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 her revelations yesterday afternoon at a two-and-a-half-hour online meeting organized by the Jamaican Embassy in Washington, which saw over three hundred Jamaicans from around the world, including the United Kingdom, Canada, Europe, the Middle East and the Caribbean attending on the online meeting.
The meeting was organized by the Ambassador who wanted to reach out to seasonal workers, cruise ship workers, students and other Jamaicans with Temporary Status in the US who are awaiting to return home.
The meeting was attended by Jamaica’s Counsel General to New York, Mrs Alsion Wilson; Counsel General to Miami, Oliver Mair and Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of Jamaica, Mrs Andrea Dubidad-Dixon.
Ambassador Marks informed the Jamaicans that there are ongoing discussions between the Embassy of Jamaica and The U.S. 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 U$450.00 which many persons may not 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,” Ambassador 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 emphasized.
The embassy has established a call centre, which will be opened Monday to Friday, from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, for persons to inform the embassy of the nature of their required assistance. Persons are asked to call : 1-877-226-6879 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Ambassador emphasized that those who have urgent needs should immediately call so that they can be assisted.
Ambassador Marks revealed that her office was in contact with cruise line operators with a view to having one of the lines taking all the cruise ship workers home;
The Ambassador will be holding another online meet to advise of additional information on Thursday, April 23, 2020.