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Visas can expire in US, not passports

Question:

I have a visa in my passport that will expire in April, but my passport expires in November and is not a new, "machine-readable" one. Will I be able to travel to the US for the Easter holiday?

Stephen in Scarborough

Answer:

Thank you for your enquiry. We actually receive a number of phone calls and e-mails regarding this issue, so you are not the only person with this question. As a Trinidad and Tobago citizen, all you need to travel to the United States is a valid passport and a valid US visa. The United States does not require a machine-readable passport for travellers with a US visa.

It is important to note that your passport must be valid for the duration of your stay in the United States; however, it does not need to be valid for an additional six months after your stay. This passport-validity rule varies from country to country, but as far as Trinidad and Tobago is concerned, the passport does not need to be valid for six additional months. So whether your passport is new or old, machine-readable or not, you may use it to travel as long as it will not expire while you are in the United States.

It is okay, on the other hand, if your US visa expires while you are in the United States. Your visa is valid for entry into the United States up to the day that it expires. As long as you actually arrive in the United States before the day your visa expires, the immigration official can allow you to enter and will stamp your passport with the amount of time you are permitted to stay.

Furthermore, it is also not a problem if you have a new, machine-readable passport but your valid US visa is in your old passport. As long as the biographical information (your name, gender and date of birth) in the new passport matches the biographical information on the visa, you may staple the two passports together and present both the old passport with the visa and the new passport to the immigration official when you arrive in the United States.

So remember, as long as you have an unexpired US visa and an unexpired Trinidad and Tobago passport, you are good to go. I hope this answers your question, and have a pleasant holiday.

• Send your questions and comments to: askUSconsultrinidad@state.gov

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