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Travel visa requirements are generally recognised as the result of a trade-off between preventing irregular migration, ensuring security and allowing potential economic benefits to countries. The role of history has been overlooked. This article focuses on the Caribbean, a region heavily influenced by colonialism, which experienced important changes in political status and migration policies over the twentieth century. Using bilateral travel visa requirement data, we examine the importance of two travel visa determinants: post-colonial ties and the migration regimes established by the former colonial state after independence. We show that post-colonial ties explain patterns of travel visa requirements for France, the Netherlands and the US, but less for Britain and British-sphere Caribbean countries, revealing the less uniform and changing role of post-colonial ties. Travel visa requirements largely reinforce migration regimes types, so that Caribbean citizens from countries with a closed migration regime also experienced reduced travel opportunities. This reveals a perception that when the former colonial state limits migration opportunities, it might lead to travel, and potential overstaying, in other destinations. These findings provide new evidence of the relevance of colonial history and migration policies with the former colonial state in shaping travel opportunities of citizens of former colonies.

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Journal article

Publication Date



1 - 23


Travel visa determinants, visa policies, post-colonial ties, migration regimes, Caribbean