In the wake of Hurricane Dorian, the U.S. Embassy in Nassau is offering emergency visa appointments for Bahamians wishing to relocate to the United States, a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) spokesperson said yesterday.
“…U.S. Customs and Border Protection Ports of Entry are prepared should Bahamians request to temporarily relocate to the United States,” the spokesperson said.
“All travelers applying for admission to the United States via air or sea must meet the following document requirements for admission to ensure a lawful and orderly arrival to the United States.
“Bahamians must be in possession of a valid, unexpired passport or a Bahamian travel document listing nationality as Bahamian.
“All other travelers arriving from The Bahamas (U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents, and individuals of other nationalities) must possess a valid, unexpired, government-issued passport.”
He added, “Travelers who would otherwise qualify for the visa waiver program and who travel by air from a CBP pre-clearance facility in Freeport or Nassau, may not need a U.S. visitor’s visa.”
Hurricane Dorian pulverized swathes of Abaco and Grand Bahama. The storm, which made landfall in Marsh Harbour, Abaco, as a Category 5 hurricane with sustained winds of up to 185 miles per hour, decimated the community.
There was controversy over the weekend following reports that more than 100 Bahamian evacuees were forced to disembark a ferry headed to Florida from Grand Bahama on Friday.
“Please, all passengers that don’t have a U.S. visa, please proceed to disembark,” a crew member said in a video posted by Brian Entin on Twitter.
CBP has said it continues to process Bahamians “evacuating from The Bahamas according to established policy and procedures”.
On Monday, in a tweet, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio said, “Some useful facts for those who don’t follow The Bahamas. Unlawful immigration by Bahamians is very rare. Unlawful immigration into The Bahamas has been a problem for them. U.S. and Bahamian governments have an exceptionally close and longstanding working relationship.”
National Emergency Management Agency Spokesperson Carl Smith said there have been no new arrangements with the U.S. regarding entry.
No changes in U.S. immigration policy after Dorian