Feature
Chief Executive Officer, Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA), Andrew Wynter.

As the first immigration agency in the Caribbean to introduce machine-readable passports, the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA) continues to demonstrate its commitment to innovation, especially to enhance customer service and border security.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO), PICA, Andrew Wynter, tells JIS News that the agency is working towards offering more of its services online.

“We are really looking forward to automating a lot of our products and services, so persons can go online to apply for citizenship [or] any of our immigration benefits, be [it] permanent stay, extension of stay or visa,” says Mr. Wynter.

The agency also has plans to use technology to implement a customer relationship management (CRM) system, to better understand the needs of its customers, market demands and trends.

This initiative is being supported by the Transformation Implementation Unit at a cost of US$820,000, under the Public Sector Transformation Programme.

The system is expected to be in place by 2022.

Mr. Wynter also points out that the agency has already undertaken many service improvement initiatives, some of which took place since becoming an executive agency in 2007.

He says adults are able to renew their passports online and select a pick-up date that is convenient to them, based on the available options of same day, next day or within three or seven days.

“We also have what we call a simplified renewal process. So, if you already have a passport and there are no changes, you don’t need to have a Justice of the Peace certify anything. You just complete the form, bring it along with your machine-readable passport and submit the application,” Mr. Wynter adds.

He, however, indicates that first-time applicants have to submit all documentation to the head office in Kingston or any of the satellite offices located in St. Ann’s Bay, Montego Bay, Mandeville, May Pen and Port Antonio.

The agency is constantly seeking new ways to improve its services and boost its level of efficiency.

Director, Projects and Enterprise Risk Management Unit at PICA, Amy Johnson-Lynch, points out that prior to the machine-readable passports that now exist, “we had handwritten passports, commonly known as the Blue Book”.

Director, Projects and Enterprise Risk Management Unit, Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency, Amy Johnson-Lynch.

 

“We have used technology to transition from using a machine-readable passport, to making our system a little more robust by implementing a facial recognition system for our passport services, again strengthening our processes and integrity of our passport,” she adds, noting that the citizenship arm of the Agency has also seen new developments, with the implementation of an appointment system.

PICA’s role in border protection and security has also been strengthened, as several strategies have been implemented to improve operations.

To expedite the immigration service process, persons entering the country are able to complete the C5 immigration form online. An Advance Passenger Information System (APIS), is also utilised where airlines collect information from passengers at the check-in point, allowing for prescreening to take place, ultimately reducing wait time.

Self-serving kiosks have also been installed at the two international airports on the island to consistently and constantly serve customers.

Recently, the agency achieved another major transformation milestone, becoming ISO 9001:2015 certified for its passport production and issuance operations.

ISO 9001:2015 is an international standard dedicated to quality management systems.

“It has meant that we have to provide a level of quality throughout our entire operation from end-to-end, customer service, human resources, and other support services, which enable the customer to get the benefit of a standard way that we operate,” Mr. Wynter shares.

According to the CEO, the agency has seen the benefit, in terms of the consistency in how customers are treated and has received numerous commendations.

Shelly-Ann Fung-King, whose husband is a citizen of the United States and is now applying for his Jamaican citizenship, commends PICA on how “seamless” the process has been.

Customer, Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA), Shelly-Ann Fung-King, whose husband is applying for Jamaican citizenship.

 

“It is very engaging, he feels comfortable [and] very relaxed,” she says, adding that the owner, and chairman of the company where she works also utilised the services of PICA in acquiring their citizenship and were both pleased.

The increased level of efficiency at PICA is a demonstration of the Government’s continued efforts to transform the public sector and to provide citizens with world-class services.

PICA is responsible for the issuance of passports, the management of the island’s immigration processes, and application for and renunciation of Jamaican citizenship.

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