The Home Office has announced that Jamaicans travelling into the UK will be required to apply for visas, in an attempt to tackle illegal immigration. In the past Jamaican nationals have only needed a flight ticket and an up-to-date passport to enter Britain for up to six months.
As of Midnight last night, any Jamaicans without the necessary papers, were not allowed into the UK. Travellers on flights from Jamaica are frequently held up at UK airports for lengthy periods by immigration and custom checks. Figures indicate that between January and June 2002 150 Jamaicans per month absconded on the traditional visa allowances.
For many years more and more Jamaicans have been turned away and refused entrance into the UK. The new scheme intends to combat that problem. The Home Secretary David Blunkett understands, “The United Kingdom has positive links with Jamaica - visas will not stop genuine visitors from the country coming to the UK, it mean’s that they will not have to spend hours at Immigration control”.
The new policy will also aid the government’s fight against drug smuggling. A Home office spokesperson said, “The new policy has been introduced for immigration reasons, but it will also benefit the problem of drug trafficking”.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade in Jamaica are disappointed with the initiative. It is thought that visa requirement will lead to entry into the UK being too expensive for Jamaican citizens.