Bahamas News

No change, US travel requirements remain unchanged for Bahamians and TCIs; get the Do’s and Don’ts

#Nassau, Bahamas  – June 1, 2018 – Thousands of residents from The Bahamas and Turks and Caicos have the opportunity to travel to the United States on a clean police character certificate, and that still remains the case despite a social media broadcast to the contrary.

It was rumored that police records would be an unacceptable entry documents by Summer 2018 but the US Embassy in Nassau said, “that’s just a rumor, that’s not true.”  

The US Embassy agreed to a one on one interview with Magnetic Media in an effort to clarify that any rumor stating that there is a change, is bogus.  Vice-Consul for the Bahamas-based office,  Jason Harms added that even changes in the near future are not on the radar.

“Turks (and Caicos) Islanders can still travel on their police record just as Bahamians can for B1, B2 purposes – for tourism, for vacations, shopping those sorts of things. Obviously, like Bahamians, if they want to go an study in the United States, they want to go and work in the United States they have to apply for a visa to do that.  The police certificate is a substitute, if you will, for the B1/B2 tourist visa and there is no change that I am aware of on the horizon for that.”

Residents of the region continue to be wildly suspicious of the Trump Administration and its tougher stance on immigrants, and while we did not get details on whether the qualification for getting that B1/B2 visa is more strict; there was assurance that the application process is unchanged.

It was explained in the over the phone interview that the opportunity to apply for US B1 and B2 visas online still exists, though residents interested in securing those categories of travel visas are urged to rush their applications as during late Spring and early Summer, the Embassy experiences a surge in interviewees.

Applicants living in the Turks and Caicos or the Family Islands of The Bahamas need to plan their trip into Nassau smartly, as the turn-around time on a US visa following the interview is 3 to 5 business days.  

“…which can be challenging for Turks and Caicos Islanders or Bahamians who live on the Family Islands if they come to Nassau for the interview, they need to allow for enough time in their travel to stick around to get the visa.”

Additionally, applicants travelling to Nassau to complete the visa process must be prepared.  Vice-Consul Harms had some cost-saving and time-saving advice.

“If you can bring everything with you and be prepared, be prepared for the interview by bringing any sort of documentation with you that the consular officer would need to see.  That way you won’t have to go back or go home – especially if you are from TCI.  For the standard B1/B2, that may mean nothing more than a job letter or maybe a bank statement or something like that.  For students, it’s gonna be a little more intensive; they’re gonna need their I-20 with them, they are gonna need their CETAS fee receipt, to prove that they have paid their SEVIS fee and then they are also gonna need bank statement from their parents or sponsor or whoever is paying for school to show that they’ve got proof of sufficient funds to support their education.”

It was also strongly encouraged that applications on line are filled out completely and accurately.

“That has been a problem as of late.  People are not filling out the application correctly.  It asks you for example, your last five trips to the United States.  They need to list all five of their trips to the United States.”

Giving information differently during the interview at the US Embassy, than what appears in the online form could be problematic for an expectant applicant.

Police certificates and passports require at least six months validity for travel into the United States and what may be a little known fact is that, passports must have one full blank page for the US Visa document; no blank page, no US Visa can be inserted and one’s process is delayed.

“Let’s say you’ve got a year left in your passport, okay that enough validity and there is one page left.  If we put the visa in there and then you go and get a new passport next year because you’re out of pages or its expired, you’re gonna have to carry around two passports for the next nine years. Go on and get your new passport, which is good for ten years and then your visa, which is good for ten years, then you’ve got it all in one document and you don’t have to worry about it.”  

One sure stumbling block for those applying for a US Visa, is having unpaid bills in the United States.  Applicants who have left bills at US medical facilities for example, have been stunned to find they are turned down for a visa because of the lingering debt.

The cost for the processing of the B1/B2 US visa is $160 and it is non refundable.

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