According to Labour & Immigration Minister, Vincent Wheatley, during a recent interview.
He said test-runs have been done on the system, and once it goes online, it will result in faster processing times when travellers get to Customs and
“What we are doing this week is we have been modernising Labour and Immigration, reforming Labour and Immigration, bringing Labour and Immigration into modern times. What we are doing is automating the system and when we open the borders on December 1st, our brand-new Immigration system will be in play,” the minister stated.
He added: “We had all the systems turn on last week, we did some more testing on Wednesday this week, we are going to be ready. Instead of waiting maybe 20 minutes to clear Immigration at the airport, maybe five minutes. As we speak, the testing is going right on.”
Minister Wheatley also said the system is likely to result in the reduction of cost for customers. He briefly outlined some of the key features persons can expect once it becomes active.
“The new system can do some amazing things in a very very short time. For example, it can track the country of origin, it can track skills set, it can track gender, it can track for professions, it can track many many things, so you get a much better idea of what the true landscape is in the workforce in the BVI,” Wheatley said.
Wheatley said the goal of the initiative is to make the system a “one-stop shop” where persons can upload the relevant documents, pay online and have their documents returned to them without the usual hassle.
He said the online payments will only be possible once the needed legislation is passed through the House of Assembly.
“To get the online payments done, you got to get the legislation passed first which is going to happen very, very soon. They had the first reading in the House last week, so hopefully, before the year is done or early next year, we have everything in place to move to where we should have been years ago, a modernised public service,” he explained.
With the implementation of the new technology, Wheatley said the normal number of staff required for the daily operations will no longer be necessary.
In assuring that no jobs will be affected, he said that those persons who are no longer needed to process physical applications will be relocated to a different area of focus.
“Instead of spending time processing work permits, they are now going to be spending more time inspecting businesses. That’s what we’re changing into - from ‘Labour’ to ‘Labour & Workforce Development’. We are going to be spending more time seeing how businesses are operating … So we are moving towards the inspection stage of things because we expect them to localise the workforce. But who’s checking to see if they’re localising the workforce?” Wheatley questioned.
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