WASHINGTON, DC, United States —Jamaica’s Ambassador to the United States Audrey Marks says every effort is being made to get Jamaicans stranded in the United States home as soon as possible, and to have the US extend the expired temporary visas of Jamaicans caught in the US due to the COVID-19 lockdown.
Ambassador Marks made the announcement Thursday afternoon at a two-and-a-half-hour online meeting organised by the Jamaican Embassy in Washington, which saw more than 3,000 Jamaicans from around the world, including the United Kingdom, Canada, Europe, the Middle East, and the Caribbean, logging on to the online meeting. It was organised by the ambassador to reach out to seasonal workers, cruise ship workers, students, and other Jamaicans with temporary status in the US and are awaiting a flight to return home.
Ambassador Marks informed the Jamaicans that there are ongoing discussions between the Embassy of Jamaica and US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USIS) for waivers to be granted to Jamaicans whose visas have expired as a result of the COVID-19 situation.
The Jamaican ambassador said critical to the discussion was a request for a waiver of the visa renewal fee in the amount of US$450.00 which many people may not be able to pay at this time due to the circumstances.
She said plans to announce a gradual return to the island on a phased basis have been stymied due to an unexpected increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in Jamaica. “But please be assured that we will be working with the authorities both here and in Jamaica to get you home as soon as we possibly can,” Marks said.
“The Government and the embassy are working as hard as possible to ensure that you make it home, we understand your circumstances and eagerness to return home,” she emphasised.
The embassy has established a call centre which will be opened daily from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm for people to inform the embassy of the nature of their required assistance. The embassy can be rached at: 1-877-226-6879 or e-mail: email@example.com. The ambassador said that those who have urgent needs should immediately call so that they can be assisted.
Ambassador Marks also said her office was in contact with cruise line operators with a view to having one of the them transport all cruise ship workers home.
She said another online meeting to advise of additional information will be held next Thursday.
Jamaica’s Counsel General to New York Alsion Wilson; Counsel General to Miami Oliver Mair and Deputy Chief of Mission at the Embassy of Jamaica Andrea Dubidad-Dixon also participated in the meeting.
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