(Jamaica Gleaner) The United States (US) Embassy in Kingston has confirmed that Jamaicans spent US$25 million (approximately J$3 billion) this year in application fees for visas to enter that country.
That is almost twice the estimated J$1.5 billion secondary schools would pull in if every parent paid the controversial auxiliary fees.
Consul General at the US Embassy in Kingston Michael R. Schimmel last Friday disclosed that 159,000 visa applications were submitted to the entity, the most in 20 years.
But Schimmel downplayed the significance of the amount shelled out by Jamaicans to apply for visas.
“You multiply 160 by the number and we got US$25 million, but the individual application is still US$160,” he stressed.
“It’s a 10-year visa. If you travel once every 10 years to the US, each application would cost only US$16,” said Schimmel as he pointed out that the cost for the visa is computed by the General Accounting Office in the United States to cover the cost of the service.
“Everything collected goes back into border security. The consular fees goes straight back into border security to increase border protection,” added Schimmel.
He said the embassy in Kingston is yet to determine what caused the significant increase in visa applications.
“We sat down and tried to analyse that. You can come at it from two different perspectives,” said Schimmel.
In the first scenario, Schimmel said it could be that the economies in both countries are booming.