2018, 09:57) Like (8) Dislike (1) Reply
    changes need to be made to our government, throw all the bums out
  • Umm (16/02/2018, 10:19) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    Thanks. When something needs fixing you fix it. Wish we the people of the BVI could get this similar kind of quick reaction from the Premier on other pressing matters.
  • law student (16/02/2018, 10:22) Like (11) Dislike (0) Reply
    I think the current head of the department should be looked at and some action taken whether it be as simple as training to as serious as a replacement. Public servants should be aware of the tools that are availabe to guide them when serving the public. There are regulations and policies coupled with discretion etc that have to be adhered to. On the other hand , there are laws that supersede all. Personal opinions should not be the rule of the day. Unfortunately like many other governmental department, it is normally how one feels about a given subject which is given to the public . The head of the passport office should take note. Let people know what the law says not how you feel about a matter. Your job is not to serve self.
  • meeee (16/02/2018, 10:29) Like (3) Dislike (9) Reply
    What are all these work permits for is the question?
    • duh! (17/02/2018, 10:21) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply to help rebuild post Irma...
      • To duh! (17/02/2018, 10:34) Like (0) Dislike (1) Reply
        Help the VI or help yourself? Heard some man bragging in DHL the other day of how much money in construction. Mind you these may be the same kind of people who built inferior buildings that the hurricane mash up.
  • truth be told (16/02/2018, 11:19) Like (16) Dislike (1) Reply
    Possible solutions?
    1. Allow persons who come into the territory to be fluid in which jobs they take, and for whom they work for a minimum of three years in the first instance, after being in the territory for one year. In this way, persons will be free to elevate themselves and tbeir families as they make the country their home. Why should a person be indentured in 2018? Our present way of hiring persons from other countries, coupled with their poor treatment, borders on exploitation at its best and slavery at its worst.

    2. Station Immigration officers at Labour department, and Labour personel at Immigration department. In effect, these two departments need to work hand in hand.

    3. Have persons apply, renew and pay for their working status/ permit online. They should then print the receipt and have it for safe keeping, like an ESTA document which we need to go to USA on our UK passport. What the form contains such as employer and so on can be fine tuned to suit 'sensitive palates', but this is 2018!

    4. I could go on, but I'll stop. Most times it is not the person(s) that create(s) the problems, but it is lack of clear and forward thinking procedures and policies that will cripple institutions and nations. Like now.

    And yes; I was born and raised here, but these people are under duress! And what we are doing to them is retrogressive, especially now, post Irma.
    • solution (18/02/2018, 05:54) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
      Why make this place home? They should save their money and go home.
  • #mypoorcountry (16/02/2018, 19:03) Like (10) Dislike (0) Reply
    The problem at Labour Department lies at the top. It's unfair for persons who submit there renewals months i advance only to be told that they have to get an extension in order to get it a process thay should take 3 days also thru need to have a mature person as receptionist those front line staff dont know how to deal with the public you're trying do conduct business but their priority is being on their cell phone texting also at Labour you're feel not welcomed you have to sit in a dark hot corridor for hours but management is in their posh closed up office they care absolutely nothing about we expatriates. Also the cashier needs to be replaced no manners at all
  • hmmph (16/02/2018, 20:16) Like (1) Dislike (1) Reply

    Can I ask Labour Dept back for my application that I just submitted before you made this announcement? Since they are the problem, I want it to go straight to Immigration. NONSENSE. How to fix this???
  • SKA (17/02/2018, 03:26) Like (0) Dislike (1) Reply
    Time for the premier to step down. He seems to no longer understand what is going on in this territory. Do it with grace. Do not wait to be treated like Mr. Zumba.
    • street reporter. (17/02/2018, 08:28) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
      People love Doc Smith. They couldn't understand why he seems like a follower of bad men and bad advice.. They wonder if he was under a bad spell...Now he has to Fix labour, Fix Agriculure and Fix trade...
  • Ja rules (17/02/2018, 03:33) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    Why you don't give the people that are here for at least 10 years and stayed to help rebuild the bvi to what it is today there exemption
  • Doc U Working (17/02/2018, 08:24) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    This is the leader people love and voted for.. Open minded, caring. wise, loves people. I'm happy you are now stepping out and stepping up..
  • Lord o (17/02/2018, 08:31) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    You do you damn. You don't do you damn.. Just keep loving people and God will love you..
  • Tranquility (17/02/2018, 12:36) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Where were all these people after Irma and Maria? Why they only showing up now? We did not have this confusion after they hightailed and left. The island was peaceful and serene. We got by fine without them. We welcomed the ones who came to our rescue and all of us coexisted in harmony. Now they are back acting entitled and causing all this chaos.
  • carl (19/02/2018, 05:57) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Spoke to the hill man the other day speaking to a Brazilian man.. That brother is so khool under duress you won't even know it. Did not knew he spoke purtoguese wow.

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