In July last year, it was announced that the British Government was considering placing visa restrictions on Dominicans traveling into the United Kingdom.
The UK was in the process of its first global review of visa regimes in relation to the Commonwealth Caribbean (Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines).
Given the close historic, economic and political ties Dominica has with the United Kingdom, the introduction of a visa regime was considered a very significant issue by the Government of Dominica.
As a result of the proposed changes to the existing policy, Dominica and the UK engaged in a six-month period of detailed dialogue to examine what actions needed to be taken to address concerns and mitigate the need for a visa regime to be introduced.
Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit established a special committee to coordinate Dominica’s response and to ensure that all the concerns raised by the UK were dealt with in a timely and efficient manner.
The committee was comprised of officials from the Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministry of Legal Affairs, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Police Service, Immigration Division, and the Dominica Air and Sea Port Authority.
At the end of the review period, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and the Home Office in the United Kingdom determined that Dominica had in fact demonstrated a genuine commitment to put into effect credible and realistic plans, with clear timetables, to reduce any risks to the UK.
With the improved systems and new legislation in place, the Government of Dominica has been assured that the Government of the UK will not impose additional travel restriction on Dominican citizens wishing to travel to the UK.
The UK Government recently stated, “that a visa requirement for Dominica nationals remains unnecessary”, adding, “Dominica nationals who wish to visit the UK for less than six months as a tourist or family visitor will be able to continue to do so without the need for a visa”.
Improvements to Dominica’s immigration system are an on-going process and considerable investment in technology and training will be necessary going forward. However, as a result of the improved systems currently in place, both Dominica and the United Kingdom will benefit from more secure boarder control and a more efficient immigration process.