CHARLOTTE AMALIE — The territory will no longer require a visa for visitors from neighboring Caribbean islands.
The House of Representatives’ Judiciary Committee approved The Virgin Islands Visa Waiver Act, making it possible for visitors from the Caribbean to receive a non-immigrant visitor visa exemption to enter St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John for up to 45 days.
The amendment to the Act applies only to the U.S. Virgin Islands and does not allow entry into other parts of the United States.
The Act was first presented to the Committee for amendment in September 2021 by Delegate to Congress Stacey Plaskett.
A press release from the Congresswoman’s office did not state specifically which countries will benefit from the amendment to the Act. The scope of the amendment will, however, be limited to the Caribbean community and other countries permitted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
The amendment is similar to the limited visa waiver program which allows citizens of some countries to visit overseas U.S. territories, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands by completing a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Form I-736 prior to arrival and presenting their country’s passport on arrival. The Visa Waiver Act is also expected to be an impetus for increased visitors and economic activity in the US island territory.
Plaskett, serves on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee.
“This legislation would extend this same program to the U.S. Virgin Islands,” she said. “This limited visa waiver program would better enable the Virgin Islands to compete economically with other islands and nations in the Caribbean community.”
The Ways and Means Committee gives recommendations to the House on all revenue-raising channels. The committee is the primary source of legislation on international trade agreements, customs, and taxation.
Readers of the Virgin Islands Free Press on social media generally had favorable comments about Plaskett’s initiative.
“Nice. But tickets will cost more,” N.C. Flippin Quailey said.