CARICOM Visa applications climb

According to reports 7,000 applications have already been received for the
Special CARICOM Visa, which is required by nationals of certain countries
to visit 10 Caribbean countries as the world prepares to flock to the
region for the ICC Cricket World Cup (CWC) 2007.
  The visa is being issued by Caribbean immigration officials in the
major cities of London, England; New Delhi, India; Sydney, Australia;
Toronto, Canada; and Miami and New York in the United States. A satellite
site is now in full operation at the Embassy of Trinidad and Tobago in
Venezuela, while others will soon be opened in Geneva, Switzerland;
Beijing, China; Brussels, Belgium; and Berlin, Germany.
  The Honourable Mia Mottley, Chair of the CARICOM Sub Committee on CWC
security and Deputy Prime Minister of Barbados, informed that between
January 1 and February 3, 2007, 7,694 people had applied for visas. Of
these, 5,735 were issued, with the remaining being processed.
  Ms. Mottley also revealed that 17 visa applications have been denied.
An extensive vetting process involving multiple checks against CARICOM,
United Nations and Interpol Watch lists, as well as other
intelligence-gathering mechanisms, ensures full screening of visa
applicants.
  “The CARICOM Special Visa is not the normal rubber stamp visa. It is a
secure visa,” said Ms. Mottley.
  In order to meet the growing demand for the CARICOM Special Visa, visa-
issuing sites have increased staff levels to handle the extra load.
  “To issue all these visas is a tremendous amount of work, but we will
continue to forge ahead,” said the Barbados Deputy Prime Minister, noting
that their “turnaround time for processing visas was three days, exclusive
of courier or pick-up times.”
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