Jamaicans paid over $5 billion in non-immigrant visa fees to the United States Government last year, based upon a calculation of data provided by the US Embassy in Kingston.
This comes at a time when newly sworn-in US President Donald J Trump has said that he will review immigration laws in that North American country with a view to clamping down on illegal immigrants, many of whom gain entry by using non-immigrant visas and then overstay their time.
Last year, Counselor for Public Affairs at the US Embassy Joshua Polacheck said that the Embassy had been swamped with an excessive number of applications for non-immigrant visas that was putting a strain on its system.
The US diplomat revealed that the Embassy was processing an “unprecedented number of non-immigrant visas”, and was handling up to 1,000 a day in some instances.
The cost that goes with a non-immigrant visa application is US$160 (about $20,480), meaning that if 1,000 such visas are processed per day, it would amount to $20.5 million daily.
For a week at the same rate, the overall cost would be nearly $102.4 million.
Based upon what Polacheck described as the rapid growth in demand for US visas, which he said had zipped from 85,000 applications in the fiscal year (April 1 to March 31) of 2013, to 185,000 up to the middle of last year, the annual overall spend on trying to procure US non-immigrant visas would jump significantly. Over 52 weeks, the total cost would be $5.3 billion.
That sum does not include fees for student visas, crew members, or temporary workers.
It would represent around one per cent of Jamaica’s annual budget. (Jamaica Observer)