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Jamaica - Visas
The citizens of some countries are allowed to stay in Jamaica for as long as either 30 or 90 days without obtaining a visa. All other nationalities must apply for a tourist visa.
If you want to know which nationalities must obtain a visa for travel to Jamaica, you can check the national requirements on the official website for the Passport Immigration and Citizenship Agency, commonly referred to as PICA.
Regardless of your nationality and visa requirement or waiver, you will have to be in possession of a valid passport throughout the entirety of your stay. This must include a clear photograph of you and must not be due to expire for at least three months after your visit is expected to end. When you arrive, immigration officials will stamp your passport, showing the final date you are permitted to remain in the country.
Officials may also ask to see your return ticket to confirm that your stay is short term.
You may not work in Jamaica at any point during your 90 day stay.
How Do I Get A Jamaican Visa?
The official PICA website sets out information on the various types of immigration and citizenship for which you can apply. Office opening hours are also displayed, along with examples of some of the forms.
Unfortunately at the time of writing, the site contains several links which don’t work as well as insufficient information about some routes for visa application.
Travel visas for nationalities who may not enter Jamaica visa-free can be obtained on arrival at the airport. You must bring the following evidence with you for your visa application:
● A photo which meets standard passport photograph requirements
● A passport with at least six months’ validity from the date of entering the country
● A completed application form
● The visa processing fee
● A return ticket
● Evidence of adequate financial means to support your stay.
How Much Is A Jamaican Visa?
You can find the official processing fee for every type of visa issued by the Jamaican government on the PICA website.
Bribery is a common feature of Jamaican life, but this should be one area where the stated price is exactly what you are asked to pay.
Can You Extend Your Stay In Jamaica?
If you want to have a longer tourist trip in Jamaica, you can apply to PICA for an extension of stay. This will only take three days to process. The maximum amount of time you can be in the country between your visa (or visa-free period) and the extension of stay is six months. After that, you must leave.
All International Workers Must Obtain A Work Visa
The website for the government’s Jamaica Information Service (JIS) sets out the process for work permits better than the PICA site.
Whether you intend to work for an employer or for yourself, you must obtain a work permit before you can legally work in Jamaica.
Jobs are scarce in Jamaica and wages are low, as we discuss in the ‘Employment’ section of this country guide. The government is therefore keen to see posts filled by local workers rather than migrants.
Employers must explain clearly why the expat is being offered a job, how long it will last, and why local candidates were not offered the work. Self-employed individuals will be required to submit a resume of their skills, qualifications and experience, along with the nature and duration of the work to be done. The Ministry of Labour and Social Security will consider each application for four to six weeks before officially reporting their decision.
If you successfully obtain a work visa, don’t forget to pay your taxes correctly. You can find out more about this in the ‘Taxes’ section of this country guide. Once you have a Tax Reference Number, you can apply to join the National Health Fund, although for a number of reasons, as outlined in the ‘Health’ section of this country guide, most expats choose to take out private health insurance too.
If you are accompanying your husband or wife to Jamaica, and they are an expat who will be working in the country, you must obtain a dependency visa. You cannot just arrive to join them. Your children will also be processed so that they can obtain the legal right to stay.
Please be aware that attitudes to same sex relationships are conservative in Jamaica. Same sex marriages are not legal, the police can prosecute men for sexual activity together, and homophobic physical and verbal attacks are sadly commonplace. Local activists are working to change social attitudes, but this is a slow process.
Marriage Exemption Visa
If you are married to a Jamaican person and wish to join them in the country, you cannot just arrive and stay. Instead, you will need to apply for a marriage exemption visa from the Ministry of Labour and Social Security.
If you intend to study in Jamaica, you must obtain a student visa. Firstly, you will need to enrol with the educational institution, which must be registered with the Department of Education.
Within two weeks of your arrival, you will then need to apply for a student visa. You will have to attend a PICA office and pay the appropriate fee. In addition to the usual identification documents, you will need a letter confirming your enrolment at the educational institution.
Jamaica recognises dual citizenship and for some people, obtaining Jamaican citizenship is the right decision.
The PICA website sets out the various ways you can be granted citizenship, including by descent. If you are a migrant with no family ties to the country, you can apply for naturalisation as long as you are over 18 years old and have lived in the country for more than five years including the past 12 months.
If you hold a full and valid driving license in your home country, you are usually permitted to use it to drive legally in Jamaica for up to six months. After that time, do not drive without obtaining a Jamaican driving license.
Cars in Jamaica are driven on the left-hand side, the same as in the UK. However, the driving experience is completely different. Vehicle safety standards are below what you will be used to in the Western world, while road layouts and signage are poorly designed and maintained, if they are present at all. Driving styles can be chaotic, while speeding and drink-driving are common. You will hear a lot of car beeping.
You also risk getting lost or diverted into an area known for high levels of crime and gang violence. Sometimes criminals target certain junctions which allow them to steal from waiting cars.
Find out more about this topic in the ExpatFocus articles ‘Top Ten Insider Tips About Jamaica’ and ‘Staying Safe In Jamaica As An Expat’.
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