NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Hurricane Dorian evacuees who are currently residing in the United States but did not seek extensions on their visas will face consequences, said Consul General in Miami Linda Treco-Mackey yesterday.
Dorian, the strongest storm to hit the northwest Bahamas, left thousands displaced, hundreds missing and at least 74 dead.
In the aftermath of the deadly Category 5 storm in early September last year, the Bahamian consul processed over 300 Dorian evacuees living in limbo in the U.S.
Many of those Bahamians were expected to return to The Bahamas in March as sponsorships for accommodations came to an end in March.
Mackey said they were continually advised to return home and not to overstay their visas.
“We didn’t want them to jeopardize their ability to return to the U.S.” she explained.
“For those who decided to stay and did not seek extensions on their visas, they are going to have problems in the future. We know that for sure.
“The embassy has advised us to continuously remind them which we have either to request an extension or return home.
“So those who didn’t, they will have to face the consequences.”
Following the storm, the White House stated Bahamian evacuees would not be granted temporary protected status (TPS), which would have allowed them to live and work in the country.
Those Bahamians were advised not to seek employment, which could jeopardize their visa status.
Mackey noted that as the government is seeking to bring back Bahamians and residents who have been stuck abroad amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the consul has received a number of calls from evacuees who were there since the storm.
She said these evacuees were not previously registered with the consul and are now surfacing.
On March 27, the government announced a nationwide shutdown, closing the country to all incoming passengers in an attempt to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in The Bahamas.
Since the closure of the borders, Bahamians worldwide have continually echoed calls for the government to let them return home.