Ask the Consul — April 2019

Question:

Both my spouse and I have visas that expired last month. We would like to visit the United States for a wedding in June but there are no available appointments. Is there another way to get our visas renewed?

Answer:

Yes, there is. If your visa is about to expire or expired less than a year ago and you are travelling for purposes of business or tourism, the U.S. Embassy Port of Spain’s consular section recently introduced the Renewal Interview Waiver initiative as an option for travelers to renew their visas. This new service allows persons who have expiring or recently expired full-validity B1, B2, or B1/B2 visas to forego the appointment and interview process. Applicants who meet these criteria can now re-apply to renew their visas simply by sending their application packet to the U.S. Embassy.

The Renewal Interview Waiver process starts the same way as any other visa application: the official U.S. Embassy’s web site (tt.usembassy.gov) where you can follow the visa application links to the official Consular Electronic Application Center (ceac.state.gov) to complete your application. After completing your application and printing your application confirmation sheet, you will need to pay your application processing fee at Scotia Bank. Remember, there is no option to pay online. Following the official links above will help you avoid being a victim of fraud or unscrupulous service operators.

Next, instead of going to the online appointment system to schedule an interview appointment, you can register online at usvisa-info.com to generate a “courier-in” receipt that will allow you to send your application packet to the U.S. Embassy. The packet can either be picked up by DHL (depending on the service area) or dropped off at a designated DHL office. Your application will then be sent to the U.S. Embassy via DHL at no additional cost.

The application packet for delivery must include only the information requested by the U.S. Embassy.  That is, the DS-160 consular application confirmation page with bar code, the copy of the application fee receipt from Scotia Bank, your current passport with at least six month’s validity remaining, and the passport with the old visa in it (for some individuals this will be the same as the current passport). Also remember to include a recent (less than six months old) passport photo on white background (without spectacles), as well as the courier confirmation sheet.

Please do not send other documentation, such as vital statistics, property or vehicle ownership documents, as this will slow down the processing of your application. If a consular official decides you need an interview, we will notify you to schedule a follow-up interview. You should bring the above-mentioned documents to the interview as the officer may wish to see them.

Be sure to respond accurately to the questions while registering for the interview waiver service to ensure you meet the criteria. If you do not qualify for an interview waiver, your application will be administratively refused and you will be instructed to schedule an interview.

Please note this is NOT an expedited visa process. Successful applicants will typically have their passports and U.S. visas returned to them in about two weeks. However, visa demand usually surges prior to and during local school vacation periods: May-August and December. It is a good idea to begin the process as early as possible, in case there are unforeseen processing delays, so you will be ready to travel as soon as planned.

As always, we strongly recommend you wait until your visas are delivered before purchasing airline tickets and making other travel arrangements. For complete instructions on this and other U.S. visa programs, please visit www.usvisa-info.com or call (868) 235-4500 Monday to Friday, during the hours of 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

If you have a question about the process or need an update on the status of an application being processed, email consularpos@state.gov. Please send the full name of the applicant and passport number with your inquiry.