JIS News

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  • The Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA) processed 2.5 million passengers arriving at the island’s airports, and 2.5 million departing passengers, during the last financial year.
  • This represents a six per cent increase in the arriving passengers handled, while the processing of departing passengers increased by five per cent, said the agency’s Chief Executive Officer, Jennifer McDonald.
  • She informed that the processing of passport applications also grew by 28 per cent to 250,000 for the period, while 2,000 citizenship applications were processed, representing an eight per cent growth.

The Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA) processed 2.5 million passengers arriving at the island’s airports, and 2.5 million departing passengers, during the last financial year.

This represents a six per cent increase in the arriving passengers handled, while the processing of departing passengers increased by five per cent, said the agency’s Chief Executive Officer, Jennifer McDonald.

She informed that the processing of passport applications also grew by 28 per cent to 250,000 for the period, while 2,000 citizenship applications were processed, representing an eight per cent growth.

Ms. McDonald credited the increase to the dedicated work of staff and measures undertaken to boost service delivery, including refurbishing and upgrading of facilities, improvements in technology, and increasing the number of access points.

“We have a dedicated staff; they love their work. We all love what we do, we enjoy serving and we are constantly being creative and innovative,” she said.

The addition of two new full-service passport access point locations also served to widen the agency’s capacity to deliver service across the island.

Done through the concept of joined-up Government, PICA established a location at the Registrar General’s Department (RGD) office in Mandeville.

“We are very happy with this because it is a one-stop facility, in that, if somebody comes to apply for a passport and needs a birth certificate, they could get it there immediately,” she said.

The first floor of the post office building in St. Ann’s Bay has also been refurbished to house PICA.

Ms. McDonald said PICA also introduced 15 automated kiosks in Jamaica’s two international airports, to enable a quicker processing time.

“It is really very quick. Just 45 seconds. We introduced them late last year and by the end of the winter tourist season, there was an 18 per cent uptake; meaning that 18 per cent of passengers are using the kiosks,” she said, adding that the machines are a first of its kind in the country.

Ms. McDonald further pointed to a 64 per cent increase in the use of the mobile service, which the agency uses to reach clients in communities, offices, churches and schools. She said the mobile service also extends overseas, to places such as London, Birmingham and Manchester in the United Kingdom.

PICA is also boasting an upgraded website that allows clients to track the progress of their passport applications. There has been a 72 per cent increase in website visits as a result.

Ms. McDonald told JIS News that improvements at the PICA headquarters along Constant Spring Road in Kingston have allowed for greater ease and comfort for persons who utilise the facility.

Through partnership with the Caribbean Maritime Institute (CMI), an air-conditioned holding facility was built to house persons while they wait to process applications.

An additional air-conditioned tent was also brought in to further accommodate the usually large number of persons.

An electronic queuing system has been introduced to allow for persons with special needs, the elderly and children to be provided with a special ticket, which will give them priority in the processing of applications.

PICA is an agency that operates under the Ministry of National Security, with responsibility for immigration, citizenship, passport processing and conducting related investigative functions.

The agency is one of the top contenders in the Public Sector Customer Service Competition (PSCSC) organised by the Office of the Cabinet.

The winners will be announced at an awardS function scheduled to take place on Friday (October 9) at the Terra Nova All Suite Hotel in Kingston.

The award categories are: Most Improved Customer Service, Most Creative/Innovative, Most Responsive and Most Socially Aware.

The other contenders are: National Health Fund (NHF), Firearm Licensing Authority (FLA), National Land Agency (NLA), National Housing Trust (NHT) and the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC).