Syranno Baines

Digital and Communications Officer

Part of UK in Jamaica

1st August 2013 British High Commission, Kingston, Jamaica

About those Visas …

Britain and Jamaica are long time friends, who partner on very visible technical and operational matters.  But should you ask a random Jamaican about the function of the British High Commission in Kingston;  the response will undoubtedly be something to do with visas. It has not gone unnoticed that since inception in 2003, visas to the UK remain a very unwelcome fact of life for some, if not most Jamaicans.

British visa policies are entrenched in an overarching principle, that visitors or settlers enrich the culture of the UK, and strengthen the economy. At the same time, there is need to control movement and protect UK interests.  Visas ensure that those who want to experience the UK are welcomed to do so. The system encourages applications.

Most Jamaicans who apply for UK visas are successful

In Jamaica, we receive regular messages detailing concerns about the process. ( We read all letters and emails )  And while the anxiety that accompanies the application is understood, it is maintained that the system is quite straightforward and should demand little or no fuss.  Not only is the visa regime one of the most efficient and effective in the world, but what is even more important, is that the vast majority of persons who apply for British visas will actually get them!

In 2012 for example, of the 2.5 million visa applications received worldwide, 86 % of those applicants were successful.  These statistics ring true in Jamaica also. 80 % of Jamaicans who applied for British non immigrant visas in 2012, were successful.  Further, of those who applied, majority said they found it easy to do.

Most of the remaining 20 % domestic refusals were due to insufficient documents to supplement the applications.  I should point out here that I do not work with visas. My UKBA colleagues have assured me however , that all applications are looked at without prejudice, and stand solely on the strength of the evidence provided by the applicant. What’s more, on the high commission’s website, is a full listing of all the supporting documents needed for a successful application.  It is for this reason that most persons are redirected to the website in response to their visa queries. 

Reduction of Jamaicans in UK Prisons

There is a mutual benefit to the system that should be highlighted. Since the visa regime was introduced in Jamaica in 2003, the number of Jamaicans in UK prisons reduced significantly.  Back then, visas were used to curb what had become an increasing number of Jamaicans trying to circumvent British immigration rules.  In 2003, the Jamaican population in UK prisons was at a peak of a whopping 2808. Fast forward 10 years later, add the visa regime, and as at June 2013, there are 783 Jamaicans in UK prisons. When we shared this information with a group of journalists recently, I could see their otherwise stoic demeanour change to genuine surprise. This is very good news; since a lower number of Jamaicans in UK prisons, means there is a massive reduction in the number of deportees to Jamaica on a yearly basis.

We are of the view that Jamaicans with sufficient means, who genuinely want to settle, study, do business, transit, visit family, or vacation in the UK, continue to do so regularly, and are not in any way hampered by a visa requirement. I welcome your comments for or against our views.

5 comments on “About those Visas …

  1. HI
    My husband and I have been together four years
    and eleven months. We got married in March 2014 in Negril, Jamaica. Sent the Application on line August 20th. Biometrics September 12th,
    My wifes documents were returned back to her December 23rd. Still wating, they said they have made a decision that was emailed January 8th still waiting. We have been apart since March 2014.
    What do you think???

  2. Have jus applied for muy husband to come to england from ja your comments have made me feel very positive after a stressful few months x

  3. I lost my father in October and my brother and sister was turned down to attend the funeral, why because of showing my financial details and their situation in JA. Not everyone is lucky to have a job in Ja and this was so wrong. I work hard in this country , all 3 siblings are in good job, so they would not have to rely o n the government to look after them.

  4. Myths nicely highlighted and corrected.. with a welcoming tone.. Main takeaway, “Jamaicans with sufficient means…

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