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Persons requiring the common CARICOM visas to attend matches in host countries during the ICC Cricket World Cup (CWC) West Indies 2007, may commence applying at various locations come December 15.
These locations include London, England; New York and Miami in the USA; New Delhi, India; Toronto, Canada; and Sydney, Australia. This will be in addition to sites in the nine host countries and Dominica, which will be opened by mid January.
This announcement was made by Chairman of the Security Sub-Committee and Deputy Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley, at a press briefing on the first day of the Sixth Meeting of the Bureau of Council of Ministers of National Security and Law Enforcement, held at the Headquarters of the Ministry of National Security in Port of Spain on December 2.
She noted that there was a high level of interest about the acquisition of visas, as in one week alone, there were some 90,000 hits on the website of the CARICOM Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS), www.caricomimpacs.org, which provides visa forms, instructions and also facilitates payment of the US$100 fee, via credit card, for applications.
Providing more information about the visa arrangements, the Chairman said that an e-mail was sent out by CARICOM IMPACS in collaboration with ICC CWC 2007 Inc. to more than 30,000 people across the globe who applied for tickets.
“That mass e-mail indicated to them what were the arrangements being put in place, who needed a common CARICOM visa and where that visa could be accessed,” she explained.
The visa requirements are being implemented to allow immigration within host countries to monitor and diffuse, when necessary, security threats. As such, Miss Mottley highlighted that all persons applying for tickets would undergo some form of “security vetting”, in addition to the normal immigration consideration that inform the issuance of a visa.
“It is an electronic visa with a photograph and that gives us a higher level of security in relation to minimizing the threat to the region,” the Chairman pointed out.
“The Advance Passenger Information System is the second level of security that we will use to minimize the threat in relation to persons who ought not to be here,” she added.
It is also anticipated that visas will be processed within a period of 21 days. However, visas for team, officials, media and sponsors (TOMS), will be issued within 7 days as a matter of priority.
“The reality is that once we get the flow moving, we believe that the average time is probably two weeks but we are committed to a maximum of 21 days,” she informed.
Meanwhile, the Chairman also addressed the matter of the free movement of persons within the region, which will operate as a single domestic space during the mega event.
She stressed that persons coming from CARICOM countries, namely the nine host venue countries and Dominica, as well as those persons possessing any form of legal status living in those countries, had the right to travel freely without having their passport stamped. However, each person will still be required to fill out an Entry/Departure card. This is largely because there is other information on the card which ministries of tourism and other agencies will need.
In terms of persons coming from outside the nine host countries and Dominica as well as the rest of the world, Miss Mottley reiterated that these persons would have their passports stamped at the first point of entry within the single domestic space.
The right to remain in this single domestic space will last from January 15 to May 15 hence, persons who wished to remain in any country within this space beyond May 15, must visit the immigration department in that particular country and seek the requisite permission.
“The ability to stay in that country does not go beyond May 15 with the CARICOM visa and hence national legislations will kick back in and countries are free to act in accordance with their own domestic legislation after May 15,” she pointed out. With the exception of the United Kingdom, United States, Italy, Germany, France, Ireland, Spain, Netherlands, South Africa and Canada, in addition to all member states of the Caribbean Community, excepting Haiti, all other countries will require visa for entry during the period.