Immigration officers urged to take their roles seriously
Immigration officers here have been urged to read, follow the news and observe patterns of migration in order to be more effective in their roles.
They have also been asked to take into consideration that their role as immigration officers is vital as it contributes to the growth of the country’s economy through tourism.
These issues were discussed last Tuesday and Wednesday at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs conference room where senior and middle level immigration officers were exposed to training through a Border Security Workshop under the theme “Forging Ahead with Determination.”
Addressing the opening of the workshop, acting Chief Immigration Officer Beverly Walker urged immigration officers to be mindful that tourism is a vital sector that contributes to the growth of the country’s economy.
“One of the topics will focus on the role of immigration in tourism and this we hope will help to highlight the importance of tourism to St Vincent and the Grenadines,” stated Walker while adding that this country has nine seaports and five airports, and they must be manned with professionalism.
“The passport and immigration department has as one of its mandates the continual training of its officers.
“The job as an immigration officer falls under three main categories, processing and issuance of travel documents, facilitation of bona fide travellers to and from the country and the enforcement of the immigration laws,” noted Walker who added that senior and middle level immigration officers were strategically chosen to take part in the workshop as they have the task of assisting junior officers and being the conduit that enables their growth.
Walker said that officers should always grasp the opportunity to increase effectiveness on the job and there is need for constant retooling and refitting with skills which can help solidify job performance.
“Securing of the borders is important and the role of an immigration officer is pivotal in this,” noted Walker who also praised the department’s improvements and accomplishments.
She said that at the immigration department, they have gone past the issuance of manual and machine-readable passports and the department has met all the standards that were stipulated by the International Civil Aviation Organization regarding the issuance of passports.
“From 2014, we have been issuing electronic or e-passports and at that time we were the second country in CARICOM to issue e-passports; St Kitts and Nevis was the first,” boasted Walker.
During the workshop, the participants were exposed to training in knowing their role in tourism (facilitated by Faylene King of the Tourism Authority), customer service (facilitated by Mineva Glasgow), protocol to be used when dealing with diplomats, officials and foreign mission and embassies and the profiling and screening of passengers.
They were also schooled on the use of legal documents, human trafficking, the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), interviewing techniques and leadership.
Deputy Chief Education Officer Zonell Wilkinson said the training is the first phase of a two-part training initiative that will take place over the next few months.
Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves also addressed the opening.
The Prime Minister said the work of an immigration department is important and while we have seen tremendous changes in areas of legislation, administration and technology over the last 20 years, more changes are coming.
He noted that it is for this reason that training is important.