Jamaicans spend billions on US visas

More than $5 billion in fees for non-immigrant US visas was paid by Jamaicans to the US government in 2015, according to a calculation from the nation’s US Embassy. The figures come as the new US President, Donald Trump has sworn that he will review immigration laws to clamp down on undocumented immigrants, some of whom are entering the US with the use of non-immigrant US visas, which then they overstay.

Joshua Polacheck, the US Embassy’s Counselor for Public Affairs, told the Jamaica Observer last year that the Embassy was being overwhelmed by the number of applications made for non-immigrant US visas. It revealed the strain on the system of having to deal with unprecedented numbers, which sometimes topped 1000 per day.

An application for a non-immigrant US visa costs $160. This means that almost $102.4 million would be made daily if 1000 US visas were processed every day, with a total of $102.4 million in a week at the same rate. The demand for US visas has grown from 85,000 applications in the 2013 fiscal year to as many as 185,000 as of halfway through last year, according to Polacheck. The annual amount spent trying to gain US visas will also have increased significantly.

The total cost is likely to be somewhere in the region of $5.3 billion, which does not include student visas, temporary workers, or crew member’s fees.