By Editor-June 23rd, 2023.
The Caribbean island is the only country with the British monarch as head of state that requires visas to enter the UK. Currently the cheapest visa for residents of Jamaica to visit the UK is US$133 for the application fee, but a two-year visa costs over US$500.
There are various types of visas, for example, to visit or to study, or to enter the country for private medical treatment.
Jamaica’s new foreign minister Allando Terrelonge said Jamaicans should be allowed to travel freely to the UK and said the easing of restrictions would “send a right signal of a united Commonwealth”.
“We continue to lobby our counterparts in the British government and through constant dialogue with the office of the British High Commission in Kingston,” Mr Terrelonge told The Independent.
“We remain hopeful that visa restrictions will be removed one day. As a start, the removal of visa requirements for persons with legitimate business and commercial interests, professionals, and persons travelling on official/government business would send a right signal of a united Commonwealth.
“Freedom to travel should be recognised as a human right the world over. One humanity. One world. One people.”
The Home Office was approached for comment by The Independent newspaper, but has not yet responded.
King Charles is head of state of 14 independent countries, including Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, The Bahamas, Belize, Canada, Grenada, Jamaica, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Solomon Islands, and Tuvalu. But Jamaican citizens are the only ones who require a visa to visit the UK.
(However Jamaica has announced that it is planning to become a republic in the near future, so King Charles III will no longer be head of state.)
All Jamaican citizens are subject to the restrictions if they wish to enter the UK, from Jamaica’s governor general Sir Patrick Allen, who is the King’s representative, to prime minister and UK Privy Council member Andrew Holness and beyond. The rule was introduced in 2003, impacting Jamaican families across Britain and the Caribbean nation.
”When you think about how Europeans and Americans travel, the world over the world is pretty much open to them,” Mr Terrelonge, an alumnus of the University of Warwick, said.
“Certainly, as a government, we would want that for our people as well to freely travel the world over just to experience different cultures.
“Jamaica is a brand, a cultural powerhouse; people of the world will come to Jamaica and enjoy the wonders that there are. We would want that for our nationals as well.”
He added: “We understand that it is a process and will continue to make representations to all governments so that our presidents can travel freely as well.”
The UK government’s own data reveals a significant number of refusals of visitor visa applications from Jamaica.
Jamaica is believed to be in the process of negotiating the process of becoming a republic, meaning that it will have its own head of state other than the British monarch. It is not known how this will affect the process of obtaining visas for travel to the UK.
An online petition to the UK parliament to allow Jamaican nationals to travel to the UK and work without a Visa was closed in April, 2023 with only 3,355 signatures, nowhere close to the number of signatures required to get the attention of Parliament. The wording of the petition was as follows:
As a descent of a Jamaican mother whom migrated to the UK when she was 23 years old, in 1989 for a better life, the age I am today.I have a passion for wanting the same opportunity to be available for other Jamaican nationals.
Sources: The Independent, BBC, UK Home Office.