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You are better off being clear and honest about your life situation, travel plans

Ask the US Embassy

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Q. I am concerned because I have a close family member who migrated to the United States and I heard that having relatives in the United States will make it difficult to qualify for a visitor's visa. Since I also plan to visit friends and distant relatives while in the US, is it better to put the immediate relative on my application or is it better to put down my friends and distant relatives?

A. It is always best to be open and honest about your purpose of travel. The consular officer who interviews you understands that it is normal for visitors from Jamaica to have friends, family and even close relatives in the United States.

US visa law is complex and having a close relative, such as a parent or sibling living in the US does not necessarily mean that you will not qualify for a visa. Many, if not most people traveling to the US from Jamaica have family they can visit. Sometimes people's plans or business will have them travelling to a different part of the country from where their close relatives live. Sometimes it is not convenient to see their close relatives and they choose instead to visit a friend or a distant cousin who has offered a place to stay.

It is true that the consular officer who interviews you will be trying to determine your ties in the United States as well as your ties to Jamaica. A close relative in the United States who has petitioned for you to immigrate to the US is indeed a strong tie away from Jamaica. However, the consular officer who interviews you will also likely understand that the legal process of immigrating to the United States is a long one and that many people have an intention of visiting the United States while waiting for an immigrant visa process to be completed legally .

The bottom line is always the same. You are better off being clear and honest about your life situation and your travel plans when you have your interview at the US Embassy. It is good to remember that the consular officers at the U.S. Embassy who interview visa applicants have a strong desire to facilitate entry into the United States for every legitimate traveller.

You can find more information about how to travel to the US on our website, and the website of our authorised service provider at Keep on top of Embassy news on our Facebook page, and by following @USEmbassyJA on Twitter. We also answer general visa questions on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Remember, your appointment time is your arrival time NOT your interview time. Do not show up earlier than your appointment time.

The American Embassy staff in Kingston will answer any questions 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: and we will send them to the embassy.