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Employers welcome paperless plans for immigration

A government Throne Speech promise to introduce a digitised immigration application process in this session of parliament has been welcomed by the business community.

Just last month, 11 government employees were recognised for their drive to make government business paper-free.

A year ago, the Reform Minister, Attorney-General Kathy Lynn Simmons, said that the Government aimed to be paperless by 2023, with all forms and documents online.

While Friday’s Throne Speech promise appears to be related to that, some government departments had to be pushed into the 21st century last year.

They had to pivot in the face of pandemic-forced shutdowns into finally collecting fees and other payments electronically.

Before that, to pay the immigration department, you needed to pay by cheque or a bank draft.

Even then, customers had to print out all the forms and physically go to some government departments and wait to be served. At one point, signatures were a problem because the original copy was required.

The Throne Speech said: “In order for Bermuda to be successful in the global war for talent and investment, we must be more competitive.

“Any and all services that we provide to the global economy must be viewed from the lens of how we improve the delivery of services, so that Bermuda and Bermudians can benefit.

“Bermuda’s competitive edge will be enhanced this session with the introduction of a digitised immigration application process. This will improve the customer-facing delivery of services and ensure that the existing manual immigration process does not serve as a hindrance to the specialised talent required to further grow Bermuda’s economy.”

The coming changes were well received by one businesswoman who told us: “In some cases, it has been working with a lot of paper and consuming a lot of time. Having digital forms would be extremely helpful.”

SOS Limited operations manager Kristi Capuano agreed.

She said: “E-mailing and digitising some of the forms, such as recruitment disclosures, would save a huge amount of cost and time. But some changes were already made at immigration at the start of the pandemic — maybe in May.

“Prior to that, you couldn’t make payments online. But then it was changed where you had to make online payments. They stopped accepting cheques.”

“Bank transfers are so prominent in business today. I’ve had clients who just don’t even have cheques any more.

“Even when you could use a card or cash, you had to physically take it to the government office and wait in line to get up to the window. They would have to flip through all the pages, type it all in … it was more of a lengthy process, that’s for sure.

“If immigration is becoming digitised, that is great. The health council just went digital. Before, you would print off forms, fill them out, scan them and e-mail them. Not completely digital, but seamless. But that has now been changed.

SOS Limited has been an employment agency for 50 years and specialises in local and overseas recruitment search and selection of staff for permanent and temporary placements.

It is also involved in Bermuda immigration work permit processing, career guidance and skills assessment.

Kristi Capuano: operations manager at SOS Limited

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Published November 08, 2021 at 4:00 pm (Updated November 08, 2021 at 4:00 pm)

Employers welcome paperless plans for immigration

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