The Immigration Department has discontinued its practice of inspecting the homes of people seeking work permit renewals or job changes, according to Premier Dr. Orlando Smith.

In October, the agency announced that it would be inspecting households as part of the work permit process, which would “further aid with decision-making in a timely manner,” according to a press release.

In January, acting Chief Immigration Officer Geraldine Ritter-Freeman reportedly said the agency would not approve work permit renewals for people living in unfavourable conditions.

Dr. Smith (R-at large), however, said at a press conference last Thursday that the practice had been discontinued for weeks.

“We didn’t find that it was necessary,” the premier explained. “What we had been speaking about was streamlining the process so that we’d be able to get workers in more quickly to get the work that was needed in the reconstruction done.”

Asked by a reporter about the potentially “invasive” nature of the inspections, Dr. Smith did not comment on whether potential legal issues had played a role in discontinuing the practice.

Instead, he re-emphasised the government’s desire to streamline the Immigration process.

An inspection

Ms. Ritter-Freeman could not be reached for comment about the home inspections.

Her department did, however, conduct them.           

In late January, Texan Adam Folvag flew down to the Virgin Islands for a visit and stayed with a friend who lives in the territory. While his friend was away at work one day, three Immigration Department officials arrived at the house and told Mr. Folvag they were doing a building inspection, he said.

Though they did not go inside, the three officials asked Mr. Folvag for his passport and details about his stay and occupation back in the US.

They also asked for details about who was living in the house, as well as the neighbour’s house, according to Mr. Folvag.

They did not say who they were investigating or identify themselves, though they were wearing Immigration Department clothing, he added.

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