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Visa snag upsets MP’s travel plans

Visa snag upsets MP’s travel plans

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Plans by the Member of Parliament for North Leeward Roland “Patel” Matthews to be one of the featured speakers at a town hall meeting in New York last Saturday had to be shelved because of problems being experienced at the United States Embassy with their visa processing system.

Matthews told SEARCHLIGHT yesterday that his United States non-immigrant visa had expired, {{more}}but because of the high cost of airline tickets, he decided to visit the Embassy to renew the visa, while en route to New York on August 7, instead of making an earlier, separate trip to Barbados.

“When I went to Barbados Thursday, I was told, like everybody else, of the problems they were having, and the visa would not be ready until Thursday of this week (August 14); so I say it doesn’t make sense, so I didn’t go,” the Opposition member of parliament said.

The MP also disclosed that he had in place all the necessary paperwork, including a diplomatic note from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of St Vincent and the Grenadines.

An official of the Ministry confirmed this with SEARCHLIGHT, saying, “All proper channels were followed by the MP; however, with respect to the issuing of the visa, the glitch is on the part of the US Embassy.”

A statement published on the website of the US Embassy in Bridgetown said: “The Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs is currently experiencing technical problems with our visa system. We are operating at a significantly reduced capacity and will be, until we clear the document backlog. This issue is worldwide and is not specific to any particular country, citizenship document, or visa category. We are working urgently to correct the problem and expect our system to be fully operational again soon.”

Matthews said he was advised yesterday that his passport would be returned to him with his renewed visa by latest next week Monday. He said he has travelled to the United States on more than five occasions and his wife Morvis, whose visa had not expired, continued on to the United States and was in attendance at the town hall meeting.

Last Saturday’s meeting, which was held at Friends of Crown Heights in Brooklyn, was organized by the Opposition New Democratic Party. It was addressed by party chair Dr Linton Lewis and NDP candidate for North Windward Lauron “Sheara” Baptiste.

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