Vaz gets back US visitor's visa with rare waiver
Kimone Francis/Senior Staff Reporter
The United States Embassy in Kingston has reinstated the visitor's visa for Energy, Science and Technology Minister Daryl Vaz two years after it was revoked for reasons unknown.
Vaz was today issued with a one-year multiple-entry B1/B2 visa with a rare waiver.
"I'm highly appreciative of the courtesy extended by the US Embassy in Kingston," Vaz said while confirming that he was in receipt of the document.
The visa contained an annotation that reads: "212(SMALL D) (3) (A) WAIVER of 212 (A) (2C) (1)."
Under US immigration law, 212 (A) (2C) (1) speaks to controlled substance traffickers.
It refers to a visitor who the consular officer or the US attorney general knows or has reason to believe is or has been an illicit trafficker in any controlled substance or in any listed chemical or is or has been a knowing aider, abettor, assister, conspirator, or colluder with others in the illicit trafficking in any such controlled or listed substance or chemical, or endeavoured to do so.
Vaz has declined to comment on the annotation.
However, he had previously denied any wrongdoing.
Meanwhile, US Immigration Attorney Wayne Golding Snr told The Gleaner that in granting the waiver, the US Embassy would have looked at Vaz's background and anything that could have made him inadmissible to the US.
He said that a person can be deemed inadmissible to the US because of a number of things including health or drug-related issues.
Golding said the section under which a waiver was granted applies when there may be the belief that there was some drug offence.
He noted that the US attorney general can grant a waiver to anyone who falls or is suspected to fall in that category.
“It is unclear what they are saying he is believed to have done but that's the clause under which they granted the waiver. They are saying you are inadmissible under that category but we're granting you a waiver,” said Golding adding that it is not common for the consular officer to grant this kind of waiver.
Golding said people in the US often fail to get such a waiver.
"In the US, all a consular officer has to do is to have reason to believe based on the information he or she has. Sometimes it can also be an accusation and they take note of it. It doesn't mean that the person is guilty of doing it,” he added.
The lawyer said, whenever a waiver such as this is granted the positives outweigh the negatives.
He also pointed out that the individual granted the waiver could have been flagged by consular officers because of a relative.
“They may have information on a family member who has committed an offence and they broad-brush everyone or they have reason to believe that you may have benefited from the crime in some way,” he explained.
Vaz's US visa was revoked in 2019, with the politician indicating then that he would resign from the Cabinet if the travel document was not restored on appeal.
At the time, he was Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation in the Office of the Prime Minister.
Vaz is expected to head a delegation to the US next month for information and communications technology and cyber security consultations.
The meeting will take place in Tempe, Arizona and Washington, DC.
Information Minister Fayval Williams will also be in attendance along with Aubyn Hill, the Minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation in the Office of the Prime Minister.
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