Honorable Donna M. Christensen USVI Delegate to Congress and Democratic nominee for Governor of the USVI along with her running mate for Lt. Governor Basil C. Ottley Jr during their sit down with the BVI media on October 20 explained that many in the USVI were not aware of the restrictions imposed on BVI artistes until the US Immigration began enforcing the policy.
Hon. Christensen and Mr. Ottley were in the Territory to discuss their campaign and other issues of relevance that affect the Greater Virgin Islands, and during that forum the matter involving the restrictions on BVI artistes was raised.
In response to the question, Hon. Christensen disclosed that she was informed about the situation, and even experienced the discomfort during an attempt to get a BVI band over to the USVI to perform. She stated: “I am aware of it from several points of view, one is – we wanted Lashing Dogs to come over and play for us, and we ran into that problem. The cricketers that were coming to the Virgin Islands ran into other similar problems.”
Hon. Christiansen noted that the situation is just as confusing to USVI persons because it is unfamiliar. “It used to be that there was an easier process. US Immigration Service didn’t even advise us of the change until we started running into the barrier.”
However, she announced that steps are being taken to rectify the situation. “We have already started to discuss it with our Immigration Services, but it is going to take a lot of negotiations with them…I think working on the administrative changes to create a visa waiver program beginning with the BVI may be the best way to approach this for us,” she stated.
Mrs. Christensen further explained that the current visa waiver system that exists between the two Territories would not fix the issue, because the matter involves employment.
In his comments Mr. Ottley explained that such issues exist because in the past a comprehensive effort had not been made to correspond to the US Federal Government the closeness and ties between the two Virgin Islands. He said though the relationship may be known, there needs to be the telling of the detailed story of the close economical, family, and social ties of the two. He also stated the story will need to be lined with data to drive the point home.