There is a slight possibility, that nationals from Antigua and Barbuda could benefit from a United States Visa Interview Waiver when the second assessment is completed.
Joaquin Monserrate, Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, spoke about Antigua and Barbuda’s exclusion from the programme during an exclusive interview with OBSERVER media on his first official visit to the twin island state late last week.
Under the policy, which took effect in September, citizens who reside in the approved countries will not have to travel to Barbados to renew their U.S. Visas.
So far, St. Lucia, Grenada and St. Kitts and Nevis have been approved for the waiver in the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) while Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda and St Vincent and the Grenadines were excluded. This means that locals who want to renew their U.S. visas must travel to Barbados.
Monserrate stated that there are a number of factors that determine which countries are able to benefit first, he said it was perceived that most of the countries with which the Embassy has closer ties would have been first in line.
“That does not in any way preclude the possibility that we will not include Antigua and Barbuda at some point. The programme is assessed periodically and that reflects upon the commonalities of issues on which we see each other,” Monserrate said.
Without providing any further detail on the matter, the U.S. diplomat stressed that the Embassy is committed to ensuring that its relationship with Antigua and Barbuda is able to succeed on all levels.
“Our willingness to cooperate with Antigua and Barbuda is reflected by the scale of programmes and the diversity of programmes that we have with Antigua. It underscores the importance and relevance that we place upon our relationship with the government and with civil society groups and other institutions,” Monserrate said.
Antigua and Barbuda’s exclusion did not sit well with Prime Minister Gaston Browne who stated that he found it “a little strange”.
He questioned the decision to grant three OECS states the waiver and not the others.