Richardson calls for urgency in reforming immigration processes
Delays in modernising the island’s process for issuing passports could deprive Bermudians of the right to travel overseas and deter foreign investors, the One Bermuda Alliance has warned.
Jarion Richardson, the Shadow Minister for Economy and Labour, said the Government needed to prioritise making it easier for people come and go from Bermuda.
The comments came after widespread complaints about the length of time it has taken to get passports and work documents.
In a post-Budget statement, Mr Richardson said: “The Government, unfortunately, has delayed the digitisation project to assist with processing of passports
“This is a key improvement needed to make sure that we don’t inhibit Bermudians right to travel.
“Without the work permits being processed in a timely fashion, without passports being processed in a timely fashion we expose ourselves to the negative impact that will inevitably come about when persons who would like to invest in Bermuda, to come and go to and from Bermuda, realise that there is a consistent administrative burden to that process.”
Mr Richardson said that immigration reform was urgently needed.
He said: “When we discuss immigration we are all well aware that last year we had the debacle with the backlog of passport processing, and the reported backlog in work- permit processing.
“This resulted in the Government hiring a number of consultants to assist with clearing the backlog.
“This increase in budget allocation and pricing was significant and yet we still didn’t see that backlog go down at all.
“We still hear complaints and it’s a fact right now that we don’t have a complaints tracking process for the Department of Immigration.”
The remarks came after Jason Hayward, the Minister for Economy and Labour, pledged to improve waiting times for work permits to three weeks.
He promised to bring the process, which have been taking two to three months while he has been minister for immigration, down to 20 days.
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”.
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