Minister of Labour, Jason Hayward today reaffirmed the Department of Immigration’s commitment to enforcing the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Act 1956 and its related policies as he urged residents to report breaches.
Speaking at a virtual news conference held this morning to address the Immigration Complaints process, he said: “The responsibilities of the compliance section include, but are not limited to, compliance checks of businesses, investigating potential breaches of laws and policies, deportations, and the processing of travellers at the airport.
“In order to effectively carry out their mandate and strengthen enforcement of the existing immigration legislation and policies, the Department of Immigration is encouraging members of the general public to report breaches of immigration laws and policies,” said Mr Hayward.
There are several ways to report an immigration complaint, including:
1. Make an anonymous phone call to the Department of Immigration via the tip line at 296- 5202.
2. Access the Department of Immigration Investigation Request Portal at https://www.doiapps.gov.bm/immigrationtips/.
3. Send an email outlining details of the breach to Immigrationcomplaints@gov.bm;
4. Visit the Department of Immigration to speak with a Compliance Inspector; or
5. Send a letter addressed to the Department of Immigration, First Floor Government Administration Building, 30 Parliament Street, Hamilton Bermuda outlining in detail the breach of the law or policy;
Once received, all complaints are reviewed and processed as follows:
1. Complaints are reviewed to ensure there is sufficient information to proceed.
2. If sufficient information is provided, a case is created in the Compliance Investigation Manager system and later assigned to a Senior Immigration Inspector for investigation.
3. Once an investigation is complete, it is forwarded to the Principal Compliance Officer for review, followed by a final evaluation conducted by the Compliance Manager.
4. Exceptional circumstances often require that a complaint be forwarded to the Minister for a final decision.
5. In the event of a fine, the review process is escalated to the Chief Immigration Officer, who has the authority under Section 71 of BIPA 1956 to levy the requisite penalty.
The two most common complaints received are:
1. Employers or employees suspected of breaching the Work Permit Policy; And,
2. Individuals who remain in Bermuda past the date permitted.
The Department of Immigration relies heavily on information provided by the public to investigate potential breaches.
Of the matters currently under investigation or being managed by the Department of Immigration as of January 2020 to present, I can provide the following statistics:
• General investigations which result from information received from the public total 55.
• Civil Penalty Investigations, which are initiated when there are reasons to suspect an individual or institution has beached immigration laws, total 15.
• Deportations and escorts off island total 15.
• Marriage applications in the process of verifying persons are lawfully living on the island, total 431.
• As part of a police investigation, requests foran individual’s travel records, total 59.
• Individuals placed on the stop list total 17
• Individuals who have applied to have their name removed from the stop list total 10
In closing, the Minister said: “I recognize that some individuals may be reluctant to report persons or companies who may be in breach of Bermuda’s immigration laws and policies, however, the public’s involvement in this process is vital.”