Immigration tackling backlog

Chief Immigration Officer Franz Manderson told the Finance Committee last week the Immigration Department has temporarily assigned a staff member to address the backlog of work permit disposition letters.

‘It’s one of a number of initiatives to address the timely communications of the [Work Permit] Board’s decisions,’ he said.

Mr. Manderson said the letters, which advise employers of the result of work permit grant or renewal applications, were running about two months behind.

The solution, which is only a temporary measure, should enable the Immigration Department to catch up on all the letters by the end of the month.

‘I realise this is only putting a Band-Aid on a major problem,’ Mr. Manderson said.

The Immigration Department will eventually change the system of how work permit letters go out.

Under the current system, minutes from Work Permit Board meetings are manually rechecked to make sure everything from the Board is included in the letter, Mr. Manderson said, adding that in the future, the Immigration Department wants to streamline that process to allow for the letters to go out the next day.

One of the ways being considered to streamline the process is having a new format for work permits.

Mr. Manderson said the Immigration Department is looking at issuing the work permit as a card only instead of a work permit document as well as a card.

‘That would do away with the two-page letter,’ he said.

On another point concerning work permits, Mr. Manderson said the Immigration Department was looking at job titles more closely on applications.

He pointed out that some applications come in for positions that attract lower work permit fees, even though the advertisements run beforehand in the newspaper often ask for highly qualified applicants with university degrees and years of experience.