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REGIONAL: USVI starts legislative measure aimed at removing visa requirement for CARICOM nationals

BVI News Online/ Caribbean News Now - Monday, October 21st, 2013 at 8:10 AM

USVI Governor, John de Jongh (file photo)

The United States Virgin Islands (USVI) has taken a major step towards fulfilling a promise it recently made to waive visa restrictions for CARICOM nationals.

If all goes according to plan, the policy would place several BVI residents among those no longer requiring a visa to visit St. Thomas and other parts of the USVI.

Governor of the US territory, John de Jongh, according to the Jamaica Gleaner, “says his administration has drafted legislation that will allow visitors from the English-speaking Caribbean to enter that country (USVI) without a US visa”.

The report further stated that the efforts have been supported by the US House of Representatives, the Senate, and the Department of Homeland Security.

The USVI Governor, who was addressing Caribbean tourism officials in Martinique last week, noted that there is no timetable for the implementation of the initiative.

The adjusted policy is aimed at encouraging more CARICOM nationals to visit the USVI.

Caribbean News Now previously quoted de Jongh as saying that the “waivers would be specifically for individuals who are traveling for sporting events, medical services, and general tourism”.

de Jongh is further quoted as saying: “We fully believe that such a change would broaden our reach into neighboring Caribbean markets. The territory’s sporting events are growing in popularity and prestige, especially for competitions in volleyball, track, tennis, swimming and sailing.

“An amendment to the immigration bill would allow for easier travel for athletes, as well as for individuals seeking top-notch medical care or just looking for a great place for a vacation, that is close to home.”

SEE EARLIER STORY (Published June 16, 2012. HEADLINE: USVI governor pushes for special visa waivers for CARICOM residents)

CARIBBEAN NEWS NOW: During a recent trip to Washington, DC, US Virgin Islands Governor John de Jongh met with Democratic Senator Ronald Wyden from Oregon on instituting a special visa waiver for residents of Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries.

Wyden is the chairman of the Subcommittee on International Trade, Customs and Global Competitiveness, an offshoot of the Finance Committee.

He also serves as chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Wyden will become chairman of the Finance Committee with the forthcoming retirement of Senator Max Baucus of Montana.

De Jongh reported, “After a discussion and explanation on its importance, Senator Wyden agreed to sponsor an amendment to the immigration bill currently before Congress that would grant special visa waivers to residents of the 15 countries in the Caribbean Community for trips to the US Virgin Islands. The waivers would be specifically for individuals who are traveling for sporting events, medical services and general tourism.”

“We fully believe that such a change would broaden our reach into neighboring Caribbean markets. The territory’s sporting events are growing in popularity and prestige, especially for competitions in volleyball, track, tennis, swimming and sailing. An amendment to the immigration bill would allow for easier travel for athletes, as well as for individuals seeking top-notch medical care or just looking for a great place for a vacation, that is close to home,” he explained.

The governor also commented on developing a good relationship with Wyden as the senator takes on the chairmanship of the all-important Congressional Finance Committee.

“It is vital to the Virgin Islands that Senator Wyden understands and becomes engaged in our challenges and opportunities. I believe it is a good sign that he agreed to sponsor an amendment for the territory specifically. I look forward to working with him on further issues affecting the Virgin Islands,” he concluded.

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19 Comments

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  1. Think
    October 22, 2013
    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

    Believe what you may but this would be a blow to the BVI economy. You have to understand that a whole new market is making itself available to Caricom nationals “or as they are unaffectionatly referred to here as”down island people”.
    Everybody in the USVI wins; hotels, restaurants, rentals, stores taxi drivers and all at a cheaper rate than what the BVI is offering.

    I live and work here the BVI gov has to do more than give 8 weeks in first instance to visitors to increase regional tourism. We can’t rely on begging the US and European tourists as we have done in the past.

    That elite / high end tourist market that some claim we market to is obviously not doing it for us.

    Reply to this comment
    • We Gotcha !!
      October 23, 2013
      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

      Try your best, but your intentions and guile are patently obvious. No further comment is necessary. NICE TRY……but we Gotcha.

      Reply to this comment
  2. vi gone to the dogs
    October 21, 2013
    Poorly-rated. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 4

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

    Reply to this comment
  3. Wait
    October 21, 2013
    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

    I was always under the impression that there was a similar arrangement to our own many years ago and this was changed due to the influx.

    Reply to this comment
  4. unwelcomed
    October 21, 2013
    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 2

    Good Move I am uncomfortable as a visitor to the BVI i feel unwanted when i read the news and the blogs. I travel a lot and i like to read the local news inorder to know what is happening in the country while i am there.I think visitors should stay away from this Island since we are not important to their economy. Let the peole feel comfortable. There are other islands tha we can visit and enjoy ourselves.

    Reply to this comment
    • travis
      October 21, 2013
      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 3

      I totally agree….how quickly some of these locals forget that it was just yesterday were jampacked in a little stinking boat from africa and taken to the Caribbean….these locals believe they are now house slaves and the other caribbean ppl are field slaves….hw quickly they forget that it was just yesterday this little rock was over run by illiterate fishermen and farmers

      Reply to this comment
  5. Joe
    October 21, 2013
    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

    Great move by the USVI, this is an initiative I always talk about, St.Thomas opening up to the English speaking Caribbean nationals would boast USVI economy significantly.

    Reply to this comment
  6. Bob
    June 18, 2013
    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2

    Great move.

    The people of the Caribbean should be able to freely travel between islands.

    Reply to this comment
  7. June 17, 2013
    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

    All sounds good n dandy, Funny thing is no VI Governor is going to convince the Feds with this. Therre is a bigger problem of illegl migration into the USVI from the BVI amongst these same people he is courting.

    Reply to this comment
  8. ?
    June 17, 2013
    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 4

    THESE PEOPLE KNOW HOW TO THINK HOW TO BRING CAPTIAL IN THEIR COUNTRY WOW

    Reply to this comment
    • Politics
      June 17, 2013
      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 3

      Yea yea yea!! The day any Government in the BVI were to suggest such a thing, they would be bombarded with negative comments about selling out the country, crime spiraling and a whole host of other unsubstantiated bullsht! Only when you looking abroad it’s a good idea, but let them bring it home. We will suffer because of small-minded and shortsighted attitudes. USVI is on the brink of collapse right now with crime and people can’t make ends meet. Add to that the out of control cost of utility bills etc. and their future is grim, so of course they will be trying anything to increase revenues. The question is should we take stock now or wait until we are soon collapsed to do it? That’s the question right there..

      Reply to this comment
  9. June 16, 2013
    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

    SEE!!!! he wants more money in his economy.

    Reply to this comment
    • October 21, 2013
      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      They say a prophet is without honour in his own country….but events w8ll still be foreseen and foretold.

      Reply to this comment
  10. Mike
    June 16, 2013
    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 6 Thumb down 6

    Tortola should look at this initiative and implement a similar one in favour of the countries which require a visa to come here.

    Reply to this comment
    • June 17, 2013
      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

      Because yu don’t want to pay for your visa here, but raking in easy money at the same time.

      Reply to this comment
      • June 17, 2013
        Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 2

        USVI is looking down the road, and see that $50mil. US per annum from Tola, soon going to come to a drivel, so allow more spenders in to shop, but they better know what they’re doing or they will see CRIME and ILLEGALS over-run their country.

        deJongh trying to take the heat off the complaints generated by the Rum lobby in CARICOM. Mayson, ahyoo mus be crazy.

        Now Bobby’s, K-Mark and Riteway will be feeling the pinch. CARICOM knew an opportunity when they saw one. We are here celebrating FRIENDSHIP DAY, but don’t know how to capitalize on our special kinship and trading relationships with the USVI. We can’t
        even watch the same TV Channels, much less enjoy better Shipping rates and Integrated, Information and Communication Networks.

        Where are our THOUGHT LEADERS? Are we only concerned with Project Creation and Project Completion?

        Reply to this comment
        • HUH
          October 22, 2013
          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

          RUM LOBBY?DON’T UNDERSTAND.DO YOU CARE TO ENLIGHTEN?

          Reply to this comment
    • October 21, 2013
      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

      Tortola? Which country is this? I am sure you meant to say BVI

      Reply to this comment
    • o boy
      October 22, 2013
      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      We do not spend ecc in the bvi did you get the picture it is all dandy to visit bvi but who do you think your are fooling

      Reply to this comment

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