Immigration and Customs officials in the British Virgin Islands will soon have powers to fine illegal immigrants without having to go through the territory’s court systems.
This was revealed by Governor August Jaspert while delivering the Speech from the Throne in the House of Assembly on Thursday.
He said: “Our government will seek to amend the Immigration & Passport Act to ensure that the Immigration department, as a front-line border agency, has the requisite power to charge compound fees on persons who enter the country illegally without having to take them to court.”
“This frees up the court system from dealing with smaller cases and allows the Immigration department to expedite issues while sending a strong message for those attempting to enter illegally,” he added.
Revision of Immigration and Passport Act needed
Governor Jaspert also said a general revision of the Immigration & Passport Act (Cap 130) will be conducted to bring the legislation in line with the international best practices.
This measure is expected to also assist with ensuring that the Act is in keeping with the transformation plan in store for the Immigration department.
Longer stays for investors
Governor Jaspert further said that amendments to the Act will be coming to facilitate the necessary adjustments to the Immigration policy to allow for a longer stay for investors.
This amendment is to allow the territory to attract more business opportunities from these potential investors.
$6.4M border management system to be enforced
In addition, the governor also revealed that the new Immigration border management system, which was approved by Cabinet to be purchased for $6.4 million in 2019, will be enforced shortly.
While not giving a specific date for the enforcement, the governor said a number of the existing systems within the department will be transformed into online systems to make the department more efficient and effective.
During a sitting in the House of Assembly in March this year, Immigration Minister Vincent Wheatley revealed a few key features of the system.
He said the border management system will see the introduction and reintroduction, in some cases, of passport-scanning upon entry at all ports, e-visas, and proper people tracking.
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