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Government: Dominicans and Jamaicans need re-entry visas

Lawrence Scott, government MP (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

The Government stands firm that Jamaicans and Dominicans could be turned away from the island if they do no have transit visas, citing ministerial powers under immigration laws.

The Ministry of Economy and Labour issued a statement in response to a claim by Lawrence Scott, a government MP behind a new charter flight service linking Bermuda to the Caribbean, that “legislation trumps policy” in the matter.

While Mr Scott referenced Section 28 of the Immigration and Protection Act 1956, which allows entry to Bermuda on the condition of a round-trip ticket in hand and a stay not exceeding six months in any 12-month period, the Government has cited Section 32 giving the minister discretion to impose conditions.

A ministry spokesman said: “Mr Scott has referenced Section 28 of the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Act 1956. However, this is not the only relevant section in the Act. Section 32 gives the minister the power to impose conditions with respect to permission to land in Bermuda.

“The requirement for Dominicans and Jamaicans to possess a multi-re-entry visa is a condition, and anyone who does not comply with this condition commits an offence against the Act.”

Section 32 states: “The Governor, or minister, as the case may be, may withhold any permission or grant any permission subject to any duration, condition or limitation without assigning any reason for that decision.”

Mr Scott, who is the chief executive of ScottsCraft, the parent company of the charter service TXKF Direct, said Portuguese and Bahamian flights to Bermuda were not subject to the transit visa conditions.

He said that ScottsCraft would have a representative on board the service, due to start in August with a flight to the Dominican Republic, to ensure that passengers have round-trip tickets and will not be overstaying beyond 180 days.

The ministry spokesman added: “Portuguese and Bahamian nationals are not visa-controlled nationals. As such, visa conditions have not been applied to passengers on those flights.

“The Department of Immigration’s visa policy is aligned with legislation and clearly sets out guidance with respect to persons requiring visas to enter Bermuda.

“Having a ScottsCraft representative on the flight does not ensure that travellers will not remain in Bermuda after the six months expire.

“All visa-controlled nationals must present the relevant documents upon arrival or risk being returned on the next available commercial flight.

“In this case, Jamaicans and Dominicans are considered visa-controlled nationals as prescribed in the policy. They are required to be in possession of the necessary visa upon their arrival in Bermuda.”

“Furthermore, the ministry can advise that, including the countries mentioned above, individuals from over 100 countries fall into the category of visa-controlled nationals and must also present the relevant documents upon arrival.”

Government rules require that visa-controlled nationals have a transit visa — normally to the United States, Britain or Canada — so that they can get home, or be sent home, other than by the charter flight if necessary.

Mr Lawrence said yesterday: “The Bermuda direct charter flight will operate as per the existing legislation and the Immigration and Protection Act 1956 Section(s) 28 and 32.

“With an awareness of the legislation, the spirit, implication and intent, the sale of tickets has always been managed accordingly.

“Now, the significance of our focus is on bringing Bermudian families together between the various Caribbean destinations serviced. This is consistent with the fact that the law and policies haven't changed.”

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Published July 11, 2023 at 7:58 am (Updated July 11, 2023 at 8:10 am)

Government: Dominicans and Jamaicans need re-entry visas

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