The enhanced bilateral engagements between Fiji and the United States of America has unfolded new training and competency development opportunities for the Fijian border officers and frontline inspectors of the Department of Immigration.

The first of its kind training program held yesterday at the Office of the Prime Minister was organised by the Fijian Government and the United States Embassy in Fiji.

It will complement the Fijian Government’s current strategies on protecting and safeguarding Fiji’s borders by detecting potential risks that arises through fraudulent and illegal travels through the use of fake visa, fake passport or forged traveling documents.

Attended by 20 officers from the Department of Immigration and 2 border officers from Fiji Revenue and Customs Services (FRCS), the training will enable these officials to diligently carry out their role in effectively examining all the travel documents and to expedite the movements of legitimate travelers while intercepting high-risk travelers.

The one day training was facilitated by two officials from the US Embassy, Mr Anthony Bogden, Special Agent, Diplomatic Security Service (DSS), U.S. Embassy to (Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Tonga, and Tuvalu) and Mr. Erick Whippy.Speaking at the official opening program, the Permanent Secretary, Office of the Prime Minister, Immigration and Sugar Industry and Acting Permanent Secretary Foreign Affairs Mr Yogesh J.

Karan said the training is symbolic of the Fijian Government’s commitment to enhance the Fijian immigration services by implementing robust strategies for comprehensive border safety and security measures.   

PS Karan thanked the training facilitators and commended the United States Embassy in Suva for its remarkable commitment in providing the training and capacity building programs and numerous other support in key development areas.

He said work is in progress by the Department of Immigration to organise similar training opportunities through partnership with the Australian Government. He said that Fiji is appreciative of such great cooperation with its development partners, that is integral to enhancing Fiji’s border control and safety.  

PS Karan encouraged the training participants to make the most of the opportunity by sharing information and their experiences and new techniques on border control.He applauded the work of the border officers and spoke on the importance of their role.

“I will share with you a case, whereby our frontline officers from the Department of Immigration identified a high-risk passenger who was travelling with a fake passport of a nationality not of his own.

It was our officers who successfully identified that the travel document was non-genuine whilst the few borders he crossed before reaching Fiji, were not able to identify this and he was allowed to transit for a few days in each country before reaching Fiji,” PS Karan said.

He said that Fiji is proud to have introduced the e-passports last year that has advanced security features which, recognises the milestone achievements of Fiji in modernizing the immigration services and taking it to a higher level.

“We are working on the second phase whereby we try to make our processes paperless, work permits and applications and being able to trace the label free visas. We are finalizing our draft concept and we have been assisted by IOM (International Organisation for Migration). Plans are also in place to introduce smart gates at  Fiji’s international airport,” PS Karan added.

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