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UK Imposes Visa Requirements on Dominica. Is Saint Lucia Next?


IN a desperate effort to shore-up its dwindling finances as it faces unprecedented inflation and recessionary difficulties like never before, the United Kingdom is seeking to raise over £1 billion through immigrant visa fees.

To do so, the Home Office earlier this week suspended its visa-free waiver agreement with Dominica and other small countries, which allowed visitors to travel visa-free and remain for up to six months in the UK, with indications that the same fate awaits St Lucia, St Kitts & Nevis, Grenada and Antigua and Barbuda in the coming months.

The United Kingdom government formulated plans to suspend the current visa-waiver agreement with Dominica this July. 

Following this initial action, it has been alleged that similar suspensions are set to be implemented, in a phased approach, for St Lucia, Grenada, Antigua and Barbuda, and St Kitts and Nevis by the end of 2023.

According to WIC News, reporting out of Dominica Wednesday, this targeted action against multiple Caribbean nations, particularly those offering Citizenship by Investment (CBI or CIP) Programmes, was also earlier reported by the Miami-based news outlet, Associates Times.

Associated Times had said this significant decision would be announced “during this week” and “is expected to be the first phase in the broader execution of the recently-announced Electronic Travel Authorisation System (ETA).

“This policy shift aims to enhance national security and streamline the immigration process,” it added.

The report also predicted that, “Following the initial phase, these Caribbean nations will likely be incorporated into the list of countries requiring ETA by the end of the current year. 

However, the specifics of these projections are still not clear.

The outlet reported the visa waiver suspension for Dominica was “its first step before the introduction of ETA.” 

The UK government introduced the ETA on Tuesday, July 18, which requires travellers without a visa to need an electronic document to enter and stay for a specific time period.

To get an ETA document, a person must fill out an online application form with personal information, including their name, passport details and travel purpose. 

“The UK government is anticipated to extend its policy revamp beyond the initial group of nations and in the initial phase, the visa-free travel agreements with other OECS or other Caribbean countries will also likely be suspended,” it reported.

The outlet predicted that “as of the first stage, these countries would then be incorporated into the ETA system, further extending the UK’s modernised immigration framework.”

The exact timeline, as well as the list of nations to be impacted during the next phase, are yet to be announced by the UK, said Associates Times.

Meanwhile, The Bahamas has quickly lashed-back.

According to The Nassau Guardian of July 19, 2923, Prime Minister Philip Davis has called on the EU to “take your economic feet off our necks” and immediately remove The Bahamas from its blacklist.”

Charging that the blacklisting of The Bahamas by the European Union (EU), the Bahamas leader said the move is both “indefensible” and “immoral”.

Davis made the call during a hard-hitting address on July 18 at the plenary session of the third European Union-Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (EU-CELAC) summit in Brussels, Belgium, where he also challenged the EU to deliver on its promises. 

Caribbean nationals in the countries targeted and already affected are growing increasingly concerned they will again need to face excessive delays or new problems to enter the UK.

Likewise, UK citizens of Caribbean descent are also concerned that the UK continues to appear to treat its former Caribbean colonies with less care about the long colonial relationship.

However, apart from the Bahamas leader, there’s been no comment from any other OECS or CARICOM leaders to this latest development. 

Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit Thursday described as “unfortunate” the decision of the United Kingdom (UK) government to impose, with immediate effect, a visa regime on his country.

“We appreciate that at this time the imposition of visa requirements will create an inconvenience for many of our citizens who visit the UK for vacation, to visit family and who transit the UK frequently. This, however, does not prevent Dominicans from travelling to or through the United Kingdom. Dominicans are still welcome in the United Kingdom,” Skerrit said in a radio and television broadcast on Thursday.

Honduras, Namibia, Timor-Leste and Vanuatu were the other countries the visa requirements were imposed upon solely for migration and border security reasons, according to London.

London parliament on Wednesday heard that careful consideration of Dominica’s and Vanuatu’s operation of a citizenship by investment scheme “has shown clear and evident abuse of the scheme, including the granting of citizenship to individuals known to pose a risk to the UK”.

Ernest Hilaire, the minister responsible for investment, information, tourism and culture told THE VOICE that the British has not told the Government of Saint Lucia that it will be imposed visa requirements on Saint Lucia, contrary to reports claiming that the United Kingdom will impose visa requirements on Saint Lucia later this year.