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Work-permit applications to be processed in three weeks, says minister

The Minister of Economy and Labour has promised that work-permit applications will be processed in under three weeks.

Jason Hayward, speaking in the House of Assembly on Monday, said that he recognised the importance of guest workers getting their work permits in a reasonable time.

He pledged to shrink the process, which has been taking two to three months while he has been minister for immigration, down to 20 days.

Mr Hayward said: “We do believe we’ll be in the 20-day time frame.

“We understand that if we want to ensure that businesses can succeed then we need to provide them with the human capital that is required within a timely fashion.”

He added: “Work-permit processing is something we have had a key interest in improving.

“We do believe that we will be within the 20-workday period – a substantial improvement in terms of work-permit processing.”

Mr Hayward said a backlog of passport applications had been cleared after people had had to wait for more than five months for renewals.

He said that the travel documents were now being processed within the space of 11 weeks.

Mr Hayward admitted that the wait time was “something that we were not proud of”.

But he added: “We have dedicated the necessary resources and reviewed the processes to ensure that passports are reviewed within the necessary time frame.”

Mr Hayward told the House of Assembly that the Department of Immigration faced “bottlenecks” in applications caused by a lack of staff.

He said that the six-month delay had ended after they hired more people to handle the influx.

Mr Hayward also chalked part of the slow work-permit process down to incomplete or late applications.

Despite the setback, he said: “No, we don’t get it right all the time – but I think in this instance we have been getting work permits processed in a timely manner.”

Mr Hayward said he hoped to digitise and automate the Department of Immigration’s paper process to make the process more efficient, a promise made in last year’s Budget.

He said that the department planned to digitise to make the processes speedier – but added that they had encountered the same human problems.

Mr Hayward explained: “You can digitise a process, but automating a process, it is another step.

“Automating the process means you reduce the level of human resources in the process and we determined that we would see the same bottlenecks if the same human resources are required.

“Say somebody was out sick – and we’ve had staff shortages in the past – it’s the same result.

“And so we want an automated system where we can cut down on the number of human resources needed so that we can achieve the efficiencies that we desire.”

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Published March 08, 2023 at 11:45 am (Updated March 08, 2023 at 11:45 am)

Work-permit applications to be processed in three weeks, says minister

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