***Source Barbados Today, December 04
The Barbados Immigration Department (BID) will undergo a digital transformation over the next two years, says Minister of Home Affairs Wilfred Abrahams.
On Saturday night, during the department’s staff appreciation ceremony held at the Sea Rocks Dome, Barbados Beach Club, the minister said the BID will be one of the seven government departments to do so.
He outlined some of the key developments the department would achieve in the timeline.
Abrahams said the BID has designed the island’s first cultural passport and it should be ready for issuance in January next year, noting that later on that year, citizens of Barbados will also be able to submit and pay for passport applications online.
He said the eVisa application will be designed and operationalised and applications including those for citizenship, student visas, work permits and extensions will be facilitated online.
An electronic document and records management system will also be established and Embarkation-Disembarkation cards will be integrated online.
Abrahams said these online processes are being pursued in an effort to improve the services offered by the BID and to take the department into the 21st century.
He added that the Welcome Stamp initiative, which attracted 7 014 people from 127 countries across the globe, is testament that the department has the capacity to implement successful online programmes.
That programme, instituted in 2020, saw more than 4 078 applications and 2 566 were approved.
Abrahams said the BID staffers are also taking part in career improvement activities to further transform the department.
“This department has been so bold and forward thinking that it recently embarked on an inaugural institutional strengthening training clinic to improve the internal and external immigration customer experience. These efforts have been recognised and commended publicly and it is projected that this innovative training clinic would enhance the learning and delivery of services to make Barbados more competitive in delivering services while protecting our borders,” he said.
“Beyond that, this clinic is expected to increase institutional knowledge and improve competence through cross-training. Going forward, officers should enjoy a smoother transition into more senior roles and fill the void that currently exists because of not having a succession plan. It is safe to say that this programme has been specifically designed to retain institutional knowledge and build a team of middle managers that will take the Department and the country into the 21 st century of innovative leadership.”
The minister added that staff were also trained on how to use soft skills to improve the department’s service delivery, noting that special attention was placed on how to relate to the differently abled community and how to use emotional intelligence to counter challenging issues.
The BID was originally under the leadership of the then Royal Barbados Police Force until September 10, 1979, when it became a civilian entity.
Abrahams said he is proud to say that the BID has moved from “a public image of inflicting fear and frustration on its customers” to one of “elevating excellence and establishing our legacy”.
During her remarks, Chief Immigration Officer Margaret Inniss said that all the department’s staff played a valuable role and are worthy of being appreciated.
“This is an evening that we ought to celebrate. This is an evening that we ought to be looking at each other and saying a job well done … You all have done an amazing job …”