USA Immigration: Visa Processing in Barbados
The U.S. Department of State’s immigration responsibilities primarily focus on the adjudication of visa applications for foreign nationals seeking entry into the United States. Nonimmigrant visas are for people who wish to go to the United States on a temporary basis for tourism, business, temporary work, study, or medical treatment. Under President Trump’s administration, vetting of applicants is up and admissions are down for student visas(F-1 Visa), tourist visas (B-1/B-2 Visa), and petitions for foreign workers (H1-B Visa).
A policy brief by the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP) dated March 2019 found that ineligibility findings used by the Department of State to refuse visa applicants increased 5% for nonimmigrants (individuals seeking temporary visas) between FY 2017 and FY 2018, and the number of temporary visas issued declined 7% during the same period.
This article examines nonimmigrant visa processing at the U.S. Embassy in Bridgetown, Barbados.
U.S. Embassy in Bridgetown, Barbados
The U.S. Embassy in Bridgetown, Barbados, has jurisdiction over nationals from the consular district comprising Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Martin (French), and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
The embassy building is located at Wildey Business Park, St. Michael BB 14006, Barbados, W.I. The consular section processes the following visa types: B, C, D, E, F/M, H, I, J, L, O, P, Q, R, T, U, and TD/TN. In contrast to the U.S. Embassy in Nassau, the U.S. Embassy in Bridgetown does process E-1/E-2 treaty investor visas. The nonimmigrant visa application in Bridgetown is similar to the process in Nassau: complete DS160 application online; register profile; pay visa fee at a branch of Scotiabank in Barbados; schedule appointment; and attend the interview. The current approximate wait time for a nonimmigrant visa interview in Bridgetown is between four and nineteen calendar days. Appointments may be expedited solely in the following circumstances: immediate relative’s death; grave illness or life-threatening accident taking place in the United States; urgent medical treatment for the applicant or his/her minor child; or an applicant for a student or exchange visitor (F/M/J) visa whose I-20 or DS-2019 has a start date that is earlier than the first available visa appointment.
The U.S. Embassy in Bridgetown has the following Renewal Interview Waiver (RIW) procedures in effect, whereby an in person interview may be waived in B-1/B-2, C, F-1, M-1, and J-1 renewal applications if the applicant meets all of the following criteria:
- He/she is a citizen and passport holder of Barbados, Grenada, St. Lucia, or St. Kitts and Nevis;
• The previous visa was issued at the U.S. Embassy in Bridgetown;
• He/she is renewing the same category of visa;
• The prior visa was issued for its full validity;
• The prior visa expired less than twelve months ago;
• He/she has not been arrested or convicted for any criminal offenses; and
• He/she must be able to submit the passport containing the previous visa.
The U.S. Embassy in Bridgetown does not have specific requirements for TCNs listed on its website, in contrast to the U.S. Embassy in Nassau. Regulations permit the consular officer to accept a nonimmigrant visa application in a consular district in which the alien is physically present but not a resident, however. Although the Foreign Affairs Manual states that consular officers should seldom, if ever, reject persons who are physically present in but not residents of the consular district, the decision to accept or reject such an application is subject to the discretion of the consular officer. In practice, the U.S. Embassy in Bridgetown has been amenable to processing TCN visa applications under the enhanced scrutiny standard discussed above. Again, it is the attorney’s role to thoroughly prepare the applicant for the interview so that the consular officer does not suspect the alien of “forum shopping.”