National Security Minister Stuart Young speaking at a press conference yesterday at the Ministry of National Security, Abercromby Street, Port-of-Spain office.

The Immigration Division of the Ministry of National Security is moving ahead with fully digitising and upgrading its systems to make it easier and safer for people applying for their passports.

Soon to come on stream will be a service allowing the home delivery of passports via TT Post’s courier service.

This was announced by Minister of National Security Stuart Young during a press conference yesterday. He described the division’s first phase/initiative as a “positive step.”

Young said the Immigration Division had upgraded its systems during the stay-at-home provisions in April and the delivery of passports to a person’s home was one of the first initiatives he agreed with when they presented it to him back then.

Immigration also shifted its resources to clear the backlog of passport production, he added.

“I am pleased to announce that the entire backlog has been cleared and systems have now been put in place to have passports ready for issuing between five to ten days. Currently, there are 48,000 passports ready for delivery and the production unit at Immigration is processing passport applications in a much faster period,” Young said.

He also disclosed that the appointment process has been vastly improved, with appointments being available within one to two weeks via the online appointment system.

“People reported that it took a period of one month to three months, this is now down to one to two weeks,” Young said.

Young said on average, between 600 to 800 applications for passports are received daily.

“One of the next initiatives that we are moving towards is having a full online application and delivery process. So one of the next things Immigration is already looking at is that you can apply online in the future, pay for your passport online and then TT Post will deliver the completed passports,” he said.

Another initiative being explored with Chief Immigration Officer Charmaine Ghandi-Andrews and her staff, he said, is the eventual reopening of the borders and how it is to be done.

“We need to start planning for the eventual opening of the borders and I’ve already spoken to Minister of Transport Rohan Sinanan on how we do it,” Young said.

“We are going to look at the computerisation and the use of biometrics from an Immigration perspective and the doing away of physical Immigration forms.”

After the first phase and proof of the success of the TT Post courier service, Young said Immigration will move to application by mail, “offering it to citizens over 60 years old because they don’t have to pay for their passports.”