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Ask the Consul — June 2023
June 5, 2023

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Question: I have a question about group visa appointments at the U.S. Embassy.  I’m leading a group of students on a visit to the United States next year and we’re unable to book together our appointments. What should we do?

Answer: Early planning is essential to ensure that students do not miss out on this experience!

The Visa Unit advises all travelers to apply at least three months prior to travel to allow sufficient time to secure appointments, complete visa processing, and deliver passports. Beginning early the process eliminates the possibility of delays or cancelled trips.

All nonimmigrant visa applicants are required to complete the DS-160 electronic application form, register for service online, pay the application fee in person at a local Scotiabank, schedule an appointment, and attend a visa interview.

After each group member completes a DS-160 form and books an appointment, the group leader should email the Consular Section at consularpos@state.gov and provide a list including each applicant’s name and passport number, each traveler’s role in the group, the travel date, and destination details. This email should also include a short explanation of the purpose of the group’s travel and any other details to aid in scheduling. After receiving the email, the Visa Unit will reschedule the group as necessary.

On the day of the interview, each applicant will have their own interview and should bring their valid passport, printed DS-160 confirmation page, polymer birth certificate (if a minor), and a recent passport-sized photo (solid white background, with no spectacles). A lack of a high quality, new passport-sized photo may cause significant delays in processing.

In the case of minors under the age of 18, at least one parent should attend the interview and bring along information to support the application. Applicants over 14 must appear in person.

Additional documents are not required but may be requested to establish if the applicant is qualified. Additional information may include evidence of the purpose of travel, the ability to pay for all costs of the trip, and the intent to depart the United States after the trip.

It is the applicant’s responsibility (or in the case of a minor applicant, the parent’s responsibility) to demonstrate that the applicant is qualified for the visa. Membership in a group or team does not guarantee an applicant will receive a visa. Based on the visa interview, a consular officer will determine whether each individual is qualified to receive a visa.

If a visa is approved on the day of the interview, passports are returned in 7 to 10 working days.

Cellular phones and other electronic devices, bags, and liquids are not allowed into the waiting area. These items should be secured elsewhere prior to arrival.

Place application documents in a clear plastic folder before arriving to check in with our personnel.

For more information on the nonimmigrant visa application process, please visit trinidadandtobago.usvisa-info.com.