Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves. (iWN file photo)

Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves is suggesting that not many Vincentians would have benefitted had the United States extending the courtesy of renewing their visa without having to travel, in person, to the embassy in Barbados.

The United States Government has not extended to St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dominica and Antigua and Barbuda the courtesy of having passport holders submit their visa renewal application by couriers.

Some observers say that this is punishment for Kingstown, St. John’s and Roseau, not supporting Washington’s position on hemispheric issues, specifically a recent vote on Venezuela taken by the Organization of American States.

Gonsalves told a press conference in Kingstown on Tuesday that he has not raised with U.S. officials in Bridgetown the reason why the courtesy has not been extended to Vincentian passport holders.

“I haven’t discussed that with the US authorities,” he said of the policy, which will benefit St. Lucians, Grenadians, and nationals of St. Kitts and Nevis, as well as Barbadians, the other countries served by the U.S. embassy in Barbados.

Gonsalves said he has read the reports that SVG and the other independent Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States countries to which the courtesy has not been extended are being punished for not supporting U.S. policy.

“I have read that. But if it is punishment, it’s a kind of a quote-unquote punishment which is really of little or no moment,” he said.

Asked if he thinks that Vincentian passport holders not having that privilege puts them at a disadvantage, Gonsalves said:

“I really don’t know what are all the factors which went into the decision of the U.S. authorities. I am not going to presume that I know the reason, I am not going to speculate what is the reason. I read like what everybody else read about punishment but I express my opinion that if it is a punishment, it is of such a type and nature that I can’t see it being logical.”

The U.S. embassy in Barbados said that applicants may have their interview waived if their previous visa expired within the last 12 months and they are applying for the same visa category as their previous visa.

Applicants must be physically in their home country or within the consular district of the U.S. Embassy in order to avail themselves of this option

Additionally, the previous U.S. visa must be in the applicant’s possession, and the applicant must have submitted a 10-fingerprint scan in conjunction with the previous visa application.

The courtesy is not extended to beneficiaries of the citizen by investment programmes.

Gonsalves said:

“… as I read the conditions, your visa has to expire in the last year, you have to send your fingerprints, there are several conditions. I don’t know how many persons that are going to be able to satisfy all of those conditions that they require from the countries which they have said have the privilege of not going to the mission — going to Barbados to have their visas renewed. I don’t know how many persons are going to be from those.

“The point I am making, if you are having a policy — I am giving an opinion on those who say this is punishment. I am saying if somebody sits up, makes a decision and say, ‘I am going to punish a country.’ That is what you can find? That doesn’t appear logical to me, so I don’t accept the punishment argument… That is the point I am making…”

The prime minister said he knows the nature of Kingstown-Washington ties.

“The relations are good, so I don’t know what got into — what are the reasons for that particular decision,” he said.

He, however, acknowledged that the provision would be of benefit to Vincentians.

“Doesn’t mean at all that in some circumstances it wouldn’t be more convenient for somebody if they are able to satisfy those conditions to have that privilege extended to them. I was raising the question; I don’t know how many persons would be able to satisfy those conditions, which went to the logic of the decision maker to do punishment. So this is why I don’t accept the thesis of punishment,” he said.

7 replies on “PM casts doubts on benefit of US visa interview waiver”

  1. PM, You look tired in the above picture. Very tired. If you had been Trump that pic would have been worth a lot of cash. I think that you are a good politician as politicians go. But, you have been in power for almost twenty years. Don’t you think, it’s time for you to retire?
    Minister of this that the other and then some and then some more.

    You did a good thing building AIA airport. That is also good for your legacy. Another detail that I like about you is that you speak in simple English (like Patrick Ferrari, Lostpet and Muse). I do my best to do that too because I believe that everyone should understand what you are talking about.

    Now the photo above really explains a lot. Check out the quote below.

    “Asked if he thinks that Vincentian passport holders not having that privilege puts them at a disadvantage, Gonsalves said:

    “I really don’t know what are all the factors which went into the decision of the U.S. authorities. I am not going to presume that I know the reason, I am not going to speculate what is the reason. I read like what everybody else read about punishment but I express my opinion that if it is a punishment, it is of such a type and nature that I can’t see it being logical.””

    You dodged the question, and the reporter didn’t press you. Shouldn’t you be asking the US authorities about the reason? Don’t you care?

    PM, we need political reforms in SVG. I believe that you are too old and set in your ways to do that.

    (By the way, DiscoverSVG Roadshow is impressive.)

    This is not about you. It is about our country, our people. So please please, please LHM retire. Leave the politics to a younger generation. (Not Camillo, not unless he gets divorced and marries Yugge ) Like, Dr. Friday.

  2. Duke DeArment says:

    The US probably is trying to punish Saint Vincent for the reasons mentioned. The PM says he does not think so because it does not make sense but the US Government does many things that do not make any sense. Anyone can notice that the US Government bases thier relationship with other nations on whether or not to punish them or leave them alone. They usually punish with with sanctions, regime change or bombings. In this case the punishment is much less, which means the current government here still has a good relationship with the US Government, they just want to send us a message. So many nations recently, not only France and Philippines have come out and said the US Government wants to dictate to the world who they can be friends with, who they can trade with and who they should shun. Under Trump, the US Government believes they can be the dictators of the world. Trump has certainly turned into a disappointment. We should be glad Hillary Clinton is not President, it would have been much worse. She promised to bomb many countries and start a war with Russia.

  3. The PM said that he didn’t ask any questions after this happened. Either he didn’t understand what happened or he was so caught off guard that he didn’t react or he does give a flying F.

    Now, this looks to me like he doesn’t have a clue. His feelings on the matter obviously are what lead him to do nothing. No matter how much diplomatic language he uses he has not represented my interest. We elected you to represent us. We expect you to defend our interest.

    Most Vincies would see this: Of course, it puts Vincies at a disadvantage because now we have to travel to Barbados to get a visa renewed while Barbadians don’t even have to visit the embassy/consulate. The financial cost alone has at least doubled and we already broke.

    Meanwhile, the PM still has to figure out that it is punishment (Sanction). He said that he doesn’t understand why we are being treated like this.

    “That doesn’t appear logical to me, so I don’t accept the punishment argument… That is the point I am making…”

    The fact is Dr. Gonsalves probably knows why we are treated like this and he is down playing the incident or he is lying to himself so much that his reality has become distorted.

  4. SO WHAT……..is life over ,,,,,,,,Canada , UK , even some counties in the Caribbean better than USA ,
    Dont believe the hype about America ppl . that was once upon a time.

  5. Is time to get rid of this [man]. He’s aware of the issue why there’s no Visa waiver for Vincentians. Nothing else than a notorious liar. Is time for this so call […] pm and his corrupt regime to get out of office.

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