By Neto Baptiste
Clarifying that he is not in a position to speak on or of specific applications or applicants, Public Affairs Officer at the US Embassy in Barbados, Larry Socha, said that had an application been made in April this year and that given several months’ notice, the embassy would have done everything possible to accommodate the applicant or applicants.
Socha was speaking on Monday’s edition of the Connecting with Dave Lester Payne show as he sought to clarify issues regarding the application process and procedures given the ongoing rise of the COVID-19 virus in Barbados.
“On October 12, the embassy suspended regular non-immigrant visa interviews and so that’s where we currently are. Our waiting room is only so large and we’re only able to accommodate, right now, essential applications for those who are interviewing in person. While I can’t discuss any individual visa case with the public, what I can say is that it is absolutely important to apply early and that if you do have an emergency visa situation or you have a situation where you simply have to get to the United States because of a special set of circumstances, then it is important to reach out and especially if it’s not just an individual but a group of individuals,” he said.
News broke last week that the Antigua and Barbuda women’s under-17 team had been forced to pull out of the ongoing CONCACAF qualifiers in Miami, Florida after the local FA could not confirm application dates with the US Embassy in Barbados ahead of the tournament.
The FA has since blamed the development on the COVID-19 situation in that country.
Socha said the embassy only suspended interviews this month.
“If a group reached out to us in April and indicated that they were coming and we could have confirmed a date for them, we would have done everything possible to facilitate that with several months’ notice and again, I don’t have all the details of this case nor am I able to comment on it even if I did,” he said.
The public affairs officer revealed also that applicants who would have previously had a visa may not necessarily need to travel to Barbados.
“If you’ve previously been issued a visa, then to renew your visa within four years of the expiration date and while that previously applied last year, if your visa expired up to four years ago, you can mail in that visa in the majority of cases and then apply for a new one without ever having to appear here in Barbados,” Socha said.
Antigua and Barbuda were scheduled to contest Group D of the qualifiers alongside St Lucia, Guadeloupe and Guyana. St Lucia and Guadeloupe have also pulled out of the qualifiers reportedly for similar reasons.