Denial of visas to Bahamians raised with top US immigration officials

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Pictured from left to right at a meeting held at US Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs Headquarters in Washington, DC, on Wednesday, May 21, are: Todd Hadley, Visa Analyst; Clay Adler, Chief, Western Hemisphere Affairs Division, American Citizens Services and Crisis Management, Bureau of Consular Affairs; Edward Ramotowski, Deputy Assistant Secretary, US Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs; Paulette Zonicle, Bahamas Consul General to Washington, DC; Philip Miller, Permanent Secretary, Bahamas Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and Dr Eugene Newry, Bahamas Ambassador to the United States

WASHINGTON, USA — B1 and B2 visa denials was one of the concerns raised by ministry of foreign affairs and diplomatic representatives of The Bahamas with top officials of the US State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs during a meeting held recently at the Bureau’s headquarters.

Bahamian representatives present at the meeting raised a number of concerns, including tourist and business visa denials, the category of Bahamian nationals being affected by the denials and the application of US immigration laws in respect of eligibility criteria.

With respect to the latter concern, the Bahamian delegation conveyed that Bahamian nationals were being denied US visas under the US Immigration and Nationality Act sections 212(a) subsection 4 and 214(b), which speaks to visa refusals in circumstances where a determination has been made that an applicant has failed to demonstrate sufficient ties that will compel him or her to depart the United States following a temporary stay.

The apparent, frequent use of secondary screening and general complaints regarding the treatment of Bahamian applicants when seeking US visa services at the US Embassy in Nassau and while traveling through the Bahamian ports, was also relayed.

Further, the Bahamian side sought clarification on matters of how crimes of moral turpitude affect US visa eligibility, and how such matters are addressed.

While the meeting served as an opportunity to share the concerns of The Bahamas government with regard to these consular issues, its primary purpose was to improve the travel experience for the Bahamian traveler, to seek favourable consideration in accessing the US visa waiver program, to enhance consular coordination, and to undertake efforts to inform the Bahamian public and travelers of the visa process and the types of visas required for particular travel purposes.

To this end, US officials expressed the intent to continue efforts to inform, sensitize and educate the Bahamian community on US visa processes and requirements. Such information helps Bahamian nationals avoid common violations such as the use of a B1 or B2 visa to reside in the United States with relatives, overstaying one’s time following the completion of college or university, extending one’s time in the United States for medical purposes without seeking the necessary extension for stay.

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