Govt: Systems in place for Venezuelan visa

Gov­ern­ment is “try­ing to en­sure” it has suf­fi­cient re­sources at its Cara­cas em­bassy to process visa ap­pli­ca­tions for Venezue­lans. But some Venezue­lans have ap­pealed for a brief waiv­er for those trav­el­ling this week since visa in­for­ma­tion is not forth­com­ing from the em­bassy.

Na­tion­al Se­cu­ri­ty Min­is­ter Stu­art Young yes­ter­day spoke about try­ing to “en­sure suf­fi­cient re­sources” to process the visa ap­pli­ca­tions.

How­ev­er oth­er Venezue­lans like TT based Hei­di Diquez are wor­ried about how those trav­el­ling this week to T&T would get visas in the ab­sence of in­for­ma­tion and pos­si­bly, sys­tems at the em­bassy.

The visa stip­u­la­tion was an­nounced last week, ef­fec­tive yes­ter­day fol­low­ing Gov­ern­ment’s Venezue­lan amnesty reg­is­tra­tion ex­er­cise.

But Diquez said, “Since peo­ple were booked to trav­el this week, some went to the TT Em­bassy in Cara­cas seek­ing in­for­ma­tion on ob­tain­ing visas, but they were told there’s no in­for­ma­tion. We have no prob­lem with the visa, but in­for­ma­tion’s need­ed,” she said.

Yes­ter­day in the Sen­ate Young was asked by UNC sen­a­tor Wade Mark whether or not ad­di­tion­al re­sources would be pro­vid­ed to the em­bassy to process ap­pli­ca­tions.

Young said, “I’ve been in dis­cus­sions with the For­eign Af­fairs Min­is­ter on how this will be car­ried out from our em­bassy in Cara­cas which is cur­rent­ly staffed.

He added the ap­proval for the visa will come from “head­quar­ters” in T&T. “What it will be, is ap­pli­ca­tions will be done in Cara­cas and head­quar­ters will say ‘yea’ or ‘nay’ to the ap­pli­ca­tions that are made in Cara­cas,” he added.

He said all in­for­ma­tion on the visa cost, the ap­pli­ca­tion process, lo­gis­ti­cal el­e­ments and oth­er as­pects will be pro­vid­ed “in the not too dis­tant fu­ture”.

When Guardian Me­dia did its own checks, an of­fi­cial at the TT em­bassy in Cara­cas yes­ter­day said he had no in­for­ma­tion on the visas. He added the head of mis­sion was not in the coun­try and there was no Am­bas­sador in place.

But oth­er Gov­ern­ment and Im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cials said as far as they knew For­eign Af­fairs had sys­tems in place for the process.

They said the Venezue­lan visa costs (TT)$200 and if peo­ple booked to trav­el im­me­di­ate­ly this week had been un­able to get it be­fore leav­ing, when they ar­rived in this coun­try they could ap­ply for a waiv­er, which costs (TT) $400 and they would be in­ter­viewed on this. But de­spite these as­sur­ance Ms Diquez feared there would be chaos.

“Peo­ple are booked to come this week and all month and there’s noth­ing and in­for­ma­tion is hard to get. The sit­u­a­tion could im­pact on busi­ness peo­ple booked to come, even peo­ple com­ing to TT for med­ical pur­pos­es,” she said.

Reporter: Gail Alexander

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