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Islanders refused visas to visit India

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ISLANDERS with Jersey passports are having visa requests to visit India rejected, and Customs officials are working with the embassy in London to try to resolve the issue.

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Gill Wright, from travel agents Jules Boutin, said there was a market in Jersey for high-end, luxury travel to the central Asian country and the issues were causing a headache for some travellers.

‘It’s a destination on lots of people’s bucket lists,’ she added. ‘I was booking trips in February with no issues but something has happened since then.’

In July, boys from the Jersey Table Tennis Association were denied visas to play in the country.

External Relations Minister Ian Gorst got involved and the Indian High Commission did eventually grant emergency visas, although the team decided not to travel to country.

But other Islanders have not been so lucky. One woman told the JEP that applications she and her sister made for visas were rejected twice, even after they paid for an independent company to fill out the forms for them.

She added: ‘After multiple phone calls and messages to the embassy and e-visa we had no joy and no reason for the rejection.’

A spokeswoman for Customs and Immigration said they were working on the issue. It is understood that Jersey passports are accepted at the embassy in person, but not online.

‘Jersey-variant British passports are issued to British nationals and should be recognised as such. The Jersey Customs and Immigration Service is aware of this current issue and is in the process of resolving it,’ she said.

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In 2017, New Zealand agreed to accept people from Jersey into the country on a working-holiday visa – subject to a case-by-case assessment – after the JEP lobbied for Islanders’ rights.

Jersey, Guernsey and Isle of Man residents suddenly stopped being accepted onto the country’s UK Working Holiday Visa Scheme, which allows visitors to live and work in the country for up to 23 months.

Scores of residents in the islands are understood to have been affected and, as a result, lost hundreds of pounds, as it costs £120 to apply for a visa even if the application is rejected.

Jack Maguire

By Jack Maguire
author

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