Frequently Asked Questions
Who needs a Visa?
Anyone not eligible to enter the United States on the Visa Waiver Program will be required to get a visa.
Who can use the Visa Waiver Program?
Citizens of certain countries who are traveling to the U.S. for 90 days or less for business or tourism may not need a visa. For information on persons eligible to travel visa free to the United States, see Visa Waiver Program.
How do I apply for a non-immigrant Visa?
Please use the four step process outlined on the Non-immigrant Visa Application Procedures web page.
How long will it take to get my Visa?
Most applicants receive their visas in about five to seven business days from their interviews. However, we do not guarantee that every case will be processed within that time frame. Do not/not make final travel plans until you have your passport in your possession. Also, some cases may require additional processing, which could result in a delay of up to six weeks or more.
How long will it take to get an appointment?
Wait times for a non-immigrant visa interview appointment may differ greatly depending on the time of the year. Please apply early.
Do I need to have six months validity on my passport or on my visa to travel to the U.S.?
There is some confusion regarding the requirements for passport and visa validity when entering the U.S. A traveler’s passport must be valid for six months beyond the date of entry into the U.S.. A U.S. visa, however, may be used until midnight on the day it expires. Even if used on the last day of validity, a traveler may be admitted to the U.S. for the full amount of time granted by the Customs and Border Patrol agent at the border.
Can I find out if the Visa will be issued in advance?
No assurance regarding the issuance of non-immigrant visas can be given in advance. Final travel plans or the purchase of non-refundable air tickets should not be made until you have been approved and have received your visa.
Why was I told that I am not qualified for a non-immigrant Visa?
The United States is an open society. Unlike many other countries, the United States does not impose internal controls on most visitors, such as registration with local authorities. In order to enjoy the privilege of unencumbered travel in the United States, aliens share a responsibility to prove they are going to return abroad before a visitor or student visa is issued. Our immigration law requires consular officers to view every applicant as an intending immigrant until the applicant proves otherwise.
A nonimmigrant visa is usually refused under Section 214(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Section 214(b) states:
Every alien shall be presumed to be an intending immigrant until he establishes to the satisfaction of the consular officer, at the time of application for admission, that he is entitled to a nonimmigrant status ...
To qualify for a visa, an applicant must meet the requirements of Sections 101(a)(15)(B) or (F) of the INA. Failure to do so will result in a refusal of a visa under INA Section 214(b). The most frequent basis for such a refusal concerns the requirement that the prospective visitor or student possess a residence abroad he/she has no intention of abandoning. Applicants prove the existence of such residence by demonstrating that they have ties abroad that would compel them to leave the U.S. at the end of a temporary stay. U.S. law places this burden of proof on the visa applicant.
What does a consular officer look for when determining an applicant's entitlement to non-immigrant status?
In making that determination, the officer considers the applicant's personal circumstances, travel plans, financial resources, and ties outside the United States that will ensure his/her departure after a temporary visit.
What constitutes 'strong ties' to a residence abroad?
Strong ties differ from country to country, city to city, individual to individual. Some examples of ties can be a job, a house, a family - or if you weren't born in your country of residence - permission for permanent residency in that country/territory. "Ties" are the various aspects of your life that bind you to your country of residence: your possessions, employment, social and family relationships.
Each person's situation is different, and the consular officers are aware of this diversity. During the visa interview they look at each application individually and consider professional, social, cultural and other factors. In cases of younger applicants who may not have had an opportunity to form many ties, consular officers may look at the applicants specific intentions, family situations and long-range plans and prospects within his or her country of residence. Each case is examined individually and is accorded every consideration under the law.
How can an officer make a decision so quickly?
The visa officer who refused your visa is well trained. In a very short time, a consular officer has looked at several aspects of your case: your situation in your country of residence, your stated intent for going to the United States, your previous travel history, your financial situation, etc. Based on the unique circumstances of your case, the consular officer asked you the questions he/she deemed necessary. The visa officer weighed your answers to those questions with the specific facts of your case. The high volume of applications we receive demands that the consular officer examine your case only as far as necessary for him/her to determine whether you overcame the legal presumption of intending immigration to the United States. Unfortunately, visa applicants' stated intent often conflicts with other facts presented.
Why didn’t the officer look at my documents?
Applying for a non-immigrant visa is not primarily a documentary process. Visa officers seldom dwell upon documents. What is at issue is intent. Documents alone never will establish applicants' intentions. Documents that demonstrate that applicants are well established in their own country can in some circumstances help individuals to establish that their intent is to return to their own country after a short visit to the United States. Depending on the specifics of your case, the consular officer may or may not have needed to examine your documents closely to make a decision about your intent. You were correct to bring documents with you, in case the visa officer would have needed to refer to them. If the consular officer made a decision in your case without a detailed scrutiny of your documents, it was because other circumstances of your case were clear. If your visa was refused, it is highly unlikely that any document you could provide would significantly alter the visa officer's decision about your intent.
Why can’t I get my money back?
The money that you paid is an application fee. Everyone who applies for a U.S. visa is subject to this fee. The application instruction form states clearly that this fee is non-refundable and will not be returned if you fail to establish that you qualify for a U.S. visa. This office has no authority to refund an application fee. If you plan to reapply for a visa here or elsewhere, you will be required to pay an application fee every time you apply.
When can I reapply for a visa?
You may reapply for a visa any time you wish. You will be required to pay a new application fee. You should only reapply if your circumstances (professional, economic, and/or ties) have changed since your last application such that you might now qualify for a visa, or if you have additional, critical information to present that will clarify your circumstances. It is quite possible that even after reapplication, you still may not qualify for a visa.
My passport with a valid U.S. visa has been misplaced / lost / stolen / destroyed. Is it possible to transfer the visa once I obtain a replacement (new) passport or do I have to apply all over again?
If your passport with a valid U.S. visa has been lost or stolen, please report it to your nearest police authority and provide a copy of the police report to us as soon as possible. You may scan and email, or fax the police report to us. Whether your passport with the valid U.S. visa is misplaced, lost, stolen or destroyed, unfortunately, it is not possible to transfer the visa once a new passport is obtained. You will need to apply and qualify for a new visa. You may also bring the police report regarding a lost or stolen passport with you to your visa appointment.
I recently got married and my name has changed. I have a valid U.S. visa in my passport in the previous name. Is it possible to transfer the visa once I obtain a new passport or do I have to apply all over again?
You may travel using the valid U.S. visa in your passport in the previous name and your marriage certificate. Unfortunately, it is not possible to transfer the visa once a new passport is obtained. If you wish to obtain a U.S. visa in your new passport, you will need to apply and qualify for a new visa.
Return to Non-Immigrant Application Procedures