No request from Guyana to lift US visa requirement – outgoing Ambassador

Even as several major Western nations consider following the United Kingdom (UK) in removing the visa requirement for Guyanese, outgoing United States Ambassador to Guyana Sarah-Ann Lynch has disclosed that there were no formal requests from local authorities for a similar lift on the visa requirements to travel to the North American nation.
Ambassador Sarah-Ann Lynch is departing Guyana after a four-year stint here as the United States Ambassador. During her final press conference on Thursday, the US diplomat was asked whether her country is considering removing the visa requirement for Guyanese.
In response, the US Ambassador said, “I’m not aware of any requests.”
Nevertheless, Ambassador Lynch noted that the US will continue to welcome Guyanese but through legal means.
“Our goal at Embassy Georgetown is to ensure that there are legal pathways, if you will, to come to the United States to visit whether you’re a tourist or whether you have children in school, whether you’re a student and also there’s the immigrant visa… So, what I do know is that we have lots and lots of people every day outside the Embassy waiting to have an interview, and we welcome them.”
“We welcome Guyanese to the United States. You know the [Guyanese] diaspora is quite large and so a lot of people have deep family ties, economic ties, and as I said, educational ties to the United States. So, we welcome that large number of Guyanese into the United States and doing so legally,” the outgoing US envoy stated.
In November 2022, the UK Government lifted the visa requirement for Guyanese passport holders.
Reports are that Guyana is already in talks with Italy and Mexico on the possibility of visa-free travel.
And only two months ago, President Dr Irfaan Ali disclosed that at least five European countries have agreed to support Guyana’s bid for visa-free travel to Schengen countries.
“In terms of the removal of the visa, you have to have sponsoring countries, and I’m very pleased to tell you that we have at least five countries that have agreed to sponsor us to begin the process within the EU itself. But there’s a bigger issue that we have to address, and this is our passports and what is required for future travelling.”
“You know biometrics and e-passports are very critical for global travellers. So, we have to now work expeditiously on having our system transformed so that we can have ease of movement and ease of travel,” the Head of State had noted.
In addition to obtaining visa-free travel status, President Ali had also said Guyana is working on having the Schengen visas processed more efficiently in Guyana.
It was reported that a pressing issue for Guyana in its relations with Europe is the setting up of a local Schengen visa processing office. As it is, visas for Guyanese to travel to the EU still have to be processed in Suriname at the Netherlands Embassy.
Moreover, stakeholders including the local private sector – Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) – have been calling for Canada to also lift its visa requirement for Guyanese. This call was heightened in June after Canada announced visa-free travel for citizens from 13 countries including Trinidad and Tobago.
In July, the 2023 Henley Passport Index ranked the Guyana passport at number 59, with access to 88 visa-free destinations – an improvement from the number 64 ranking in 2022.
Guyana ties in the 59th spot with Jamaica and Bahrain, but outperforms nations like Suriname, which is ranked 65; China, which came in at 63 and India, which is at the 80th position.
Outside of their Caribbean Community (Caricom) neighbours, Guyanese passport holders can enjoy visa-free travel to nations such as Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Fiji, Malaysia, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, and the United Kingdom, among others.
In other cases, Guyanese passport holders can benefit from a visa upon arrival in countries like Armenia, Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and others.
The Henley Passport Index is the original, authoritative ranking of all the world’s passports according to the number of destinations their holders can access without a prior visa. The index is based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) – the largest, most accurate travel information database – and enhanced by Henley & Partners’ research team.
Meanwhile, the Guyana passport is only projected to grow stronger as the Government forges deeper partnerships with nations around the world. (G-8)