- up to six months for business, leisure travellers
President Irfaan Ali (right) and UK High Commissioner Jane Miller OBE at the press conference (Office of the President photo).

19 October 2022

GEORGETOWN, (Stabroek News/Marcelle Thomas, 19 Oct 2022) - The United Kingdom yesterday said that from November 9th, holders of Guyanese passports will be allowed visa-free entry for up to six months for business and leisure.

“Today is a historic day for the UK/Guyana relations and I am delighted to inform you that as of the 9th November [2022], those with a valid Guyanese passport can visit the UK visa-free,” British High Commissioner to Guyana, Jane Miller announced at a joint press conference with President Irfaan Ali at her Bel Air Gardens residence.

Persons seeking long stays or to study and work would require the requisite visas and have to go through the current processes for those. Prospective leisure and business visitors were reminded by Deputy UK High Commissioner, Omasan Judy Kpogho that “like anywhere else, you will still need to clear the immigration.”

The UK envoy noted that the waiver for this country should be seen as a sign of confidence her country has in Guyana. “This visa lift” is a real sign of the confidence that the UK has in the growth of our relationship. Together with the direct flights that will be happening at the end of March with British Airways, we believe that this change is going to be transformative to our already strong relationship”, she said.

The visa waiver will take effect shortly before a visit here by prospective UK investors. “We hope that with this visa lift, we will welcome many Guyanese to the UK to explore further business opportunities,” the High Commissioner also said.

As he appealed to Guyanese to not abuse the system, President Ali echoed the view of confidence in this country, as he credited the High Commissioner for her input in making the decision a reality.

“Today, I am very pleased that Guyanese can travel with greater ease to the UK. However, I want to say to all Guyanese that with these waivers come an important responsibility to all of us. We have a responsibility to safeguard these decisions. they come with hard work and they take a long time and we’ll be working very closely with the UK in strengthening our systems to ensure there is proper monitoring and to ensure that there is no abuse of the system,” Ali said.

He also added that he was “…sure every Guyanese would want me to express our gratitude to the UK government.”

British Airways is to begin flying to Georgetown from March next year so visa-free access for Guyanese is seen as helping to boost traffic between the two countries.

“Today will open up immense opportunity not only for infrastructure…but also looking at Guyana as an important hub in servicing the region itself,” he posited.

“It is not only about strengthening the relationship and building out the opportunities for Guyana and UK but is good for people-to-people contact…and as we build our tourism market”, Ali stated.

UK Visas & Immigration update

Every opportunity

For the British High Commissioner, making her leaders aware of the concerns of Guyanese was something she endeavoured to do since coming here 15 months ago and it was why she used every opportunity to do this.

She said that whenever she went across the country, the concerns of access to visas for business and leisure travel were raised.

President Ali said that when he visited the UK last year and had met with then Prime Minister Boris Johnson he raised the issue. He did the same when he met with the then Prince of Wales, now King Charles, in April of this year.

The culmination of the hard work by his government and the British High Commission, Ali noted was not in vain and he said that systems are in place to monitor travel and deter abuse.

And with this country’s citizenship and investment here, according to Ali, now in demand, authorities here will also ramp up screening and monitoring of those coming to this country.

To Guyanese, Ali appealed, “When it comes to the people of Guyana, you have to determine what future you want. All of us. If you mess this up you mess up everything else that comes after this,” he stressed while also noting that “we don’t have any intention of messing this up.”

And as this country makes a case to the European Union for easier access for visas to Schengen countries, the President believes that the UK’s decision also strengthens that case.

Newly appointed EU Ambassador, René van Nes has said that he is already engaging member states to have, in the first instance, a temporary arrangement, even as they explore ways for a more permanent solution later.

Guyanese currently have to travel to a processing centre in Paramaribo, Suriname to apply for the EU-wide travel visa and the applications are then forwarded to the Netherlands embassy there.

Had it not been for Brexit, Ali said that London could have possibly led the case for Georgetown.

“We are working very hard with the EU. The first thing is to remove the hurdle of going to Suriname and having to spend one night. The cost alone for that [is expensive]. That is the first hurdle and I am confident we will get over that hurdle. The second is getting some [country] to work with us. If the UK was still in the EU, for example, then that could have been our sponsoring country to get past the EU visa issue. We have to work now on a bilateral partner, a strong bilateral partner in the EU, to push this agenda, and I can assure you that work would have started,” he said.