It has been reported that in April the Immigration Department began clamping down on extensions for work permit renewals and implemented a policy that required that persons left the Territory if they were changing employers.
The announced policy change was heavily commented on in the media and as such questions about the policy were put to BVI Leader, Premier Dr. the Hon. D. Orlando Smith at a press conference.
In response to the question on the new policy Premier Smith announced that the Immigration Department is tasked with enforcing the law and that he will be reviewing the procedure that guides the Officers in the execution of their tasks: “The Chief Immigration Officer and his officers have a responsibility to uphold the law; there are also – of course – certain procedural things which I agreed on with the Immigration Department. There is a procedure guide which (they) have been following for some time, which actually is on review by myself at the moment.”
As it relates to the review, Premier Smith stated that there are plans to hold discussions on the matter this week: “I have told my colleagues that we need to meet before the week is over to look at those procedures and make a determination as to if (there are) any changes that needs to be put in place,” he announced.
When asked if he supports the position that it was necessary for a clampdown now, and whether the decision was his, Premier Smith announced that, that was not something that he has had any discussion about: “That is not something that I made a speech or made a presentation about, but what I am saying is that the law is the law, but we have procedures which allows the Immigration Officers to have certain latitudes. They are expected to be able to look at situations and make decisions; but they are always guided by procedures. So we are looking at these and reviewing them; that review will take place very shortly,” Premier Smith announced.