Published 3rd November 10, 12:0am
Parents posing questions on children's documentation and human resources professionals seeking to update their knowledge were amongst those taking advantage of the 'face-to-face' Department of Immigration district evenings.
The George Town meeting, the final on Grand Cayman, takes place this evening, Wednesday, 3 November, from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the John Gray High School hall. The Cayman Brac meeting takes place Thursday, 4 November at the Aston Rutty Centre.
At the earlier forums, residents utilised the one-on-one opportunities at desks staffed by immigration representatives from sections ranging from visas to the Work Permit Board. Department of Employee Relations staff also addressed workplace issues and grievances.
Several new developments were made public by Chief Immigration Officer (CIO) Linda Evans in presentations shared by Deputy CIOs Bruce Smith (Border Control) and Gary Wong (Enforcement), as well as Assistant CIOs.
"Since taking up the position a year ago, my focus for the department has been on four areas," said Ms Evans. "They are enhancing customer-service delivery; introducing efficiencies to improve turnaround times of services; improving the knowledge base of staff; and enforcement."
New efforts underway include a pilot project to email permit approval licenses to applicants; the addition of four posts to enhance front-counter transaction time; and the imminent recruitment of a full-time training officer.
The public heard that work will be underway in the coming weeks to start scanning the 30,000 active immigration files (of some 125,000 paper files in the department). This will allow for easier sharing of information among sections, and should result in faster processing times.
The officials also spoke of the anticipated introduction of the fingerprinting to start in January 2011. Initially, the database will focus on work permit holders.
Immigration data-sharing throughout the region is also being enhanced. The introduction of advanced passenger information systems and access to Interpol's intelligence database was also discussed.
While the department continues to be responsive to the needs of its clients, Ms Evans repeated the appeal for the cooperation of the public and businesses when submitting applications.
"The time spent on following up on incomplete applications is a major source of delays in the processing system, and reduces the capacity of our staff to deal with more productive work," said Ms Evans. "However, we will undertake increased public education efforts to inform our customers on the requirements of the Boards for the various application types. Thereafter, incomplete applications will be returned immediately to the applicant."
Another new service is an immigration enforcement hotline (1-800-534 2546) and email address (firstname.lastname@example.org). Both may be used by the public to provide confidential anonymous information to the enforcement unit.
For more information, visit the department's website: www.immigration.gov.ky.