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No way! - Cayman Islands governor rejects visa-waiver proposal for Jamaicans

Saturday, September 24, 2011    

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GRAND CAYMAN, Cayman Islands (CMC) — Governor Duncan Taylor has disagreed with a request from the government for an across the board visa waiver for Jamaicans coming to the British Overseas Territory.

A statement issued by the Office of the Governor indicated that Cabinet had considered a proposal to ease the visa requirements for Jamaican nationals to make it easier for children and the elderly to enter the Cayman Islands.

It said that the proposal would have also allowed for fostering business visitor travel from Jamaica.

According to the statement, the government had recommended removing the existing requirement to obtain a visitor's visa for Jamaican nationals wishing to visit the Cayman Islands who are under the age of 15 years as well as over the age of 70 years or in possession of a valid Canadian, United Kingdom or United States visa.

The statement said that although the Governor was content on the first two points, he did not agree to the visa requirement being waived across the board for those Jamaican citizens holding valid Canadian, UK or US visas.

"Having taken advice on the matter and acting in line with my discretion as set out in section 33 (2) (b) of 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, an area of special responsibility for me as Governor".

"I know that the vast majority of Jamaicans are law-abiding citizens. This includes residents who make a positive contribution to our society and economy in the Cayman Islands; and short-term visitors, including business visitors, whose visits are welcome and trouble free. There is, unfortunately, a small minority who has the potential to cause problems, Taylor said.

He said the problem is that "I am advised that there is a lively market in forged and counterfeit documentation in Jamaica, including in visas for the UK, the US and Canada.

"The Cayman Islands Immigration Department does not have the capability to determine whether such a visa is genuine or not and the respective countries have indicated that they are unable to provide the Cayman Islands with the access to the resources on which they rely to make these determinations.

"The authenticity of a Jamaican national's UK, US or Canadian visa could therefore not be guaranteed and this fact could be exploited."

Taylor said that the introduction of a visa regime for Jamaicans in 2005 led directly to a significant and measurable reduction in the involvement of Jamaicans in crime in the Cayman Islands.

"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," he added.

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