US Visitor visas plunge from over 25000 to 4923 in 2018
Even as authorities maintain that there is nothing to worry about regarding United States visa policies, a significant decline in the number of visitors’ visas issued by the US Embassy in Guyana was recorded last year.
According to a visa summary provided by the US Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs, a total of 4923 visitors visa were approved by the US Embassy here during the 2018 Fiscal Year, which runs from October 2017 to September 2018.
This is a whopping 20,000 plus decline compared to the 25,338 visas granted in 2017. It was also significantly less than the 51,202 visas in 2016; 30,121 in 2015; and 17,284 visas in 2014.
The last time these figures were below 5000 was in 2010 when only 4242 non-immigrant visas were granted.
While these visas were granted from the Embassy’s Kingston head office in Guyana, another 306 Guyanese got their visitors’ visas outside of Guyana. The category ‘Non-immigrant Visa issued by Nationality’ shows that 5229 Guyanese were granted visas, while the refusal rate for ‘Visa’ (non-immigrant) by Nationality for Guyana stood at 70.62 per cent.
Meanwhile, with regards to permanent residency, a total of 7506 immigrant visas were granted by the US to Guyanese in 2018.
These figures over the years, however, have been declining. A total of 6403 immigrant visas were processed in 2014; 6154 in 2015; and 5600 in 2016.
According the US Bureau of Consular Affairs, Guyana is among the top 10 countries with the highest F1 waiting list under the ‘Family First’ preference category, with a total of 4078. This represents 1.6 per cent of the waiting list, which totals 261,704.
Prior to last year, Guyana consistently recorded high numbers of non-immigrant visas issued by the US Embassy here.
Former US Ambassador to Guyana, Perry Holloway, had attributed this to the improving economic situation here.
“The improving economic situation over the last few years has led to our refusal rate coming down significantly, from a high of well over 50 per cent five years ago, to one much lower today and luckily for us only a small per cent of Guyanese, who go to the US actually abuse their visas and stay illegally,” the former US diplomat had stated.
Holloway had also sought to alley fears of a change of his country’s policy to Guyana under a trump Administration.
“The fears that we were disengaging or even forgetting about Guyana were quite simply misplaced fears. Bilateral relations could not be better…a lot is going on and there is more to come,” the former US envoy had indicated.
Nevertheless, there has been a crackdown on illegal immigrants in the US in recent months and Guyana was listed as one of the countries which could lose visa access if the Government refuses to accept deportees.
Meanwhile, it has been reportedly that Guyana is working to strengthen its immigration policy with regards to deported citizens.
On the other hand, the US Embassy’s Consular Section and the Regional Security Office has been working with local law enforcement to obtain the first successful prosecution for visa fraud in Guyana, which resulted in an Internet Café vendor being imprisoned.