Q: I am a Bermuda passport holder. Do I need a visa or ESTA to travel to the United States for a business or pleasure visit?
A: If you hold a passport that says “Government of Bermuda” on the front cover, the passport indicates that you possess British Overseas Territory Citizenship (BOTC) and Bermuda status, and you have no criminal convictions or previous violations of U.S. immigration law, then you should be visa exempt. As Bermuda is not a visa waiver program country, citizens of the British Overseas Territory of Bermuda are not eligible to apply for ESTA in a Bermuda passport. Please visit Visa Exemptions for Bermudians for additional information.
Q: Do I need an Electronic System for Travel Authorization to travel to the United States on my Bermuda passport?
A: No! As Bermuda is not a visa waiver program country, citizens of the British Overseas Territory of Bermuda are not eligible to apply for ESTA in a Bermuda passport.
Q: I have heard that my Bermuda passport will not be accepted for travel to the United States from outside Bermuda. Is that true?
A: The U.S. Consulate in Hamilton continues to receive reports of Bermudians experiencing additional questioning or delays at some international borders. The current situation is not due to any changes in U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) procedures or U.S. Immigration Law. Technical changes in passports issued by Her Majesty’s Passport Office in the United Kingdom to British Overseas Territory Citizens (BOTC) have made it more difficult for some airline representatives and immigration officials to easily differentiate Bermudians from other BOTC, thus recognizing that Bermudians do not require visas to enter the U.S. and are also not eligible for admission through ESTA. U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials at L.F. Wade International Airport are fully aware of the issue and routinely process visa-free entry to the United States from Bermuda per standard practice. Difficulties are occasionally encountered at other borders due primarily to lack of familiarity with Bermuda passports.
Obtaining a U.S. visa could effectively reduce or eliminate additional questions at international borders due to the passport changes. The decision to apply for a visa is up to each individual traveler, but individuals who travel frequently abroad, particularly beyond the United States and the United Kingdom, should consider this option. Prospective applicants should follow instructions on how to apply for a visitor’s visa.
Q: I naturalized as a British Overseas Territory Citizen. I have been granted a BOTC passport, but I do not possess Bermuda status. Can I travel to the United States without a visa?
A: No. If you hold a BOTC passport but do not hold Bermuda status, you are not able to travel to the United States under the visa exemption. Additionally, we are not able to place a visa in your BOTC passport if the passport does not state that you possess or are deemed to possess Bermuda status. You will need to apply for a visa in the passport of your original nationality.
Q: How do I apply for a nonimmigrant visitor’s visa to enter the United States?
vA: The U.S. Consulate General has not opened the online nonimmigrant visa appointment system but is evaluating appointment requests on a case-by-case basis via email, prioritizing urgent or emergency appointments for residents of our Consular district in Bermuda. If you are a resident of our Consular district in Bermuda, and would like to submit an application for a U.S. visa, please first complete the nonimmigrant visa application form DS-160. Then attach the DS-160 confirmation sheet you receive to an email, in that email provide a brief description of your purpose of travel to or through the United States, and send the email to us at HamiltonConsulate@state.gov. If we are able to accommodate your request you will receive visa appointment details via email. Please note, we are not accepting out of district visa appointments at this time.
Q: I am visiting Bermuda from another country and would like to apply for a visitor’s visa to visit the United States. May I apply for a visa in Hamilton?
A: We recommend that you schedule an appointment for a U.S. visa interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the country where you are from and reside. It is often times more difficult to qualify for a visa outside your home country of residence. If you are in Bermuda and you decide to apply for a visa at the U.S. Consulate in Bermuda, please follow the guidance above.
Q: I am interested in studying in the United States. What do I need to know?
A: We recommend you first review the information on the Department of State’s Study & Exchange website.
Below are the general steps for studying in the United States:
- Find a school in the United States which best meets your needs. You can click on this link to access our Education USA website. There are thousands of institutions of higher learning in the U.S., so take the time to find the school which is the best fit for you.
- Once you have selected a school and been accepted, that school will send you a form called an I-20. This form is required for all international students.
- Pay the online fee, called a SEVIS fee, which can be done on this site.
If you are a Bermuda passport holder who possesses Bermuda status and you have never had any criminal convictions, you are visa exempt, meaning you are not required to be in possession of a student visa to study in the U.S. When you travel to the United States to start your studies, you will need to present your original, signed I-20, and SEVIS payment receipt. You will be admitted to the United States in a student status, and as long as your I-20 is valid and you are maintaining your enrollment in your chosen school, you will be able to stay in the United States legally without a visa. When you complete your program, or if you discontinue your studies, you will need to depart the United States, as you will no longer be in a student status.
Some Bermudian students prefer to obtain a student visa, even if it is not required. Many schools do not understand Bermuda’s visa exemption status and require all international students to have a visa. Additionally, you may be required to show a visa if you rent an apartment in the U.S. or purchase or register a car and if you travel outside of the United States while you are a student, you may encounter difficulties returning to the U.S. if you do not have a visa. We encourage all students to carefully consider these factors when deciding whether or not to apply for a student visa.
To apply for the visa, follow the steps below:
- Complete the online electronic visa application. The link for the application can be found here. Note that you must get all the way to the end of the application, where it says “sign and submit” for it to be completely finished. You will also need to upload a photo with the application.
- Information on photo standards for U.S. visas can be found here. Once you have completed the application, it will provide you with a confirmation page, which you can print and bring with you on the day of your appointment.
- Collect documentation showing proof of funds which demonstrate your ability to finance your education. Please provide proof of scholarship (if applicable) and/or a bank letter confirming the availability of funds equal to or greater than the total dollar amount noted listed on the I-20.
- Schedule an interview at the U.S. Consulate. In order to schedule an interview, you would normally go to our website and select a date and time which suits you. However, as we are providing limited visa services at this time we have not yet re-opened the online NIV appointment system. Therefore, please email us at HamiltonConsulate@state.gov and include the DS-160 confirmation sheet in that email. When you come to the Consulate for your interview, you will need to bring your passport, your confirmation page, your supporting financial documents, the I-20, and the $160 non-refundable visa application fee. This fee is payable in cash only (Bermuda or US).
- If your application is approved, you will leave your passport at the Consulate and in most cases, the visa will be ready in approximately one week. In some instances, however, additional administrative processing may be required.
Q: I hold an employment based visa (H, L, O, P type visa) but I do not want to return to my home country to renew my visa. If I do not live or work in Bermuda, can I apply for my visa in Hamilton?
A: At this time we are not accepting out of district applications.
Q: Can you tell me if I am on the “Stop List”?
If you have ever been arrested or convicted of a crime, either here in Bermuda or anywhere else, it is possible that you will require a visa and also a visa waiver in order to travel to the United States. If your conviction constitutes a visa ineligibility, then you will need a waiver of that ineligibility prior to a visa being issued. Waivers are granted by the Department of Homeland Security. There is no way to know whether your conviction constitutes a visa ineligibility without applying for a visa, and there is no harm in applying for one if you do not require one. Instructions on how to apply for a visa are below:
Complete the online electronic visa application. The link for the application can be found here. Note that you must get all the way to the end of the application, where it says “sign and submit” for it to be completely finished. Please carefully answer all questions, especially the ones related to prior arrests. You will also need to upload a photo with the application. For information on photo standards for U.S. visas, click here.
- If you are applying for a visa for the first time, or have not had a visa issued since 2006, you must obtain your Bermuda Conviction Record from the Bermuda Police Service (BPS). To do so, take your appointment confirmation page and a color photocopy of the passport page showing your picture to the to the Dame Lois Browne-Evans Building at 58 Court Street, Hamilton. BPS charges $100 for this service.
- If you have had a previous waiver granted on or after 2006, you do not need to obtain another Bermuda Police Certificate, but you will require an updated conviction record. You may obtain your updated conviction record from Magistrates Court in the Dame Lois Browne Evans Building, 58 Court Street, Hamilton. Their office hours are 8:45 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Take the elevator to the 3rd Floor via the security check point to the Traffic, Criminal & Parking Office. The court charges $10.00 for this service and it takes ten working days to process. You must have valid identification to process your request. Please do request an appointment until your updated conviction record is in your possession.
- If the purpose of your travel is to receive urgent medical care in the United States, or to accompany a loved one who will be receiving urgent medical care, please obtain documentation outlining the details of the medical care, as well as documentation from the insurance company which is paying for the treatment.
- Once you have completed the application, obtained your court records, and medical/insurance documentation (if applicable), please email us at HamiltonConsulate@state.gov explaining in full your need to travel to the United States. An officer will review your case and, if we are able to process your application at this time, you will then be provided, via email, an appointment date and time. At this time we are processing limited visa applications and are not using our online NIV appointment system. Once we commence processing routine visa applications we will re-open the online NIV appointment system and you can book your appointment by clicking here, and printing out the appointment confirmation page.
- When you come to the Consulate for your interview, you will need to bring your passport, your printed confirmation page, your conviction record in its sealed envelope, and the $160 non-refundable visa application fee. It is advised that you also bring whatever supporting documentation you feel may assist the officer in making a decision regarding your case. These documents usually include employment letters, pay stubs, and bank statements.
- On the day of the interview, the consular officer will first decide whether or not you qualify for the visa you are applying for. If the officer determines you qualify for the visa, the officer will then determine whether or not you will be recommended for a waiver. If the consular officer recommends the waiver, your passport will be returned to you, pending the processing of the waiver. It is not certain how long this process may take, but it the processing may take up to six months. If the waiver is approved, you will be asked to drop off your passport so that we may print the visa and place it in your passport.
Q: I was denied boarding by U.S. Customs and Border Protection at L.F. Wade Airport. What do I do now?
A: If you have been convicted of a criminal offense, overstayed in the United States, or have some other type of ineligibility, you may require a visa to visit the United States. Please see the question above for details on how to apply for a visa.
Q: I am planning to travel to the United States but my passport expires in less than six months. Will this be a problem?
A: Under normal circumstances, visitors to the United States are required to be in possession of passports that are valid for six months beyond the period of their intended stay in the United States. Passport holders from some countries, including Bermuda and the United Kingdom, are exempt from the six month rule and need only have a passport valid for their intended period of stay. Further information can be found here.
Q: I want to get a job in the United States. How can I do that?
A: Be aware that in most instances, the types of jobs that non-U.S. citizens can legally perform require higher education and/or specialized knowledge. Your prospective employer would need to submit the documentation for your employment, so the process would start with them. Complete information on requirements for living in the United States for the purposes of employment can be found on this site.
Q: I need to travel urgently to the United States. How do I request an expedited appointment?
A: At this time, the U.S. Consulate is not conducting routine visa processing and we are therefore not using the online NIV appointment system. The consular section authorizes expedited appointments for students with imminent travel, applicants with urgent humanitarian needs (e.g., medical care or bereavement travel), or certain business travelers with pending commitments in the United States. You must first email us at HamiltonConsulate@state.gov. The email must include your full name, date and destination of the intended travel, and outline the urgent or emergency situation and the reason why you need an expedited appointment. A consular officer will review your request and if your request is approved, we will provide you with follow-on instructions.
Q: How may I submit a letter or other documentation to support a nonimmigrant visa application?
A: We do not usually accept documentation for nonimmigrant visas in advance of the interview. The applicant should bring any documentation on the day of the interview.
Q: I applied for a nonimmigrant visa and was refused under Section 214(b) of the United States Immigration and Nationality Act. What does this mean? May I reapply?
A: Please review the Department of State’s website Visa Denials, which discusses 214(b) and other reasons for visa denials.
Q: My family member’s visa application was refused. Can you tell me why?
A: Department of State visa case records are confidential under INA section 222(f), so information can only be provided to visa applicants, with some exceptions. Certain information can be provided to U.S. sponsors, attorneys representing visa applicants, members of Congress, or other persons acting on behalf of and with the permission of applicants.
Q: My case is undergoing administrative processing. What does this mean, and how long will it take?
A: Please review the Department of State’s website Visa Denials, which discusses 221(g) (most common ‘administrative processing’ refusal) and other reasons for visa denials.
Q: I am interested in relocating to the United States to live. How do I get my “green card”?
A: Full details on obtaining legal permanent residency in the United States can be found on this link.
Q: I am currently in the United States and would like to extend my stay. How do I do that?
A: To inquire about extending your authorized period of stay in the United States you will need to contact the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), please consult this link and follow the guidance listed there.