Minister: Improvements At Dept Of Immigration

December 11, 2021 | 11 Comments

Speaking in the House of Assembly on Friday [Dec 10]. Minister of Labour Jason Hayward provided an update on the improvements being made within the Department of Immigration.

The Minister’s full statement follows below:

Mr. Speaker,

Introduction

I rise before this Honourable House to provide you with an update on the Process Improvements made within the Department of Immigration under Immigration Reform. I will speak on:

  • 1. The Process Improvements made;
  • 2. The Automation Project already underway; and
  • 3. The vital policy role of the Board of Immigration moving forward.

Mr. Speaker,

Process Improvements

The Department of Immigration is several years into its efforts to re- engineer outdated processes and procedures. The Department has executed the following:

  • In 2019, the Department partnered with International Business and KPMG to engage in a LEAN Process improvement exercise that led to a number of recommendations for quick wins to be implemented in the Department.
  • Some quick wins included the adding of a new multi-purpose copier, scanner and printer, introduction of dual monitors for Immigration Work Permit Processing teams and the initial review of the Work Permit Application form.
  • The vetting process was targeted in a Pilot and subsequent introduction of the Bulk Submission and Application process, which resulted in thousands of pages of less documents and savings of hundreds of hours in processing time.

Mr. Speaker,

These items were executed and further improvements continued in 2020 including the following:

  • Following the first Shelter-In-Place of the Pandemic in 2020, the Department shifted to more efficient and cost effective processes such as receipt of application fees online, issuance of documents via mail and registered mail for sensitive documents.
  • Documenting and revamping of the workflows for all major application types helped to identify common challenges and opportunities;
  • Rearrangement of the teams to the new streamlined process within the Department increased resilience within the teams and reduced reliance on any one individual;
  • Cross training of various teams occurred;
  • The Department revamped its landing page on the Government portal to allow customers to more easily obtain vital information, application forms and application fee rates.
  • A new telephone system was introduced within the Department in 2021 to allow individuals to have direct lines, voicemail and to improve the robustness of the telephone infrastructure.

Mr. Speaker,

Automation of Immigration Forms

Significant progress was made between 2019 and 2020, however, with all the process improvements made, the pandemic demonstrated to the Department the critical importance of having strong web-based IT Systems that would allow the Department work to carry on even if staff were out of office. Unfortunately, the legacy systems of the Department lacked this core functionality and with staff out of office for significant periods of time, the gains made through process improvements led to rising frustration as few staff were in the office to produce the work.

Consequently, the Department has turned its efforts to aggressively advancing automation. In the Speech from the Throne of November 2021, the Government undertook to digitize the immigration application process. This work originally commenced in November 2020 and in early 2021, the Department had selected Microsoft Dynamics as its chosen platform to implement an end-to-end application and processing system.

Mr. Speaker,

The objective of the Automation Project is to transition as much as possible, away from paper-based processes to an end-to-end electronic solution. The Scope of the Project in this phase includes, but is not limited to:

  • i] electronic submission of applications;
  • ii] electronic payment of application fees via a payment gateway;
  • iii] electronic workflow;
  • iv] electronic vetting and validation;
  • v] automated, electronic status updates, and limited ability to log-in and obtain status updates;
  • vi] electronic approval by the Minister or Immigration senior leadership;
  • vii] electronic production and disbursement of final immigration documents; and
  • viii] the Department’s ability to Report on all activity within the system.

The digitization of application processing, workflows and document production is a costly and complex process. The Department is implementing the Project in phases to allow it to rapidly develop and launch basic functionality first and then over time, in an iterative manner to release additional functionality. Substantial work is still yet to be undertaken in reviewing other immigration systems and making the appropriate enhancements.

It must be stressed that the functionality in the early phases will be basic and that the Department will release enhancements over time.

Mr. Speaker,

Board of Immigration

From 2018 to date, the Minister’s role has been unchanged from prior periods with respect to making decisions on all immigration application types. When the Ministry of Labour was established in June 2020, the practice of the Minister approving or rejecting applications was continued as had been done in the past. Prior to 2020, the Board’s primary function, as delegated by the Minister, had been to review and consider work permit and other application types on behalf of the Minister.

Mr. Speaker,

For many businesses in Bermuda, the pandemic required them to think and do things differently. I was appointed as the Minister responsible for Immigration at a time when most private sector businesses and the Government were struggling to do business.

In addition to the workflow, personnel, technology and process changes already underway, the Board’s role was reviewed and the role of the Immigration Board was adjusted, consistent with the Act, to provide policy advice to the Minister and the necessity to consider work permit applications was transferred from the Board to the Minister responsible for Immigration. This approach is in direct alignment with the work already being done on: 1] Immigration Reform; 2] the Process Re- engineering work underway; and 3] readjustments required due to the Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mr Speaker,

  • The benefits of such change to the processing of work permits include:
  • 1] the ability to meet more frequently and for longer durations of time;
  • 2] the ability to consider all applications without the need to defer them to the next meeting;
  • 3] the direct privilege of the Minister to request additional information and for the request to be probed for clarity;
  • 4] immediate and direct contact with Bermudian applicants by the Department, based on the Minister’s desire to know applicants’ experiences during the recruitment process; and
  • 5] decisions are communicated to employers/representatives faster.

Mr. Speaker,

A prerequisite of the Department’s automation is that immigration senior technical officers must become fully acclimated with presenting applications, making recommendations and interacting directly with the Minister. The re-engineered process, has facilitated senior technical officers gaining this experience and skill-set.

Mr. Speaker,

In accordance with the Legislation, in 2020, as the Minister responsible for Immigration, I engaged the Immigration Board to provide policy comments, advice and recommendations on:

  • the review of the 2015 Work Permit Policy; and
  • the Government’s Policy Paper for Long Term Residents.

Moving forward, the Ministry seeks to better utilize the Board by having it focus more on policy formulation and providing advice to the Minister. This is designed to enhance strategic decision making and oversight on immigration strategic reform priorities.

Mr. Speaker,

Conclusion

The Department of Immigration, like many other Government Departments, is under immense pressure to modernize its services through an increased use of technology. The investment in technology infrastructure and developing human resource capacity to utilize the new technology is critical to the Government enhancing the delivery of services that will benefit the people of Bermuda, our businesses and guests. A new re-engineered model of operation is required for us to progress past our current state that admittedly is simply not good enough. While some in the community may be reluctant to these changes for various reasons, it should be made clear that we cannot continue operating in the same way and achieve results that meet our current and future needs.

Thank You, Mr. Speaker

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Comments (11)

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  1. Terrence Robert’s J.P. says:

    Well done Mr. Minister ,
    the improvements are long overdue .
    Hopefully you are also looking to improve the situation that requires
    a Bermudian to wait 12 weeks for a simple Passport renewal !!!!
    Respectfully submitted.

  2. BermudaNeedsBusiness says:

    This mofo don’t have a clue how to run immigration. Improvements!?!? Are you sleeping? Have you not spoken to anyone for feedback or taken a look at MAJS List?!?

    The government, let me clarify – all government departments are working at a all time ever piss poor form because of this reckless PLP, who is looking to just destroy our little island.

    Good luck everyone, it’s gonna be a bumpy and dangerous ride under the PLP and we will crash and burn. 30-6 voted in by the sheeple, don’t cry that you weren’t warned.

    • saud says:

      The goal of the plp is to destroy Bermuda…they just didn’t realize they’d be destroying it for themselves as well. Not a very smart bunch.

      • iyiyi says:

        Yup.. It all started in their first term when they booted out all the foreigners and long term residents determined to Bermudianize the country .

        • saud says:

          …and now they’re begging their British overlords for permission to discriminate against a very small section of society…while claiming oppression.

    • JAWS says:

      Agree someone is telling lies to the media and public. Ask anyone in international business how long it takes to receive a renewal. Some of my colleagues are currently waiting in limbo. Whoever is giving the Minister his foot notes is simply playing him and the PLP for fools.

  3. DOUBLE DIP says:

    It takes a life time to build a good reputation all that can be lost on Friday.

  4. Observer says:

    Nothing will change until the nasty, destructive, hateful, selfish, lazy, racist mentality of the entire department of immigration has been removed and replaced with liberal forward thinking individuals. Never going to happen. Might also include the vast majority of government elected members too. Bermuda, you need to really assess where you are here and how to move forward in a constructive manner.

  5. Ringmaster says:

    The PLP have effectively sold Bermudians out of their birthright of owning property. They have ignored LTR and their families who have been here and part of the community for years, and gone for rich foreigners with no connections to Bermuda who can buy property which takes it away from Bermudians. Desperately looking for the tax revenue. When will Bermudians see this and protest? If the OBA did this there would be hell to pay, Parliament surrounded and more pepper spray. The difference is that the opposition can’t organize a protest, which is a shame because it is the less well off Bermudians who are going to suffer the most being priced out of property ownership, but they don’t know because the PLP won’t tell them.

    • BermudaNeedsBusiness says:

      Right now we’re so screwed by the damage caused by PLP, that they have no other choice but to sell out to rich foreigners. They get what they voted for.

  6. Joe Bloggs says:

    ” the necessity to consider work permit applications was transferred from the Board to the Minister responsible for Immigration”

    So much for an independent assessment of work permit applications, all power has now been consolidated in the hands of Jason Hayward.

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