United States Customs and Border Protection Public Affairs Liaison Michael Silva yesterday denied rumors that the agency has been making it more difficult for Bahamians to enter the U.S. in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian.
“There’s been a lot of misinformation and a lot of urban legends that are being spread,” he said on Guardian Radio’s Morning Blend with host Dwight Strachan.
“First of all, our hearts and prayers are with the Bahamian people who have experienced this disaster and horrific hurricane. We’re there to support and assist and facilitate as needed… nothing’s changed.”
In the immediate aftermath of the hurricane, the strongest to ever hit the northern Bahamas, many Bahamians, who were impacted by Dorian, traveled to the U.S. However, some have complained of a more difficult process to enter the country. Silva insisted that is not the case.
“Bahamians must be in possession of a valid unexpired passport or Bahamian travel document,” he said.
“All other travelers arriving from The Bahamas, U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents and individuals of other nationalities, must possess a valid unexpired government-issued passport.
“Now where there’s a lot of confusion, especially when I was dealing with the press and trying to explain that to them here in the United States, is that if a Bahamian citizen traveling with a valid unexpired passport and a police certificate travels from a pre-clearance airport, they are allowed to travel to the United States with just a valid unexpired Bahamian passport and a police certificate, but if you travel by private vessel or private aircraft to the United States, you’re required [to have] a valid passport and a valid unexpired visa.”
Silva warned Bahamians seeking to travel to the states to be wary of potential scams and urged everyone to visit official websites to find correct information on the process.
“The U.S. Embassy in Nassau is open for emergency visa appointments and U.S. Customs and Border Protection at the ports of entry are prepared, should Bahamians request to temporarily relocate to the United States,” he said.
“Please be very, very careful of people that, unfortunately, will take advantage of people that have experienced this disaster. So, if the deal is too good to be true, don’t do it.”
He added, “One thing that I see common is that you have people that hang around the American embassies and when they see you standing in line, they’ll say, ‘By the way, I work at this office. I’m able to facilitate your visa’ or ‘If you come with me, don’t worry, I’ll take care of all the issues. You’ve just got to pay me this amount.’
“And unfortunately, there are people that use these circumstances where people are desperate to take advantage of them because they don’t know any better. So, that’s why I say, if you have somebody that’s offering you a deal that’s too good to be true…don’t do it.”