USVI awaits Congress decision on visa waiver for Caribbean visitors

The US Virgin Islands is still awaiting federal government approval on a law that will eliminate visa requirements for select nationals from neighboring Caribbean states.

Tourism Commissioner Joseph Boschulte provided Loop News with the update following the US Virgin Islands’ media conference at the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) Caribbean Travel Marketplace in Montego Bay, Jamaica.

Boschulte said the USVI hopes a decision will be made soon in an effort to make inter-regional travel easier and build cultural relations.

“We still believe in having easier travel among the Caribbean islands. We are all in the same region,” Boschulte said.

As the USVI seeks to become one of the Caribbean’s cultural meccas, Boschulte noted that the visa waiver will help make the island more attractive for artistes and promoters.

“We have cultural agreements with countries from an artiste and cultural exchange standpoint. It would be a lot easier for us, especially when we bring artistes in for our carnival and festivals. The visa process can be a bit challenging to bring the artiste in from Trinidad and some of the other places,” he said.

“But we continue to push. Of course, that is way above our pay grade in terms of visa grants but we are definitely supportive of it.”

The visa waiver process began in 2022 when the US Congress’ House Judiciary Committee approved the Virgin Islands Visa Waiver Act (H.R. 5460)

The Virgin Islands Visa Waiver Act would allow the Department of Homeland Security to consider approving non-immigrant visitor visa waivers for entry into the territory for up to 45 days primarily for residents of neighbouring Caribbean countries.

News of the proposed law clearing the first hurdle was met with excitement across the region.

Many in Jamaica, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados and St Lucia questioned whether they would be eligible to participate in the visa wavier program.

Loop News asked Boschulte what countries will be able to apply for the visa waiver, but he said that decision is yet to be finalised.

He however noted the government is looking at places where the USVI has a strong diaspora and cultural links.

“From our standpoint, and this is from a festival perspective, we have relationships with Trinidad and Tobago and Anguilla. We are reaching out and having conversations with Antigua. We also do this close with the British Virgin Islands. So our genesis for the most part has been either on the cultural/carnival arts side or where we have large diaspora,” he said.

Be the first to comment on "USVI awaits Congress decision on visa waiver for Caribbean visitors"

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.