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