This month John Casey, a US retiree living in Jamaica, writes Part 2 of the steps to becoming a permanent resident of Jamaica
Jamaica Magazine

Part 2 of Becoming a Permanent Resident of Jamaica by American Retiree in Jamaica

In part 1, I gave you the requirements for becoming a permanent resident. My wife and I had completed 5 out of the 9 requirements during the initial meeting. All that remained to do was get passport photos, a doctor’s certificate, two references, and a police report from Massachusetts. At the end of the article we had the photos and the letters of reference. What turned out to be the hardest thing for us to get would be to get our Massachusetts police records. Without wasting any time, we searched the Massachusetts government website and quickly found the site for police records. It stated all requests must be made by mail, with a copy of the completed form from the website, along with a self addressed stamped envelope. Here was the first problem. Jamaica doesn’t sell US postage stamps and the US postal service won’t accept Jamaican stamps. The solution was to mail everything to a friend in Massachusetts where they could put on the required postage and mail it. After waiting what I thought was a long time, I called the government agency and was told they were running behind but it shouldn’t be much longer. Shortly thereafter, I went to the Mobay post office, like I always do, and to my surprise there was the envelope my friend mailed, addressed to that agency. Why did it come back to me instead of its intended destination? I checked the computer to see if I copied the address correctly. It was perfect! However since I mailed it originally, a fee of $25 US each was applied. It had been free previously. This time I mailed it from Jamaica. Again, when I thought a long time had gone by, I called the government agency once more. Since my last phone call, they had gone to a completely automated voicemail system. There was no way to talk to a live person. Shortly after the attempted phone call, I went to the post office as usual. There waiting for me was my original envelope properly addressed but returned to me again! Talk about frustration! What could I possibly do now? As it turned out, we were just weeks away from our annual visit back to the Boston area. Remembering they only took requests by mail I knew I had to try in person. Sure enough, as soon as I started explaining to the receptionist in that big government office building, she stopped me and told me what I already knew. It had to be done through the mail! After a few minutes of begging and pleading, she finally made a call upstairs. I could tell by the conversation, the person on the other end of the phone was saying the same thing the receptionist told me. Thankfully, they accepted my request in person. This time when I went to the Mobay post office, the police reports were there! Within a few weeks of returning to Jamaica, we went to immigrations in Kingston for our second visit. Armed with our two passport size photos, the police reports, and the two references, we were ready for our meeting with immigrations. Somehow, the medical certificate escaped our notice. The immigrations officer was pleased with all our documents and particulars, save the medical certificate. She gave us her name and the address to mail them instead of waiting another year. The first thing we did when we got back to Mobay was to make a doctor’s appointment to get those final documents. With a sigh of relief, we mailed the documents and patiently waited for our third annual visit to Kingston. But wait! This IS Jamaica! Shortly before our appointed time with immigrations, I decided to call to see if everything was in place. Good thing I did. The medical certificates were nowhere to be found. A quick call to the doctor and new certificates were waiting for us. Our third visit turned out to be a little disappointing. Because the medical reports were missing, we have to wait another year to become permanent residents. They also discovered that our passports didn’t have any blank pages for immigrations to stamp our years extension and visa. To digress for a moment, after the first year of taking a taxi, I decided to be adventurous and drive my car. How difficult can it be? Jamaica is only about the size of the State of Connecticut. The easy part was getting to Kingston, I only made one wrong turn. Even with a good map, it was hard to go in the direction I wanted to go because of all the one way streets. After the first time, driving is now just a piece of cake! Now for the lack of blank pages in the passport. My option was to go to the US Embassy and return, or come back again another day. We weren’t about to make an 8 hour round trip from Mobay to Kingston and back another day, so we opted to go to the Embassy. When we asked an immigrations officer how much the blank pages would cost, she and others all said $80 US per passport. It didn’t make sense as the original passport didn’t cost that much. Money was a problem! We only brought enough for our multi entry visas and lunch. Hopefully the Embassy would take credit cards. To our pleasant surprise the new pages were far less than $80, they were free! We returned to immigrations and within a few minutes, we were on our way home, almost. As soon as I put the key in the ignition, the tip broke off and became lodged in the ignition. Now I have to tell you, we don’t know anyone in Kingston. Jamaica doesn’t have AAA. What could I possibly do? I don’t know which is worse, asking someone from Maine for directions or asking a Jamaican? The security officer in the parking lot said I could find a locksmith in the next plaza. Off I went, walking with the hot blazing sun beating down on my nearly hairless head. No surprise to me but there wasn’t any locksmith in the next plaza! Several plazas away, I swear it was ten miles, I found the locksmith. This guy was great! In less than two minutes, we were on our way back to my car. In seconds, the broken piece was removed. The locksmith drove back to his shop to cut a new key and returned in 10 – 15 minutes. Total cost of the road service and new key? $40 US! Some things are less expensive in Jamaica and faster! Now all that needs to take place is for immigrations to get a police report from the Mobay police department. I sure hope they have better luck getting theirs than I did getting mine!

About the author

John Casey