PM Browne says A&B safe from UK visa requirements

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Visa-free access to scores of countries worldwide including the UK is a key marketing point for Antigua and Barbuda’s citizenship by investment scheme (Image courtesy passright.com)
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By Robert A. Emmanuel

[email protected]

Following the United Kingdom’s announcement of visa requirements on Dominica, Prime Minister Gaston Browne rebuffed any concerns that Antigua and Barbuda could face similar actions – or that the move could have a negative impact on the twin island nation’s citizenship by investment (CBI) programme.

On July 19, the United Kingdom announced that the decision to bring in a visa regime on Dominica was in response to concerns about Dominica’s CBI scheme and that, with immediate effect, its citizens will now be required to obtain a visa, including to visit.

Responding to questions from the opposition in Parliament yesterday, the Prime Minister repeatedly replied that the announcement was about Britain’s plan to roll out its Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) initiative.

“The United Kingdom has introduced what is called the Electronic Travel Authorisation that is required of all countries outside of the United Kingdom to include the United States, and Antigua and Barbuda is no exception.

“It is literally not quite a visa; it is a pre-screening arrangement in which requests for visas are made online within sufficient time,” he said.

However, the Prime Minister’s response contradicts the British High Commission’s press release which stated: “This decision is separate from the Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) scheme…the ETA scheme will be introduced in phases across the world in 2024.”

Barbuda MP Trevor Walker asked the Prime Minister if Antigua and Barbuda was to receive UK visa requirements, how would that impact CIP revenue streams given that the programme’s marketing strategy highlights visa-free access to scores of countries including the UK.

“We do not anticipate any reduction and, as I have said, it is not a visa requirement, it is what is called an ETA… and even our CIP citizens will be eligible for access into the United Kingdom under the ETA,” Prime Minister Browne said.

Meanwhile, the Cabinet also held discussions over the recent development as well as the Prime Minister’s trip to Europe for a meeting of the EU-CELAC (the EU and the Community of Latin America and Caribbean states).

Recent comments by St Vincent and the Grenadines’ Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves suggested that the European Commission would be enacting stricter visa restrictions, according to investment migration news website, Investment Migration Insider (IMI).

“In Brussels, the discussions revolved around visa-free entry to Europe, bearing in mind that Dominica has lost visa-free travel into the UK, although Antigua and Barbuda has demonstrated a very high level of due diligence under its CIP programme,” Cabinet notes stated.

The Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff Lionel Hurst spoke more on the matter when asked if the Prime Minister had received any commitments from the EU that Antigua would not face similar action.

“No firm commitments as yet, but clearly they are examining not only the record of Antigua and Barbuda, but also what we plan to do to increase the due diligence that is taken before anyone becomes a citizen of Antigua and Barbuda through the CIP,” Hurst said.

“We have asked the Europeans to engage in some bilateral [talks] so that we can indeed persuade them that this [potential visa imposition] is not a fair thing to do,” he added.

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