With what is being described as an ‘unprecedented increase’ in issued visas in the British Virgin Islands, persons requiring the travel document to visit or work during the Christmas season must now wait roughly two weeks before their visa process is completed.
The process outside the peak seasons – summer and Christmas – is approximately three days.
Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Deputy Governor Carolyn Stoutt-Igwe told BVI News on Wednesday that the number of issued visas to the territory has almost doubled in 2018.
“The office is at 4,500 [visas] and climbing and it’s normally in the 2,500 region,” she said.
Stoutt-Igwe further said the bulk of the visa applicants are mostly from the Caribbean region. Currently, Guyanese, Jamaicans, Haitians and natives of the Dominican Republic require a visa to enter the territory.
Stoutt-Igwe said, largely, the increase in issued BVI visas is a result of the aftermath of last year’s catastrophic hurricanes.
She said the Civil Registry and Passport Office, is therefore tasked with processing the high visa demand that is known to come with the Christmas season, along with the numerous visa applications for skilled workers that continue to pour in.
“Additionally, at this time of the year, some staff members are proceeding on their annual leave so the office is not at full capacity. So rather than having people coming to the office and becoming frustrated, it is better to extend the [visa processing] window so that the office has sufficient time to meet the increasing demand.”
Things to know about the visa application process
A government-issued bulletin said Mondays and Wednesdays remain submission days for visa applications on Tortola.
Persons wishing to apply at the Virgin Gorda branch may submit their applications throughout the work week.
Applicants are reminded that, in order to apply for a visa, their passports must have at least six more months before it is expires.
The passport office has also advised applicants to refrain from booking flights before they have been successful in obtaining a visa as this will not expedite the processing time.
For persons seeking emergency visas to travel, proof of the emergency must be submitted through a doctor’s certificate.
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