Political, Economic & Commercial Section
Description of Section & Activities
The Political/Economic/Commercial Section’s principal mission is to advance U.S. policies and interests in The Bahamas in order to strengthen democratic institutions and the market economy, encourage bilateral and regional cooperation in the fight against terrorism and drug-trafficking, and build partnerships to meet other key areas.
To achieve these goals, the Section’s daily and longer-term responsibilities include:
- Advising the Ambassador and Deputy Chief of Mission on key political, economic, commercial, labor, and environmental developments in The Bahamas and region;
- Representing the U.S. government and promoting U.S. policy objectives with local government, regional and international organizations, businesses, civil society, and media;
- Monitoring and reporting to relevant U.S. agencies on the full range of priority issues for the U.S. government;
- Coordinating the Embassy’s submission of required reports, including those on human rights, religious freedom, terrorism, the Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act, human trafficking, the Investment Climate Statement, Country Commercial Guide, and the Mission Strategic Plan;
- Advocating for U.S. economic and commercial interests, in collaboration with other U.S. agencies, including the Foreign Commercial Service (FCS), Department of Agriculture, Treasury Department, and Federal Aviation Administration; and
- Organizing official visits, including those of senior U.S. officials, Members of Congress, and their staffs.
Links to USG Departments & Institutions
Trade, Commerce, & Finance
- Federal Trade Commission
- Office of the United States Trade Representative
- U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration
- U.S. Department of Commerce
- U.S. Department of Treasury
- U.S. Federal Reserve Bank
Telecommunications, Transportation, & Tourism
- FAA (U.S. Federal Aviation Administration)
- U.S. Transportation Security Administration
- U.S. Department of State Travel Information
Energy & Environment
Agriculture, Fisheries & Labor
The Visa Section is open to the public Monday through Thursday from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. The Visa Section is closed on all U.S. and Bahamian Holidays. Persons wishing to obtain a visa interview must first contact the Visa Information Service. (See “How to Apply”).
Applicants should be advised that capacity constraints may require a daily numerical limit on visa applications during the peak summer application period (May – August). Interested persons are therefore strongly encouraged to apply for visas during other times of the year to avoid possible inconvenience.
Inquiries on Visa Cases
- (242) 322-1181. Visa information recordings are accessible Monday – Friday, 8:00 – 4:00 p.m.
- (242) 356-7174: Available 24 hours per day. All faxes should be addressed to either the Non-Immigrant or Immigrant Visa Units in order to receive proper handling.
US Address: Visa Section (Non-Immigrant or Immigrant)
- US Embassy Nassau
3370 Nassau Place
Washington, DC 20521 – 3370
Local Address: Visa Section (Non-Immigrant or Immigrant)
- US Embassy
P.O. Box N-8197
Courier: Visa Section (Non-Immigrant or Immigrant)
- US Embassy
42 Queen Street
The Management Section provides the administrative and operations support platform for the entire U.S. Mission to The Bahamas and is part of the Department of State. It is comprised of both direct-hire American officers and locally engaged Bahamian and American staff. There are approximately 50 people supporting the Management section. The head of section is a U.S. Foreign Service Officer, who oversees the following sub-sections: Budget & Fiscal, Facilities Maintenance, General Services Operations, Human Resources, Information Management, Medical/Health Unit Services and Community Liaison Office.
The Budget & Fiscal section (B&F) is headed by a U.S. Foreign Service Financial Management Officer. B&F handles budgeting, official purchases, vendor, utility and lease payments for the Embassy and serviced U.S. agencies, cashiering operations, time and attendance records for Mission personnel, and Value-Added Tax (VAT) reimbursements for U.S. direct-hire employees.
The General Services Office (GSO) is headed by a Supervisory General Services Officer (S/GSO). The GSO section assists the Mission and official personnel in the areas of housing, customs and shipping, motor pool, procurement and property management. Of particular importance to Americans assigned to U.S. Embassy Nassau is information related to housing, including the Housing Handbook and Housing FAQ, which can be requested from NassauHousing@state.gov. In addition to the S/GSO, the section also has an Assistant GSO, who oversees various subsections and backs up the S/GSO. Both the S/GSO and A/GSO are U.S. Foreign Service Officers.
The Facilities Maintenance section is headed by a Locally Employed (LE) Facilities Manager, a US-trained engineer. He and his staff are responsible for maintaining buildings and systems at four U.S. government-owned properties including the Chancery and the Chief of Mission Residence (CMR), and for assisting in the development of a New Embassy Compound (NEC) site slated for groundbreaking in 2018.
The Human Resources section is headed by an LE Human Resources Specialist, under the direct supervision of a U.S. direct-hire Regional Human Resources Officer based at the Florida Regional Center in Ft. Lauderdale. Daily local oversight is provided by Nassau’s Management Officer. The HR office is responsible for all personnel matters including adherence to local labor laws and practices, hiring local and American Eligible Family Member staff, managing the employee evaluation process, the Local Compensation Plan for locally engaged staff, and maintaining post personnel records for both American and LE staff.
The Information Management section , under the direction of the U.S. direct-hire Information Management Officer (IMO) oversees all communications and information technology (IT) assets including Wide Area Networks (WANS), software applications, computer hardware, IT procurement, satellites, cryptographic equipment, phone systems, UHF and HF radios and diplomatic pouch and mail services. In addition to the IMO, the IT section also has an Information Systems Officer and Information Management Specialist, both of whom are U.S. Foreign Service Specialists, who assist with various security and technology related issues.
A locally engaged nurse heads the Medical Office/Health Unit with technical support from the Ft. Lauderdale Regional Center and medical supervision from a Regional Medical Officer (RMO) based in Washington, D.C. Services are provided for Mission U.S. direct-hire employees and their eligible family members. The Health Unit, located in Sandyport, handles vaccinations, medical consultations, referrals and, as necessary, medical evacuations.
The Community Liaison Office (CLO) is among the first points of contact for newly assigned or arriving employees and family members, and provides pre-arrival information, orientation, and assistance with settling in at post. CLO Coordinators identify the needs of their community and respond with effective programming, information, resources, and referrals. They serve as advocates for employees and family members, advise post management on quality of life issues, and recommend solutions and family-friendly post policies. The CLO also ensures that U.S. Mission families have the latest information to prepare for hurricanes. For more information, contact CLONassau@state.gov
Public Affairs Section
The Public Affairs Section of the Embassy of the United States of America to The Bahamas seeks to engage local communities through public diplomacy outreach. The section works to strengthen U.S. relations in the region by:
- Explaining U.S. policies, as well as the context for policy by presenting American society in all its complexity
- Supporting U.S. policy through support for bilateral and regional programs
- Increasing cooperation between the people of the United States and The Bahamas through educational and cultural exchange programs
We accomplish these goals through various means such as interacting with the Bahamian media, providing information via the Embassy’s website and social media pages. We also organize cultural, educational, and exchange programs directly with Bahamian citizens.
- Cultural programs include exchange programs to bring American artists to The Bahamas and support for local cultural events.
- Professional Exchanges: The International Visitor Leadership Program is designed to build mutual understanding between the U.S. and other countries through carefully designed visits that reflect the participants’ professional interests and support U.S. foreign policy goals. The Speaker Program brings American professionals to the region to interact with their counterparts on specific policy issues.
- EducationUSA: EducationUSA facilitates the process of applying to U.S. colleges and universities by providing prospective students with accurate, unbiased, comprehensive, objective and timely information on the full range of educational opportunities in the United States. The U.S. offers a school and a program that’s just right for every qualified student and EducationUSA is here to provide all the information needed.
- The Public Affairs Section also invites proposals for support through our small grants program. These small grants help further projects primarily in the areas of citizen security, combating gender-based violence, environment and climate change, empowering youth, global education and culture.
Project proposals are accepted throughout the year, although early application is strongly encouraged. All proposals will be competitively reviewed; only fully completed small grants forms will be considered for support.
The maximum PAS grant is USD $5,000.00
All press and general inquiries to any section of the U.S. Embassy should first be directed to the Embassy’s Public Affairs Officer, Neda Brown, who may be reached at NassauPublicAffairs@state.gov.
Recent U.S. Embassy press releases produced and distributed by the Public Affairs Office may be found in our Press Releases section.
Customs & Border Protection (CBP)
Department of Homeland Security
Most inspection services are conducted within the borders of one’s Country. In Pre-clearance, inspections are performed completely within another sovereign nation. Preclearance for US Customs and Border Protection is established through Bilateral Agreements signed between the United States Government and the host nation. Preclearance has been operating in Nassau and Freeport for almost 30 years.
Safeguard America’s homeland at and beyond our borders.
One Unified Goal
CBP is now integrated. CBP became an official agency of the Department of Homeland Security on March 1, 2003, combining employees from the Department of Agriculture, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Border Patrol and the U.S. Customs Service. For the first time in our nation’s history, people and goods arriving at American ports of entry are greeted by one single agency with one unified goal: to facilitate legitimate trade and travel while utilizing all of the resources at our disposal to protect and defend the United States from those who would do us harm. We are combining our skills and resources, to make sure that we will be far more effective and efficient than we were when border responsibilities were fragmented into four agencies, in three different departments of government.
Priority Mission and Responsibility for Customs and Border Protection
- Prevent terrorists and terrorist weapons/instruments from entering the United States.
- Responsible for apprehending individuals attempting to enter the United States illegally, stemming the flow of illegal drugs and other contraband; protecting our agricultural and economic interests from harmful pests and diseases; and regulating and facilitating international trade, collecting import duties, and enforcing U.S. trade laws.
- We are Guardian’s of Our Nation’s Borders & America’s Frontline.
- We Serve American public with vigilance, integrity, and professionalism.
One Agency, One Goal
Cooperation is the cornerstone of CBP’s success. It starts with four agencies coming together to work as one and it continues with CBP working hand-in-glove with other agencies to coordinate information sharing and operations. It is the basis of our partnership with the trade community to develop, enhance and maintain security processes throughout the global supply chain and to stem the illegal export of equipment, technology and munitions to unauthorized destinations. The men and women of Customs and Border Protection are committed to our critical mission, dedicated to keeping America safe, and proud to serve our country with integrity and honor.
Statistics for Preclearance in The Bahamas:
1.474 million passengers’ Nassau 1.123 million and Freeport .351 million
Denied Entry to 1,200 applicants
Intercepted approx. 100 criminal aliens
Customs Seized more than:
- 50 pounds cocaine;
- 68 pounds MJ;
- $200K currency;
- $73K Merchandise.
- Inspected 55K;
- Seized 10,500 prohibited items;
- 134 Actionable Pests Found
Hours Of Operation:
- Nassau: 5:00 AM – 7:45 PM
- Freeport: 6:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Additional Benefits for Preclearance vs. Postclearance at POE’s located inside United States:
- Inadmissible aliens are refused on a foreign country’s soil. Cases of serious law violations are turned over to the Royal Bahamian Police Force for prosecution in Bahamian courts. Illegal contraband, drugs, WMD intercepted prior to passenger boarding the plane.
- Terrorists or those connected to terrorism intercepted prior to entry into the United States.
- Passengers can travel to any airport in United States, even those without already established Federal Inspection Services.
- Passengers avoid long lines that occur in the major metropolitan airports when thousands are seeking Immigration clearance during peak arrival times.
- Passengers can easily schedule connecting flights, as they know there will not be Immigration or Customs delays upon arrival.
- Absolves Carriers of all responsibility for transporting any illegal or undocumented aliens. Airlines are not subject to heavy fines and are spared lengthy or costly fine mitigation proceedings.
- Aliens and Citizens are inspected and examined for admission prior to boarding the plane.
- Alleviates overcrowding in certain airports such as Miami, NYC, Atlanta, etc.
- Helps in keeping inadmissible aliens from US shores where they often have to be detained pending court hearings; appeals; claims of asylum, etc.
- Saves expenditures of significant resources such as detention costs when inadmissible aliens are inspected upon arrival in the United States.
- Beneficial to Host Country for ease of reentry for US by tourists who visit the Bahamas.
- Pre-clearance allows admissible Bahamian citizens to visit the US without the required State Department visitor’s visa, when traveling from Nassau or Freeport Airports.
- For the Bahamian Government and for tourists, it is Better in The Bahamas, including the ease of returning home after vacations and visits.
Office of Defence Cooperation, Bahamas
The Office of Defense Cooperation (ODC) Bahamas supports and assists the Government of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas’ (GCOB) Ministries of National Security, Foreign Affairs, Public Works and Transport, Health and Education, the Department of Civil Aviation, the Freeport and Nassau Port Authorities, and the Royal Bahamas Defense and Police Forces regarding military, security, and civil/disaster relief matters.
The mission of the ODC is to execute the U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) theater engagement plan by providing the GCOB with a wide range of U.S. training and assistance programs.
The Senior Defense Official/Defense Attaché (SDO/DATT) at the U.S. Embassy Nassau also serves as the ODC Chief and is the Senior U.S. Department of Defense Representative to The Bahamas. The SDO/DATT oversees all official interactions between the GCOB and the U.S. government concerning the U.S. Navy Atlantic Undersea Test & Evaluation Center(AUTEC) located on Andros Island. Additionally, the SDO/DATT is the principal military advisor to the Ambassador regarding all military issues and represents the Secretary of Defense and the Commander, USNORTHCOM in military matters within the Mission.
The ODC workload is divided among several mission areas with the bulk of the effort directed towards Security Cooperation Organization (SCO) projects to include: International Military Education and Training (IMET) funded by the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), Traditional Commander’s Activities (TCA) funded by USNORTHCOM, Foreign Military Sales (FMS) and Foreign Military Financing (FMF) programs, Humanitarian Assistance Programs/Interagency Coordination (HAP/IC) projects, Joint Combined Exercises and Training (JCET) by U.S. Special Forces, Joint Chief of Staff (JCS) Exercises, and USNORTHCOM-sponsored training activities and conferences (theater engagement). The remaining workload is divided between military ship, aircraft, and personnel diplomatic clearances; U.S. Navy ship port visit coordination; Embassy official/protocol functions; AUTEC issues; disaster relief preparations; escort duties for Bahamian officials traveling throughout the Caribbean, Latin America, and the United States; and coordination with various Law Enforcement agencies within the Embassy.
The ODC Bahamas office can be reached directly at (242) 322-1181 ext. 4217 or 4216.
Coast Guard Liaison Office
The position of the Coast Guard Liaison Officer (CGLO) was established in Nassau as part of continuing efforts to work with the Government of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The Royal Bahamas Defense Force (RBDF) and other maritime law enforcement partners including the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) Bahamas Customs and Immigration Departments, regarding matters of interest to both our nations involving maritime issues.
The Coast Guard Liaison Officer is the U.S. Government’s representative for all Coast Guard issues in the Bahamas with the exception of the counter-drug mission which falls under the responsibility of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and Operation Bahamas Turks and Caicos (OPBAT). Most of the work of the Coast Guard Liaison Officer involves coordinating maritime illegal immigration issues. However, the Liaison Officer is also responsible for search and rescue, aids to navigation, vessel safety, and marine environmental protection as well as being responsible for handling all the clearance requests for Coast Guard cutters, aircraft, and personnel transiting to and through The Bahamas. The CGLO is also extensively involved with coordinating training that is provided by the Military Liaison Office (MLO). The Coast Guard provides subject matter experts for a large number of courses provided to maritime law enforcement partners.
Because search and rescue is such an important mission to the Coast Guard, the Liaison Officer also works closely with the RBDF and with the volunteer organization, BASRA, to coordinate search and rescue assistance in The Bahamas
Additionally, the CGLO assist with obtaining clearances for U.S. Coast Guard cutters, aircraft, and personnel needing to transit through the Bahamas. The CGLO facilitates port visits for USCG cutters patrolling in and around Bahamian and TCI waters.
Migrants: The US and The Bahamas maintain a close working relationship with regard to migrant issues. Illegal migrants continue to be smuggled into the Bahamas and TCI. While many migrants stay in the Bahamas or TCI, most attempt to use the region as a transfer location to facilitate attempts to reach the United States. The U.S. Coast Guard assists in transporting migrants located in remote areas, particularly from the Cay Sal Bank to Bahamas Immigration officials.
RBDF Partnership: The U.S. Coast Guard has a long-standing relationship with the RBDF because of their unique similarity as an armed service that conducts both law enforcement and national defense. The CGLO and Navy Liaison Office (NLO) work closely together to improve relationships and performance of the service. A prime example of this cooperation is the Shiprider Program where three RBDF officers ride on U.S. Coast Guard Cutters each day to assist with enforcement of laws inside Bahamian territories.
RBPF Partnership: The Coast Guard is closely partnered with the Royal Bahamas Police Force, most notably with OPBAT (Operations Bahamas / Turks & Caicos). Both organizations work closely together combating the flow of illegal contraband and migrants throughout the region. The USCG and RBPF also partner on other maritime law enforcement matters such as stolen vessels and trafficking in persons.
Clearances: Routine clearances for Coast Guard cutters, aircraft, and personnel involve coordination with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. On any given day, approximately 200 Coast Guard personnel engage in The Bahamas in all aspects of maritime issues. The CGLO is responsible for general oversight of most of this engagement.
Search and Rescue (SAR): Any SAR cases involving Coast Guard assets in The Bahamas is coordinated with the Bahamian government. The RBDF is the official SAR coordinator for maritime events in the Bahamas. As such, all search and rescue assistance by the Coast Guard is coordinated with the RBDF. For all SAR cases in the Turks and Caicos, the Royal Turks and Caicos Police Force (RTCIPF) Maritime Division serves as the official coordinator.
Aids to Navigation: The USCG continues to work closely with the Bahamas Port Department and the RBDF in providing resources, expertise and training in the field of Aids to Navigation. Charts for The Bahamas and the TCI are infrequently updated to reflect changes in depth soundings, wrecks, shoals and aids to navigation. Mariners are advised to not rely on only one navigation reference source when operating vessels in the region. Due to the numerous reefs and shoals, operation of vessels at night outside of charted navigational channels is not recommended.
International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) Section
The Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), headed by Assistant Secretary William R. Brownfield, advises the President, Secretary of State, other bureaus in the Department of State, and other departments and agencies within the U.S. Government on the development of policies and programs to combat international narcotics and crime. INL programs support two of the Department’s strategic goals:
- To reduce the entry of illegal drugs into the United States; and
- To minimize the impact of international crime on the United States and its citizens.
INL in The Bahamas
The International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) Section of U.S. Embassy Nassau administers bilateral assistance programs with the Government of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas (GCOB) under the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI). CBSI is a citizen security initiative with the mutually agreed upon goals of: significantly reducing illicit trafficking, increasing public safety and security, and promoting social justice in the Caribbean.
INL also serves as a resource to the Chief of Mission providing guidance on counternarcotics, transnational crime, corrections, and rule of law issues.
Working together through the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI), the United States and the nations of the Caribbean, including The Bahamas, are combating the drug trade and other transnational crimes that threaten regional security.
In the Bahamas, INL implements CBSI activities in the areas of: Law Enforcement Professionalization, Counternarcotics Control (including Drug Demand Reduction), and Rule of Law Reform (including Corrections Reform). All projects are implemented in partnership and cooperation with the relevant parts of the Government of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas and with reference to its National Anti-Drug Strategy. Some activities support nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) working with at-risk youth to provide alternative life and job skills training to those who are most likely to choose a life of crime and violence at an early age.
Recent INL-funded activities have included:
The donation of four high-speed marine interceptor vessels (SafeBoats), valued at $1,521700, to the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) Marine Support Services Unit. The vessels will be strategically stationed throughout The Bahamas—in New Providence, Grand Bahama, Exuma, and Inagua—further bolstering the RBPF’s ability to take part in Operation Bahamas, Turks and Caicos (OPBAT) maritime interdiction operations.
A two-day Judicial Writing Workshop for 50 Supreme and Appeals Court Judges, Registrars, and Magistrates designed to enhance their ability to communicate principled and sound decisions to litigants, lawyers, citizens, and other courts, thereby increasing efficiency in the administration of justice in The Bahamas.
A series of training opportunities for Bahamas Department of Correctional Services (BDOC) Officers at the International Correctional Management Training Center in Canon City, CO covering topics such as correctional institutional management, emergency planning/management, and security threat groups (i.e. gangs) in the corrections environment.
The award of a $25,000 grant to the Bahamas Association for Social Health, the only nongovernmental inpatient drug treatment and rehabilitation program in The Bahamas, to produce anti-drug media campaign, which will include a documentary and public service announcements geared towards at-risk youth.
The donation of two firearms training simulators, valued at approximately $165,000, to the Police Training Colleges in Nassau and Freeport. INL will also provide training in the use and maintenance of the simulators, as well as on-site scenario filming specific to The Bahamas to make training scenarios more realistic.
The annual International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR) is an annual report by the Department of State to Congress prepared in accordance with the Foreign Assistance Act and the Foreign Relations Authorization Act that describes the steps taken during the previous year by the governments of nearly 90 countries, including The Bahamas, to reduce illicit narcotics production, trafficking, and use. The 2016 report is available here.
Federal Bureau of Investigation Legal Attaché (LEGATT)
The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Legal Attaché (LEGATT) Sub-Office office in Nassau, Bahamas advances the FBI’s international mission to defeat national security and criminal threats by building a regional network of trusted partners to strengthen international capabilities. Nassau Sub-Office’s parent office (LEGATT Bridgetown) is located in Bridgetown, Barbados. The Nassau Sub-Office also serves as the FBI representative within the Northern Caribbean by sharing knowledge, capabilities, and facilitating joint operational opportunities with law enforcement and security services in six countries and territories.
Legatt Bridgetown has a large area of responsibility which includes the countries of Antigua & Barbuda, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Curacao, Dominica, Grenada, Saint Christopher & Nevis, Saint Lucia, Sint Maarten, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines the French West Indies (Guadeloupe, Martinique, Saint Barthélemy and Saint Martin) and the Netherlands Special Municipalities of Bonaire, Saba, and Saint Eustatius. The FBI’s Nassau Sub-Office coverage includes The Bahamas and the United Kingdom Overseas Territories of Anguilla, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Montserrat, and Turks and Caicos Islands.
Working with subject matter experts in FBI Offices throughout the United States and other LEGATTs globally, the Nassau Sub-Office facilitates coordination of international activities and training with its regional partners in the areas of terrorism, financial fraud, organized crime, cyber crime, child pornography, money laundering, economic espionage, kidnapping, extortion and the multitude of other matters the FBI investigates.
The FBI LEGATT Office in Nassau can be reached directly at (242) 322-1181, ext. 4542.
Other information including the FBI’s Most Wanted and Top 10 Terrorists can be found at:
- Federal Bureau of Investigation website