Frequently Asked Questions – Visas

Thank you for your message to the Consular Section at the U.S. Consulate in Hamilton, Bermuda.  Please find below the answer to commonly asked routine questions.  If your question is answered below, you will not receive a reply to your inquiry.  For other questions, we will reply as quickly as possible, typically within three business days.

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.

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.

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 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 they 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 (see below).

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.

A: Below are instructions on how to apply for a visitor’s visa (also known as a business/pleasure or B1/B2 visa):

  • 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. For information on photo standards for U.S. visas, click here.
  • Schedule an interview at the U.S. Consulate. In order to schedule an interview, you will need to go to our website and select a date and time which suits you. You will need your confirmation number from your electronic application in order to book the appointment, so you will need to complete the application before you make the appointment.  If you are applying for a visa for a child under the age of 13, you do not need to bring your child to the Consulate for the interview. If you are over the age of 80, you may send another person in your place to bring your passport and the required fee to the Consulate.
  • When you come to the Consulate for your interview, you will need to bring your passport, your confirmation page, and the $160 non-refundable visa application fee. If you wish, you may choose to bring whatever supporting documentation that you feel may assist the officer in making a decision regarding your case.
  • 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.

A: You are welcome to apply for a visitor’s visa in Bermuda, however you should be aware that it may be difficult for you to qualify for a visa outside of your home country. If you decide to apply, follow the steps listed above on how to apply for a visa.

A: Below are the 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 and require all international students to have a visa.  You may be required to show a visa if you rent an apartment in the U.S. or purchase or register a car.  Additionally, 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 will need to go to our website and select a date and time which suits you. You will need your confirmation number from your electronic application in order to book the appointment, so you will need to complete the application before you make the appointment. When you come to the Consulate for your interview, you will need to bring your passport, your confirmation page, your supporting financial documents, 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.

 

A: The Consulate does not usually accept applications from individuals who are non-legal residents of Bermuda. Additionally, Bermuda Immigration officials are not obligated to admit you into Bermuda for the purpose of applying for a visa with the United States Consulate, and may not admit you if you do not already have a valid visa. Full information regarding out of district visa applicants can be found here.

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 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. The 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 not book an appointment until you have 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, 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. If you wish, you may choose to bring whatever supporting documentation that 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 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. This 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.

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.

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.

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.

A: 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 follow the steps listed above to complete an online visa application, and then schedule the first available appointment date in our online appointment system. Then send an email to hamiltonconsulate@state.gov to request an expedited appointment. The email must include your full name, date and destination of the intended travel, the date and time of the appointment you have already scheduled, and the reason why you need an expedited appointment. The Consular Section will review your request and if you qualify, we will provide you with an expedited appointment.

A: We do not accept documentation for non-immigrant visas in advance of the interview. The applicant should bring any documentation on the day of the interview.

A: This means that the applicant either did not demonstrate strong ties outside the United States or was unable to demonstrate that their intended activities in the United States would be consistent with their visa status.  The decision may not be appealed, but the applicant may reapply if the applicant believes his or her situation has changed substantially.

A: Due to visa privacy regulations, we are unable to share any information about a visa application with an individual other than the applicant.

A: Some visa applications require further administrative processing, which takes additional time after the visa applicant’s interview by a consular officer.  Applicants are advised of this requirement when they apply.  Most administrative processing is resolved within 90 days of the visa interview.  When administrative processing is required, the timing will vary based on individual circumstances of each case.

A: Full details on obtaining legal permanent residency in the United States can be found on this link.

A: To inquire about extending your authorized period of stay in the United States, please consult this link and follow the guidance listed there.