BARBADOS’ tightening of entry for some Caribbean nationals, as of March 1, has been causing frustration and disappointment across the region.
Haitians, Indians and citizens of the Dominican Republic working in territories close to Barbados, fly into the island almost weekly seeking United States visas. Now, they need a Barbados visa beforehand, according to one leading travel agency in the Dutch territory of St Maarten.
Sonia Richards, senior agent at St Maarten’s Travel Planners, said that in the last week numerous travellers had been turned back, with several phone calls being placed to Barbados’ Immigration Department.
Barbados requests entry visas from nationals of 78 countries, including the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras and India; but many of those people could purchase their visas at Grantley Adams International Airport.
Now, the Indians, Haitians and citizens of the Dominican Republic, who live and work in places like St Maarten, St Kitts and other neighbouring territories, have to get a Barbados visa before they travel.
According to Richards, nearly 100 St Maarten Indians, Dominicans and Haitians come to Barbados monthly to obtain United States visas.
“They used to pay for the visa to enter Barbados at the airport, but last Thursday we got a call from LIAT because three of its passengers were turned back. This was all very sudden,” Richards said.
Adding that “the buzzword about Barbados is frustration”, she said eight Indians had been turned back last week because they did not acquire the US$102 Barbados visa beforehand.
The Immigration Department implemented, from March 1, a zero-tolerance approach because of an upsurge in the number of people seeking to enter Barbados without the necessary visa.
The department wrote to airlines and other agencies since January, advising them that in recent times there had been “an unacceptable increase” in the number of passengers allowed to enter the country without the required visas and documentation.