Guyana is seeking visa-free travel to countries within the European Union (EU) and it hopes that a member state within the bloc can help push this agenda, President Dr. Irfaan Ali said on Tuesday.
Moments after it was announced that Guyanese visitors can travel to the United Kingdom (UK) without a visa from November 09, 2022, the Guyanese Head of State said that similar efforts are being pursued.
“If the UK was still in the EU then that would have been our sponsoring country to get past the EU visa.
“We have to work now on a strong bilateral country in the EU who will be the sponsoring country to push this agenda and I can assure you that work would’ve started and started very aggressively,” he related.
According to Dr. Ali, the UK’s visa waiver helps to demonstrate confidence in Guyana. And that confidence, he posited, strengthens Guyana’s case for visa waivers from other countries.
“…. the UK is part of the developed world and you can’t tell us that you have security concerns beyond a certain level that the UK doesn’t have,” he said pointedly.
As visa-free travel to the EU is being pursued, there is another related issue that the local authorities hope to tackle. That is the issuance of the Schengen visas needed for travel to the Schengen area in Europe.
A Schengen visa is a short-stay visa that allows a person to travel to any member state of the Schengen Area, per stay up to 90 days for tourism or business. This Schengen Area is an area comprising 26 European countries that have officially abolished all passports and all other types of border control at their mutual borders.
In August, President Ali publicly called for an improvement in the issuance of Schengen visas stating that immigration services should be provided in Guyana.
This visa is issued in Suriname and local business players are among those who have complained of the inconvenience of travelling to the neighbouring country for this service.
President Ali said he is confident that this hurdle would be eliminated shortly.
Already, the new European Union (EU) Ambassador to Guyana René Van Nes said that the issuance of this visa in Guyana has his “full attention”.
“I am talking to member states about this and we are really trying to get something into place that will first be a temporary solution that will make it easier for the people of Guyana to get the visa, and then later on there will be a more sustainable solution,” he said during an interview with reporters last month.