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U.S. Virgin Islands Greenlights Caribbean Nationals’ Visits By Waiving Visa Requirement

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.

U.S. Virgin Islands Greenlights Caribbean Nationals' Visits By Waiving Visa Requirement

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.

U.S. Virgin Islands Greenlights Caribbean Nationals' Visits By Waiving Visa Requirement

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.

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St. Thomas Gets $99M To Complete Turpentine Run Project And Savan Gut Phase II: Plaskett

WASHINGTON — Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett, a member of the Ways and Means Committee, said $99 million in new funding is available for vital projects in the Virgin Islands through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Disaster Relief law:

“Today I am happy to announce $99 million in new funding for the Turpentine Run Flood Control Project and the Savan Gut Phase II flood control project. This new federal investment comes as the Biden Administration continues its nationwide focus on easing supply chain bottlenecks, improving infrastructure resilience and creating jobs for families.

“Virgin Islanders know that these projects are in urgent need of completion. Through the hard work of my office ensuring that the territory was included in the historic legislation, $99 million will soon be headed to the Virgin Islands to complete longstanding resiliency projects.  With these new federal funds from the Army Corps, we will be able to initiate, physically complete and close out Savan Gut Phase II as well as the project at Turpentine Run.  Also included was $500,000 for pre-construction engineering and design (PED) to be completed for the flood risk management project at Estate La Grange on St. Croix. 

“This is a historic investment for the Virgin Islands on projects which have been years in the making.  I’m grateful for the information and support of the Department of Public Works and the Virgin Islands Port Authority in particular, both agencies provided information and support for our relentless prodding of the Army Corps to build these projects in the Virgin Islands.  Turpentine Run is funded with Disaster Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2022 (P.L.117-43) funding and Savan is funded with Bipartisan Infrastructure Act (P.L.117-58) funding. 

“The Biden Administration announced today that the Army Corps of Engineers will invest $14 billion in 500 projects across the nation that focus on strengthening critical supply chains.  These new investments will create jobs and economic opportunity, while strengthening key water infrastructure projects, improving resiliency to the climate crisis, and restoring the environment.”