The Cabinet of the Governor in St. Maarten will be able to issue Schengen visa for foreign residents of St. Eustatius and Saba for a number of countries in Europe in the near future. The Dutch “public entities” will not have their own visa windows.
That is the word from Dutch caretaker Minister of Immigration, Integration and Asylum Gerd Leers, who informed the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament on August 30 about the possible role of the regional service centre of the National Government Service Caribbean Netherlands RCN in the issuing of visa.
In the letter, which was released only on Monday, Leers explained the reasons it wasn’t feasible to establish windows for the issuance of visa on Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba. Together with Minister of Foreign Affairs Uri Rosenthal, Leers made an inventory of the possibilities for foreigners to apply for visa on their island of residency. The number of persons on the three islands applying for a visum for the European Schengen countries is very limited: on average 33 persons. The structural cost to maintain a secured ICT connection with the three islands to issue visa would be about 147,000 euros per year alone. The amount doesn’t include incidental investments and other structural cost. The cost per Schengen visum would be some 4,455 euros, while the applicant pays 65 euros in levies. Too costly and not worth the investment, according to Leers.
Establishing one central window for visas in Bonaire where residents of St. Eustatius and Saba would have to apply for visas in person also doesn’t work because it would be too cumbersome and too costly for these residents to travel all the way to Bonaire. St. Maarten is nearer and therefore it is more logical to have residents of St. Eustatius and Saba apply for their visa on the larger sister island. Before October 10, 2010, St. Eustatius and Saba had to travel to Curaçao to apply for visa at the Cabinet of the Governor of the Netherlands Antilles. Bonaire residents now can apply for a Schengen visum at the Cabinets of the Governors of Curaçao and Aruba.
The Cabinets of the Governors of Aruba and Curaçao currently can issue Schengen visa for Belgium, Hungary, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Austria, Switzerland and, per September 17, 2012, Spain. A number of countries are expected to be added to this list shortly. The Cabinet of the Governor of St. Maarten will be able to issue Schengen visa for Belgium, Hungary, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Austria, Switzerland and Spain.