Visa requirements lifted for old, young Jamaicans

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    The majority of adult Jamaican nationals will still require a travel visa to enter the Cayman Islands, under regulations approved by Cabinet earlier this month.  

    However, those younger than 15 and older than 70 will no longer require a visa to enter, according to regulations made by Cabinet on 1 November.  

    According to officials in government’s Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs, which is responsible for external security, the change was requested as part of an easing of visa requirements sought by Cayman’s elected government.  

    Immigration Law regulations state that all countries within the British Commonwealth can have their nationals land within the Cayman Islands without producing a visa, with the exception of 11 countries, including Jamaica.  

    The new regulation still makes getting a visa a requirement for Jamaicans, but only “in respect of its nationals who are 15 years of age or older, but not older than 
70 years of age”.  

    The change to visa requirements follows the refusal of Cayman Islands Governor Duncan Taylor in September to endorse a Cabinet proposal to ease visa requirements for Jamaican nationals. Governor Taylor cited concerns over national security in doing so.  

    Mr. Taylor said at the time that he would agree to a suggestion that would allow very young or elderly Jamaicans access to Cayman without a visa, he said he would not support “across-the-board” waivers, even if those individuals held similar documents for entry into Canada, the United Kingdom or the United States. “The problem is that I am advised that there is a lively market in forged and counterfeit documentation in Jamaica, including in visas in the UK, the US and Canada,” Mr. Taylor said. “Lifting the visa requirement as proposed could potentially allow unscrupulous Jamaican visitors to gain entry to the Islands using forged or counterfeit visas, which could have a significant negative impact on the security of the Cayman Islands,”  

    Premier McKeeva Bush’s United Democratic Party had considered a plan to ease visa requirements, seeking to bolster business and visitor travel between the Cayman Islands and Jamaica.  

    A visa is a document showing a person is authorised to enter the territory for which it was issued, subject to the permission of an immigration official at the time of entry. The authorisation may be a document, but more commonly it is a stamp endorsed in the applicant’s passport.  

    The Cayman Islands does not require visas be issued for persons visiting from dozens of countries, including the US, UK, and Canada. However, visas are required to enter the Cayman Islands for visitors from dozens of other countries, including Jamaica, India, Honduras and the Philippines.  

    In 2005, the ruling People’s Progressive Movement government tightened the reins on visa requirements for Jamaican nationals entering the Cayman Islands in an effort to thwart increasing incidents of Jamaicans involved in local criminal activity following the influx of foreign labour in the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan.  

    Governor Taylor said he thought the introduction of these stricter visa requirements had resulted in tangible results in the capacity of reduced crime and he cautioned against a complete rollback.  

    “Having taken advice on the matter and acting in line with my discretion as set out in … the Constitution, I reluctantly concluded that I could not agree to this proposal because I was concerned that the waiver would introduce risks to internal security,” Mr. Taylor said.  

    Mr. Taylor’s office said Tuesday that allowing the older and younger categories of Jamaicans to enter without a visa was considered far less of a security risk than those from the middle age group. 

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    Passengers arrive at Owen Roberts International Airport in Grand Cayman on a flight from Jamaica. – Photo: Jeff Brammer