Visa Requirements for Bahamas Citizens Coming to U.S.

The U.S. Embassy in Nassau is open for emergency visa appointments and U.S. Customs and Border Protection Ports of Entry are prepared, should Bahamians request to temporarily relocate to the United States. The U.S. Embassy in Nassau is located at 42 Queen St, Nassau, The Bahamas and the phone number is 242-322-1181.

All travelers applying for admission to the United States via air or sea must meet the following document requirements for admission to ensure a lawful and orderly arrival to the United States..

1. Bahamians must be in possession of a valid, unexpired passport or a Bahamian Travel Document listing nationality as Bahamian. All other travelers arriving from the Bahamas (U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents, and individuals of other nationalities) must possess a valid, unexpired government–issued passport.

2. Bahamians arriving to the United States by vessel must be in possession of a valid passport AND valid travel visa.

3. Detailed information on all visa application requirements and processes, as well as a step-by-step guide to visa applications for Bahamians, can be found athttps://bs.usembassy.gov/visas/nonimmigrant-visas.

4. Bahamian citizens may apply for admission to the United States without a visa at one of the CBP Preclearance facilities located in Nassau or Freeport International Airports, IF they meet the following requirements:
a) Be traveling on a flight that CBP completes immigration and customs inspections in Nassau or Freeport. (*Note – Bahamians traveling on to another country and expecting to transit the United States on their return will need a visa);
b) Be in possession of a valid, unexpired passport or a Bahamian Travel Document listing nationality as Bahamian;
c) Have no criminal record nor any legal ineligibility or inadmissibility as defined by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (click here);
d) Be traveling for business or pleasure (tourism, visiting relatives, shopping, etc.) purposes for a short duration;
e) All persons 14 years of age and older must be in possession of a police certificate issued within the past six months;
f) Bahamians traveling through the United States to a third country must possess a valid visa for return travel through the U.S.

Other details
CBP Port Directors may use discretion and will consider all exigent circumstances on a case by case basis, in accordance with existing laws and regulations.   

The American Red Cross and the Salvation Army continue to also work with local Florida governments to address any needs of evacuees who seek temporary relocation in the United States.

For more information on Bahamas Residents after Hurricane Dorian, 
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739,478 Overstay in the U.S. in 2016

U.S. Custom and Border Protection provides data on departures and overstays, by country, for foreign visitors to the United States who entered as nonimmigrant visitors and were expected to depart in fiscal year 2016. The report specifies that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) processed 50,437,278 in-scope nonimmigrant admissions at U.S. air and sea ports of entry who were expected to depart in fiscal year 2016—of which 739,478 overstayed their admission, resulting in a total overstay in the U.S. of a rate of 1.47 percent.

Out of the total population, of the more than 21.6 million Visa Waiver Program (VWP) visitors expected to depart the United States in fiscal year 2016, 147,282 overstay in the U.S., with 128,806 suspected in-country overstays (a .60 percent suspected in-country overstay rate for VWP travelers). Of the more than 13.8 million non-VWP visitors—excluding Canada and Mexico—expected to depart the United States in fiscal year 2016, 287,107 overstay in the U.S., with 263,470 suspected in-country overstays. This resulted in a 1.90 percent suspected in country overstay rate.

Of the 1,457,556 students and exchange visitors scheduled to complete their program in the United States in fiscal year 2016, 79,818 overstay in the U.S. beyond their authorized window for departure, (more…)

Electronic Devices Subject to Search by Immigration

Beware – your electronic device may be searched and seized by immigration upon entry into the U.S.  U.S. Custom and Border Protection (CBP) has announced that in the first six months of fiscal year 2017 (October 2016-March 2017), it searched the electronic devices of 14,993 arriving international travelers, affecting 0.008 percent of the approximately 189.6 million travelers arriving in the United States. The statistics include a month-to-month comparison chart of FY2016 and FY2017, which shows that customs officers at the border and at airports nearly doubled their searches of electronic devices of people entering the United States in the last six months.

U.S. Custom and Border Protection (CBP) has distributed the document below (in italics) on the authority to search electronic devices, why the agency might subject an electronic device to an inspection, and what happens with the return or seizure of detained electronic devices.

Why You May Be Chosen for an Inspection

You may be subject to an inspection for a variety of reasons, some of which include: your travel documents are incomplete or you do not have the proper documents or visa; you have previously violated one of the laws CBP enforces; you have a name that matches a person of interest in one of the government’s enforcement databases; or you have been selected for a random search. (more…)

Can U.S. Immigration unlock cell phone before allowing admission to U.S.?

YES! Foreign travelers who are not U.S. citizens trying to enter the United States are not guarantee entry into the United States. Instead, foreign travelers (including green card holders) apply for entry into the United States and everything on them is subject to search when they present their visa or green card at the airport (or port of entry).  Since Trump presidency, we’ve seen U.S. Immigration unlock cell phone of many legal immigrants and visitors before allowing admission into the U.S.

The New York Times has reported that in 2015, U.S. Immigration Border Agents inspected 4,444 cell phones and 320 other electronic devices – 2016 statistics is unavailable. Recently, many foreign travelers have reported that immigration and security inspections at the border/port of entry and airport have extended to digital devices (including laptops and cell phones). In this day in age, inspecting a digital device can be more intrusive than inspecting a suitcase. Most digital devices have access to personal emails, social media accounts, photos, videos, text, web browsing history, etc.

How can foreign travelers prepare digital devices for inspection? (more…)