Below is a statement issued by US Chargé d’Affaires John McIntyre on the issue of T&T Under 15 girls’ VISA application situation.
I, along with my embassy colleagues, rarely comment on visa matters due to the respect we have for the privacy of the applicants and our rules and regulations. However, I must respond to the Red Card commentary of Mr. David John Williams. Why we have chosen to respond is because your failure to plan is affecting promising football (soccer) players from Trinidad and Tobago who we would welcome playing in the USA. In addition, your comments can adversely affect our ongoing efforts to grow our sports diplomacy programs here in T and T.
I will be blunt. Mr. Williams and the TTFA just flat out dropped the ball on the visa process. Our Embassy for MONTHS noted that individuals and groups should plan well in advance for any trips to the USA. The Trinidad and Tobago Girls Under-15 representatives approached the Embassy about visas after we were closed on Tuesday, July 31 to get their visas by Friday, August 3 with the Emancipation holiday in between. No names or details about the visa applicants were provided. Even after games were rescheduled, there was too little time allowed, just two working days for an established 7-10 day process, not to mention that this is peak visa season when most people have to wait six weeks just for a visa interview. Many groups have successfully traveled to the USA by being prepared and planning in advance. In fact, if you look at our Facebook page from a few weeks ago you will see a youth team playing in the USA at a major football (soccer) tourney.
I want to take this opportunity to again ask the Trinidad and Tobago public, as we have since April, to please plan in advance for travel to the USA. Know, as you see in the news almost daily, we are committed to our relationship with the citizens of T and T at all levels, including sports diplomacy. Don’t let folks with cocoa in the sun mislead you.