Visitors Have To Give Up Passports For Four Week Visa Process – Assuming People Can Do Without Their Passports For A Month!
Good Luck To Everyone & We Hope The Passports Are Returned On Time…
Visa Rule Changes Announced Yesterday – Not Enough Time For The Witcombe Family
To whom is may concern
I wish to complain about the special visa and have some issues that may cause difficulties for me and my family.
We are booked to travel from the US to Barbados in March 2007 to attend a friends wedding. We leave the region for New Zealand before the world cup starts on 24 March 2007, yet from the Caricom website it appears we will have to obtain three visas at $300US.
The Caricom site also says that we need to allow 4 weeks for you to process the passports. I am not sure if you are aware but January and February are summer months in New Zealand and Australia and a significant number of people will be travelling internationally and using their passports. As Barbados does not have diplomatic representation in my country and have not established an office in Australia, this process will cause significant problems for many NZ and Australian citizens.
My family and I are going to Australia for a holiday on 17 February 2007 and will need our passports. On 26 February 2007 we fly to the US to go to Disneyland. Again we will need our passports. Therefore according to Caricom rules, which were only announced yesterday, I will need to get visas from Caricom between 23 December 2006 and 17 February 2007, right in the middle of the Christmas holiday season when many businesses and agencies are closed or on limited hours.
My family (wife and child) and myself were planning on travelling on our NZ passports. I have a UK passport, so can use that. But my wife and child are both born in NZ and only have NZ passports.
Furthermore I take issue with the list of countries Caricom have identified as needing visas and those that do not. As you may be aware NZ and Australia are on the visa waiver programme into the US. This system is only open to a few countries which have highly developed and respected border security controls. This alone should give Caricom great comfort that NZers and Australians can be trusted in terms of any national security risks to your region. However, Caricom have placed a visa requirement on us. NZ has had only one terrorist incident in its entire 166 year history.
On the other hand you are allowing freedom of travel for South African citizens, who I do not think are on the US waiver programme, and UK and Irish citizens, who are more likely to participate in national security risk behaviours than NZ citizens.
Please ask your government to reconsider its policy. It can only lead to disharmony between Commonwealth member states. Also on the evidence there appears little reason to discriminate against New Zealand, while allowing exemptions for other nations. I quite understand why you may have concerns about Pakistani nationals etc given problems in their region, but New Zealand. We are one of the most peaceful and respected nations on earth.
We spent our honeymoon in Jamacia in 2004 and would expect a better welcome back to the region.
We may have to cancel our trip to Barbados if we can’t get visas without surrendering our passports for 4 weeks.
We hear you, Mr. Witcombe, and from our heart we apologize for the mess. The vast majority of Bajans learned about this visa requirement when you did.
Family of 3 = US$300 for visas, plus photo charges, plus courier charges to Canada, Barbados or the UK and back. Say US$450 for a family of three, plus give up your passports for a month. (Or maybe 5 -6 weeks? Hey… we know the passport office!)
Neither did we realize that CARICOM wants visitors’ passports for four weeks to issue visas, so we went to the Caricom Website FAQ’s – and sure enough – prospective visitors to Barbados during Cricket World Cup must surrender their passports for a month…
14. What is the processing time for the CARICOM Special Visa?
Answer: The maximum time for processing of the CARICOM Special Visa is three (3) weeks on receipt of a complete application. Every effort will be made to expedite the processing of applications within the shortest possible time, within this timeframe, once a complete application is received. It is nevertheless advisable that travellers, whenever possible, apply at least four weeks in advance of their departure date.