How to Get Your USA Visa in Jamaica

Well, well, well, I wonder what brought you here. Are you planning to run away? Are you a Rastafarian man who wants to find a Caucasian woman of lowered self-esteem to marry? Do you want to simply have a vacation or shop in the country with the world’s leading economy? Did Trump’s departure (expected) get you excited to visit? Whatever your reason, I hope this article helps.

The United States of America (USA) is the number 1 travel destination for Jamaicans. This is followed by the United Kingdom and Canada. The USA is occupied by over 1.1 million members of the Jamaican diaspora. I got my VISA not long before the pandemic started and I found the process interesting so I am inspired to write. The way we give up our privacy and security, for a CHANCE to visit the USA, gives the visa so much power over us.

Please note that there have been significant changes to the application and interview process due to Covid-19.

Things to do when applying for your visa

  1. Firstly, you need your Jamaica passport so if you don’t have that as yet, get it now. The process is described here.
  2. Determine the type of visa you need. There are visas specific to students or exchange visitors, tourists, business or migration. You can determine the visa that is right for you here.
  3. Visit https://ceac.state.gov/genniv/ and complete the online DS-160 form. Save and print the application confirmation for your interview. Please note that while applying you will need to provide social media handles. You will also be required to upload a photograph. The requirements of the photograph are strict as is explained here. I used my DSLR camera with a tripod stand and they worked well for me.
  4. Schedule an interview online. If you are over 13 years of age an interview is required (unless otherwise indicated). Visit here to schedule an appointment. At the time of writing this, no face to face interviews is being conducted.
  5. Pay the fee. The non-refundable application fee of USD 160 can be paid online and must be paid before the interview date.

The interview

When visiting the embassy for your interview, there are several security measures for which you must prepare. No cell phones, smartwatches, fitness bands, cameras etc. are allowed inside the embassy. The embassy also makes it clear that they will not hold items for persons so you will need to leave items at home or in your car before your embassy visit.

Once you enter the embassy it will be a moderately long wait. You may have seen the lines to the embassy on Old Hope road. At least they now have shelter! The lines can be very long, a significant contrast when you compare with the numerous other embassies in Jamaica. After being searched and scanned you will wait to be interviewed in order of entry. The interview is not a private session. there is a panel of interviewers behind glass, each interviewing one client. Persons waiting to be interviewed can hear …everything.

Interviewer: So ma’am what do you do for a living?

Lady: I raise chickens in the country.

Interviewer: How much do you make?

Lady: Xyz JMD.

Interviewer: I’m sorry but you do not qualify for a USA visa at this time.

It is an extremely disquieting experience. I think they already considered me for the visa before my interview. They didn’t have many questions, and with me having a nice job and clearly no interest in “running off” in the USA. I was granted a visa. I understand the need for the security measures and the requests for private details. We would want to be sure that persons entering our country have good intentions. Where I note an issue is the incredible level of condescension that you WILL experience, from the security guards to the interviewers. After my first encounter with one of the security guards, I paused to evaluate whether I really needed a USA visa. I, however, pressed on as I need it to attend the annual conference of the American College of Sports Medicine. Sadly last years’ conference was cancelled due to the pandemic.

Once the interview is done you will be given a piece of paper indicating your results. For example, if you are granted a 10-year visa it will indicate. The embassy will keep the passport and let you know when it is ready for pick up (or delivery) form the designated site (not the embassy).

Tips to help your application

  1. Ensure you have a valid reason to visit. Proof of this would help.
  2. Be careful of the things you post on social media. Remember the USA is a very liberal country where all lifestyles are widely accepted (except the black lifestyle 🙄). So, if you like to burn a fire for aquatic-based creatures, it may be in your best interest to burn an internal fire.
  3. Having a stable job and a reason to come back to Jamaica helps (specific to non-immigrant visa).

If a Caucasian with a high level of adiposity is right for you, apply for your US visa today!

All the best in your application, and if successful, ‘bring back sumthn fi mi!’

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