SKILLED workers returning to the Island are facing difficulties at airports in other parts of the world because of the government’s reluctance to introduce and use more recognisable visas, according to a Scrutiny panel.
Currently, skilled workers on visas receive a Jersey immigration stamp in their passport, referred to as a ‘wet ink’ stamp. But many airlines do not recognise this form of authentication.
The Children, Education and Home Affairs Scrutiny Panel has suggested that Jersey produces ‘visa vignettes’ – physical visas that are added to a traveller’s passport or travel document – which would be more recognisable to airlines and are already in use in the UK.
Home Affairs Minister Helen Miles said, during a Scrutiny hearing this week, that producing vignettes would be ‘prohibitively expensive’ and that the difficulties experienced at airports had only affected a ‘very small number’ of people.
She added that she would instead focus on communicating with airlines about the use of the Jersey immigration stamp and consult with the UK Common Travel Area policy team.
Deputy Catherine Curtis, chair of the Children, Education and Home Affairs Scrutiny Panel, said: ‘Whilst we understand that the issue with Jersey’s “wet ink” immigration stamps not being recognised is only impacting a small minority of people, the panel feels that it is of high importance that those skilled individuals returning to Jersey are not left stranded due to airlines not recognising their official stamps as valid.
‘We feel that the work being done to share information with relevant airports about these stamps may not be enough to ensure that all passengers in this situation will be permitted to travel, and we will be following up this issue to examine exactly what the associated costs would be with implementing [visa] vignettes.’