Bill for New Visa Waiver Program for Caribbean States to Enter U.S. Virgin Islands Introduced
While all citizens of 38 (primarily European) visa waiver-eligible nations may enter the U.S. Virgin Islands for up to 90 days using ESTA, and United States citizens may enter most of the Caribbean Community Member States (CARICOM) for tourism or as business visitors without a visa, citizens of CARICOM cannot enter the U.S. Virgin Islands without a visa. There is no reciprocity. To remedy this situation, Stacey Plaskett, the non-voting representative from the U.S. Virgin Islands in the U.S. House of Representatives, has introduced legislation that would create a special U.S. Virgin Islands Visa Waiver Program for CARICOM. The bill would allow CARICOM citizens to enter the U.S. Virgin Islands for tourism or as business visitors for up to 30 days without a visa.
Under the proposed legislation, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security would have the discretion to suspend or terminate the new program for specific countries for security reasons or if the privilege was being abused.
There are 15 full members of CARICOM: Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, Saint Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago. And there are five associate members: Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Turks and Caicos.
There are currently six non-voting delegates in the U.S. House of Representatives. They represent the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Although they do not have voting privileges, they have other rights and can introduce legislation.