Letter From New Zealand Family – Might Have To Cancel Barbados Wedding Trip Because Of Cricket World Cup Visa Chaos

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

Dear Sir

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.

Yours sincerely

Alan Witcombe

New Zealand

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.

5 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Cricket, Traveling and Tourism

5 responses to “Letter From New Zealand Family – Might Have To Cancel Barbados Wedding Trip Because Of Cricket World Cup Visa Chaos

  1. John

    Good luck on getting your visas – if the visa issuing office opens in time.
    I stand no chance leaving Australia 04 January! pity I am due back to work in February so would miss the cricket in any case.
    Still I suppose I will have to stay outside the Caricom area and some other economies will benefit instead

  2. Brant Thomas

    Dear Sir

    I would like to add that it is my wedding that Alan and his family are attending. I am a New Zealander living in the UK who is marrying an English/Bajan girl.

    We found out through our friends last week that a visa was now required for New Zelanders and Australians. This is extremely frustrating given the short time they have to apply and the fact that my friends are not even coming for the world cup.

    It is costing my friends in excess of NZ$3000 (Bajan$3600) each for their flights, a very large sum of money and to add this additional expenditure, not to say the inconvenience is very embarrassing for my partner and I who were hoping to promote Barbados as a fantastic relaxed place. Now they will have a bad opinion before they even arrive.

    I suppose we are just lucky they haven’t demanded visas for UK citizens for the remainder of our guests, even though English people could more easily have paid for it.

    sincerely
    Brant Thomas
    London

  3. BFP

    Hello Mr. Thomas

    Please keep us informed of the progress made or not made in obtaining visas.

    We understand that the Australian office isn’t even open yet, and the former Trinidadian Consul thinks that the numbers just won’t work.

    Here’s our story…

    https://barbadosfreepress.wordpress.com/2006/12/26/cricket-world-cup-visa-chaos-about-to-explode-sydney-visa-office-not-even-rented-yet-processing-computers-not-yet-picked-up-from-fedex/

    Aside from the visa problems though, we can assure you that all ordinary Bajans are going to be doing the best we can to welcome visitors in 2007. Once you get here, you will have friends!

    Good luck, and please keep us informed.

    Thanks

    Robert
    Barbados Free Press
    barbadosfreepress@yahoo.com

  4. Sorcerer

    Hello everyone,

    I have just had a conversation with the Barbados High Council in London, apparently the start of the visa requirements has been postponed to February 1st, 2007. If you enter the CARICOM space before this date, you will not need a visa at all.

  5. Alan Witcombe

    You gave a great site and I love the editorials. Here’s an update on where my family and I are at trying to get to Barbados. By the way we are determined to get to the wedding (on time).

    Caricom visa issue

    Between xmas and New Year I spoke to the Caricom officer at the Barbados High Commission in London. He didn’t know when the Sydney office would open so said send our passports to him. That cost $200US for my wife and baby (both NZers – I have a UK passport through my dad). Fed Ex also charged $70 each way to courier the package. We haven’t got a reply yet from the HC yet (early days). DHL wanted more than $130 each way. Last week Caricom announced children under 12 don’t need a visa. I am not sure if we will get a refund.

    Just after we sent our passports off the Sydney office opened. My friend in Australia who is also going to the wedding works in the same building (it’s 60 floors). He dropped off his application in person. But due to Caricom resourcing he had to provide a prepaid courier bag to get his passport back. He hasn’t got it yet.

    3 other friends in NZ asked about the friend in Australia dropping off the visa applications. They were told this is not possible and only courier bags can be used. It appears that while Caricom may not be making money on this process, Fed Ex will have a bumper profit this year.

    Rest assured the groom in London got his visa in 3 days. What kind of checks are done in 3 days?

    See you all in late Feb (fingers crossed).