The Labour Department said it will start testing a new process for the renewal of work permits on March 15.
The processing time, which sometimes takes up to three months, is to be reduced to two weeks.
Full implementation of the programme is scheduled for May 15, the department further said.
The revised procedure for processing renewals is part of efforts to enhance the operation of the Labour Department, and to improve customer service in keeping with the ‘BVI Forward’ initiative to reform Immigration and Labour.
Deputy Premier and Minister for Natural Resources and Labour, Dr Kedrick Pickering, said it is imperative that improvements are made to bring the BVI in line with practices in competing jurisdictions.
“Government is always exploring ways to improve service, and the changes identified through our ongoing partnership with the private sector illustrate our commitment to continuous improvement. Considerable time has been invested examining processes, and we are now at the point of implementation,” he said.
Dr Pickering continued: “The Labour Department is integral to the transformation of the BVI economy, and must continue to serve as an enabler for employment opportunities by facilitating faster and more efficient business and customer-friendly service. While work permit processing is one of the key services provided, the department will also be implementing plans through its Workforce Development Unit to better assist BVIslanders and Belongers who are unemployed.”
Labour Commissioner Janice Rhymer, in the meantime, said the Financial Services Implementation Unit (FSIU) has been working with the Labour Department, mapping the work permit process, and identifying options for improving efficiency to provide a faster and easier service to customers.
She further stated that the Labour Department will monitor the test phase of the programme and adjust as needed ahead of the full launch on May 15.
“We have been very thorough in preparing to roll out this new work permit renewal process. However, we are certainly prepared to further refine the process through our own monitoring during the test phase and feedback from the public. Ultimately, we want to ensure that we are providing the best possible service to customers by minimizing the time commitment for both applicants and the Labour Department while maintaining the integrity of the work permit renewal process,” Rymer said.
New renewal forms
She further stated that, in addition to faster processing, the new process will include introduction of a single-page renewal form that will be available in electronic and hard copy format.
During the test phase, persons seeking to renew their work permits will have the option to complete the form electronically or manually, and then submit it to the Labour Department.
A limited number of renewal applications will be issued using the new process as only a select group of officers will participate in the test phase. All officers will process renewals according to the new guidelines when the revised process is fully launched in May.
Government said the staff at the Labour Department has been engaged in training sessions in preparation for the testing of the new process.
To participate in the test phase of the new process for work permit renewals, persons whose current work permit will expire before June 9 can visit the Labour Department’s Services link on the BVI government’s website (www.bvi.gov.vg/services/work-permit-renewal ) from Wednesday (March 15) for instructions, to access the new Work Permit Renewal Form, and to schedule an appointment. Persons who do not sign up for the test must follow the existing process.
The Reform of Immigration and Labour is one of the most critical ‘BVI Forward’ initiatives as Government moves to strengthen and diversify the economy with new value-added services.
The reduced processing time for work permit applications is part of an Enhanced Service Model recommended by the Immigration and Labour Initiative Team chaired by Gerry Farara as part of the implementation of the Financial Services Consultancy Report commissioned by Government.
It was designed by the FSIU in collaboration with the Departments of Immigration and Labour.