Ministerial Statement by the Minister of Home Affairs, The Hon. C. Walton D. Brown, Jr., JP, MP:
Mr. Speaker, on September 15, 2017, I gave a Ministerial Statement under title “The Next Wave of Changes to Immigration Policies and Procedures.” In that Statement, I mentioned that the Board of Immigration would be giving closer scrutiny to statements of employment and to the recruitment process effected by employers. I also mentioned the Ministry of Home Affairs was/is working to return the full processing of BOTC (Bermuda) passports to Bermuda. And finally, I talked about enhancements to the musicians/entertainers policy.
Mr. Speaker, the scrutiny of the statements of employment by the Board of Immigration began immediately after my Statement in this Honourable House; and, as was discussed in the House a few weeks ago (via Parliamentary Questions), work continues with respect to the processing/printing of BOTC (Bermuda) passports and the return of such processing to Bermuda.
Mr. Speaker, I am minded to continue the theme of “The Next Wave of Changes…” as I stand today to announce that “A New Entertainers Policy for Immigration” will be introduced effective 30th July. Bermudian entertainers, musicians, and all those who love a bit of dance, rhythm, fun, and entertainment, should get ready to ride the wave of music with heartfelt meaning.
Mr. Speaker, since the September 2017 Statement, the Department of Immigration and the Bermuda Entertainment Union (BEU) have worked together to draft the new policy. It should be noted that there is a Musician/Entertainer Policy in the current Work Permit Policies 2015. However, that policy needed to be enhanced. Following the joint efforts by the Department of Immigration and the BEU, the new policy, called the Entertainment Policy, was circulated to key stakeholders on June 14, 2018 with an invitation to provide feedback by July 13, 2018. The likes of the Association of Bermuda Insurers and Reinsurers (ABIR), the Association of Bermuda International Companies (ABIC), the Bermuda Employers’ Council (BEC), the Bermuda Chamber of Commerce (CoC), the Bermuda Hotel Association (BHA), the Bermuda Trade Union Congress (BTUC), the Bermuda Human Resources Association (BHRA), and the Bermuda Festival, to name a few, were consulted. All feedback was positive, including comments that assisted with making further improvements to the policy. Given the outstanding work being done for Bermudians by the Bermuda Festival and based on a review of their profile; including their work of the past and their current and future plans, I have taken the decision to exempt the Bermuda Festival from having to follow the requirements of the new policy.
Mr. Speaker, the new Entertainment Policy will ensure that Bermudian musicians and entertainers are given fair opportunities for employment. Specifically, the purpose of the policy is “to detail the employment process/procedures for non-Bermudian entertainers and support staff, music school teachers and other work permit holders whose aim it is to provide entertainment services in Bermuda.”
As was mentioned last year, the policy will:
- address the recruitment process for all forms of possible employment for non-Bermudian and Bermudian musicians/entertainers throughout Bermuda;
- ensure advertisements are not tailor-made;
- judiciously review work permit applications where one genre of music is appropriate for an occasion/event;
- support tourism initiatives aligned with the Hotel Concession Act 2000; and
- mandate that Bermudian musicians/entertainers are included in all promotional campaigns with their non-Bermudian musicians/entertainers.
Mr. Speaker, the BEU will be actively involved in the new processes. For example, all entertainers and support staff must be first vetted through the BEU, prior to any processing of a work permit by the Department of Immigration. In addition to this, all non-Bermudian musicians/entertainers will be required to maintain an active membership with the BEU by paying travelers’ dues to the BEU before work permits will be granted.
Mr. Speaker, I believe this new policy puts us in the right space for meting out fairness and equity for Bermudian musicians and entertainers while welcoming non-Bermudian musicians and entertainers to our shores, as needed. By July 30, 2018, the new policy will be uploaded on the Government portal (www.gov.bm) for access by the general public. Please note that any applications that have been submitted prior to 30th July will be processed according to the existing policy.
Where questions or concerns arise, inquiries should be directed to the Department of Immigration.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.