Ask the Consul — April 2021

Question:  I saw on social media that persons can mail in their tourist visa applications for processing and not have to come in person to the Embassy. How do I begin? 

 

Answer: The Consular Section is indeed processing mail-in non-immigrant visa applications. Persons eligible for these interview-waived applications include applicants under the age of 14 and over the age of 80, as well as applicants renewing visas that are currently valid or have expired within a certain amount of time. Under the previous U.S. administration, the visa expiration window within which an applicant qualified for a waived interview based on a previous visa was 12 to 24 months. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the new administration has expanded that window for qualification to 48 months, as long as they apply before December 31, 2021.

If you are interested in applying for a visa for the first time or if you don’t qualify for a waived interview based on the previously discussed criteria, be advised that you may still apply and your fee will be valid through September of 2022.

All non- immigrant applications begin with completion of the DS-160 application form and creation of an online profile. After you complete and submit your application, you will register your application in the online appointment system. After paying for your application at ScotiaBank, you will go back to the online appointment system to register the payment. At that time, the online appointment system will prompt you with a series of questions to determine if you qualify for a waived interview. Pay particular attention to the questions and respond accurately. How you answer will determine whether you are prompted to schedule an interview appointment or whether you will qualify to submit your documents to the embassy via TTPost courier services.

If you qualify for an interview-waived application, review the list of required documents carefully and refrain from sending documents other than those needed. Do not send original documents apart from passports, because only passports will be returned. Most applications are processed within 10-15 days from receipt at the Consular Section and returned by mail to the address you provide on the return envelope.

Be advised that even for interview-waived applications, an applicant still may be called in for an interview if the adjudicating officer determines an interview is necessary. If so, your application will be returned to you and you will be asked to schedule an appointment to appear for an interview upon receipt of your passport.

Please note the US$160 (approximately TT $1096.00) paid at Scotiabank branches by persons seeking a nonimmigrant visa is an application fee. This means that the payment is for processing the application. It is not payment for issuance of a visa. Because the fee pays for processing, no refunds are possible.

Also remember that there is no online payment option to pay this non-immigrant visa fee. Do not pay or provide your credit card information or your passport number to anyone claiming to be able to review your application or guarantee a visa approval.

If you wish to use an Internet café or similar service provider to complete your application form or schedule your appointment, be aware that you are responsible for the accuracy of the information on the DS-160 application form.

Visit official websites including the US Embassy Port of Spain website, tt.usembassy.gov, and the Visa Information and Appointment Website at  http://trinidadandtobago.usvisa-info.com/

The U.S. Embassy Facebook page will respond to brief inquiries at https://www.facebook.com/ttusa

Persons are also welcome to send inquiries by email to  consularpos@state.gov