Mrs. Geraldine Ritter-Freeman has been appointed to act as Chief Immigration Officer for a period of one year.
The appointment was made by His Excellency the Governor, Mr. John S. Duncan, OBE, acting in accordance with the advice of the Public Service Commission. It takes effect on August 22, 2016.
Mrs. Ritter-Freeman has 20 years of combined experience as a senior manager within the Virgin Islands’ public and private sectors, with training in public sector management, communications and public relations.
Permanent Secretary in the Premier’s Office, Mr. Brodrick Penn stated that Mrs. Ritter-Freeman is uniquely qualified to serve as the Chief Immigration Officer and said, “As Deputy Secretary in the Premier’s Office, Mrs. Ritter-Freeman serves as the desk office for immigration matters and has worked closely with the Immigration Department to provide ministerial support for the department’s administration and operations, as well as to help shape and formulate policy.”
She has served on the Immigration and Labour Sub-committee – a select committee responsible for making recommendations for the reform of Immigration and Labour laws and policies. She also directly supervises the Status Unit that facilitates the processing of Belonger and Residence applications.
In addition, Mrs. Ritter-Freeman has represented the department at regional meetings on topical immigration issues such as asylum protocols, border management and the free movement of people within the region.
The role of the Chief Immigration Officer (CIO) is to oversee the overall discipline, management and functions of the Immigration Department to ensure that the it can meet its objectives.
The CIO ensures that the Immigration Ordinance is enforced and responds to inquiries and requests in relation to immigration matters to ensure effective immigration management in the Territory. The CIO also serves as an Ex-Officio member of the Immigration Board in order for effective information flow.
Mrs. Ritter-Freeman has a Master of Business Administration (Public Sector Management concentration) from the University of the West Indies, along with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mass Communications from the Norfolk State University. In addition, she holds a certificate in public relations from the Royal Institute of Public Administration (RIPA) in crisis management and imaging.
During her tenure in the public service, she also served as the Chief Information Officer and Deputy Chief Information Officer in the Department of Information and Public Relations where she had oversight of a multi-unit organisation.
Her other work experience includes work as the Director of Communications, Public Relations and Marketing for the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College and as a Management Officer with the British Virgin Islands London Office.
Mrs. Ritter-Freeman succeeds Mr. Ian Penn who has proceeded on a leave of absence to pursue further studies.