“Ask the Consul General” [1st episode in new series from U.S. Embassy]

Whenever I travel to the US I am always delayed at the Port of Entry for questioning. How can I try to resolve any misunderstanding about my identity?

Travelers can now seek redress and resolve possible watch list misidentification issues at an easy to use and easy to access online location at http://www.dhs.gov/trip. DHS TRIP provides a way for legitimate travelers to address situations where individuals believe they have been incorrectly delayed, denied boarding, identified for additional screening, or have otherwise experienced difficulties when seeking entry into the United States.

I am vacationing in New York, and my passport with my visa was just lost or stolen! What do I do now?

Passport_TheftThere are a few administrative steps you must take in order to report or replace your lost or stolen visa. The very first step is to contact the local police. You should complete a police report detailing the incident, including the date, the circumstances, and the location of the visa’s loss or theft. You should also contact your nation’s Embassy or Consulate in the U.S. to receive more information on what to do next about replacing your passport. Please note that you do not need a U.S. visa to EXIT the United States. You only need it to enter. Therefore, you should be able to travel back to your home country once you’ve replaced your passport. You can attend to replacing your visa once you have returned home.

Once back in the Eastern Caribbean you need to immediately notify the U.S. Embassy that your visa was lost or stolen. Call the NIV information hotline at (246) 227-4226 (Monday-Friday 3:00 to 4:00 p.m.), send a fax to (246) 431-0179, or send an e-mail to consularbridge2@state.gov. A representative will take your information and will make sure that the loss of your visa is properly documented in our system to prevent fraudulent or unauthorized use by an imposter. After that, you can make a new application to replace your non-immigrant visa.

Please keep in mind that there is no guarantee you will receive another visa after your new interview. To replace your lost or stolen U.S. visa, you must apply from scratch for the new visa and you are subject to the same requirements in order to qualify for the new visa. Additionally, if the lost or stolen visa is later recovered after reporting it, the visa is invalid for future travel to the U.S. If you try to use it after reporting it to the Embassy or Consulate, you may be arrested or detained at the U.S. Port of Entry for being an imposter.

Do not make any travel plans until your visa is in your hands

In general, both immigrant and non-immigrant visas cannot be issued and delivered to applicants the same day of the visa interview. The Consular Section in Bridgetown uses private courier services to deliver issued visas to applicants for a moderate fee. If your visa is approved, the interviewing officer will hand you a ticket which you take immediately to the courier service counter located in the main waiting area inside the Consular Section building. After paying the delivery fee your visa will generally arrive within five to seven business days. If you are applying for an immigrant visa and documents are missing you will be told what to do to complete your file and likely be told to pay the messenger service at the same time. If a problem comes up with your case after your interview you will be contacted regarding what next steps need to be taken. Please do NOT book a flight or otherwise make travel plans until you have your passport with the issued visa in your hands.

Review the validity period of your visa upon receipt

U.S. non-immigrant visas can be valid for travel to the United States for any period up to ten years. For various reasons, some people are issued shorter term visas. Please check the validity of your non-immigrant visa before traveling. You are allowed to travel to the U.S. up until the last day of the visa’s validity. The U.S. port of entry will then determine how much time you are allowed to stay in the United States. However, if the visa has expired you will need to come to the Embassy and re-apply for a new visa.

Immigrant visa applicants should review their visas immediately upon receipt to verify the expiration date. Applicants must travel to the U.S. before the expiration date of the visa. Many immigrant visas are valid for six months. There are others, however, that are valid for a shorter period. The most common reason for an officer to limit the validity is when one or more of the supporting documents contained in the sealed envelope (to be opened only by the U.S. immigration officials at the Port of Entry in the United States) is itself time-sensitive.

I am a U.S. Citizen and I have heard about a new passport card. What is a passport card and how do I get one?

Passport_CardThe new U.S. passport card is now in full production and may be applied for at the American Citizen Services Unit of the U.S. Embassy’s Consular Section. The wallet-size passport card is less expensive than the passport book and can be used to re-enter the United States by land from Canada and Mexico, or by sea from the Caribbean and Bermuda. However, it is important to note that the U.S. passport card cannot be used for international air travel.

On June 1, 2009, the U.S. government implemented the full requirements of the land and sea phase of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI). U.S. citizens re-entering the United States at land or sea Ports of Entry are required to have a U.S. passport, U.S. passport card, or other travel document approved by the Department of Homeland Security. Although passengers on closed-loop cruises originating in the United States are exempt, ferry passengers, including those using the ferry service between the Eastern Caribbean and U.S. Virgin Islands, must have a WHTI compliant document such as a U.S. passport card or U.S. passport book.

The passport card has the same period of validity as the U.S. passport book: 10 years for an adult and 5 years for minors under age 16. The card costs $45 for a first-time adult applicant and $35 for minor applicants under age 16. To learn more about applying for a U.S. passport card, please visit http://travel.state.gov/passport/ppt_card/ppt_card_3926.html.
Any further questions about this, or other Consular and travel topics can be found at our website at http://barbados.usembassy.gov.

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