US Embassy – Big Business In Jamaica – Revenue Is Where It Is At?

159,000.00 Jamaicans applied for US visitors visas as of 1st January – December 2015 of which 65% were successful.  What does that translate to in terms of revenue for the USA?

Those details were not provided but one can do a basic assessment based on the cost for the application. What is interesting to note is that the vast majority of Jamaicans who travel to the United States do return to the Island within the time line given and that should be commendable, right? Hmmmmm, not too sure about that. Our reputation goes way beyond making trips and not over staying. It is what is taking place on some of those trips why profiling of holders of the Jamaican passport is dominant.

Getting a visa is one thing. Travelling under a microscope is another cup of tea and Jamaicans have faced this type of inquisition way before lottery scamming and 911. From this report it appears the US Embassy is delighted with having operations on the Island and there is no intention of closing shop anytime soon. For the Jamaicans and by extension the US Embassy, the applications will increase as we are a Country that appears to be growing in population hence my belief.  Jamaicans regardless of the cost always seem to sacrifice for that which they deem  a matter of life or death to them. The USA is a destination that fits that kind of urgency whether they can afford to financially or not.



Record US visa applications by Jamaicans

BY MOYA HINDS Observer writer

(Jamaica Observer) Sunday, December 20, 2015    

Visa applicants at the US Embassy

A record number of Jamaicans applied for visitors visas to the United States this year, an embassy official has said.

Consul General at the United States Embassy in St Andrew, Michael Schimmel, told journalists at a news conference held at the embassy on Friday that over 159,000 Jamaicans applied for US visas between January 1 and the start of December. The figure represents the highest in almost two decades.

“The last time we have seen the numbers in excess of 100,000 was back in 2007, before the recession”, remarked Schimmel, who has served in the US diplomatic system for almost 28 years.

“We are very pleased to receive applications for visas. We very much want travellers. We very much want tourists,” said Schimmel, known to Jamaicans as the visa man, a title that he proudly accepts.

Schimmel said that an electronic database system was used to provide the information, which covered the years 1997-2015.

It was not until after the recession of 2008 and 2009 that the numbers started picking up ,and by the time Schimmel took office in Jamaica in 2013 the number reached 85,000.

“For the last three years we’ve seen a significant steady uptake in numbers and rates of approval for visas,” Schimmel reported, adding that it is not difficult to get a visa if one is deemed a qualified traveller.

Schimmel disclosed what he believes may be factors that contributed to the record increase by suggesting that it may have been as a result of both countries having booming economies.

Jamaicans, he said, have enough money to travel and the US has enough money to host. He said that economics could also be a factor, as the Jamaican economy might be shaky and many individuals go to the US seeking employment.

The other factor that Schimmel believes may be credited to the increase is the outreach programmes by the embassy.

Of the 159,000 visa applications this year, 65 per cent were granted visas, while 35 per cent were denied.

Schimmel also spoke to a 1.1 per cent of Jamaicans, out of the 65 per cent, either ‘running off’ or overstaying, and pointed out that despite a social purview, there is no quota to determine how many visas are issued daily, for as long as the requirements are met and one proves to be a legitimate traveller, a visa will be issued.

In terms of cost and money collected by the embassy from visa applications, Schimmel declined to give a specific figure, but said that enough was made to cover expenses and added that profit goes into border security/protection.

Schimmel stated that there was interest in promoting bilateral relations through tourism, and a boosting of the economy through the investments that tourists bring with them when they go to the US, especially when they shop.

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