Q: I read an article in the press a few weeks ago about visa denials for an amateur sports team that wanted to travel to the United States. I am the coach for a youth football team, and my team would like to participate in a tournament in New York in a few months. How can I be sure that all of the team members receive visas?
A: Each member of a team or other traveling group must qualify individually to receive a nonimmigrant visa. However, there are several steps that groups can take to ensure the visa application process goes smoothly and that their athletes have an equal chance to qualify for a nonimmigrant visa.
The group leader should email JAMGroups@csc.com to schedule a visa appointment for all group members who need to obtain a visa. This is a special scheduling mechanism specifically established to facilitate group appointments, and groups are strongly encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity. All group members should plan to apply for visas on the same date, at least several weeks before the planned trip. Group members should not schedule individual appointments on different days. Doing so may jeopardise their ability to qualify for a nonimmigrant visa and delay visa processing for all of the members of the team or group. Expedited service is not available to groups that fail to plan ahead properly.
Before the group visa appointment, the group leader should assemble information about the planned travel, such as evidence of how the trip will be funded, a detailed travel itinerary, copies of any press articles about the group, and a group roster.
On the day of the group's visa appointment, the consular officers may ask to speak with the group's leader first; however, the group leader's presence is not necessarily required. Please keep in mind that due to security regulations, nobody other than the applicants or those specifically requested to enter the Consular Section will be permitted access. Officers will interview applicants individually to obtain information about their backgrounds and their connections to the group. Minor applicants should be accompanied to the interview by a parent, who will be expected to be able to provide information about the applicant's purpose of travel.
If certain individuals will be travelling in a supporting capacity for the group -- for example, group road managers, or a team nurse - those individuals should come to their interviews prepared to clearly explain their connection to the group and why their participation in the trip is necessary.
Consular officers will determine each individual's qualification for a visa using information received from the group leader and information gathered during individual interviews.
The US Embassy staff in Kingston will answer questions you may have regarding the US Mission, including consular law, regulations and/or practice. In order to respect privacy, staff will not answer questions about specific visa applications. The embassy employs a visa appointment system, so it is only necessary for visa applicants to arrive 15 minutes before their scheduled appointment.
Well, the system seems quite simple and straight forward. If the JFF continue to run into visa problems then it is that someone is not doing their job and letting the procedure fall between the cracks. Does anyone know who at the JFF is responsible for this?, is it the team manager? I need to forward this to them
Yes, that is possible. If that is the case, it is more reason for managers to get on the ball earlier and make sure they are in compliance. What I find amazing is that the JFF always find out just before travel time that visas have been denied or other problems. The JFF should by now have a working relationship with the embassy to expedite the process of visa approvals. Remember we are dealing with the national team, not just any ordinary club team