Listen to a 60 minute telephone interview on tips for those considering a move to Jamaica.
New Kingston, is currnetly the main business center in Jamaica. It is where most of the International Banks and Insurance companies home offices are located.Years gone by many were located in Downtown Kingston, but at some point they all moved to what is referred to as uptown.
This is a video done by an expat Ria Bacon back in 2006. She has since moved on and is no longer in Kingston..
It is now May of 2013 and unfortunately Downtown Kingston, still looks pretty much the same way. Digicel a large International company, recently moved it’s headquarters to the area in hopes of revitalizing it all…I think many are hopeful that change over the next few years will arrive…
My pal John Casey is an Retired American living in Montego-bay Jamaica. John writes monthly for an on-line forum called Jamaicans.com, and often covers topics that I beleive are useful for people considering a move to Jamaica.
I get weekly emails from people who arrive in Jamaica for a Holiday, and for whatever reason go back to home countries with the intent that they will move to Jamaica and live in paradise forever. While nothing is wrong with such an idea, please then do your research wisely. Read, read and ask tons of questions, Jamaica while great for holiday is not as easy a place to live for many outsiders. Jamaica can be a very oral society and things may not be as organized as where you may be moving from, so keep this in mind.
My Jamaican Immigrations Experience – An American Retiree in Jamaica
By John Casey> Jamaicans.com
Published Aug 1, 2011
Immigration to Jamaica-2
Jamaican Immigrations is a very complex and bureaucratic ministry, like most government agencies anywhere in the world. It has been very frustrating for me my whole time in Jamaica. The process from the beginning was very slow and unpredictable. Nine years ago the process wasn’t as easy as it appears today. I say that because back then nothing seemed to be organized as both the system and the staff didn’t seem to be on the same page.
In my case, when I went to Kingston to apply for permanent residency, which is still today the only office that handles this procedure, there weren’t any forms to fill out either in person or on the internet. The interviewer first asked us why we wanted to move to Jamaica. She then instructed us to put it in writing before we could proceed any further. We did this with the paper and pen she supplied. Next we were handed a list of documents we needed to supply before permanent residency could be granted.
Some of the documents needed were easy to obtain while others took an extended period of time such as the police certificate from the state from which we were migrating. In Massachusetts, this can only be done through the mail or on the internet. It took months for us to get our reports due to a number of reasons. When we began our quest for this document it was free but by the time we obtained it there was a cost involved. So you can see, even in Massachusetts the bureaucracy is prevalent. The other time consuming documents to secure were everything to do with our finances. They not only wanted year-end statements of earnings but, in the case of my pensions, they wanted proof from the providers that these were life long benefits and not just for a certain term.
The other required documents were much easier to obtain such as valid passport, original birth certificate, marriage certificate, medical certificate of good general health, two passport size photos, and letters from two reputable Jamaican citizens. The latter could be difficult if one doesn’t know many people in Jamaica.
Today there is a form to be filled out and can be obtained from their website, which I will give you later. I noticed on the form that many of the documents I needed weren’t listed but it’s safe to assume they will be needed before the process is completed. There was one document on the form not mentioned on my list and that is a return ticket/itinerary. Other than the form itself, there is no indication on the site that I could find as to what the process entails or how long it takes. I was told it took three years but it actually took five years because of the much dreaded bureaucracy.
In the beginning I assumed once the process got started it would be smooth sailing until completion. After the normal three years had passed I started to contact immigrations periodically so they would know who I was plus I would be able to handle any problem that arose then rather than waiting to confront it at the annual visit to Kingston.
Some other things not noted on the website is the annual visit and multi-entry visas. Each year, while you are still in the process of obtaining permanent residency, you are required to return to immigrations in Kingston on or before your anniversary date on the extension they give you in your passport. You need to obtain the visa if you plan to travel off the island any time during the year. It is much easier to get the visa while you are there for your annual visit than to try to get one should you decide later to travel off the island. A change that has been made recently is that visas may now be obtained at the Montego Bay office. However, that office only acts as a free messenger as they send your passports to Kingston for the visas are only granted in Kingston.
Time seems to be moving faster than immigrations can cope with. Nine years ago a visa can be issued the same day as the annual visit but that changed several years later when we had to make the long eight hour round trip a week later to pick up the visa. Today the process is even longer. The Montego Bay office takes twice as long supposedly. But on June 22nd of this year, we went to the Montego Bay office as it was getting close for the time to renew our visas. We were given a receipt there for our passports which stated they would be returned on July 4th. On July 5th, we received a call from immigrations in Kingston that the visas were approved but they needed a copy of the document that proved we were in fact permanent residents, a procedure that the Montego Bay office knew nothing about. The Kingston copy is somewhere in immigrations’ archives which can’t be accessed for the visa renewal. The next day we took our letter to the Montego Bay office where the clerk made a copy and indicated it would be sent to Kingston. We have made several inquiries since then but as of this date, July 20th, the passports have not been returned.
Knowing Murphy’s Law all too well, we applied for the visa renewals two months in advance of their expiration and our annual trip to the states figuring that would be ample time even if there were some kind of snafu. So, instead of 7-10 working day, it has been 20 working days and counting. The good thing about the new renewal is instead of the visa expiring every two years it now lasts for the life of our passports and at the same cost as a one year renewal was nine years ago.
Ministry of National Security and Justice
Immigration, Citizenship and Passport Division
So there you have it folks, onward John and Ann his wife goes.
For those considering a move to the Island of Jamaica, be mindful of ongoing homophobic attitudes.
Read the following post from: Caribbean 360.com forum.
HAVANA, Cuba, Tuesday May 17, 2011 (By Dalia Acosta) – While homosexuality is punishable by law in nine Caribbean island nations, gay activism is increasingly taking root in countries like Cuba.
“The situation in the Caribbean today is one of contrasts,” Gloria Careaga, co-secretary general of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA), founded in 1978 and with close to 700 member groups in over 110 countries, told IPS.
Differences are greatest between the Spanish-speaking and English-speaking areas of the Caribbean, Careaga, a Mexican psychologist who is also in charge of the Latin American and Caribbean region (ILGA-LAC), said by email on the occasion of International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, Tuesday May 17.
Careaga said “clear” signs of progress were the work of Cuban institutions in favour of the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people and of strengthening their groups, the growing presence of studies on sexual diversity in Puerto Rican universities, and the emergence of lesbian organisations in the Dominican Republic.
However, “the English-speaking Caribbean seems to be unable to shake off the influence of Victorian morality, and not only maintains laws that criminalise gays and lesbians, but also argues the case for homophobia, for instance in Jamaica,” she said.
A national survey carried out in Jamaica by the University of the West Indies in 2010 found that 89 percent of respondents were homophobic. The study polled 1,007 adults from 231 communities in the island nation.
Jamaican courts often sentence men who have sex with men (MSM) to prison terms with hard labour.
Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and Trinidad and Tobago ban relations between same-sex couples, especially men. Penalties for this crime vary between 10 and 50 years, depending on the laws of each country.
Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Jamaica and Saint Lucia only punish male homosexuality while allowing, or simply making no pronouncement on, lesbianism. Since 1976, Trinidad and Tobago has even forbidden homosexual persons from entering its territory.
Institutionalised homophobia is also a health problem. The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) indicates that penalisation of homosexuality in the Caribbean is one of the main obstacles to controlling the epidemic that affects some 240,000 people in the Greater and Lesser Antilles.
Against that backdrop, the few groups and individuals fighting for social acceptance of sexual diversity come up against a high degree of homophobia and the risk of hate crimes. They can even be accused of illegality, even though the constitution defends the universal right to free association.
Wilfred Labiosa, a Puerto Rican activist who lives in the United States and is visiting Cuba to take part in the Fourth Cuban Day Against Homophobia, told IPS that the region’s major challenge is to consolidate unity among people struggling for respect for freely chosen sexual orientation and gender identity.
In socialist Cuba, which lived through several decades of institutionalised homophobia, outstanding efforts have been made by institutions and civil society sectors to raise public awareness in favour of the rights of all persons, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
“We want a new society,” said Mariela Castro, daughter of Cuban President Raúl Castro and head of the state National Centre for Sex Education (CENESEX), during a May 10 conference on “Why a Cuban campaign against homophobia?” Fighting this problem is part of the struggle against all kinds of discrimination, she emphasised.
The experiences of Cuba and Puerto Rico, which hold around four Gay Pride parades, including educational activities, every year, should be disseminated throughout the Caribbean LGBTI community, Labiosa, a leader of Unid@s, the National Latino/a LGBT Human Rights Organisation in the United States, suggested.
But factors like the criminalisation of homosexuality in nine English-speaking Caribbean island nations, and Belize and Guyana, and the lack of historical links between the region’s peoples mean that sexual rights activists remain dispersed in the region, he said.
Labiosa, a psychologist, said that so far, exchanges between civil society organisations in the island nations of the Caribbean and other countries have been “informal and personal.” In his view, this form of contact is more effective than institutional links in terms of building concrete action in favour of the LGBT community.
The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) bloc hosts the Regional Meeting of LGBT activists from member countries, a space where proposals for sexual rights and HIV prevention can be made.
The United Gays and Lesbians Against AIDS Barbados (UGLAAB), the Jamaican Forum of Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG) and the Coalition Advocating for Inclusion of Sexual Orientation (CAISO) of Trinidad and Tobago all converge there with other activist groups.
In 2010, ILGA-LAC was able to bring together eight activists from eight different countries where homosexuality is still a crime, at its biennial conference held in the southern Brazilian city of Curitiba.
“We have established increasingly close ties with LGBT organisations in the Caribbean,” said Careaga, praising the work of activists who, “with our support and recognition, maintain an active and courageous presence, organising themselves and carrying out public demonstrations, in spite of the risks.”
The achievements of the activist community, according to Careaga, include blocking performances by musical groups who foment homophobia through their song lyrics.
“In spite of the blinkered attitudes, we are closely monitoring the actions of governments and we seek dialogue with their representatives at intergovernment forums. We hope one day these efforts will lead to the repeal of those laws that penalise LGBT persons,” she said. (IPS)