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Immigration backlog being addressed

The backlog on work permits at the Department of Immigration has been cut down to two weeks, said Minister of Immigration Brent Symonette yesterday.

Speaking to reporters outside Cabinet on whether there’s still a backlog at the department, Symonette said, “I’m not sure about a backlog.

“When I checked yesterday, I did work permit applications for April 3.

“We’re two weeks behind in work permit applications.

“A third of those are getting replied to electronically, as opposed to in the past, so, we’re pretty up to speed on that.

“The commission has done about 205 citizenship applications we hope to bring to Cabinet next week, so, they’re pretty well caught up.

“They’re down to 300-odd I think at the moment.

“A lot of the backlog which we’re finding as we delve into it is persons who haven’t delivered paperwork…so, we are now trying to reach out to a number of those.”

Last November, Symonette said the department had a backlog of approximately 10,000 applications.

Those applications consisted of work permits, permanent residency, citizenship, etc.

In September, the department launched a fully automated system for work permit applications.

At the time, Symonette said he hoped the new system would lead to “a faster process of work permits being issued”.

The voluminous number of applications was the reason for lengthy processing times, according to the immigration minister.

Yesterday, he noted that processing applications for citizenship and permanent residency will be moved into a new building, which has not yet been opened to the public.

“We’ve started with permanent residency, citizenship, and those are now being computerized, whereas before they were paper,” Symonette said.

“So, we’re not taking any more passports, birth certificates, marriage certificates, so they won’t get misplaced, and they’ll be on a queue in the computer.

“So, we hope to open that unit to the public July 1st.”

Sloan Smith

Staff Reporter at The Nassau Guardian
Sloan covers national news for The Nassau Guardian. Sloan officially joined the news team in September 2016 but interned at The Nassau Guardian while studying journalism at the University of The Bahamas.
Education: Vrije Universiteit Brussel (University of Brussels), MA in Mass Communications

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