Changes To Immigration Policies & Procedures

September 15, 2017 | 26 Comments

Enhancements to the Musician/Entertainer Policy, careful assessments of Statements of Employment, closer monitoring of the recruitment processes by employers, and effecting a plan to return the full processing of BOTC/Bermuda passports to Bermuda are the matters the Immigration Department is working on, Minister of Home Affairs Walton Brown said in the House of Assembly today [Sept 15].

Minister Brown said, “The policy relating to musicians/entertainers is being enhanced to ensure that Bermudian musicians and entertainers are given fair opportunities for employment.

“The second new process change relates to statements of employment which complement all work permit applications. Just over two weeks ago, I met with the Board of Immigration and instructed that the members carefully assess statements of employment to determine whether employers are proposing to pay non-Bermudian workers less than the market rate.

“The third change specifically encompasses the recruitment process,” Minister Brown said, explaining that “technical officers will be required to highlight Bermudian applicants for posts,” and the Board of Immigration will “be required to carefully vet the qualifications of all Bermudian applicants against information provided” to “determine whether the Bermudian applicants are suitably qualified.”

“If Bermudian applicants are deemed to be suitably qualified and where they have not been interviewed, work permit applications will be refused. Also, where it is uncovered that employers have failed to disclose Bermudian applicants, the work permit will be refused and where the work permit has already been approved and issued, consideration will be given to revoking it.”

“The last change is not specific to policy,” Minister Brown said, “Rather, it is a change relating to procedures for the processing of BOTC [Bermuda] passports.”

“Her Majesty’s Passport Office [HMPO] introduced a new design for BOTC passports in 2016. With the new design, BOTC [Bermuda] passports are not as easy to identify as they were prior to the change, they are being confused with other BOTC passports which do require a visa.

“Bermudians who hold a BOTC [Bermuda] passport are being told by authorities of various countries that they need a US visa to enter the US – this applies to travel by air and sea, and the “Ministry is working to return the full processing of BOTC [Bermuda] passports to Bermuda.”

Minister Brown added, “The wave of changes communicated today, are for the betterment of the economy, businesses, and Bermudians. I am hopeful that the results with their intended aims, will be positive.

The Minister’s full statement follows below:

Mr. Speaker, as the new Minister of Home Affairs, it is my view that certain Immigration policies and procedures must be immediately addressed so that the Department of Immigration [“the Department”] will continue to be effective and efficient in achieving the Ministry of Home Affairs’ mandate, “to improve the economy by addressing the needs of the local and international business community and the career aspirations of Bermudians.”

As such, I rise today to communicate that the following changes are in train:

  • enhancements to the Musician/Entertainer Policy;
  • careful assessments of Statements of Employment;
  • closer monitoring of the recruitment processes by employers; and
  • effecting a plan to return the full processing of British Overseas Territories Citizen [BOTC] [Bermuda] passports to Bermuda.

Mr. Speaker, the abovementioned list comprises the next wave of changes to Immigration policies and procedures.

I take care in using the phrase “the next wave of changes” on the premise that on August 25, 2017, via a Press Statement, I indicated that employers are now required to ‘submit’ police certificates to the Department.

For the sake of clarity and before I elaborate on the next wave of changes, I wish to remind the Honourable Members of this House that the press release emphasized the following key points:

  • that the request for employers to submit police certificates applies to first-time residents only;
  • that employers should already have police certificates on record; and
  • that employers had one business day to submit police certificates for work permit applications which have already been submitted, but where a decision has not yet been made

Mr. Speaker, the deadline for the submission of police certificates for work permit applications that had already been submitted to the Department, but for which no decision has been rendered, was set at August 28, 2017.

This deadline was aggressive because the 2015 Work Permit Policies already mandated that employers had to obtain police certificates and keep them on record in the event that the Department of Immigration requested to review them.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to report that by August 30, 2017, the technical officers of the Department confirmed that they had already received an influx of police certificates, that inquiries by employers were minimal, and that employers who did contact the Department, did so primarily to give assurance that they would be submitting their police certificates or that they had already done so.

Mr. Speaker, I personally have received varied feedback with respect to the request that employers now need to submit police certificates. Some feedback suggested that a grace period should have been given.

However, the quick actions by many employers [as just stated] suggests that the request has not at all, been burdensome to employers, or to prospective first-time residents, for that matter.

I hesitate to think that employers who have not yet submitted police certificates for work permit applications which are in process, have provided false information in the application form [checklist] for work permits and are therefore in breach of the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Act 1956.

Mr. Speaker, the submission of police certificates is a step in the right direction; particularly in consideration that for the L.F. Wade International Airport Redevelopment Project, individuals [including Bermudians] are heavily scrutinized and those with a criminal record are deemed the most unlikely to meet the security clearance process and/or are prevented from working in certain areas.

The point here is that an individual’s criminal record is ‘directly’ assessed by Bermuda Skyport Corporation Limited and its associates. It is therefore unfair that for other organizations, criminal records are not directly assessed by the Department.

It is unfair that non-Bermudians could enjoy an advantage over Bermudians by securing employment in Bermuda. So, the requirement to submit police certificates to the Department and allow for direct assessment by the Board of Immigration and technical officers applies to all employers and all job categories.

Mr. Speaker, I will now communicate the four new changes that the Department is working on. First, the policy relating to musicians/entertainers is being enhanced to ensure that Bermudian musicians and entertainers are given fair opportunities for employment.

The policy will:

  • address the recruitment process for all forms of possible employment for non-Bermudian and Bermudian musicians/entertainers throughout Bermuda;
  • ensure advertisements are not tailor-made;
  • judiciously review work permit applications where one genre of music is appropriate for an occasion/event;
  • support tourism initiatives aligned with the Hotel Concession Act 2000; and
  • mandate that Bermudian musicians/entertainers are included in all promotional campaigns with their non-Bermudian musicians/entertainers.

Mr. Speaker, the Bermuda Entertainment Union [BEU] will be actively involved in the new processes. In fact, all non-Bermudian musicians/entertainers will be required to maintain an active membership with the BEU by paying travelers’ dues to the BEU before work permits will be granted.

Mr. Speaker, many Bermudians are either unemployed or underemployed. As such, the second new process change relates to statements of employment which complement all work permit applications.

Just over two weeks ago, I met with the Board of Immigration and instructed that the members carefully assess statements of employment to determine whether employers are proposing to pay non-Bermudian workers less than the market rate.

If this is the case, it means that employers are engaging in cheap labour practices and that Bermudians are unlikely to be offered employment and/or to accept employment, even if offered.

Where there is evidence of the market rate for job categories; e.g. with the Bermuda Industrial Union for certain blue collar jobs, the Board of Immigration will benchmark the statements of employment against this, or, with the breadth of expertise amongst the members, they will give input in the absence of evidence, and will determine whether, by way of the statements of employment, Bermudians are being disadvantaged.

Mr. Speaker, the closer scrutiny of statements of employment dovetails nicely to the third process change which also deals with the work permit application process. The third change specifically encompasses the recruitment process.

In the first instance, the technical officers will be required to highlight Bermudian applicants for posts. As a carry-on from the actions by the technical officers, the Board of Immigration, will, in the second instance, be required to carefully vet the qualifications of all Bermudian applicants against information provided in the recruitment disclosure section of the application form, the job advertisement, and each applicants’ résumé, to determine whether the Bermudian applicants are suitably qualified.

If Bermudian applicants are deemed to be suitably qualified and where they have not been interviewed, work permit applications will be refused. Also, where it is uncovered that employers have failed to disclose Bermudian applicants, the work permit will be refused and where the work permit has already been approved and issued, consideration will be given to revoking it.

Mr. Speaker, employers must do right by Bermudians by giving Bermudians a fair chance at employment opportunities. It is not acceptable that Bermudians who meet all or most of the key requirements for jobs are dismissed without the courtesy of an interview. It is not acceptable that some employers will hide or fudge information just to hire a non-Bermudian.

Mr. Speaker, I will also add that the Department relies on complaints from the general public. Given this, the internal review of the recruitment process is not the only means of uncovering whether employers have fairly considered Bermudians for jobs.

Detailed complaints from the general public have never been frowned upon by the Department; this information gives weight to the internal process. I am therefore encouraging the general public to work with the Department to stamp out unfair recruitment practices by employers.

Mr. Speaker, the last change is not specific to policy. Rather, it is a change relating to procedures for the processing of BOTC [Bermuda] passports. As you are undoubtedly aware, Her Majesty’s Passport Office [HMPO] introduced a new design for BOTC passports in 2016.

With the new design, BOTC [Bermuda] passports are not as easy to identify as they were prior to the change [they are being confused with other BOTC passports which do require a visa].

Mr. Speaker, Bermudians who hold a BOTC [Bermuda] passport are being told by authorities of various countries that they need a US visa to enter the US – this applies to travel by air and sea. This issue, which came to the Ministry’s attention in January 2017, is as a result of the code “GBR” [BMU is no longer included on the passport data page].

With the new passport book design, passport books are held at HMPO because printing has also been centralized at HMPO. This has taken complete control of the process out the hands of Bermuda [and the other British Overseas Territories]. Discussions with HMPO have not yet resulted in a resolution to address the issue with the code.

To this end, the Ministry is working to return the full processing of BOTC [Bermuda] passports to Bermuda. Currently, the Department of Information and Digital Technology is preparing a request for information to ascertain costs.

Mr. Speaker, the wave of changes communicated today, are for the betterment of the economy, businesses, and Bermudians. I am hopeful that the results with their intended aims, will be positive. The Honourable Members of this House and the general public can expect further changes in Immigration policies and procedures, in the coming months.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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Comments (26)

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  1. Now thats how you do it.

  2. Bolt says:

    PLP busy micro-managing. Can see that this will not go well for International Business looking to hire “the best & brightest in the whole world”

    • LaRoot says:

      Well if the best and brightest in the whole world apply they obviously should get the job right? But maybe, just maybe, in some cases, we have the best and brightest on our shores who are more than qualified to do the job.

      • Franklin Jr says:

        No, the best and brightest can very easily be turned away if there is a Bermudian that meets the minimum qualifications

        • princess says:

          Franklin Jr. There are Bermudians who have the maximum qualifications and jobs are being given non-Bermudians who have minimum qualification

          • Toodle-oo says:

            And maybe those Bermudians you speak of who had ‘maximum qualifications’ had stinking , sucky attitudes and previous employer baggage that turned off the company looking to hire .

        • Well will de best and brightest Bermudian be able to get a job before where de best and brightest come fron if they were applying for a job were they were born.
          Its a new day were Bermudians are being appritiated, then being overlooked because of Historical bias.
          Get over it, every country is Patriotic to their countrymen.

  3. HarryTuttle says:

    Bringing passport printing back here is a bad idea. There is nearly zero chance that they will allow us to print our own biometric / microchip passports here and the old format will be nearly useless in 10 years when they all expire.

    • PBanks says:

      To be fair if Britain is screwing us over with the passport printing, I can see why Govt would desire to bring it back so we can get it right on this end.

  4. Wondering says:

    so what is our government now doing about all the estranged wives of Bermudians who married under false pretenses and are now living – working and coming and going as they please. This should be looked at. Until these mean are able to divorce (and lets just say they cannot afford one!) what happens??? These women are also here in Bermuda taking jobs or even other wives husbands. According to immigration this is a huge problem and nothing has been done about it!!! In some instances these woman are using there estranged husband’s name at immigration in order to seek permits etc etc., and there is nothing that can be done about this!!!!

    • legalgal says:

      That’s a matter for the “Bermudian” men. Why target the women? Why discriminate against them. Often they are the one’s working and supporting the kid’s of these Bermudian men. This anti-Foreigner attitude is distasteful. You want the foreign money but not the families. If you have evidence of fraud, report it. Do not insult all foreign, estranged wives.

    • A Chap called Vanz says:

      Wow. There must be thousands of them.

      Maybe Preserve Marriage can reconcile the couples so they can have a happy marriage.

    • Patricia says:

      Agree

  5. Protecting Bermudians says:

    I recently discovered that an employer was employing Non-Bermudian employees who did not have work permits. These employees were given multiple part time positions in a variety of establishments owned by the same consortium. These jobs were not high skilled. These non-Bermudians were paid in cash at substantially below market rates but also had deductions taken out of their cash payments. Obviously the deductions were not being submitted to the relevant parties. These employees were being taken advantage but they also knew that they were breaking the law. More importantly, Bermudians were clearly not being afforded the opportunity for employment. I called the Immigration hotline multiple times over the period of a week but was unable to leave a message. I tried again the next week and still was unable to leave a message so I called the Chief Immigration Officer but the individual was on holiday. I called the Assistant Chief Immigration Officer as directed but they never answered. Finally I connected with an Office Assistant who said that, oh the answering machine is just full. She seemed not surprised and quite unbothered. I asked if she could address it with someone as it had been like this for a week and I was trying to leave a message. I called a few days later and the answering machine was obviously still full, as I was unable to leave a confidential message once again. I tried to do my part. It is uncomfortable reporting such things and it took courage to make the calls in the first instance but after two weeks of trying it seemed like it wasn’t meant to be.

    • Bolt Action says:

      Some Civil servants don’t care a lick. They have a good paying job, will never be fired for anything cuz they know Union will protect em..

    • Zevon says:

      So the government had a mechanism for reporting abuses, but the civil servants in the dept of immigration don’t give a damn about doing their jobs.
      Not a surprise to most of us, frankly.

  6. MB says:

    Understand the issues but these new layers of red tape and controls will only put off intl companies and move more jobs off leaving just the lower paid jobs anyway

  7. cpm says:

    We are a British Colony with all the support and security that gives us
    Britain has every right to decide who has passports and where they are printed
    Walton, let’s go independant and you can print all the passports you want but don’t expect easy passage through Britain or U S

  8. Jose says:

    So does this mean we will have to listen to the trumpet guy do his toot toots all over the island

  9. Tricia says:

    Well said, Bermudians are Already getting into education and still turn away from employer. One of the PROBLEMS is due to the No limit on WORK PERMIT. And really send people to investigate those involved I many job positions.

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