Britain reviews visa-free status of St. Kitts and Nevis, four other nations

ST. KITTS, APRIL 7TH 2010 (CUOPM) – The Government of St. Kitts and Nevis is among five in the Eastern Caribbean whose nationals will continue to enter the country without a visa.

The four other affected countries are Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Grenada and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

British Home Secretary Hon. Alan Johnson, in a statement published on the British government website, said London had written to the five governments “to advise that, while they will maintain their visa free status for the time being, the decision will be subject to a further review.”

Mr. Johnson said that in addition to those five countries, London has also written to the Dominica and St. Lucia governments, highlighting a number of concerns and giving them a six-month period to deal with them.

Britain said that the review of the Eastern Caribbean countries represents the final stage of the United Kingdom’s first global review of visa regimes in relation to the seven countries.

“A visa regime is a very effective immigration, crime and security control measure. As part of our overseas defences our Visa Waiver Test helps us determine whether our visa regimes are in the right places. Travellers from every country beyond the European Economic Area and Switzerland were measured against a range of criteria including illegal immigration, crime and security concerns,” he said.

The Home Secretary noted the close historic, economic and political ties with Dominica and St. Lucia and said London was aware that the introduction of a visa regime would be a significant step.

“It is a decision we do not take lightly,” he stressed.

“As a result we will now enter a six-month period of detailed dialogue with the governments concerned to examine what actions will be taken to address our concerns and mitigate the need for a visa regime to be introduced,” Johnson said.

He explained that during that time, Dominica and St Lucia “will need to demonstrate a genuine commitment to put into effect credible and realistic plans, with clear timetables, to reduce the risks to the UK, and begin implementing these plans by the end of the dialogue period”.

The Home Secretary said that the United Kingdom government remains committed to operating a firm but fair immigration policy.

“It gives a high priority to treating all foreign nationals coming to or present in the UK with dignity and respect, and the highest legal standards. However, it expects all visitors to the UK to play by the rules.

“The UK will always welcome genuine visitors, whether business, tourist, student or family, but will continue to take all steps necessary to protect the security of the UK,” he added.

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