Ask the US Embassy: What constitutes an emergency?

(Part 2)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011    

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SITUATIONS and crises which threaten or are threatening the life, safety or health of someone being processed for a visa or that of a close immediate family member in the US who needs the assistance of the Jamaican-based immediate family member are considered and subsequently processed as emergencies.

For clarification, the US Embassy considers parents, children, and siblings to be immediate family members. Aunts, grandparents, uncles, or cousins are not considered immediate family members unless that person is the legal, living next of kin.

A situation involving a critically injured person in immediate need of medical services not available in Jamaica but available in the US would constitute an emergency. For example, if a parent residing in Jamaica is advised of the sudden death or serious illness of a child in the US, the embassy would consider that an emergency. To warrant the receipt of an emergency appointment, the situation must be of dire circumstance with all prior options for resolution being exhausted in Jamaica.

In some very rare cases, the US Embassy will issue an emergency visa to business individuals. These businesswomen/businessmen would be travelling to the US for the purpose of solidifying business deals that are mutually beneficial to the US and Jamaica.

As stated previously, the US Embassy has a very limited number of emergency appointment spots and will vigorously enforce keeping those appointments available for truly legitimate emergencies. Before requesting an emergency appointment, however, applicants should first consider the nature of their situation and then whether or not the situation genuinely constitutes an emergency.

Emergency appointment and preparations

The request for an emergency appointment requires some work on the part of the applicant. The US Embassy must first have on file that the applicant has a confirmed visa interview date. Visa interviews may be secured by following the instructions at or by calling 1-800-572-7780, Monday-Friday, 0800 hours to 1800 hours, except Jamaican or US holidays.

If, after making an initial appointment, the applicant realises that the date she/he was given for the visa appointment will not suffice for her/his situation and feels the situation qualifies as a legitimate emergency by the embassy's standards, the applicant must send an e-mail to the embassy's consular section at and include the following information:

* Applicant's name

* Applicant's date of birth

* Applicant's phone number

* Purpose of travel

* Reason for requesting an emergency appointment

* List of preferred dates for an earlier appointment

All applicants requesting an emergency appointment must, prior to the appointment, fill out an electronic visa application form (DS-160) and pay the required MRV fee at the National Commercial Bank.

For applicants who have been granted an emergency appointment, it is imperative that they ensure they are adequately prepared for the emergency visa appointment. Applicants must have valid passports, bring any supporting documents concerning the reason for the request for the emergency, and calmly and honestly explain the situation to the consular officer. In knowing that emergencies require immediate action, the embassy urges applicants not to succumb to the temptation of purchasing plane tickets until they have the passport with their visa in their hands. The US Embassy will not take responsibility for any costs associated with pre-purchased tickets or deposits on reservations in hotels in the case that the applicant is not granted a visa. It also must be noted that an emergency appointment does not automatically equal the receipt of an emergency visa.

The American Embassy staff in Kingston will answer any question you may have regarding US consular law, regulations and/or practice. In order to respect the privacy of applicants, the embassy will not answer questions on specific personal applications.

Send your questions to:





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