JIS News

Story Highlights

  • The Registrar General's Department (RGD) is reporting a huge success from its recent Overseas Outreach Programme in North America, having successfully processed 204 of approximately 238 applications from the Jamaican Diaspora.
  • The two-week mission conducted from July 12 to 24, was a vast improvement from last year's programme, which received fewer than 100 applications.
  • This year's outreach also saw the agency almost breaking even on its expenditure of J$1.2 million, earning a little over J$1 million, according to Dr. Patricia Holness, Chief Executive Officer, while addressing a weekly JIS Think Tank session on Wednesday, August 4.

The Registrar General’s Department (RGD) is reporting a huge success from its recent Overseas Outreach Programme in North America, having successfully processed 204 of approximately 238 applications from the Jamaican Diaspora.

The two-week mission conducted from July 12 to 24, was a vast improvement from last year’s programme, which received fewer than 100 applications.

This year’s outreach also saw the agency almost breaking even on its expenditure of J$1.2 million, earning a little over J$1 million, according to Dr. Patricia Holness, Chief Executive Officer, while addressing a weekly JIS Think Tank session on Wednesday, August 4.

The RGD team led by the CEO, sought to address issues relating to application procedures for births, deaths and marriages, genealogical researches, deed polls and tourist registry weddings.

New innovations, recent changes and accessibility to the public were among the issues discussed in creating public awareness of the services made available by the Agency.

Dr. Holness noted that the RGD met with over 600 Jamaicans at 15 stops in areas including Washington D.C., New York, Miami, and Atlanta in the United States, as well as Toronto and Montreal in Canada.

Responding to calls from Jamaicans living in other areas at the recent Jamaican Diaspora Conference, the Agency extended its outreach meetings to include areas such as Fort Lauderdale near Miami, Hartford in Connecticut and Irvington in New Jersey.

According to Dr. Holness, it was good that the RGD answered the call, as the response from these areas was tremendous, allowing the Agency to address issues of great importance as well as, provide updates on new developments, unknown to those residents.

Highlighting some of the issues that were brought to the fore, Dr. Holness said, “It was amazing that people were totally unaware that certificates could be fraudulent. In New Jersey, for example, some persons knew for the first time, that our certificates are now being produced on security paper.”

Additionally, persons in most areas showed a great level of interest in the RGD’s genealogical research services, with the number of Genealogical Handbooks, which were taken on the outreach, completely sold out.

“There were several persons who we guided through the process, so they are now able to start their own research, especially in Newnan, Georgia where they had quite an active research facility at the Coweta County African American Heritage Museum and Research Centre. We were able to go on television and explain the process of genealogical research,” she noted.

The RGD also provided the museum with information from the Jamaican records database, dating as far back as the 1660s to assist in their research activities.

The outreach is part of the RGD’s efforts to provide services and information to Jamaicans, not only locally but also all over the world.

During the outreach, the RGD received assistance from the Honorary Consuls, the Consulates and Missions who publicized the events and provided links with Jamaican Associations and Groups. In addition, a consortium of nine Jamaican-owned restaurants in Connecticut including Golden Crust, Braggadocious, Channers, and Apron String provided national cuisine for that outreach meeting.

In 2003, a study conducted by the Planning Institute of Jamaica outlined that at least one million Jamaicans had migrated to the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada in the last 50 years, with over 59 per cent residing in the United States.

Since acquiring the status of Executive Agency in 1999, the RGD has toured both the United Kingdom and North America.