Ja visa requirements begin today

From staff, GIS reports

The Jamaican Government is remaining tight-lipped over whether it will invoke a reciprocal visa arrangement with the Cayman Islands.

As of today, visiting Jamaican nationals will require a visa to enter the country.

The measure was announced last Wednesday, ending speculation about the new rules which were known to be pending.

Jamaican Prime Minister P.J. Patterson sparked a heated public debate over the matter after he spoke on the controversial visa issue at the Chamber of Commerce 40th anniversary dinner the previous Saturday.

Referring to the new visa system, he said: ‘Jamaica fully respects the rights of any administration, whether dependent or sovereign, to apply appropriate immigration controls.

‘However, Jamaica equally reserves the right to effect such changes as are necessary to protect its borders and citizens affected by visa requirements elsewhere.’

A spokesman for Jamaica’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, said he could not comment further on the matter at this stage.

‘There is no need to go beyond what the Prime Minster said in his speech,’ he said.

Honorary Jamaican Consul, Mr. Robert Hamaty, said he had interpreted Mr. Patterson remarks as an explanation of the Visa Abolition Act.

‘A country that subscribes to the act allows citizens of its country to visit other participating nations without a visa,’ he said.

‘Countries that are not a party to this act normally have what is known as reciprocity. That is, if a visa is required by citizens of one country, the citizens of the other country would also require a visa. This is an internationally recognised understanding.’

The new visa requirements will not affect Jamaican nationals here on work permits.

Jamaicans who are landed immigrants of the UK, US or Canada, arriving directly from any of these countries are also exempt from the requirements.

Nationals from Costa Rica, El Salvador and Guatemala will also now fall under the visa system which already exists for 112 other countries.

The Government said it was including the four countries in the system for reasons of tighter border control in Cayman.

The visa requirement now in place for four countries recently added to the Islands’ lists of territories requiring this documentation – Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala and Jamaica — apply to all visitors from those countries, including children, reports the GIS.

‘The requirements are that any person planning to travel to the Cayman Islands who is a citizen of a country and is travelling on a passport issued by one of the countries on the revised visa list must have a visa to enter our borders,’ explains Chief Immigration Officer Franz Manderson, in the release.

All persons between the ages of 14 and 79 must go in person to the visa office in Jamaica to apply; however, those 13-and-under or 80-years-and-older can have a representative go for them. With respect to the requirement to submit a police record, there is only one exception – applicants 17 years and younger. For all other age groups – those 18 years and older – the provision of a police record is an integral component of an application for a Cayman Islands visa.

It will not be possible for any aspects of the application to be effected here in Cayman by persons acting on behalf of an overseas applicant. ‘The Immigration Department understands that there are persons who reside in Cayman who may wish to assist their friends and family members by dealing with this here, but in order for this system to work properly, it cannot work like that,’ says Mr. Manderson. With respect to Jamaica, all paperwork must be submitted to the New Kingston office, including the processing fee of US$102.40.

‘This guarantees that the applications are dealt with through the correct channels and ensures proper handling,’ Mr. Manderson said. ‘Allowing persons to do part of the application in Cayman and the other portions in Jamaica would have likely caused unnecessary delays.

‘I understand that the introduction of the visa requirements will cause some initial inconvenience for some genuine visitors to our Islands. However, I hope they will understand why it was necessary for these additional procedures to be put in place and request that they give immigration staff both here and overseas their full cooperation.’

The application and fact sheet is available for downloading from the Immigration website at www.gov.ky/immigration.

The Cayman Islands Visa Office in Jamaica opened yesterday.

The office is on the ninth floor of The Towers on Dominica Drive, New Kingston, and can be reached at telephone number 876-906-5336.

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