USA VISA APPLICATION INFORMATION BANK

USA VISA APPLICATION INFORMATION BANK

Directory of Visa Categories -NONIMMIGRANT

The purpose of your intended travel and other facts will determine what type of visa is required under U.S. immigration law. As a visa applicant, you will need to establish that you meet all requirements to receive the category of visa for which you are applying. When you apply at a U.S embassy or consulate, a consular officer will determine based on laws, whether you are eligible to receive a visa, and if so, which visa category is appropriate.

Nonimmigrant Visa Categories

The chart below contains many different purposes of temporary travel and the related nonimmigrant visa categories available on this website. Select a visa category below to learn more:

Purpose of Travel Visa Category Required: Before applying for visa*
Athlete, amateur or professional (competing for prize money only) B-1 (NA)
Au pair (exchange visitor) J SEVIS
Australian professional specialty E-3 DOL
Border Crossing Card: Mexico BCC (NA)
Business visitor B-1 (NA)
CNMI-only transitional worker CW-1 (USCIS)
Crewmember D (NA)
Diplomat or foreign government official A

 

(NA)
Domestic employee or nanny – must be accompanying a foreign national employer B-1 (NA)
Employee of a designated international organization or NATO   G1-G5, NATO (NA)
Exchange visitor J SEVIS
Foreign military personnel stationed in the United States A-2
NATO1-6
(NA)
Foreign national with extraordinary ability in Sciences, Arts, Education, Business or Athletics O USCIS
Free Trade Agreement (FTA) Professional:
Chile, Singapore
H-1B1 – Chile
H-1B1 – Singapore
DOL
International cultural exchange visitor Q USCIS
Intra-company transferee L USCIS
Medical treatment, visitor for B-2 (NA)
Media, journalist I (NA)
NAFTA professional worker: Mexico, Canada TN/TD (NA)
Performing athlete, artist, entertainer P USCIS
Physician J , H-1B SEVIS
Professor, scholar, teacher (exchange visitor) J SEVIS
Religious worker R USCIS
Specialty occupations in fields requiring highly specialized knowledge H-1B DOL then USCIS
Student: academic, vocational F, M SEVIS
Temporary agricultural worker H-2A DOL then USCIS
Temporary worker performing other services or labor of a temporary or seasonal nature. H-2B DOL then USCIS
Tourism, vacation, pleasure visitor B-2 (NA)
Training in a program not primarily for employment H-3 USCIS
Treaty trader/treaty investor E (NA)
Transiting the United States C (NA)
Victim of Criminal Activity U USCIS
Victim of Human Trafficking T USCIS
Nonimmigrant (V) Visa for Spouse and Children of a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) V (NA)
Renewals in the U.S. – A, G, and NATO Visas   (NA)

*What the abbreviations above mean – Before applying for a visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate, the following is required:

  • DOL = The U.S. employer must obtain foreign labor certification from the U.S. Department of Labor, prior to filing a petition with USCIS.
  • USCIS = U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) approval of a petition or application (The required petition or application depends on the visa category you plan to apply for.)
  • SEVIS = Program approval entered in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS)
  • (NA) = Not Applicable – Additional approval by another U.S. government agency is not required prior to applying for a visa

Important Notes:

  • About this chart – It is not a complete list of all travel purposes for the visa category. Select a visa category webpage for more information. The chart lists almost all nonimmigrant visa categories, with the exception of several not listed above. Refer to the Foreign Affairs Manual, 9 FAM 402.1for all nonimmigrant visa categories.
  • Canadian NAFTA Professional workers – A visa not required; apply to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at border port of entry.
  • K nonimmigrant visas – For U.S. citizen fiancé(e) and spouse for immigration related purposes. Refer to Immigrant Visa Categories.

Immigrant Visa Categories

The chart below contains different purposes for immigrating to the United States, and the related immigrant visa categories for which information is available on this website. Select a visa category below to learn more:

Immediate Relative & Family Sponsored Visa Category
Spouse of a U.S. Citizen IR1, CR1
Spouse of a U.S. Citizen awaiting approval of an I-130 immigrant petition K-3 *
Fiancé(e) to marry U.S. Citizen & live in U.S. K-1 *
Intercountry Adoption of Orphan Children by U.S. Citizens IR3, IH3, IR4, IH4
Certain Family Members of U.S. Citizens IR2, CR2, IR5, F1, F3, F4
Certain Family Members of Lawful Permanent Residents F2A, F2B
Employer Sponsored – Employment
Employment-Based Immigrants, including  (preference group):

  • Priority workers [First]
  • Professionals Holding Advanced Degrees and Persons of Exceptional Ability [Second]
  • Professionals and Other Workers [Third]
  • Employment Creation/Investors [Fifth]
  • Certain Special Immigrants: [Fourth]
E1
E2

E3, EW3

C5, T5, R5, I5

S (many**)

Religious Workers SD, SR
Iraqi and Afghan Translators/Interpreters SI
Iraqis Who Worked for/on Behalf of the U.S. Government SQ
Afghans Who Worked for/on Behalf of the U.S. Government SQ
Other Immigrants
Diversity Immigrant Visa DV
Returning Resident SB

Important Notes:

*K Visas – Listed with immigrant visas because they are for immigration related purposes.

About this chart – This chart is a list of many immigrant visa categories, but not every immigrant visa category.

**Refer to the Foreign Affairs Manual, 9 FAM 502.1 for a listing of all immigrant visa categories.

 

Full Explanations of the Visas Categories Above

  1. B1/B2 Visitor Visa (Non Immigrant Visa DS-160)

 

Important information on Executive Order– Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.

Overview

Generally, a citizen of a foreign country who wishes to enter the United States must first obtain a visa, either a nonimmigrant visa for temporary stay, or an immigrant visa for permanent residence. Visitor visas are nonimmigrant visas for persons who want to enter the United States temporarily for business (visa category B-1), tourism, pleasure or visiting (visa category B-2), or a combination of both purposes (B-1/B-2).

Here are some examples of activities permitted with a visitor visa:

Business (B-1):

  • consult with business associates
  • attend a scientific, educational, professional, or business convention or conference
  • settle an estate
  • negotiate a contract

Learn more about Visitor Visas – Business and Pleasure (PDF – 1020 KB).

Tourism and Visit (B-2):

  • tourism
  • vacation (holiday)
  • visit with friends or relatives
  • medical treatment
  • participation in social events hosted by fraternal, social, or service organizations
  • participation by amateurs in musical, sports, or similar events or contests, if not being paid for participating
  • enrollment in a short recreational course of study, not for credit toward a degree (for example, a two-day cooking class while on vacation)

Learn more about Visitor Visas – Business and Pleasure (PDF – 1020 KB).

Travel Purposes Not Permitted On Visitor Visas:

These are some examples of activities that require different categories of visas and cannot be done while on a visitor visa:

  • study
  • employment
  • paid performances, or any professional performance before a paying audience
  • arrival as a crewmember on a ship or aircraft
  • work as foreign press, radio, film, journalists, and other information media
  • permanent residence in the United States

How to Apply

There are several steps to apply for a visa. The order of these steps and how you complete them may vary at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you apply. Please consult the instructions available on the U.S. Embassy or Consulate website where you will apply.

Complete the Online Visa Application

  • Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160Learn more about completing the DS-160. You must: 1) complete the online visa application and 2) print the application form confirmation page to bring to your interview.
  • Photo – You will upload your photo while completing the online Form DS-160. Your photo must be in the format explained in the Photograph Requirements.

Schedule an Interview

While interviews are generally not required for applicants of certain ages outlined below, consular officers have the discretion to require an interview of any applicant, regardless of age.

If you are age: Then an interview is:
13 and younger Generally not required
14-79 Required (some exceptions for renewals)
80 and older Generally not required

You must schedule an appointment for your visa interview, generally, at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the country where you live. You may schedule your interview at any U.S. Embassy or Consulate, but be aware that it may be difficult to qualify for a visa outside of your place of permanent residence.

Wait times for interview appointments vary by location, season, and visa category, so you should apply for your visa early. Review the interview wait time for the location where you will apply:

Appointment Wait Time

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Select a U.S. Embassy or Consulate:Where will you apply?

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See Details

Prepare for Your Interview

  • Fees – Pay the non-refundable visa application fee, if you are required to pay it before your interview. When your visa is approved, you may also pay a visa issuance fee, if applicable to your nationality. Fee information is provided below:

Application Fee

$160

All Fees

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Select your nationality to see Issuance Fee

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  • Review the instructions available on the website of the embassy or consulate where you will apply to learn more about fee payment.

Gather Required Documentation

Gather and prepare the following required documents before your visa interview:

  • Passport valid for travel to the United States – Your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond your period of stay in the United States, unless exempt by country-specific agreements (PDF – 57 KB). If more than one person is included in your passport, each person who needs a visa must submit a separate application.
  • Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160 confirmation page
  • Application fee payment receipt, if you are required to pay before your interview.
  • Photo – You will upload your photo while completing the online Form DS-160. If the photo upload fails, you must bring one printed photo in the format explained in the Photograph Requirements.

Additional Documentation May Be Required

Review the instructions for how to apply for a visa on the website of the embassy or consulate where you will apply. Additional documents may be requested to establish if you are qualified. For example, additional requested documents may include evidence of:

  • The purpose of your trip;
  • Your intent to depart the United States after your trip; and/or
  • Your ability to pay all costs of the trip.

Evidence of your employment and/or your family ties may be sufficient to show the purpose of your trip and your intent to return to your home country. If you cannot cover all the costs for your trip, you may show evidence that another person will cover some or all costs for your trip.

Note: Visa applicants must qualify on the basis of the applicant’s residence and ties abroad, rather than assurances from U.S. family and friends. A letter of invitation or Affidavit of Support is not needed to apply for a nonimmigrant tourist visa. If you do choose to bring a letter of invitation or Affidavit of Support to your interview, please remember that it is not one of the factors that we use in determining whether to issue or deny a nonimmigrant tourist visa.

Attend Your Visa Interview

During your visa interview, a consular officer will determine whether you are qualified to receive a visa, and if so, which visa category is appropriate based on your purpose of travel. You will need to establish that you meet the requirements under U.S. law to receive the category of visa for which you are applying.

Ink-free, digital fingerprint scans will be taken as part of your application process. They are usually taken during your interview, but this varies based on location.

After your visa interview, your application may require further administrative processing. You will be informed by the consular officer if further processing is necessary for your application.

When the visa is approved, you may pay a visa issuance fee if applicable to your nationality, and will be informed how your passport with visa will be returned to you. Review the visa processing time, to learn how soon your passport with visa will generally be ready for pick-up or delivery by the courier.

Entering the United States

A visa allows a foreign citizen to travel to a U.S. port-of-entry (generally an airport) and request permission to enter the United States. A visa does not guarantee entry into the United States. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials at the port-of-entry have authority to permit or deny admission to the United States. If you are allowed to enter the United States, the CBP official will provide an admission stamp or a paper Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record. Learn more about admissions and entry requirements, restrictions about bringing food, agricultural products, and other restricted/prohibited goods, and more by reviewing the CBP website.

Extending Your Stay

See Extend Your Stay on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website to learn about requesting to extend your stay beyond the date indicated on your admission stamp or paper Form I-94.

You must depart the United States on or before the date indicated on your admission stamp or paper Form I-94, unless your request to extend your stay is approved by USCIS.

Failure to depart the United States on time will result in you being out of status. Under U.S. law, visas of travelers who are out of status are automatically voided (Section 222(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act). If you had a multiple-entry visa and it was voided due to you being out of status, it will not be valid for future entries into the United States.

Failure to depart the United States on time may also result in you being ineligible for visas you may apply for in the future. Review Visa Denials and Ineligibilities and Waivers: Laws to learn more.

Change of Status

While in the United States, you may be able to request that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) change your nonimmigrant status to another nonimmigrant category. See Change My Nonimmigrant Status on the USCIS website to learn more.

Requesting a change of status from USCIS while you are in the United States and before your authorized stay expires does not require that you apply for a new visa. However, if you cannot remain in the United States while USCIS processes your change of status request, you must apply for a visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

Additional Information

  • Visitors are not permitted to accept employment or work in the United States.
  • We cannot guarantee that you will be issued a visa. Do not make final travel plans or buy tickets until you have a visa.
  • Unless canceled or revoked, a visa is valid until its expiration date.  Therefore, a valid U.S. visa in an expired passport is still valid. If you have a valid visa in your expired passport, do not remove it from your expired passport. You may use your valid visa in your expired passport along with a new valid passport for travel and admission to the United States.

 

Travel for Medical Treatment

If you are seeking medical treatment in the United States, the consular officer may ask for further documents at your visa interview, which may include:

  • Medical diagnosis from a local physician, explaining the nature of the ailment and the reason you need treatment in the United States.
  • Letter from a physician or medical facility in the United States, stating they are willing to treat your specific ailment and detailing the projected length and cost of treatment (including doctors’ fees, hospitalization fees, and all medical-related expenses).
  • Proof that your transportation, medical, and living expenses in the United States will be paid. This may be in the form of bank or other statements of income/savings or certified copies of income tax returns (either yours or the person or organization paying for your treatment).

Visitor Visas for Personal or Domestic Employees (B-1)

You may apply for a B-1 visitor visa to work in the United States as a personal or domestic employee for your employer in limited situations. You may work in the United States on a visitor visa if your employer is:

  • A U.S. citizen who has a permanent home or is stationed in a foreign country, but is visiting or is assigned to the United States temporarily; or
  • A foreign citizen who is in the United States on one of the following nonimmigrant visa categories:  B, E, F, H, I, J, L, M, O, P, or Q.

Learn more about your rights in the United States and protection available to you by reading the Legal Rights and Protections pamphlet.

Visa Renewal

Whether you are applying for the first time or renewing your visa, you will use the same application process (please review How to Apply, above). Some applicants seeking to renew their visas in certain visa classes may be eligible for the Interview Waiver Program (IWP) which allows qualified individuals to apply for visa renewals without being interviewed in person by a U.S. consular officer. Review the instructions on the website of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you will apply to determine if the IWP is available and if you qualify.

Do I need a visa if I have an ABTC?

Yes, you will still need a visa to travel to the United States, unless you qualify for the Visa Waiver Program. Having an Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Business Travelers Card (ABTC) does not change visa requirements, your visa status, or the visa process for travel to the United States.

Review the Frequently Asked Questions for participants in APEC meetings in the United States.

How can I use my ABTC when I apply for my visa?

If you have an Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Business Travelers Card (ABTC),  you might be able to schedule an expedited visa interview appointment. Review the instructions for scheduling expedited appointments on the website of the embassy or consulate where you will apply.

Review the Frequently Asked Questions for participants in APEC meetings in the United States.

Visa Annotations for Certain Maritime Industry Workers

Certain foreign maritime workers are eligible to apply for a Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) once in the U.S. If you, as a maritime industry worker, will perform services in secure port areas, your visa must be annotated “TWIC Letter Received.” Workers whose visas are not annotated will not be permitted by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to apply for a TWIC.

In order for your visa to be annotated, you must obtain a letter from your employer explaining the need for a TWIC and that you are a potential TWIC applicant. Click here for a template example of this letter. You must present this letter when you apply for the B-1 visa. You must meet all other eligibility requirements for a B-1 visa.

Complete information about the TWIC program is available on TSA’s website at http://www.tsa.gov/stakeholders/transportation-worker-identification-credential-twic.

Visa Denial and Ineligibility

Review Visa Denials for detailed information about visa ineligibilities, denials and waivers.

I was refused a visa, under Section 214(b). May I reapply?

Yes, if you feel circumstances have changed regarding your application. Review Visa Denials to learn more.

Misrepresentation or Fraud

Attempting to obtain a visa by the willful misrepresentation of a material fact, or fraud, may result in the permanent refusal of a visa or denial of entry into the United States.

Review Ineligibilities and Waivers: Laws.

Citizens of Canada and Bermuda

Citizens of Canada and Bermuda do not require visas to enter the United States, for visit, tourism and temporary business travel purposes. For more information see U.S. Embassy Ottawa websiteU.S. Consulate Hamilton website and CBP website.

Additional resources for Canadian visitors to the United States can be found on the U.S. Embassy and Consulate websites in Canada.

 

Citizens of China

In accordance with the agreement signed between the United States and China to extend visa validity, beginning on November 29, 2016, Chinese citizens with 10-year B1, B2 or B1/B2 visas in Peoples’ Republic of China passports will be required to update their biographical and other information from their visa application via a website every two years, or upon getting a new passport or B1, B2, or B1/B2 visa, whichever occurs first.  This mechanism is called EVUS – Electronic Visa Update System.

The EVUS website is now open to the public for enrollments at www.EVUS.gov.  CBP will not collect a fee for EVUS enrollment at this time. CBP anticipates the eventual implementation of an EVUS enrollment fee, but does not have a time frame. Until the implementation of a fee, travelers can enroll in EVUS without charge.  The Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will keep visa holders informed of new information throughout the year. For further information, please visit www.cbp.gov/EVUS.‎

根据美中双方签署的延长签证有效期的协议,自2016年11月29日起,凡持有10 年 期B1,B2 或 B1/B2签证的中华人民共和国护照持有人需要每两年或在获取新护照或最长有效期的B1、B2或B1/B2签证时时(以先到者为准),通过网站更新他们签证申请上的个人资料及其它信息。这个机制我们称之为EVUS –签证更新电子系统。

EVUS的登记网站www.EVUS.gov 现已开放接受登记。美国海关和边境保护局(CBP)目前不会收取登记费用。美国海关和边境保护局预期EVUS登记收费最终会实施,但目前尚未落实执行时间。在收费实施前,旅客可以免费完成EVUS登记。美国国土安全部海关和边境保护局将在今年及时向签证持有人公布最新的信息。获取更多的信息,请访问www.cbp.gov/EVUS

Citizens of Mexico

Citizens and permanent residents of Mexico generally must have a nonimmigrant visa or Border Crossing Card (also known as a “Laser Visa”). For ease of travel, the B-1/B-2 and the Border Crossing Card have been combined into one document (DSP-150). Select Border Crossing Card to learn more about this card.

Please visit U.S. Embassy or Consulate websites for more information regarding applying for a visa at the U.S. Embassy or Consulates in Mexico.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Question)

About Visas – The Basics

Visa Types

What types of visas are available for people to come to the United States?

There are more than 20 nonimmigrant visa types for people traveling to the United States temporarily. There are many more types of immigrant visas for those coming to live permanently in the United States. The type of Visa you need is determined by the purpose of your intended travel. For an overview of visa types, please see Types of Visas for Temporary Visitors or Visa Types for Immigrants.

After Visa Issuance

How do I read and understand my visa?

Please use the illustrated guide below to learn how to read your new nonimmigrant visa (for travel to the U.S. as a temporary visitor). In addition, as soon as you receive it, check to make sure information printed on the visa is correct (see below). If any of the information on your visa does not match the information in your passport or is incorrect, please contact the nonimmigrant visa section at the embassy or consulate that issued your visa.

 

What is a Visa?
Nonimmigrant Visa Types (Classifications)
Immigrant Visa Types (Classifications)

My visa expires in 5 years, what does this mean?

A visa must be valid at the time a traveler seeks admission to the United States, but the expiration date of the visa (validity period/length of time the visa can be used) has no relation to the length of time a temporary visitor may be authorized by the Department of Homeland Security to remain in the United States. Persons holding visas valid for multiple entries may make repeated trips to the United States, for travel for the same purpose, as long as the visa has not expired, and the traveler has done nothing to become ineligible to enter the United States, at port-of-entry.

Visa Validity

My old passport has already expired. My visa to travel to the United States is still valid but in my expired passport. Do I need to apply for a new visa with my new passport?

No. If your visa is still valid you can travel to the United States with your two passports, as long as the visa is valid, not damaged, and is the appropriate type of visa required for your principal purpose of travel. (Example: tourist visa, when your principal purpose of travel is tourism). Both passports (the valid and the expired one with the visa) should be from the same country and type (Example: both Uruguayan regular passports, both official passports, etc.). When you arrive at the U.S. port-of-entry (POE, generally an airport or land border) the Customs and Border Protection Immigration Officer will check your visa in the old passport and if s/he decides to admit you into the United States they will stamp your new passport with an admission stamp along with the annotation “VIOPP” (visa in other passport). Do not try to remove the visa from your old passport and stick it into the new valid passport. If you do so, your visa will no longer be valid.

My visa will expire while I am in the United States. Is there a problem with that?

No. If the Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection Immigration Officer at the port-of-entry admitted you into the United States for a specific period of time, s/he will note your authorized period of stay on your admission stamp or paper Form I-94, called an Arrival/Departure Record. You will be able to remain in the United States during your authorized period of stay, even if your visa expires during the time you are in the United States. Since your admission stamp or paper Form I-94 documents your authorized stay and is the official record of your permission to be in the United States, it is very important to keep inside your passport.

What are indefinite validity visas (Burroughs visas) and are they still valid?

Indefinite validity visas (Burroughs Visas) are tourist/business visas manually stamped into a traveler’s passport which were valid for ten years. Effective April 1, 2004, all indefinite validity Burroughs visas became void. Therefore, if you have an indefinite validity visa you must apply for a new visa for travel to the U.S.

I changed my name. Is my U.S. visa with my old name still valid?

If your name has legally changed through marriage, divorce, or a court ordered name change, you will need to obtain a new passport.  Once you have a new passport, the Department of State recommends that you apply for a new U.S. visa to make it easier for you to travel to and from the United States.

Administrative Processing

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What is Administrative Processing?

Some visa applications require further administrative processing, which takes additional time after the visa applicant’s interview by a consular officer. Applicants are advised of this requirement when they apply. Most administrative processing is resolved within 60 days of the visa interview. Learn more.

Visa Denials

 

My visa application has been refused. Why can’t I get my money back?

The fee that you paid is an application fee. Everyone who applies for a U.S. visa anywhere in the world must pay this fee, which covers the cost of processing your application. This fee is non-refundable regardless of whether you are issued a visa or not, since your application was processed to conclusion. As one example, if your application was refused under Section 214(b) and you choose to reapply for a visa, whether applying at the same embassy or elsewhere, you will be required to pay the visa application processing fee. See the Fees for Visa Services page for a list of fees.

Renewals

 

I have a nonimmigrant visa that will expire soon and I would like to renew it. Do I need go through the whole visa application process again?

Yes, you will have to go through the whole visa application process each time you want to apply for a visa, even if your visa is still valid. There are some situations where a visa applicant may not need to be interviewed when renewing his/her visa. See the U.S. Embassy or Consulate website for more information.

Entering and Departing the United States

 

After I have my visa, I will be able to enter the U.S., correct?

A visa does not guarantee entry into the United States. A visa allows a foreign citizen to travel to the U.S. port-of-entry, and the Department of Homeland Security U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) immigration inspector authorizes or denies admission to the United States. See Admissions on the CBP website.

How can I find out how long I am authorized to stay in the United States?

A visa does not guarantee entry into the United States, but allows a foreign citizen coming from abroad, to travel to the United States port-of entry (generally an airport or land border) and request permission to enter the United States. The Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials have authority to permit or deny admission to the United States, and determine how long a traveler may stay. At the port of entry, upon granting entry to the United States, the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. immigration inspector, provides you an admission stamp or paper Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record in your passport. On this admission stamp or paper form, the U.S. immigration inspector records either a date or “D/S” (duration of status). If your I-94 contains a specific date, then that is the date by which you must leave the United States. Your admission stamp or paper Form I-94 is very important to keep in your passport, since it shows your permission to be in the United States. Review information about Admission on the CBP Website. Also, see Duration of Stay.

I did not turn in my paper Form I-94 when I left the United States, what should I do?

If you failed to turn in your paper Form I-94 Departure Record, see Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection website for more information.

Lost, Stolen or Damaged Visas

 

My passport with my visa was stolen, what should I do?

If your passport with your admission stamp or paper Form I-94 are lost or stolen, you must get them replaced immediately. There are a number of steps you need to take, learn more, see Lost and Stolen Passports, Visas, and Form I-94s.

Lost and Stolen Passports, Visa, and Arrival/Departure Records (Form I-94)

Overview

Passports, Visas, and Arrival/Departure Records (admission stamp or paper Form I-94) are official travel documents that foreign citizens coming to the United States (U.S.) must have in their possession to show their country of citizenship and legal status in the United States.

We encourage travelers to make a copy of their passport biographic page, U.S. visa and admission stamp or paper Form I-94, if provided, as soon as possible after their arrival in the United States. If you are a foreign citizen temporarily in the United States, and you lose your U.S. visa, you can remain for the duration of your authorized stay, as shown on your admission stamp or paper Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record. You will need a valid passport to depart the United States and to enter another country. If you were issued a paper Form I-94 and it was lost or stolen, you must get it replaced immediately. There are a number of steps you need to take as follows:

Police Report

Go to the local police station and report your document(s) lost or stolen. If available, you will need to provide copies of the original documents. You will be issued a police report detailing the incident. Don’t forget to make an extra copy of the report for your own records.

Request Replacement of a Lost/Stolen Arrival/Departure Record (Form I-94)

Replacement of a lost or stolen Form I-94 falls under the responsibility of Department of Homeland Security (DHS). To file for a replacement I-94, see Application for Replacement/Initial Nonimmigrant Arrival-Departure Document at the DHS, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website and see Arrival-Departure Record at the DHS, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) website.

Report Lost/Stolen to Your Embassy

Contact the local embassy or consular section for the country of your citizenship for information about the procedure to replace a lost or stolen passport. Most countries have Internet web sites with contact information.

Report your Visa Lost/Stolen to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate Abroad

To report your visa lost or stolen, email the Consular Section at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate outside the United States which issued your visa. Go to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate website to locate the email address and contact information. Be sure to include your full name, date of birth, place of birth, address in the United States, and an e-mail address (if available). Specifically state whether the visa was lost or stolen. If you have a copy of the passport or visa, scan and email this to the embassy or consulate. Otherwise, if known, report the category of visa, and the passport number from the lost/stolen visa.

If you have already reported your visa lost/stolen to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate, and then you later find your misplaced visa, then your visa will be invalid for future travel to the United States.  Therefore, in that situation you must apply for a new visa at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

Applying for a Replacement U.S. Visa

Lost or stolen U.S. visas cannot be replaced in the United States. For replacement of a visa, you must apply in person at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad. When applying for the replacement of a visa, you will need to provide a written account documenting the loss of your passport and visa. Include a copy of the police report

My visa was damaged. What should I do?

If your visa has been damaged in any way, you will need to reapply for a new visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad.

U.S. Citizens

 

I may have a claim to U.S. citizenship. Can I apply for a U.S. visa?

With few exceptions, a person born in the United States acquires U.S. citizenship at birth. A state-issued birth certificate serves as evidence of citizenship. Review the Apply for a Passport webpage to learn more.

Persons born in countries other than the United States may have a claim to U.S. citizenship if either parent is a U.S. citizen under U.S. law. Learn more on the Birth of U.S. Citizens Abroad webpage.

If a person is a U.S. citizen, he or she is not eligible for a visa. Any prospective applicant believing he or she may have a claim to U.S. citizenship should have his or her citizenship claim adjudicated (officially determined) by a consular officer at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate before applying for a U.S. visa.

 

I have dual citizenship. Which passport should I use to travel to the United States?

All U.S. citizens, even dual citizens/nationals, must enter and depart the United States using his/her U.S. passport.

Further Questions

 

How do I know whether to contact the Department of State or Department of Homeland Security about my issue?

Contact the Department of State, U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad with questions about U.S. visas, including application, the status of visa processing, and for inquiries relating to visa denial. Once in the United States, the traveler falls under the authority (jurisdiction) of Department of Homeland Security. The Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is responsible for the approval of all petitions, the authorization of permission to work in the United States, the issuance of extensions of stay, and change or adjustment of an applicant’s status while the applicant is in the United States.

I would like to know if my friend has applied for a visa and what the status is. Who should I contact?

Your friend, the visa applicant. Under U.S. law, specifically the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) 222(f), visa records are confidential. Therefore, the visa applicant should inquire at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad where he/she applied regarding necessary information about visa application status. Because of confidentiality of visa records, you’ll need to ask your friend, the visa applicant your questions about whether a visa application was made, or a visa was issued or denied.

Visa Applicants from State Sponsors of Terrorism Countries

To find information regarding FAQ’s from visa applicants from state sponsors of terrorism countries please click here.

DS-160: Frequently Asked Questions

Accessing the DS-160

Where can I find the DS-160?

Access the DS-160 here, by clicking: Consular Electronic Application Center website.

You may wish to preview a sample DS-160 (5.9MB) before beginning.

I am having problems accessing the DS-160.

We recommend that you use Internet Explorer or Firefox browsers to access the DS-160.

Completing the DS-160

Important Notice: Take care to answer all questions on the DS-160 accurately and completely; otherwise, you may have to correct your application and reschedule your visa interview appointment.

Electronically submitting your DS-160 online application is only the first step in the visa application process. Once you have electronically submitted your DS-160 online application, you must contact the embassy or consulate at which you wish to apply to confirm whether you need to be interviewed by a consular officer, and to schedule an interview. You can find a list of U.S. embassies and consulates here, with links to their websites where you can find information about scheduling a visa interview appointment.  If the embassy or consulate at which you apply informs that you must have a visa interview, the visa application process cannot be completed until you appear for an interview with a consular officer.

What documents do I need to have with me while I complete the DS-160?

You should have the following documents available while you complete your DS-160:

  • Passport
  • Travel itinerary, if you have already made travel arrangements.
  • Dates of your last five visits or trips to the United States, if you have previously travelled to the United States. You may also be asked for your international travel history for the past five years.
  • Résumé or Curriculum Vitae– You may be required to provide information about your current and previous education and work history.
  • Other Information– Some applicants, depending on the intended purpose of travel, will be asked to provide additional information when completing the DS-160.

Some applicants will need to have additional information and documents handy while completing the DS-160:

  • Students and Exchange Visitors (F, J, and M): You will be asked to provide your SEVIS ID, which is printed on your I-20 or DS-2019, so you should have this form available when completing your DS-160. You also will be asked to provide the address of the school/program at which you intend to study. This information should also be on your I-20 or DS-2019 form.
  • Petition-based Temporary Workers (H-1B, H-2, H-3, CW1, L, O, P, R, E2C):You should have a copy of your I-129 available when completing your DS-160.
  • Other Temporary Workers:You will be asked for information about your employer, including the employer’s address, while completing your DS-160.

Can my answers be in my native language?

No. All answers must be in English, using English characters only, except when you are asked to provide your full name in your native alphabet. Applications submitted in any language other than English will be denied, and you may be required to submit a new application.

While you must answer all questions in English, translations of questions are available in many languages from the drop-down menu in the right upper corner of the application. These translations should assist you in completing the form in English.

Are all questions on the DS-160 mandatory?

Most questions are mandatory and must be answered in the spaces provided. You may leave spaces blank when the questions are marked “optional.” You may answer a question with “Does Not Apply,” when that question does not apply to you; however, all other questions must be answered. The system will not allow you to submit an application with any mandatory questions left unanswered. If you do not complete a mandatory question, the system will display an error message and require you to answer the question before continuing with the application. If you do not answer questions that apply to your circumstances and/or purpose of travel, the system will not accept your application.

Are additional forms required?

No. The online DS-160 application replaced the DS-156, DS-157, DS-158, and DS-3032, which are no longer necessary. NOTE: In addition to the DS-160, Treaty Trader/Treaty Investor visa applicants also must complete an additional form (see the Treaty Trader/Treaty Investor, E Visa Applicants section below for more information).

What happens to my DS-160 if I select a U.S. Embassy or Consulate where I will be applying for my visa, but end up making an interview appointment instead at another U.S. Embassy or Consulate?

The Embassy or Consulate at which you actually apply should be able to access your form using the barcode on your DS-160 confirmation page, which you must bring to the visa interview. For example, a business traveler intends to apply for his visa at the U.S. Embassy in City X, so he selects City X as the location where he will submit his application when he completes his DS-160. He then has an urgent reason to travel to City Y on business. Because there is a U.S. Consulate in City Y, he schedules an appointment for a visa interview there, using the barcode from his completed DS-160 application for appointment scheduling. The U.S. Consulate in City Y is able to accept his DS-160 even though it lists the U.S. Embassy in City X as the location where he originally intended to submit his application.

Completing Specific DS-160 Questions

How do I sign the DS-160 form?

You electronically sign your DS-160 by clicking the “Sign Application” button at the end of the form. Failure to sign may result in termination of the application. Your electronic signature certifies that you have read and understood the questions in the application and that your answers are true and correct to the best of your knowledge and belief. The submission of an application containing any false or misleading statements may result in the permanent refusal of a visa or denial of entry into the United States. All declarations made in the application are unsworn declarations made under penalty of perjury.

Unless you are exempted from appearing in person, your fingerprints will be electronically scanned on the day of your interview. By providing your fingerprints, you will again certify that that you have answered all questions on the DS-160 truthfully and to the best of your knowledge, and that you will tell the truth during your visa interview. You will be directed to read the following statement prior to having your fingerprints scanned:

“By submitting my fingerprint, I am certifying under penalty of perjury that I have read and understood the questions in my visa application and that all statements that appear in my visa application have been made by me and are true and complete to the best of my knowledge and belief.

Furthermore, I certify under penalty of perjury that I will tell the truth during my interview and that all statements made by me during my interview will be complete to the best of my ability.”

Can a third party complete the form on my behalf? Who is exempt from signing the form?

If an applicant is illiterate or unable to complete the application, the applicant must be assisted by a third party. The third party must be identified on the “Sign and Submit” page of the application. While the third party can assist the applicant in completing the application, he or she must instruct the applicant on how to endorse the application on his or her own behalf by clicking the “Sign Application” button.

If the applicant is under the age of 16 or physically incapable of completing an application, the applicant’s parents or guardian may complete and click the “Sign Application” button on his or her behalf. If the applicant has no parent or legal guardian, then the application may be completed by any person having legal custody of, or a legitimate interest in, the applicant.

The DS-160 contains terms that I am not familiar with. Are these terms explained?

Explanations of the following terms contained in the online DS-160 form are available to you as help topics while you complete the DS-160 and are also provided below.

Help: Surnames

Enter all surnames (or family names) exactly as they are written in your passport. If only one name is written in your passport, enter that as your “Surname.”

Help: Given Names

If your passport does not include a first or given name, please enter ‘FNU’ (meaning “first name unknown”) in the space for “Given Names.”

Help: Other Names

Other names used include your maiden name, religious name, professional name, or any other name by which you are or have been known.

Make sure to enter the other names you have used in full.  Thus, if you have only used another surname, enter it along with your usual given name. If you have only used another given name, enter it along with your usual surname.

Help: Telecode

Telecodes are four-digit code numbers that represent characters in some non-Roman alphabet names.

Help: Date of Birth

Enter as shown in your passport.

Help: Place of Birth

Please choose the name currently used for the place where you were born.

Help: Phone

You must provide a primary phone number. The primary phone number should be the phone number at which you are most likely to be reached; this could be a land line or a cellular/mobile number. If you have an additional land line or a cellular/mobile number please list that as your secondary phone number.

Help: Identification Numbers

Your National ID Number is a unique number that your government may have provided. For example, the U.S. Government gives unique numbers to people looking to work or who pay taxes.

Help: Other Nationality

Enter all nationalities you currently hold and all nationalities you have previously held (including United States, if applicable), regardless of whether you have formally and/or legally relinquished the nationality. If the country where you previously held nationality no longer exists, choose the name of the country that is currently used for that location. (For example, if you used to be a citizen of the former East Germany, choose “Germany.”)

Help:  Permanent Resident

Permanent resident means any individual who has been legally granted by a country/region permission to live and work without time limitation in that country/region.

Help: Passport/Travel Document Number

Enter the number of the passport or travel document you will use to travel to the United States. This passport/document must still be valid, and must identify you and your nationality.

Help: Passport Book Number

The Passport Book Number is commonly called the inventory control number. You may or may not have a Passport Book Number on your passport. If you do, the location of the Passport Book Number on your passport may vary depending on the country that issued your passport. Please contact your passport issuing authority if you are unable to determine whether or not your passport contains a Passport Book Number.

Help: Expiration Date

In most cases your passport or travel document must be valid for at least six months after your arrival in the United States.

Help: Application Receipt/Petition Number

If you are applying for a petition-based visa, your application receipt/petition number was given to you by the Department of Homeland Security’s U. S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) after you filed your petition application at a USCIS Service Center. The application receipt/petition number is 13 characters long and the first three characters are letters.

Help: Previous Employer

Please enter information regarding your previous two employers only. Applicants may choose to bring along a separate written list of all previous employers to the visa interview for reference.

 

Saving Your DS-160 and Returning to a Partially Completed DS-160

How can I save my application? Can I stop in the middle of the application and return to it later?

You can save your application or return to a partially completed application. When you begin a new DS-160, you will be issued a unique application identification (ID) number after selecting and answering a security question. Once you have your application ID number and have selected and answered a security question, you may exit the DS-160 application and return to it later. You must have your application ID to return to your application. To save your DS-160 to the Consular Electronic Application Center website, click the “Next” button at the bottom of each page you complete. You have 30 days to return to a partially completed application. To access your application after 30 days, you must save it to your computer hard drive or a disk, as explained in the FAQ below.

How do I save my DS-160 application to my computer hard drive or a disk?

Saving to a hard drive or disk will allow you to access your application after 30 days. To permanently save your application to your computer hard drive or a disk, select the “Save Application to File” button. Then, click the “Save” button on the File Download window. Identify a place on your computer to save the application, browse to that location, and click the “Save” button on the “Save As” window. The system will download your application to the specified location. Once the download is complete, you can click “Close” to return to the live application on our website. Note: Applications saved to the hard drive of a public or shared computer or memory device could likely be accessed by anyone else who uses the computer or device after you.

I apply for U.S. visas often. Can I reuse the DS-160?

Yes, you can use information from a previously submitted DS-160 to populate some fields on a new form. There are two ways that you can do this. First, if you plan to apply for a visa in the future, save your DS-160 to your hard drive or a disk using the instructions in the FAQ above. When you go to apply for your new visa you can then select “Option B-Upload a Previously Saved Application” on the Getting Started page. Alternately, if your previous visa application was submitted after November 1, 2010, you can select “Option C-Retrieve Application,” enter your previous visa application ID, and then hit “Create a New Application.” Your personal information will then populate the form. Be careful to check that all previously submitted information is current and accurate.

What if I lose my internet connection, the application “times out,” or I receive an error? Will my application be lost?

All information is automatically saved when each page is completed, so your application will not be lost. You will need to enter the application ID number, and answer other questions as prompted, to retrieve your application. Once your application has been retrieved, it will begin at the last page you completed. You will be able to edit previous pages, if needed.

Why did the edits I made from the review page “edit” link not save?

In order for data changes made from the review page links to save, you must use the buttons at the bottom of each page to navigate, instead of the browser’s back/forward buttons or the buttons along the side of the screen.

Uploading a Photo to Your DS-160

I understand that I can upload a photo with my application. How do I get a digital photo that will successfully upload to my application?

Please refer to the Photograph Requirements for detailed guidance.

The confirmation page has an “X” in the box where the photo should be. What does that mean?

That means that the photo upload failed. Therefore, you should submit one printed photograph meeting our requirements, along with the online DS-160 confirmation page, to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate at which you plan to apply for your visa. Please contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you are applying for specific instructions on how to do this. See the print photo format found in the Photograph Requirements for more information. If the confirmation page includes a photo image, then the photo upload function was successful and no separate print photograph is required.

Correcting Answers on a Submitted DS-160

The U.S. Embassy or Consulate where I went for my visa interview denied my application because my DS-160 contained errors or was incomplete. What does this mean and what do I need to do next?

DS-160 applications submitted before April 1, 2010 cannot be reopened, and therefore, you must complete and submit a new DS-160.

The Embassy or Consulate should reopen your DS-160 submitted after April 1, 2010 if your application is denied for this reason and ask you to correct it, as explained below:

  • DS-160 applications submitted on or after November 1, 2010: Enter your application IDnumber and answer additional questions as prompted to access and correct your application.
  • DS-160 applications submitted on or after April 1, 2010, but before November 1, 2010: Enter your barcode or confirmation number into the Application ID fieldand answer additional questions as prompted to access and correct your application.

After I have corrected or completed my DS-160 application, do I need to schedule a new appointment or return to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate?

Contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you applied for specific instructions.

DS-160 Confirmation Page

Should I bring my entire application or just the confirmation page with me to the interview?

You are not required to bring your entire application. For your interview, you are required to bring your confirmation page with your application ID number on it so we can retrieve your DS-160. You must bring the confirmation page with you during all phases of the application process. Without the confirmation page, we may not be able to process your visa case.

I submitted my online DS-160 application, but lost my confirmation page. Can I print a new one?

Yes, you can reprint the confirmation page of an application that has already been submitted. In order to do so, go into the Consular Electronic Application Center website and select the Embassy or Consulate at which you are applying. Hit “Option C-Retrieve Application” on the Getting Started page and enter your application ID number. From there you will be able to view and print your confirmation page.

Family/Group Applications

I am traveling with my family or as part of a group. Can I create a family or group application?

Yes. When you select “Email Confirmation” on your Confirmation Page, you will be directed to a “Thank You” page. On the “Thank You” page you will see an option to create a family or group application. When you select this option, certain information from your application, such as destination, will automatically be imported to and displayed on a new application. Please note that if you use this option you must create an individual application for each family member or for each individual within the group.

If I use the option on the “Thank You” page to create a family or group application, can I modify the data automatically populated by the system?

Yes. If one of the dependents has a different surname or nationality, for example, you can alter that data before submitting the application.

Treaty Trader/Treaty Investor, E Visa Applicants

I am applying for a Treaty Trader/Treaty Investor, E Visa. Do I need to fill out the DS-160 and the DS-156E?

It depends. If you are a Treaty Investor (E-2) applicant, you need only complete the DS-160. If you are a Treaty Trader (E-1) or an Executive/Manager/Essential Employee (E-1 or E-2), you must complete the DS-160, and you or your employer must complete the paper DS-156E form.

How to Complete the Application:

  1. When you are ready, click on the button labeled “Start a New Application” below. Please make sure to have your passport, information about other U.S. visas you have had, if any, and any other documents relevant to your intended travel to the United States ready. You will need information in those documents as you fill out the application.
  2. Write down the Application ID displayed on the top right-hand corner of the page. If you need to close the browser before submitting your application, you will need this Application ID to continue your application.
  3. Follow the instructions on each page. Make sure you answer all the questions—if you do not, your application may not be accepted.
  4. Your answers must be in English and must use the English alphabet. That means you cannot use letters like ñ, é, ü, or ç. For example, instead of writing “São Paulo,” write “Sao Paulo.” There is only one exception to this rule, which is when you are asked to provide your full name in your native alphabet; then you can use non-English characters.
  5. When you are finished answering all the questions, the program will let you check your answers to make sure they are correct. Please re-read them carefully so you do not make mistakes.
  6. Click on the “Sign Application” button to sign your application electronically.
  7. Once you have checked your answers, you can submit your application. When you do, you will see a confirmation page on your screen with a barcode.

Electronically submitting your DS-160 online application is the FIRST STEP in the visa application process. The next step is to review the internet page of the embassy or consulate where you plan to apply for your visa. Most visa applicants will need to schedule a visa interview, though some applicants may qualify for visa renewal. The embassy or consulate information may include specific local instructions about scheduling interviews, submitting your visa application, and other frequently asked questions.

If you do not plan to complete your application within the next 30 days, download your application to your computer by clicking the “Save” button at the bottom of the last completed page. Follow the instructions. When you are ready to complete your application, select “Upload an Application”.
Note: Only download your application to a computer that cannot be accessed by anyone who does not have your permission to see or record your personal data. If you download your application a shared or public computer, such as a computer in a cyber café or library, your personal information may be able to be accessed by other users.

If you have previously submitted a DS-160 application, you may use that information to complete a new application. You will need the Application ID from your previously submitted application to do this. To access previously submitted application information, click the “RETRIEVE AN APPLICATION” button and follow the instructions. If you use this option to complete a new application please make sure to carefully review to ensure that all information is current and correct.

Common Errors: Please be sure you review your application in order to avoid common errors in the following requested information areas:

  • Visa type requested;
  • Current home address;
  • Prior travel to the U.S.;
  • All travel to other countries in the past 5 years; and Name of person and (if applicable) organization preparing the DS-160 application on your behalf.

If you stop working on this application for more than 20 minutes, your session will expire and you will have to start over, unless you have recorded your Application ID Number or have saved your application to a file on your computer.

 

  1. Exchange Visitor Visa (Au pair (exchange visitor)
  • J (SEVIS)

Overview

Important Notice: Same-sex Marriage

Effective immediately, U.S. Embassies and Consulates will adjudicate visa applications that are based on a same-sex marriage in the same way that we adjudicate applications for opposite gender spouses. Please reference the specific guidance on the visa category for which you are applying for more details on documentation required for derivative spouses. For further information, please see our FAQ’s.

Generally, a citizen of a foreign country who wishes to enter the United States must first obtain a visa, either a nonimmigrant visa for temporary stay, or an immigrant visa for permanent residence. Exchange visitor (J-1) visas are nonimmigrant visas for individuals approved to participate in exchange visitor programs in the United States.

Exchange visitor categories include:

Au pair and EduCare  Short-term Scholar
Camp Counselor  Specialist
Government Visitor  Student, college/university
Intern  Student, secondary
International Visitor (Dept. of State use)  Summer Work Travel
Physician  Teacher
Professor and Research Scholar  Trainee

Exchange Visitor Pilot Programs:

Summer Work Travel Pilot Program: Australians
Summer Work Travel Pilot Program: New Zealanders
Intern Work Travel Pilot Program: Irish
WEST (Work, English Study, and Travel) Program: South Koreans

 

Exchange Visitors cannot travel on the Visa Waiver Program or with Visitor Visas – Exchange visitors who are citizens of Visa Waiver Program (VWP) participating countries are not permitted to travel without a visa on the VWP, if their purpose of travel is to participate in an exchange visitor program, as explained below. For more information on the VWP, see Visa Waiver Program. Exchange visitors are not permitted to travel on business/tourist (B-1/B-2) visas if their purpose is to participate in an exchange visitor program. All exchange visitors must travel to the United States with exchange visitor (J-1) visas.

Acceptance in Exchange Visitor Program –  Before you can apply at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate for a J-1 visa, you must first apply for and be accepted into an exchange visitor program through a designated sponsoring organization. Visit the Department of State J-1 Visa Exchange Visitor Program website to learn about program requirements, regulations, and more.

When you are accepted into the exchange visitor program you plan to participate in, you will be enrolled in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). Most J-1 Exchange Visitors must pay the SEVIS I-901 Fee. Visit the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) website to learn more about SEVIS and the SEVIS I-901 Fee.

How to Apply

There are several steps to apply for a visa. The order of these steps and how you complete them may vary at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you apply. Please consult the instructions available on the embassy or consulate website where you will apply.

Complete the Online Visa Application

  • Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160Learn more about completing the DS-160. You must: 1) complete the online visa application and 2) print the application form confirmation page to bring to your interview.
  • Photo – You will upload your photo while completing the online Form DS-160. Your photo must be in the format explained in the Photograph Requirements.

Schedule an Interview

While interviews are generally not required for applicants of certain ages outlined above, consular officers have the discretion to require an interview of any applicant, regardless of age.

If you are age: Then an interview is:
13 and younger Generally not required
14-79 Required (some exceptions for renewals)
80 and older Generally not required

You must schedule an appointment for your visa interview, generally, at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the country where you live. You may schedule your interview at any U.S. Embassy or Consulate, but be aware that it may be difficult to qualify for a visa outside of your place of permanent residence.

Wait times for interview appointments vary by location, season, and visa category, so you should apply for your visa early. Review the interview wait time for the location where you will apply:

Appointment Wait Time

Top of Form

Select a U.S. Embassy or Consulate:Where will you apply?

Bottom of Form

Edit

See Details

Prepare for Your Interview

  • Fees – Pay the non-refundable visa application fee, if you are required to pay it before your interview. When your visa is approved, you may also pay a visa issuance fee, if applicable to your nationality. Fee information is provided below:

Application Fee

$160

All Fees

Top of Form

Select your nationality to see Issuance Fee

Bottom of Form

  • Review the instructions available on the website of the embassy or consulate where you will apply to learn more about fee payment.
  • NOTE: U.S. government sponsored exchange visitor (J visa) applicants and their dependents are not required to pay application processing fees if participating in a Department of State, a U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), or a Federally funded educational and cultural exchange program which has a program serial number beginning with G-1, G-2, G-3, or G-7 printed on Form DS-2019, Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status. U.S. government sponsored exchange visitor (J visa) applicants and their dependents are also not required to pay applicable issuance fees.

Gather Required Documentation

Gather and prepare the following required documents before your visa interview:

  • Passport valid for travel to the United States – Your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond your period of stay in the United States (unless exempt by country-specific agreements). If more than one person is included in your passport, each person who needs a visa must submit a separate application.
  • Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160 confirmation page
  • Application fee payment receipt, if you are required to pay before your interview
  • Photo – You will upload your photo while completing the online Form DS-160. If the photo upload fails, you must bring one printed photo in the format explained in the Photograph Requirements.
  • Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status, Form DS-2019– A SEVIS-generated Form DS-2019 is provided to you by your program sponsor after the sponsor enters your information in the SEVIS system. All exchange visitors, including their spouses and minor children, must be registered in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). Each person receives a separate Form DS-2019.
  • Training/Internship Placement Plan, Form DS-7002 – In addition to the Form DS 2019, participants in the J-1 Trainee and Intern categories require Form DS-7002 (based on Box 7 on Form DS-2019). Learn more about the Trainee and Intern

Legal Rights and Protections

You must read the Legal Rights and Protections pamphlet to learn about your rights in the United States and protection available to you. Review this important pamphlet before applying for your visa.

Additional Documentation May Be Required

Review the instructions for how to apply for a visa on the website of the embassy or consulate where you will apply. Additional documents may be requested to establish if you are qualified. For example, additional requested documents may include evidence of:

  • The purpose of your travel;
  • Your intent to depart the United States after your travel;
  • Your ability to pay all travel costs; and/or
  • Other documents the consular officer may request.

Evidence of your employment and/or your family ties may be sufficient to show the purpose of your travel and your intent to return to your home country. If you cannot cover all the costs for your travel, you may show evidence that another person will cover some or all costs for your travel.

Attend Your Visa Interview

During your visa interview, a consular officer will determine whether you are qualified to receive a visa, and if so, which visa category is appropriate based on your purpose of travel. You will need to establish that you meet the requirements under U.S. law to receive the category of visa for which you are applying.

Ink-free, digital fingerprint scans will be taken as part of your application process. They are usually taken during your interview, but this varies based on location.

After your visa interview, your application may require further administrative processing. You will be informed by the consular officer if further processing is necessary for your application.

When the visa is approved, you will be informed how your passport with visa will be returned to you. Review the visa processing time, to learn how soon your passport with visa will generally be ready for pick-up or delivery by the courier.

Two-year Home-Country Physical Presence Requirement

When you agree to participate in an Exchange Visitor Program and your program falls under the conditions explained below, you will be subject to the two-year home-country physical presence (foreign residence) requirement. This means you will be required to return to your home country for two years at the end of your exchange visitor program. This requirement under immigration law is based on Section 212(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

Two-year Home-country Physical Presence Requirement Conditions – An exchange visitor is subject to the two-year home-country physical presence requirement if the following conditions exist:

  • Government funded exchange program – The program in which the exchange visitor was participating was financed in whole or in part directly or indirectly by the U.S. government or the government of the exchange visitor’s nationality or last residence;
  • Graduate medical education or training – The exchange visitor entered the United States to receive graduate medical education or training;
  • Specialized knowledge or skill: Skills List – The exchange visitor is a national or permanent resident of a country which has deemed the field of specialized knowledge or skill necessary to the development of the country, as shown on the Exchange Visitor Skills List. Review the Exchange Visitor Skills List 2009.

Restrictions – When you, as an exchange visitor are subject to the two-year home-country physical presence requirement, you must return to your home country for a cumulative total period of at least two years before you can do any of the following:

  • Change status while in the United States to the nonimmigrant categories of temporary worker (H) or intracompany transferee (L);
  • Adjust status while in the United States to immigrant visa/lawful permanent resident status (LPR);
  • Receive an immigrant visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate; or
  • Receive a temporary worker (H), intracompany transferee (L), or fiancé (K) visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

Waiver of Two Year Home-Country Physical Presence Requirement – If you are not able to fulfill the home country presence requirement, you may be able to apply for a waiver. Select Waiver of the Exchange Visitor Two-Year Home-Country Physical Presence Requirement to learn more about this requirement and how to request a waiver.

Entering the United States

A visa allows a foreign citizen to travel to a U.S. port-of-entry (generally an airport) and request permission to enter the United States. A visa does not guarantee entry into the United States. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials at the port of entry have authority to permit or deny admission to the United States. If you are allowed to enter the United States, the CBP official will provide an admission stamp or paper Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record. Learn more about admissions and entry requirements, restrictions about bringing food, agricultural products, and other restricted/prohibited goods, and more by reviewing the CBP website.

Additional Information: Exchange visitors have an additional 30 days after the program end date listed on Form DS-2019 for domestic travel in the United States and/or to prepare for and depart the United States.

Extending Your Stay

See Program Extension on the Department of State Exchange Visitor Program website to learn about requesting to extend your exchange visitor program beyond the date listed on your Form DS-2019.

Learn about maintaining your exchange visitor status on the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement SEVP website under Maintaining Your Immigration Status While a Student or Exchange Visitor.

Failure to depart the United States on time will result in you being out of status. Under U.S. law, visas of travelers who are out of status are automatically voided (Section 222(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act). If you had a multiple entry visa and it was voided due to you being out of status, it will not be valid for future entries into the United States.

Failure to depart the United States on time may also result in you being ineligible for visas you may apply for in the future. Review Visa Denials and Ineligibilities and Waivers: Laws to learn more.

Change of Status

While in the United States, you may be able to request that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) change your nonimmigrant status to another nonimmigrant category. See Change My Nonimmigrant Status on the USCIS website to learn more.

Requesting a change of status from USCIS while you are in the United States and before your authorized stay expires does not require that you apply for a new visa. However, if you cannot remain in the United States while USCIS processes your change of status request, you must apply for a visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

Additional Information

  • We cannot guarantee that you will be issued a visa. Do not make final travel plans or buy tickets until you have a visa.
  • For information about employment, review Exchange Visitors and Employment Authorization on the USCIS website.
  • Spouse and children
    • Your spouse and unmarried, minor children may be able to apply for J-2 visas to accompany or join you at a later date to reside with you during your J program, if permitted on your exchange program category. While SEVIS fee payment is not required, your sponsor must issue them separate DS-2019 Forms, which are required when they apply for their visas, along with a copy of the primary visa holder’s J-1 visa and proof of relationship.
    • Your minor children are permitted to attend school while in the United States on J-2 visas and are not required to obtain student (F) visas.
  • Unless canceled or revoked, a visa is valid until its expiration date. Therefore, a valid U.S. visa in an expired passport is still valid. If you have a valid visa in your expired passport, do not remove it from your expired passport. You may use your valid visa in your expired passport along with a new valid passport for travel and admission to the United States.
    1. Student Visa (Study Visa-F, M)

Overview

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Important Notice: Same-sex Marriage

Effective immediately, U.S. Embassies and Consulates will adjudicate visa applications that are based on a same-sex marriage in the same way that we adjudicate applications for opposite gender spouses. Please reference the specific guidance on the visa category for which you are applying for more details on documentation required for derivative spouses. For further information, please see our FAQ’s.

Generally, a citizen of a foreign country who wishes to enter the United States must first obtain a visa, either a nonimmigrant visa for temporary stay, or an immigrant visa for permanent residence. You must have a student visa to study in the United States. Your course of study and the type of school you plan to attend determine whether you need an F-1 visa or an M-1 visa.

To enter the United States to attend: You need the following visa category:
University or college F
High School
Private elementary school
Seminary
Conservatory
Another academic institution, including a language training program
Vocational or other recognized nonacademic institution, other than a language training program M

Students cannot travel on the Visa Waiver Program or with Visitor Visas

Citizens of Visa Waiver Program (VWP) participating countries who intend to study cannot travel on the VWP or on visitor (B) visas, except to undertake recreational study as part of a tourist visit. Students must travel to the United States with student (F-1 or M-1) visas. For more information on the VWP, see Visa Waiver Program.

For short periods of recreational study, a Visitor (B) visa may be appropriate

Enrollment in a short recreational course of study, which is not for credit toward a degree or academic certificate, is permitted on a visitor (B) visa. Learn more about Visitor Visas.

Study leading to a U.S. conferred degree or certificate is not permitted on a visitor (B) visa, even if it is for a short duration. For example, distance learning which requires a period of time on the institution’s U.S. campus requires an F-1 visa.

Student Acceptance at a SEVP Approved School

Before you can apply at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate for an F or M student visa, you must first apply to and be accepted by a SEVP approved school. Visit the Department of State EducationUSA website to learn about educational opportunities for undergraduate and graduate study, opportunities for scholars, admissions, and more. You can also visit the DHS Study in the States school search page to search for SEVP-certified schools.

When you are accepted by the U.S. school you plan to attend, you will be enrolled in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). You must pay the SEVIS I-901 Fee. The U.S. school will provide you with a Form I-20 to present to the consular officer when you attend your visa interview. If your spouse and/or children intend to reside with you in the United States while you study, they must obtain individual Form I-20s, but they do not pay the SEVIS fee. Visit the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) website to learn more about SEVIS and the SEVIS I-901 Fee.

How to Apply

There are several steps to apply for a visa. The order of these steps and how you complete them may vary at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you apply. Please consult the instructions available on the embassy or consulate website where you intend to apply.

Complete the Online Visa Application

  • Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160Learn more about completing the DS-160. You must: 1) complete the online visa application and 2) print the application form confirmation page to bring to your interview.
  • Photo –You will upload your photo while completing the online Form DS-160. Your photo must be in the format explained in the Photograph Requirements.

Schedule an Interview

While interviews are generally not required for applicants of certain ages outlined below, consular officers have the discretion to require an interview of any applicant, regardless of age.

If you are age: Then an interview is:
13 and younger Generally not required
14-79 Required (some exceptions for renewals)
80 and older Generally not required

You must schedule an appointment for your visa interview, generally, at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the country where you live. You may schedule your interview at any U.S. Embassy or Consulate, but be aware that it may be difficult to qualify for a visa outside of your place of permanent residence.

Wait times for interview appointments vary by location, season, and visa category, so you should apply for your visa early. Review the interview wait time for the location where you will apply:

Appointment Wait Time

Top of Form

Select a U.S. Embassy or Consulate:Where will you apply?

Bottom of Form

Edit

See Details

New Students – F-1 and M-1 student visas can be issued up to 120 days in advance of your course of study start date. However, you will not be allowed to enter the United States in F-1 or M-1 status earlier than 30 days before your start date.

Continuing Students – May renew their visas at any time, as long as they have maintained student status and their SEVIS records are current. Continuing students may enter the United States at any time before their classes start.

Prepare for Your Interview

  • Fees – Pay the non-refundable visa application fee, if you are required to pay it before your interview. When your visa is approved, you may also pay a visa issuance fee, if applicable to your nationality. Fee information is provided below:

Application Fee

$160

All Fees

Top of Form

Select your nationality to see Issuance Fee

Bottom of Form

  • Review the instructions available on the website of the embassy or consulate where you will apply to learn more about fee payment.

Gather Required Documentation

Gather and prepare the following required documents before your visa interview:

  • Passport valid for travel to the United States – Your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond your period of stay in the United States (unless exempt by country-specific agreements). If more than one person is included in your passport, each person who needs a visa must submit a separate application.
  • Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160 confirmation page
  • Application fee payment receipt, if you are required to pay before your interview
  • Photo – You will upload your photo while completing the online Form DS-160. If the photo upload fails, you must bring one printed photo in the format explained in the Photograph Requirements.
  • Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status-For Academic and Language Students, Form I-20 or Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (M-1) Student Status for Vocational Students, Form I-20– Your school will send you a SEVIS-generated Form I-20 once they have entered your information in the SEVIS database. You and your school official must sign the Form I-20. All students, their spouse and minor children if they intend to reside in the United States with the student, must be registered in the Student and Exchange Visitor System (SEVIS). Each person receives an individual Form I-20.

Additional Documentation May Be Required

Review the instructions for how to apply for a visa on the website of the embassy or consulate where you will apply. Additional documents may be requested to establish that you are qualified. For example, additional requested documents may include evidence of:

  • Your academic preparation, such as:
    • Transcripts, diplomas, degrees, or certificates from schools you attended; and
    • Standardized test scores required by your U.S. school;
  • Your intent to depart the United States upon completion of the course of study; and
  • How you will pay all educational, living and travel costs.

Attend Your Visa Interview

During your visa interview, a consular officer will determine whether you are qualified to receive a visa, and if so, which visa category is appropriate based on your purpose of travel. You will need to establish that you meet the requirements under U.S. law to receive the category of visa for which you are applying.

Ink-free, digital fingerprint scans will be taken as part of your application process. They are usually taken during your interview, but this varies based on location.

After your visa interview, your application may require further administrative processing. You will be informed by the consular officer if further processing is necessary for your application.

When the visa is approved, you  may pay a visa issuance fee if applicable to your nationality, and will be informed how your passport with visa will be returned to you. Review the visa processing time, to learn how soon your passport with visa will generally be ready for pick-up or delivery by the courier.

Entering the United States

A visa allows a foreign citizen to travel to a U.S. port-of-entry (generally an airport) and request permission to enter the United States. A visa does not guarantee entry into the United States. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials at the port-of-entry have authority to permit or deny admission to the United States. If you are allowed to enter the United States, the CBP official will provide an admission stamp or paper Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record. Learn about procedures for students (with F or M visas) entering the United States on the CBP website under Arrival Procedures for Students or Exchange Visitors. Learn about admissions and entry requirements, restrictions about bringing food, agricultural products, and other restricted/prohibited goods, and more by reviewing the CBP website.

Additional Information: Students with F visas have an additional 60 days after the program end date listed on Form I-20, and any authorized practical training, to depart the United States.

Extending Your Stay

See Extend Your Stay on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website to learn about requesting to extend your stay beyond the dates of your course of study indicated on your I-20 and admission stamp or paper Form I-94.

Learn about maintaining your student status on the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement SEVP website under Maintaining Your Immigration Status While a Student or Exchange Visitor.

Failure to depart the United States on time will result in you being out of status. Under U.S. law, visas of travelers who are out of status are automatically voided (Section 222(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act).  If you had a multiple entry visa and it was voided due to you being out of status, it will not be valid for future entries into the United States.

Failure to depart the United States on time may also result in you being ineligible for visas you may apply for in the future. Review Visa Denials and Ineligibilities and Waivers: Laws to learn more.

Change of Status

While in the United States, you may be able to request that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) change your nonimmigrant status to another nonimmigrant category. See Change My Nonimmigrant Status on the USCIS website to learn more.

Requesting a change of status from USCIS while you are in the United States and before your authorized stay expires does not require that you apply for a new visa. However, if you cannot remain in the United States while USCIS processes your change of status request, you must apply for a visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

Additional Information

  • We cannot guarantee that you will be issued a visa. Do not make final travel plans or buy tickets until you have a visa.
  • For information about employment, review Students and Employment and Form I-765 Work Authorization Instructions on the USCIS website.
  • Current student visa holders who are outside the United States should consult with their Designated School Officials. More information is available on the SEVP website under Do Students Returning from Temporary Absences Need New Visas?
  • Spouse and children
    • Your spouse and unmarried, minor children who intend to reside with you during your study may apply for F-2 or M-2 visas. Although SEVIS fee payment is not required, your school must issue them an individual Form I-20, which is required to apply for their visas. You must provide a copy of your F-1 or M-1 visa and provide proof of relationship.
    • Your minor children are permitted to attend school in the United States while accompanying you.
  • Unless canceled or revoked, a visa is valid until its expiration date. Therefore, a valid U.S. visa in an expired passport is still valid. If you have a valid visa in your expired passport, do not remove it from your expired passport. You may use your valid visa in your expired passport along with a new valid passport for travel and admission to the United States.

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Can I enter the United States more than 30 days in advance?

Students are not permitted to enter the United States earlier than 30 days before the start date of their program. If you wish to enter earlier than 30 days before your start date, you must qualify for a visitor (B) visa. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials may admit you to the United States on the visitor (B) visa, but you must apply to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for a change of status to student (F-1or M-1) status. You may not begin your course of study until the change of status is approved, and you may encounter lengthy processing times.

Optional Practical Training

Students who are authorized Optional Practical Training (OPT) must have a Form I-20 endorsed for OPT, and apply to USCIS for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). When authorized, OPT is temporary employment that is directly related to the eligible F-1 student’s area of study. To learn more about OPT, please visit the USCIS Website and the ICE International Students webpage.

Attending Public Secondary School

There are restrictions on student F-1 visa holders attending public school in the United States. Select Foreign Students in Public Schools to learn more

3.Temporary Worker Visas (DOL then USCIS)

Overview

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Important Notice: New Visa Requirement for Certain Caribbean Nationals for Temporary Agricultural Worker (H-2A) Visas

Effective February 19, 2016, any person seeking to enter the United States to perform temporary agricultural work now must present a valid passport and a valid H-2A visa in order to be admitted to the United States.  This includes British, French, and Netherlands nationals and nationals of Barbados, Grenada, Jamaica, or Trinidad and Tobago who were previously exempt from this requirement.  This visa requirement also extends to any spouse or child who may wish to accompany or follow the H-2A agricultural worker to the United States.

Important Notice: Same-sex Marriage

Effective immediately, U.S. Embassies and Consulates will adjudicate visa applications that are based on a same-sex marriage in the same way that we adjudicate applications for opposite gender spouses. Please reference the specific guidance on the visa category for which you are applying for more details on documentation required for derivative spouses. For further information, please see our FAQ’s.

Generally, a citizen of a foreign country who wishes to enter the United States must first obtain a visa, either a nonimmigrant visa for temporary stay, or an immigrant visa for permanent residence. Temporary worker visas are for persons who want to enter the United States for employment lasting a fixed period of time, and are not considered permanent or indefinite. Each of these visas requires the prospective employer to first file a petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). An approved petition is required to apply for a work visa.

Temporary worker visa categories

Visa category  General description – About an individual in this category:
H-1B: Person in Specialty Occupation

 

To work in a specialty occupation. Requires a higher education degree or its equivalent. Includes fashion models of distinguished merit and ability and government-to-government research and development, or co-production projects administered by the Department of Defense.
H-1B1: Free Trade Agreement (FTA) Professional Chile, Singapore To work in a specialty occupation. Requires a post-secondary degree involving at least four years of study in the field of specialization. (Note: This is not a petition-based visa. For application procedures, please refer to the website for the U.S. Embassy in Chile or the U.S. Embassy in Singapore.)
H-2A: Temporary Agricultural Worker For temporary or seasonal agricultural work. Limited to citizens or nationals of designated countries, with limited exceptions, if determined to be in the United States interest.
H-2B: Temporary Non-agricultural Worker For temporary or seasonal non- agricultural work. Limited to citizens or nationals of designated countries, with limited exceptions, if determined to be in the United States interest.
H-3: Trainee or Special Education visitor To receive training, other than graduate medical or academic, that is not available in the trainee’s home country or practical training programs in the education of children with mental, physical, or emotional disabilities.
L: Intracompany Transferee To work at a branch, parent, affiliate, or subsidiary of the current employer in a managerial or executive capacity, or in a position requiring specialized knowledge.  Individual must have been employed by the same employer abroad continuously for 1 year within the three preceding years.
O: Individual with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement For persons with extraordinary ability or achievement in the sciences, arts, education, business, athletics, or extraordinary recognized achievements in the motion picture and television fields, demonstrated by sustained national or international acclaim, to work in their field of expertise. Includes persons providing essential services in support of the above individual.
P-1: Individual or Team Athlete, or Member of an Entertainment Group To perform at a specific athletic competition as an athlete or as a member of an entertainment group. Requires an internationally recognized level of sustained performance. Includes persons providing essential services in support of the above individual.
P-2: Artist or Entertainer (Individual or Group) For performance under a reciprocal exchange program between an organization in the United States and an organization in another country. Includes persons providing essential services in support of the above individual.
P-3: Artist or Entertainer (Individual or Group) To perform, teach or coach under a program that is culturally unique or a traditional ethnic, folk, cultural, musical, theatrical, or artistic performance or presentation. Includes persons providing essential services in support of the above individual.
Q-1: Participant in an International Cultural Exchange Program For practical training and employment and for sharing of the history, culture, and traditions of your home country through participation in an international cultural exchange program.

Labor Certification – Some temporary worker visa categories require your prospective employer to obtain a labor certification or other approval from the Department of Labor on your behalf before filing the Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, Form I-129, with USCIS. Your prospective employer should review the Instructions for Form I-129 on the USCIS website to determine whether labor certification is required for you.

Petition Approval – Some temporary worker categories are limited in total number of petitions which can be approved on a yearly basis. Before you can apply for a temporary worker visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate, a Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, Form I-129, must be filed on your behalf by a prospective employer and be approved by USCIS. For more information  about the petition process, eligibility requirements by visa category, and numerical limits, if applicable, see Working in the U.S. and Temporary (Nonimmigrant) Workers on the USCIS website. Once the petition is approved, USCIS will send your prospective employer a Notice of Action, Form I-797.

How to Apply

After USCIS approves the Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker (Form I-129), you may apply for a visa. There are several steps in the visa application process. The order of these steps and how you complete them may vary at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you apply. Please consult the instructions available on the embassy or consulate website where you will apply.

Complete The Online Visa Application

  • Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160Learn more about completing the DS-160. You must: 1) complete the online visa application and 2) print the application form confirmation page to bring to your interview.
  • Photo –You will upload your photo while completing the online Form DS-160. Your photo must be in the format explained in the Photograph Requirements.

Schedule an Interview

While interviews are generally not required for applicants of certain ages outlined below, consular officers have the discretion to require an interview of any applicant, regardless of age.

If you are age: Then an interview is:
13 and younger Generally not required
14-79 Required (some exceptions for renewals)
80 and older Generally not required

You must schedule an appointment for your visa interview, generally, at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the country where you live. You may schedule your interview at any U.S. Embassy or Consulate, but be aware that it may be difficult to qualify for a visa outside of your place of permanent residence.

Wait times for interview appointments vary by location, season, and visa category, so you should apply for your visa early. Review the interview wait time for the location where you will apply:

Appointment Wait Time

Top of Form

Select a U.S. Embassy or Consulate:Where will you apply?

Bottom of Form

Edit

See Details

You will need to provide the receipt number that is printed on your approved Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, Form I-129, or Notice of Action, Form I-797, to schedule an interview.

Prepare for your Interview

  • Fees – Pay the non-refundable visa application fee, if you are required to pay it before your interview. When your visa is approved, you may also pay a visa issuance fee, if applicable to your nationality. Fee information is provided below:

Application Fee

$190

All Fees

Top of Form

Select your nationality to see Issuance Fee

Bottom of Form

  • Review the instructions available on the website of the embassy or consulate where you will apply to learn more about fee payment.
  • L visa applicants included in a L blanket petition: You must also pay the Fraud Prevention and Detection fee and may need to pay the Border Security Act fee. Select All Fees to learn more.

Gather Required Documentation

Gather and prepare the following required documents before your visa interview:

  • Passport valid for travel to the United States – Your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond your period of stay in the United States (unless exempt by country-specific agreements). If more than one person is included in your passport, each person who needs a visa must submit a separate application.
  • Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160 confirmation page.
  • Application fee payment receipt, if you are required to pay before your interview.
  • Photo – You will upload your photo while completing the online Form DS-160. If the photo upload fails, you must bring one printed photo in the format explained in the Photograph Requirements.
  • Receipt Number for your approved petition as it appears on your Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, Form I-129, or Notice of Action, Form I-797, from USCIS.
  • L Visa Applicants – If you are included in an L blanket petition, you must bring Form I-129S, Nonimmigrant Petition Based on Blanket L Petition, to your interview.

Legal Rights and Protections

H-1B, H-2A, and H-2B visa applicants should read the Legal Rights and Protections pamphlet to learn about your rights in the United States and protection available to you. Review this important pamphlet before applying for your visa.

Additional Documentation May Be Required

Review the instructions on how to apply for a visa on the website of the embassy or consulate where you will apply. Additional documents may be requested to establish if you are qualified.

All visa applicants, except H-1B and L, will generally need to show proof of compelling ties to your home country to demonstrate your intent to return after your temporary stay in the United States. Examples of compelling ties include:

  • A residence abroad which you do not intend to abandon
  • Your family relationships
  • Your economic situation
  • Your long term plans

Attend your Visa Interview

During your visa interview, a consular officer will determine whether you are qualified to receive a visa, and if so, which visa category is appropriate based on your purpose of travel. You will need to establish that you meet the requirements under U.S. law to receive the category of visa for which you are applying.

Ink-free, digital fingerprint scans will be taken as part of your application process. They are usually taken during your interview, but this varies based on location.

After your visa interview, your application may require further administrative processing. You will be informed by the consular officer if further processing is necessary for your application.

When the visa is approved, you may pay a visa issuance fee if applicable to your nationality, and will be informed how your passport with visa will be returned to you. Review the visa processing time, to learn how soon your passport with visa will generally be ready for pick-up or delivery by the courier.

Entering the United States

A visa allows a foreign citizen to travel to a U.S. port-of-entry (generally an airport) and request permission to enter the United States. A visa does not guarantee entry into the United States. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials at the port-of-entry have authority to permit or deny admission to the United States. If you are allowed to enter the United States, the CBP official will provide an admission stamp or paper Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record. Learn more about admissions and entry requirements, restrictions about bringing food, agricultural products, and other restricted/prohibited goods, and more by reviewing the CBP website.

Extending Your Stay

See Extend Your Stay on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website to learn about requesting to extend your stay beyond the date indicated on your admission stamp or paper Form I-94.

You must depart the United States on or before the date indicated on your admission stamp or paper Form I-94, unless your request to extend your stay is approved by USCIS.

Failure to depart the United States on time will result in you being out of status. Under U.S. law, visas of travelers who are out of status are automatically voided (Section 222(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act). If you had a multiple-entry visa and it was voided due to you being out of status, it will not be valid for future entries into the United States.

Failure to depart the United States on time may also result in you being ineligible for visas you may apply for in the future. Review Visa Denials and Ineligibilities and Waivers: Laws to learn more.

Change of Status

While in the United States, you may be able to request that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) change your nonimmigrant status to another nonimmigrant category. See Change My Nonimmigrant Status on the USCIS website to learn more.

Requesting a change of status from USCIS while you are in the United States and before your authorized stay expires does not require that you apply for a new visa. However, if you cannot remain in the United States while USCIS processes your change of status request, you must apply for a visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

Additional Information

  • The approval of a petition does not guarantee that you will be issued a visa. Do not make final travel plans or buy tickets until you have a visa.
  • Spouse and Children –
    • With the exception of Cultural Exchange Visitor Q-1 visa applicants, your spouse and unmarried, minor children may also apply for the same visa category as you to accompany or join you. You must be able to show that you will be able to financially support your family in the United States.
    • For information about employment and study, review Temporary Workers information and Employment Authorization on the USCIS website.
  • Unless canceled or revoked, a visa is valid until its expiration date.  Therefore, a valid U.S. visa in an expired passport is still valid. If you have a valid visa in your expired passport, do not remove it from your expired passport. You may use your valid visa in your expired passport along with a new valid passport for travel and admission to the United States.
    1. Temporary Worker Visas (USCIS)

 

Important Notice: New Visa Requirement for Certain Caribbean Nationals for Temporary Agricultural Worker (H-2A) Visas

Effective February 19, 2016, any person seeking to enter the United States to perform temporary agricultural work now must present a valid passport and a valid H-2A visa in order to be admitted to the United States.  This includes British, French, and Netherlands nationals and nationals of Barbados, Grenada, Jamaica, or Trinidad and Tobago who were previously exempt from this requirement.  This visa requirement also extends to any spouse or child who may wish to accompany or follow the H-2A agricultural worker to the United States.

Important Notice: Same-sex Marriage

Effective immediately, U.S. Embassies and Consulates will adjudicate visa applications that are based on a same-sex marriage in the same way that we adjudicate applications for opposite gender spouses. Please reference the specific guidance on the visa category for which you are applying for more details on documentation required for derivative spouses. For further information, please see our FAQ’s.

Generally, a citizen of a foreign country who wishes to enter the United States must first obtain a visa, either a nonimmigrant visa for temporary stay, or an immigrant visa for permanent residence. Temporary worker visas are for persons who want to enter the United States for employment lasting a fixed period of time, and are not considered permanent or indefinite. Each of these visas requires the prospective employer to first file a petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). An approved petition is required to apply for a work visa.

Temporary worker visa categories

Visa category  General description – About an individual in this category:
H-1B: Person in Specialty Occupation

 

To work in a specialty occupation. Requires a higher education degree or its equivalent. Includes fashion models of distinguished merit and ability and government-to-government research and development, or co-production projects administered by the Department of Defense.
H-1B1: Free Trade Agreement (FTA) Professional Chile, Singapore To work in a specialty occupation. Requires a post-secondary degree involving at least four years of study in the field of specialization. (Note: This is not a petition-based visa. For application procedures, please refer to the website for the U.S. Embassy in Chile or the U.S. Embassy in Singapore.)
H-2A: Temporary Agricultural Worker For temporary or seasonal agricultural work. Limited to citizens or nationals of designated countries, with limited exceptions, if determined to be in the United States interest.
H-2B: Temporary Non-agricultural Worker For temporary or seasonal non- agricultural work. Limited to citizens or nationals of designated countries, with limited exceptions, if determined to be in the United States interest.
H-3: Trainee or Special Education visitor To receive training, other than graduate medical or academic, that is not available in the trainee’s home country or practical training programs in the education of children with mental, physical, or emotional disabilities.
L: Intracompany Transferee To work at a branch, parent, affiliate, or subsidiary of the current employer in a managerial or executive capacity, or in a position requiring specialized knowledge.  Individual must have been employed by the same employer abroad continuously for 1 year within the three preceding years.
O: Individual with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement For persons with extraordinary ability or achievement in the sciences, arts, education, business, athletics, or extraordinary recognized achievements in the motion picture and television fields, demonstrated by sustained national or international acclaim, to work in their field of expertise. Includes persons providing essential services in support of the above individual.
P-1: Individual or Team Athlete, or Member of an Entertainment Group To perform at a specific athletic competition as an athlete or as a member of an entertainment group. Requires an internationally recognized level of sustained performance. Includes persons providing essential services in support of the above individual.
P-2: Artist or Entertainer (Individual or Group) For performance under a reciprocal exchange program between an organization in the United States and an organization in another country. Includes persons providing essential services in support of the above individual.
P-3: Artist or Entertainer (Individual or Group) To perform, teach or coach under a program that is culturally unique or a traditional ethnic, folk, cultural, musical, theatrical, or artistic performance or presentation. Includes persons providing essential services in support of the above individual.
Q-1: Participant in an International Cultural Exchange Program For practical training and employment and for sharing of the history, culture, and traditions of your home country through participation in an international cultural exchange program.

Labor Certification – Some temporary worker visa categories require your prospective employer to obtain a labor certification or other approval from the Department of Labor on your behalf before filing the Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, Form I-129, with USCIS. Your prospective employer should review the Instructions for Form I-129 on the USCIS website to determine whether labor certification is required for you.

Petition Approval – Some temporary worker categories are limited in total number of petitions which can be approved on a yearly basis. Before you can apply for a temporary worker visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate, a Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, Form I-129, must be filed on your behalf by a prospective employer and be approved by USCIS. For more information  about the petition process, eligibility requirements by visa category, and numerical limits, if applicable, see Working in the U.S. and Temporary (Nonimmigrant) Workers on the USCIS website. Once the petition is approved, USCIS will send your prospective employer a Notice of Action, Form I-797.

How to Apply

After USCIS approves the Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker (Form I-129), you may apply for a visa. There are several steps in the visa application process. The order of these steps and how you complete them may vary at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you apply. Please consult the instructions available on the embassy or consulate website where you will apply.

Complete The Online Visa Application

  • Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160Learn more about completing the DS-160. You must: 1) complete the online visa application and 2) print the application form confirmation page to bring to your interview.
  • Photo –You will upload your photo while completing the online Form DS-160. Your photo must be in the format explained in the Photograph Requirements.

Schedule an Interview

While interviews are generally not required for applicants of certain ages outlined below, consular officers have the discretion to require an interview of any applicant, regardless of age.

If you are age: Then an interview is:
13 and younger Generally not required
14-79 Required (some exceptions for renewals)
80 and older Generally not required

You must schedule an appointment for your visa interview, generally, at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the country where you live. You may schedule your interview at any U.S. Embassy or Consulate, but be aware that it may be difficult to qualify for a visa outside of your place of permanent residence.

Wait times for interview appointments vary by location, season, and visa category, so you should apply for your visa early. Review the interview wait time for the location where you will apply:

Appointment Wait Time

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Select a U.S. Embassy or Consulate:Where will you apply?

Bottom of Form

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See Details

You will need to provide the receipt number that is printed on your approved Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, Form I-129, or Notice of Action, Form I-797, to schedule an interview.

Prepare for your Interview

  • Fees – Pay the non-refundable visa application fee, if you are required to pay it before your interview. When your visa is approved, you may also pay a visa issuance fee, if applicable to your nationality. Fee information is provided below:

Application Fee

$190

All Fees

Top of Form

Select your nationality to see Issuance Fee

Bottom of Form

  • Review the instructions available on the website of the embassy or consulate where you will apply to learn more about fee payment.
  • L visa applicants included in a L blanket petition: You must also pay the Fraud Prevention and Detection fee and may need to pay the Border Security Act fee. Select All Fees to learn more.

Gather Required Documentation

Gather and prepare the following required documents before your visa interview:

  • Passport valid for travel to the United States – Your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond your period of stay in the United States (unless exempt by country-specific agreements). If more than one person is included in your passport, each person who needs a visa must submit a separate application.
  • Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160 confirmation page.
  • Application fee payment receipt, if you are required to pay before your interview.
  • Photo – You will upload your photo while completing the online Form DS-160. If the photo upload fails, you must bring one printed photo in the format explained in the Photograph Requirements.
  • Receipt Number for your approved petition as it appears on your Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, Form I-129, or Notice of Action, Form I-797, from USCIS.
  • L Visa Applicants – If you are included in an L blanket petition, you must bring Form I-129S, Nonimmigrant Petition Based on Blanket L Petition, to your interview.

Legal Rights and Protections

H-1B, H-2A, and H-2B visa applicants should read the Legal Rights and Protections pamphlet to learn about your rights in the United States and protection available to you. Review this important pamphlet before applying for your visa.

Additional Documentation May Be Required

Review the instructions on how to apply for a visa on the website of the embassy or consulate where you will apply. Additional documents may be requested to establish if you are qualified.

All visa applicants, except H-1B and L, will generally need to show proof of compelling ties to your home country to demonstrate your intent to return after your temporary stay in the United States. Examples of compelling ties include:

  • A residence abroad which you do not intend to abandon
  • Your family relationships
  • Your economic situation
  • Your long term plans

Attend your Visa Interview

During your visa interview, a consular officer will determine whether you are qualified to receive a visa, and if so, which visa category is appropriate based on your purpose of travel. You will need to establish that you meet the requirements under U.S. law to receive the category of visa for which you are applying.

Ink-free, digital fingerprint scans will be taken as part of your application process. They are usually taken during your interview, but this varies based on location.

After your visa interview, your application may require further administrative processing. You will be informed by the consular officer if further processing is necessary for your application.

When the visa is approved, you may pay a visa issuance fee if applicable to your nationality, and will be informed how your passport with visa will be returned to you. Review the visa processing time, to learn how soon your passport with visa will generally be ready for pick-up or delivery by the courier.

Entering the United States

A visa allows a foreign citizen to travel to a U.S. port-of-entry (generally an airport) and request permission to enter the United States. A visa does not guarantee entry into the United States. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials at the port-of-entry have authority to permit or deny admission to the United States. If you are allowed to enter the United States, the CBP official will provide an admission stamp or paper Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record. Learn more about admissions and entry requirements, restrictions about bringing food, agricultural products, and other restricted/prohibited goods, and more by reviewing the CBP website.

Extending Your Stay

See Extend Your Stay on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website to learn about requesting to extend your stay beyond the date indicated on your admission stamp or paper Form I-94.

You must depart the United States on or before the date indicated on your admission stamp or paper Form I-94, unless your request to extend your stay is approved by USCIS.

Failure to depart the United States on time will result in you being out of status. Under U.S. law, visas of travelers who are out of status are automatically voided (Section 222(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act). If you had a multiple-entry visa and it was voided due to you being out of status, it will not be valid for future entries into the United States.

Failure to depart the United States on time may also result in you being ineligible for visas you may apply for in the future. Review Visa Denials and Ineligibilities and Waivers: Laws to learn more.

Change of Status

While in the United States, you may be able to request that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) change your nonimmigrant status to another nonimmigrant category. See Change My Nonimmigrant Status on the USCIS website to learn more.

Requesting a change of status from USCIS while you are in the United States and before your authorized stay expires does not require that you apply for a new visa. However, if you cannot remain in the United States while USCIS processes your change of status request, you must apply for a visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

Additional Information

  • The approval of a petition does not guarantee that you will be issued a visa. Do not make final travel plans or buy tickets until you have a visa.
  • Spouse and Children –
    • With the exception of Cultural Exchange Visitor Q-1 visa applicants, your spouse and unmarried, minor children may also apply for the same visa category as you to accompany or join you. You must be able to show that you will be able to financially support your family in the United States.
    • For information about employment and study, review Temporary Workers information and Employment Authorization on the USCIS website.
  • Unless canceled or revoked, a visa is valid until its expiration date.  Therefore, a valid U.S. visa in an expired passport is still valid. If you have a valid visa in your expired passport, do not remove it from your expired passport. You may use your valid visa in your expired passport along with a new valid passport for travel and admission to the United States.
    1. Treaty Trader & Investor Visa (E)

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Important Notice: Same-sex Marriage

Effective immediately, U.S. Embassies and Consulates will adjudicate visa applications that are based on a same-sex marriage in the same way that we adjudicate applications for opposite gender spouses. Please reference the specific guidance on the visa category for which you are applying for more details on documentation required for derivative spouses. For further information, please see our FAQ’s.

Generally, a citizen of a foreign country who wishes to enter the United States must first obtain a visa, either a nonimmigrant visa for temporary stay, or an immigrant visa for permanent residence. Treaty Trader (E-1) and Treaty Investor (E-2) visas are for citizens of countries with which the United States maintains treaties of commerce and navigation. For a list of participating countries, select Treaty Countries.

You must be coming to the United States to:

  • engage in substantial trade, including trade in services or technology, in qualifying activities, principally between the United States and the treaty country; or
  • develop and direct the operations of an enterprise in which you have invested a substantial amount of capital.

For more information on business investment in the United States, see the U.S. Department of Commerce website SelectUSA.

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Trade for Treaty Trader and Treaty Investor purposes – Examples:

These are some examples of types of enterprises that constitute trade under E visa provisions.

  • international banking
  • insurance
  • transportation
  • tourism
  • communications

To qualify for a Treaty Trader (E-1) Visa

  • You must be a citizen of a treaty country.
  • The trading firm for which you plan to come to the United States must have the nationality of the treaty country, meaning persons with the treaty country’s nationality must own at least 50 percent of the enterprise.
  • The international trade must be substantial, meaning that there is a sizable and continuing volume of trade.
  • More than 50 percent of the international trade involved must be between the United States and the treaty country.
  • Trade means the international exchange of goods, services, and technology. Title of the trade items must pass from one party to the other.
  • You must be an essential employee, employed in a supervisory or executive capacity, or possess highly specialized skills essential to the efficient operation of the firm. Ordinary skilled or unskilled workers do not qualify.

To qualify for a Treaty Investor (E-2) Visa

  • The investor, either a person, partnership or corporate entity, must have the citizenship of a treaty country.
  • If a business, at least 50 percent of the business must be owned by persons with the treaty country’s nationality.
  • The investment must be substantial, with investment funds or assets committed and irrevocable. It must be sufficient to ensure the successful operation of the enterprise.
  • The investment must be a real operating enterprise, an active commercial or entrepreneurial undertaking. A paper organization, speculative or idle investment does not qualify. Uncommitted funds in a bank account or similar security are not considered an investment.
  • It must generate significantly more income than just to provide a living to you and family, or it must have a significant economic impact in the United States.
  • You must have control of the funds, and the investment must be at risk in the commercial sense. Loans secured with the assets of the investment enterprise are not allowed.
  • You must be coming to the United States to develop and direct the enterprise. If you are not the principal investor, you must be considered an essential employee, employed in a supervisory, executive, or highly specialized skill capacity.  Ordinary skilled and unskilled workers do not qualify.

How to Apply

There are several steps to apply for a visa. The order of these steps and how you complete them may vary at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you apply. Please consult the instructions available on the embassy or consulate website where you will apply.

Complete the Online Visa Application

  • Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160Learn more about completing the DS-160. You must: 1) complete the online visa application and 2) print the application form confirmation page to bring to your interview.
  • Photo – You will upload your photo while completing the online Form DS-160. Your photo must be in the format explained in the Photograph Requirements.

Schedule an Interview

While interviews are generally not required for applicants of certain ages outlined below, consular officers have the discretion to require an interview of any applicant, regardless of age.

If you are age: Then an interview is:
13 and younger Generally not required
14-79 Required (some exceptions for renewals)
80 and older Generally not required

You must schedule an appointment for your visa interview, generally, at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the country where you live. You may schedule your interview at any U.S. Embassy or Consulate, but be aware that it may be difficult to qualify for a visa outside of your place of permanent residence.

Wait times for interview appointments vary by location, season, and visa category, so you should apply for your visa early. Review the interview wait time for the location where you will apply:

Appointment Wait Time

Top of Form

Select a U.S. Embassy or Consulate:Where will you apply?

Bottom of Form

Edit

See Details

Prepare for Your Interview

  • Fees – Pay the non-refundable visa application fee, if you are required to pay it before your interview.  When your visa is approved, you may also pay a visa issuance fee, if applicable to your nationality. Fee information is provided below:

Application Fee

$205

All Fees

Top of Form

Select your nationality to see Issuance Fee

Bottom of Form

  • Review the instructions available on the website of the embassy or consulate where you will apply to learn more about fee payment.

Gather Required Documentation

Gather and prepare the following required documents before your visa interview:

  • Passport valid for travel to the United States – Your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond your period of stay in the United States (unless exempt by country-specific agreements). If more than one person is included in your passport, each person who needs a visa must submit a separate application.
  • Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160confirmation page
  • Application fee payment receipt, if you are required to pay before your interview
  • Photo – You will upload your photo while completing the online Form DS-160. If the photo upload fails, you must bring one printed photo in the format explained in the Photograph Requirements.
  • Nonimmigrant Treaty Trader/Treaty Investor Application, Form DS-156E – This form is required for:
    • all E-1 treaty trader visa applicants; and
    • E-2 treaty investor visa applicants, if you are an Executive/Manager/Essential Employee.

Additional Documentation May Be Required

Review the instructions for how to apply for a visa on the website of the embassy or consulate where you will apply. Additional documents may be requested to establish if you are qualified.

Treaty Trader (E-1) or Treaty Investor (E-2) visa applicants must establish that the trading enterprise or investment enterprise meets the requirements of the law and complies with the many requirements for the E visa category. The consular officer may provide you with special forms to complete for this purpose. You should expect that the consular officer will request additional documentation to determine your eligibility for a treaty trader or treaty investor visa. It is impossible to specify the exact documentation required since circumstances vary greatly by applicant. For detailed requirements for this category, review 9 Foreign Affairs Manual 402.9 Treaty Trader and Treaty Investor.

Attend Your Visa Interview

During your visa interview, a consular officer will determine whether you are qualified to receive a visa, and if so, which visa category is appropriate based on your purpose of travel. You will need to establish that you meet the requirements under U.S. law to receive the category of visa for which you are applying.

Ink-free, digital fingerprint scans will be taken as part of your application process. They are usually taken during your interview, but this varies based on location.

After your visa interview, your application may require further administrative processing. You will be informed by the consular officer if further processing is necessary for your application.

When the visa is approved, you may pay a visa issuance fee if applicable to your nationality, and will be informed how your passport with visa will be returned to you. Review the visa processing time, to learn how soon your passport with visa will generally be ready for pick-up or delivery by courier.

Entering the United States

A visa allows a foreign citizen to travel to a U.S. port-of-entry (generally an airport) and request permission to enter the United States. A visa does not guarantee entry into the United States. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials at the port-of-entry have authority to permit or deny admission to the United States. If you are allowed to enter the United States, the CBP official will provide an admission stamp or paper Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record. Learn more about admissions and entry requirements, restrictions about bringing food, agricultural products, and other restricted/prohibited goods, and more by reviewing the CBP website.

Extending Your Stay

See Extend Your Stay on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website to learn about requesting to extend your stay beyond the date indicated on your admission stamp or paper Form I-94.

You must depart the United States on or before the date indicated on your admission stamp or paper Form I-94, unless your request to extend your stay is approved by USCIS.

Failure to depart the United States on time will result in you being out of status. Under U.S. law, visas of travelers who are out of status are automatically voided (Section 222(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act). If you had a multiple-entry visa and it was voided due to you being out of status, it will not be valid for future entries into the United States.

Failure to depart the United States on time may also result in you being ineligible for visas you may apply for in the future. Review Visa Denials and Ineligibilities and Waivers: Laws to learn more.

Change of Status

While in the United States, you may be able to request that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) change your nonimmigrant status to another nonimmigrant category. See Change My Nonimmigrant Status on the USCIS website to learn more.

Requesting a change of status from USCIS while you are in the United States and before your authorized stay expires does not require that you apply for a new visa. However, if you cannot remain in the United States while USCIS processes your change of status request, you must apply for a visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

Additional Information

  • We cannot guarantee that you will be issued a visa. Do not make final travel plans or buy tickets until you have a visa.
  • Spouse and Children –
  • Unless canceled or revoked, a visa is valid until its expiration date.  Therefore, a valid U.S. visa in an expired passport is still valid.  If you have a valid visa in your expired passport, do not remove it from your expired passport. You may use your valid visa in your expired passport along with a new valid passport for travel and admission to the United States.
    1. Renewing A, G, and NATO visas in the United States

The following individuals may renew their visas while in the United States:

  • A-1 – 2 – Foreign government diplomats and officials and their immediate family members*
  • G-1 – 4 – International organization officials and employees and their immediate family members*
  • NATO-1 – 6 – NATO officials and employees and their immediate family members*

Under the revised the definition of “immediate family”, unmarried sons and daughters of A, G or NATO visa holders will only be qualified for A, G, or NATO visa issuance as a member of the principal’s immediate family if they…

As a first step, please review this information. If you have questions, you may contact:

  • The Diplomatic Liaison Division, located at the Department of State in the Visa Office, or
  • The U.S. Mission to the United Nations (USUN).

See Further Questions for contact information.

Renewal is Limited to Certain Visa Holders

The Diplomatic Liaison Division reissues clearly approvable U.S. visas and provides related visa services to A-1 – 2, G-1 – 4, and NATO-1 – 6 visa holders, including immediate family members, who are not employees of the UN community and who are:

  • Registered with the Department of State’s Office of Foreign Missions or foreign military personnel stationed at a U.S. military base (Military personnel should review Renewing Visas for Foreign Military Stationed in the U.S. for instructions on how to apply for visa renewals);
  • A resident in the United States; and
  • Present in the United States, but need to temporarily travel abroad and reenter the United States in the same status.

(Please note that a visa holder may only seek entry to the United States during the time period for which the visa is valid. Therefore, those temporarily traveling outside the United States will need a valid visa to seek reentry to the United States in the same status. A valid, unexpired visa does not entitle the visa holder to enter or remain in the United States. How long a nonimmigrant may stay in the United States and under what status they are admitted is determined by DHS at the port-of-entry.)

The U.S. Mission to the United Nations reissues clearly approvable U.S. visas and provides related visa services to employees of the UN community and their immediate family members who are:

  • Registered with the UN;
  • Resident in the greater New York area; and
  • Present in the greater New York area, but need to temporarily travel abroad and reenter the United States in the same status.

(Please note that a visa holder may only seek entry to the United States during the time period for which the visa is valid. Therefore, those temporarily traveling outside the United States will need a valid visa to seek reentry to the United States in the same status. A valid, unexpired visa does not entitle the visa holder to enter or remain in the United States. How long a nonimmigrant may stay in the United States and under what status they are admitted is determined by DHS at the port-of-entry.)

A-3, G-5, and NATO-7 Visas Cannot Be Renewed in the United States

If you are in A-3, G-5, or NATO-7 status, you are required to apply at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad for a new visa. Your visa cannot be renewed in the United States.

If you would like to extend your status in the United States to continue working for the same employer, but do not wish to obtain a new visa, the Diplomatic Liaison Division or the U.S. Mission to the UN can coordinate with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on the extension of status in some cases. At this time, we are unable to process extensions of stay for A-3, G-5 or NATO-7 visa holders who have changed employers or intend to change employers while in the United States. See Extension of Stay for general information. The foreign mission or international organization should contact the Diplomatic Liaison Division or the U.S. Mission to the UN for case-specific details.

Other Visas that Cannot Be Renewed in the United States

Only A-1 – 2, G-1 – 4, and NATO-1 – 6 visas may be renewed in the United States. Applicants for renewals of all other visa categories must apply at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate, generally in their country of residence.

How to Apply

Prepare your Application – Required Documentation

Gather and prepare the following required documents:

  1. Passport valid for travel to the United States – Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months beyond your period of stay in the United States (unless exempt by country-specific agreements). Attach the passport containing your most recent A, G, or NATO visa if you have since received a new passport.
  2. Original Form I-94, Arrival- Departure Record – issued by the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border Protection from your most recent admission to the United States. If you entered the U.S. after the automation of Form I-94, and your Arrival/Departure Record was created electronically, you may obtain a paper Form I-94 at http://www.cbp.gov/travel/international-visitors/i-94-instructions.
  3. Online Application for A, G, or NATO Visa, Form DS-1648 (Applying in the United States Only) – You must: 1) complete the online visa application, 2) print the application form confirmation page, and 3) have the Embassy, mission, or organization seal affixed to the confirmation page. You must submit the confirmation page as part of your application. Learn more about completing the DS-1648.
  4. Photo – Your photo must have been taken within the past six months, and must be the format explained in the Photograph Requirements. You will upload your photo while completing the online Form DS-1648.

Note: If the photo upload fails, you must submit one printed photo in the format explained in the Photograph Requirements.

  1. A diplomatic note, if you are applying at the U.S. Mission to the UN or if your DS-1648 confirmation page does not include the Embassy, mission, or organization seal.
  2. Dependents applying separately from the principal applicant must submit copies of the principal applicant’s visa and front and back of the principal applicant’s I-94, in addition to the requirements listed above. If the principal applicant entered the United States after the automation of Form I-94, and his/her Arrival/Departure Record was created electronically, a photocopy of his/her admission stamp can be provided to the family member applying separately. Alternatively, the principal applicant may obtain a paper Form I-94 at http://www.cbp.gov/travel/international-visitors/i-94-instructionsand provide it to the family member applying separately.
  3. Prepaid Return Envelope – If you would like your passport with visa mailed back to you, you must provide a self-addressed, stamped or courier airbill return envelope. If your passport with visa will be picked up in person at our Diplomatic Reception Area, do not submit a prepaid return envelope.

The Diplomatic Liaison Division does not endorse the use of any particular commercial courier service, but it may be useful for the return envelope to have a tracking number so you can better determine its location after it leaves our office. If using the U.S. Postal Service, the Postal Service recommends a padded envelope for passport return. (Please note that packages sent with the Postal Service are often subjected to irradiation, which can damage passports, I-94s, and other enclosures.) A family should submit one courier airbill/envelope or one self-addressed, stamped envelope for the return of their documents. Please use the military command’s address or the applicant’s personal address in the United States as the “from” address on the airbill or the self-addressed envelope. Please ensure that the airbill contains the military command’s courier company account number or applicant’s valid credit card number.

Fees

There are no fees for A, G, and NATO visa application renewals.

Where to Submit Your Application

Washington, DC – For A-1 – 2, G-1 – 4, and NATO-1 – 6 visa applicants who are not UN community members:

A and G Visa Applicants – Your application package, containing all required documents, should be submitted through your embassy or international organization in Washington.

NATO Visa Applicants – Submit your application package through your commanding office.

Applications may be submitted in person or mailed in.

Applications Submitted in Person – Applications may be submitted at the Diplomatic Liaison Division’s Diplomatic Reception Area, Monday through Friday, excluding holidays, between 10:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. (Eastern Time).

Directions – The Diplomatic Reception Desk  is located at 600 19th Street N.W. Washington, D.C. 20522.

Mailed Applications – You may mail your application package, containing all required documents, to the Diplomatic Liaison Division at the following address:

Diplomatic Liaison Dvision, Department of State, CA/VO/P/D, SA-17, Floor 11, Washington, DC 20522-1711. Applications submitted by FedEx or DHL or the U.S. Postal Service should include a prepaid return envelope.

New York – For G-1 – 4 visa applicants who are part of the UN community:

Your application package, containing all required documents, should be submitted through your mission or international organization in New York to the U.S. Mission to the UN, Monday through Friday, excluding U.S. holidays, between 9 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. (Eastern Time).

U.S. Mission to the UN address:

U.S. Mission to the United Nations
799 United Nations Plaza
New York, NY 10017

Processing Times in Washington and New York

Please allow a minimum of 3-5 business days, not counting date of submission or date of receipt, for your visa renewal to be processed at either the Diplomatic Liaison Division or the U.S. Mission to the UN. In some cases, processing may take longer.

Case Status Check –Applicants can easily check the status of their cases online with the Department of State’s CEAC Status Check. To check the status of your case, use your CEAC case number (example: YEARXXX XXX XXXX), or your CEAC Application ID (example: AA0020AKAX), and the location where you applied. Click on “Check My Visa Application Status.” If you received a 221g letter stating that your case requires further “Administrative Processing” this system will let you know if your case has been approved, requires more information, or is still being processed. Check your status here.

After Your Visa is Issued

Diplomatic Liaison Division in Washington, DC –

For applications submitted in person at the Diplomatic Reception Area, passports with visas may be picked up Monday through Friday, excluding holidays, between 10:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. (Eastern Time). To check on the status of a visa, please call (202) 485-7682 between 10:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m., or (202) 485-7681 between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.

Additionally, Applicants can easily check the status of their cases online with the Department of State’s CEAC Status Check. To check the status of your case, use your CEAC case number (example: YEARXXX XXX XXXX), or your CEAC Application ID (example: AA0020AKAX), and the location where you applied. Click on “Check My Visa Application Status.” If you received a 221g letter stating that your case requires further “Administrative Processing” this system will let you know if your case has been approved, requires more information, or is still being processed. Check your status here.

For applications submitted with a prepaid return envelope, your passport with visa will be mailed to you.

U.S. Mission to the UN in New York –

Passport with visas may be picked up Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays between 10:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. upon notification by fax from the U.S. Mission to the U.N.

Change of Status – Into, Within, Between, or Out of A, G, and NATO Status

Select Change of Status (see ”In the U.S.” section on the right) to learn about:

  • Changing into, within, or between A, G, or NATO status if you are in the United States and accept employment with a diplomatic mission, an international organization (including the UN), a permanent or observer mission to the UN, or NATO; and
  • Changing out of A, G, or NATO status into another nonimmigrant status because you left your assignment, but plan to remain in the United States.
  1. Directory of Visa Categories

Immigrant Visa Categories

The purpose of your intended travel and other facts will determine what type of visa is required under U.S. immigration law. As a visa applicant, you will need to establish that you meet all requirements to receive the category of visa for which you are applying. When you apply at a U.S embassy or consulate, a consular officer will determine based on laws, whether you are eligible to receive a visa, and if so, which visa category is appropriate.

Immigrant Visa Categories

The chart below contains different purposes for immigrating to the United States, and the related immigrant visa categories for which information is available on this website. Select a visa category below to learn more:

 

The chart below contains many different purposes of temporary travel and the related nonimmigrant visa categories available on this website. Select a visa category below to learn more:

Purpose of Travel Visa Category Required: Before applying for visa*
Athlete, amateur or professional (competing for prize money only) B-1 (NA)
Au pair (exchange visitor) J SEVIS
Australian professional specialty E-3 DOL
Border Crossing Card: Mexico BCC (NA)
Business visitor B-1 (NA)
CNMI-only transitional worker CW-1 (USCIS)
Crewmember D (NA)
Diplomat or foreign government official A

 

(NA)
Domestic employee or nanny – must be accompanying a foreign national employer B-1 (NA)
Employee of a designated international organization or NATO   G1-G5, NATO (NA)
Exchange visitor J SEVIS
Foreign military personnel stationed in the United States A-2
NATO1-6
(NA)
Foreign national with extraordinary ability in Sciences, Arts, Education, Business or Athletics O USCIS
Free Trade Agreement (FTA) Professional:
Chile, Singapore
H-1B1 – Chile
H-1B1 – Singapore
DOL
International cultural exchange visitor Q USCIS
Intra-company transferee L USCIS
Medical treatment, visitor for B-2 (NA)
Media, journalist I (NA)
NAFTA professional worker: Mexico, Canada TN/TD (NA)
Performing athlete, artist, entertainer P USCIS
Physician J , H-1B SEVIS
Professor, scholar, teacher (exchange visitor) J SEVIS
Religious worker R USCIS
Specialty occupations in fields requiring highly specialized knowledge H-1B DOL then USCIS
Student: academic, vocational F, M SEVIS
Temporary agricultural worker H-2A DOL then USCIS
Temporary worker performing other services or labor of a temporary or seasonal nature. H-2B DOL then USCIS
Tourism, vacation, pleasure visitor B-2 (NA)
Training in a program not primarily for employment H-3 USCIS
Treaty trader/treaty investor E (NA)
Transiting the United States C (NA)
Victim of Criminal Activity U USCIS
Victim of Human Trafficking T USCIS
Nonimmigrant (V) Visa for Spouse and Children of a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) V (NA)
Renewals in the U.S. – A, G, and NATO Visas   (NA)

*What the abbreviations above mean – Before applying for a visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate, the following is required:

  • DOL = The U.S. employer must obtain foreign labor certification from the U.S. Department of Labor, prior to filing a petition with USCIS.
  • USCIS = U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) approval of a petition or application (The required petition or application depends on the visa category you plan to apply for.)
  • SEVIS = Program approval entered in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS)
  • (NA) = Not Applicable – Additional approval by another U.S. government agency is not required prior to applying for a visa

Important Notes:

  • About this chart – It is not a complete list of all travel purposes for the visa category. Select a visa category webpage for more information. The chart lists almost all nonimmigrant visa categories, with the exception of several not listed above. Refer to the Foreign Affairs Manual, 9 FAM 402.1for all nonimmigrant visa categories.
  • Canadian NAFTA Professional workers – A visa not required; apply to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at border port of entry.
  • K nonimmigrant visas – For U.S. citizen fiancé(e) and spouse for immigration related purposes. Refer to Immigrant Visa Categories.

Immigrant Visa Categories

The chart below contains different purposes for immigrating to the United States, and the related immigrant visa categories for which information is available on this website. Select a visa category below to learn more:

Immediate Relative & Family Sponsored Visa Category
Spouse of a U.S. Citizen IR1, CR1
Spouse of a U.S. Citizen awaiting approval of an I-130 immigrant petition K-3 *
Fiancé(e) to marry U.S. Citizen & live in U.S. K-1 *
Intercountry Adoption of Orphan Children by U.S. Citizens IR3, IH3, IR4, IH4
Certain Family Members of U.S. Citizens IR2, CR2, IR5, F1, F3, F4
Certain Family Members of Lawful Permanent Residents F2A, F2B
Employer Sponsored – Employment
Employment-Based Immigrants, including  (preference group):

  • Priority workers [First]
  • Professionals Holding Advanced Degrees and Persons of Exceptional Ability [Second]
  • Professionals and Other Workers [Third]
  • Employment Creation/Investors [Fifth]
  • Certain Special Immigrants: [Fourth]
E1
E2

E3, EW3

C5, T5, R5, I5

S (many**)

Religious Workers SD, SR
Iraqi and Afghan Translators/Interpreters SI
Iraqis Who Worked for/on Behalf of the U.S. Government SQ
Afghans Who Worked for/on Behalf of the U.S. Government SQ
Other Immigrants
Diversity Immigrant Visa DV
Returning Resident SB

Important Notes:

*K Visas – Listed with immigrant visas because they are for immigration related purposes.

About this chart – This chart is a list of many immigrant visa categories, but not every immigrant visa category.

**Refer to the Foreign Affairs Manual, 9 FAM 502.1 for a listing of all immigrant visa categories.

  1. Immigrant Visa for a Spouse of a U.S. Citizen (IR1 or CR1)

 

Important Notice: Same-sex Marriage

Same-sex spouses of U.S. citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs), along with their minor children, are now eligible for the same immigration benefits as opposite-sex spouses. Consular officers at U.S. Embassies and Consulates will adjudicate their immigrant visa applications upon receipt of an approved I-130 or I-140  petition from USCIS. For further information, please see our FAQ’s.

Important Notice: Provisional Unlawful Presence Waivers

For Provisional Waiver I-601A applicants, see our FAQs to learn more about the National Visa Center process and you. A Spanish translation of our FAQs is available here.

What Is a “Spouse”?

A spouse is a legally wedded husband or wife.

  • Merely living together does not qualify a marriage for immigration.
  • Common-law spouses may qualify as spouses for immigration purposes depending on the laws of the country where the common-law marriage occurs.
  • In cases of polygamy, only the first spouse may qualify as a spouse for immigration.

The First Step Toward an Immigrant Visa: Filing the Petition

The first step is to file a Petition for Alien Relative, Form I-130, with the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for your spouse (husband or wife) to immigrate to the United States. For instructions on how to file a petition, including where you should send the petition, see the USCIS website.

In certain circumstances, a U.S. citizen living abroad can file an immigrant visa petition outside of the United States. Review Filing Immigrant Petitions Outside the United States to learn more.

U.S. Sponsor Minimum Age Requirement

There is no minimum age for a U.S. sponsor (petitioner) to file a petition for a spouse. However, you must be at least 18 years of age and have a residence (domicile) in the U.S. before you can sign the Affidavit of Support (Form I-864 or I-864EZ). This form is required for an immigrant visa for a spouse and other relatives of U.S. sponsors.

Is Residence in the U.S. Required for the U.S. Sponsor?

Yes. As a U.S. sponsor/petitioner, you must maintain your principal residence (also called domicile) in the United States, which is where you plan to live for the foreseeable future. Living in the United States is required for a U.S. sponsor to file the Affidavit of Support, with few exceptions. To learn more, review the Affidavit of Support (I-864 or I-864EZ) Instructions.

If You Were an LPR and Are Now a U.S. Citizen: Upgrading a Petition

If you filed a petition for your spouse when you were a lawful permanent resident (LPR), and you are now a U.S. citizen, you must upgrade the petition from family second preference (F2) to immediate relative (IR). You can do this by sending proof of your U.S. citizenship to the National Visa Center (NVC). You should send:

  • A copy of the biodata page of your U.S. passport; or
  • A copy of your certificate of naturalization

Important Notice:

If you are now a U.S. citizen, you must file separate immigrant visa petitions for each of your children. If you upgrade a family second preference (F2) petition for your spouse and you did not file separate petitions for your children when you were a lawful permanent resident (LPR), you must do so now. A child does not receive derivative status in an immediate relative (IR) petition. This is different from the family second preference (F2) petition where a child is included in his/her parent’s F2 petition. A child is not included as a derivative in his/her parent’s IR petition.

Children born abroad after you became a U.S. citizen may qualify for U.S. citizenship. They should apply for U.S. passports. The consular officer will determine whether your child is a U.S. citizen and can have a passport. If the consular officer determines your child is not U.S. citizen, the child must apply for an immigrant visa if he/she wants to live in the United States.

Next Steps – Fees, Affidavit of Support, and Visa Application

After USCIS approves the petition, it is sent to the National Visa Center (NVC). Once received, the NVC will assign a case number for the petition and instruct the applicant to complete Form DS-261, Choice of Address and Agent. (NOTE: If you already have an attorney, the NVC will not instruct you to complete Form DS-261.) The NVC will begin pre-processing the applicant’s case by providing the applicant and petitioner with instructions to submit the appropriate fees. After the appropriate fees are paid, the NVC will request that the applicant submit the necessary immigrant visa documents, including the Affidavit of Support, application forms, civil documents, and more. Learn more about National Visa Center visa case processing.

Fees

Fees are charged for the following services:

  • Filing an immigrant Petition for Alien Relative, Form I-130 (this fee is charged by USCIS).
  • Processing an immigrant visa application, Form DS-260 (see Note below)
  • Medical examination and required vaccinations (costs vary)
  • Other costs may include: translations; photocopying charges; fees for obtaining the documents you need for the immigrant visa application (such as passport, police certificates, birth certificates, etc.); and expenses for travel to the U.S. embassy or consulate for your visa interview. Costs vary from country to country and case to case.

For current fees for Department of State services, see Fees for Visa Services. For current fees for USCIS services, see Check Filing Fees on the USCIS website.

Note: Fees must be paid for each intending immigrant, regardless of age, and are not refundable.

Fees should not be paid to the NVC or paid at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you have your visa interview unless specifically requested. Applicants will be provided with instructions by the NVC on where and when to pay the appropriate fees. Do not send payments to the NVC’s address in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

Required Documentation

In general, the following documents are required:

  • Passport(s)valid for six months beyond the intended date of entry into the United States, unless longer validity is specifically requested by the U.S. Embassy/Consulate in your country. Please review the instructions for guidance.
  • Affidavit of Support (I-864, I-864A, I-864 EZ, or I-864W, as appropriate) from the petitioner/U.S. sponsor.
  • Form DS-260, Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration Application.
    • Preview a sample DS-260 (6.4MB).
  • Two (2) 2×2 photographs. See the required photo format explained in Photograph Requirements.
  • Civil Documents for the applicant. See Documents the Applicant Must Submit for more specific information about documentation requirements, including information on which documents may need to be translated. The consular officer may ask for more information during your visa interview. Bring your original civil documents (or certified copies) such as birth and marriage certificates, as well as legible photocopies all original civil documents, and any required translations to your immigrant visa interview.
  • Completed Medical Examination Forms – These are provided by the panel physician after you have completed your medical examination and vaccinations (see below).

Visa Interview

Once the NVC determines the file is complete with all the required documents, they schedule the applicant’s interview appointment. NVC then sends the file, containing the applicant’s petition and the documents listed above, to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where the applicant will be interviewed for a visa. The applicant, petitioner, attorney, and third-party agent, if applicable, will receive appointment emails, or letters (if no email address if available), containing the date and time of the applicant’s visa interview along with instructions, including guidance for obtaining a medical examination.

Applicants should bring their valid passports, as well as any other documentation above not already provided to NVC, to their visa interviews. During the interview process, ink-free, digital fingerprint scans will be taken. Generally, applicants will receive their original civil documents and original translations back at the time of interview.

Rights and Protections – Pamphlet

You should read the Rights and Protections pamphlet before your visa interview to learn about your rights in the United States relating to domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse and protection available to you. The consular officer will verbally summarize the pamphlet to you during your interview.

Medical Examination and Vaccinations

Important Notice:

In preparing for your interview, you will need to schedule and complete your medical examination and any required vaccinations before your visa interview.  Before an immigrant visa can be issued, every applicant, regardless of age, must undergo a medical examination which must be performed by an authorized panel physician. Applicants are provided instructions by NVC regarding medical examinations, including information on authorized panel physicians. See Medical Examination for more information, including a list of panel physicians by country, and frequently asked questions.

Vaccination Requirements

U.S. immigration law requires immigrant visa applicants to obtain certain vaccinations prior to the issuance of immigrant visas. See Vaccination Requirements for IV Applicants for the list of required vaccinations and additional information.

What Is Conditional Residence?

If you have been married for less than two years when your foreign citizen spouse enters the United States on an immigrant visa, his or her permanent resident status is considered “conditional.” The immigrant visa is a conditional resident (CR) visa, not an immediate relative (IR) visa.

You and your spouse must apply together to USCIS to remove the conditional status within the ninety days before the two-year anniversary of your spouse’s entry into the United States on his or her immigrant visa. The two-year anniversary date of entry is the date of expiration on the alien registration card (green card). See Remove Conditions on Permanent Residence Based on Marriage on the USCIS website.

How Long Does It Take?

The length of time varies from case to case and cannot be predicted for individual cases with any accuracy. Some cases are delayed because applicants do not follow instructions carefully. Sometimes the U.S. sponsor, or petitioner, cannot meet Affidavit of Support requirements. Some visa applications require further administrative processing, which takes additional time after the visa applicant’s interview by a consular officer.

Ineligibilities for Visas – What If the Applicant Is Ineligible for a Visa?

Certain conditions and activities may make an applicant ineligible for a visa. Examples of these ineligibilities include: drug trafficking; overstaying a previous visa; and submitting fraudulent documents. If you are ineligible for a visa, you will be informed by the consular officer and advised whether there is a waiver of the ineligibility available to you and what the waiver process is. Classes of Aliens Ineligible to Receive Visas contains the complete list of ineligibilities.

Misrepresentation of Material Facts or Fraud

Attempting to obtain a visa by the willful misrepresentation of a material fact or fraud may result in you becoming permanently ineligible to receive a U.S. visa or enter the United States.

When You Have Your Immigrant Visa – What You Should Know

If you are issued an immigrant visa, the consular officer will give you your passport containing the immigrant visa and a sealed packet containing the documents which you provided. It is important that you do not open the sealed packet. Only the U.S. immigration official should open this packet when you enter the United States. You are required to enter the United States before the expiration date printed on your visa. When traveling, the primary (or principal) applicant must enter the United States before or at the same time as family members holding visas.

If you receive your immigrant visa on or after February 1, 2013, you must pay the USCIS Immigrant Fee to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) after you receive your immigrant visa and before you travel to the United States. Only children who enter the United States under the Orphan or Hague adoption programs, Iraqi and Afghan special immigrants, returning residents (SB-1s), and those issued K visas are exempt from this fee. Select USCIS Immigrant Fee on the USCIS website for more information.

Important Notice: USCIS will not issue a Permanent Resident Card (Form I-551 or Green Card) until you have paid the fee.

Entering the United States: Port-of-Entry

A visa allows a foreign citizen to travel to the U.S. port-of-entry and request permission to enter the U.S. Applicants should be aware that a visa does not guarantee entry into the U.S. The DHS, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials have authority to permit or deny admission to the U.S. Travelers should review important information about admissions and entry requirements on the CBP website under Travel. Once you have been admitted to the U.S. as a permanent resident, your Permanent Resident Card, Form I-551 (formerly called Alien Registration Card, also known as a green card) will be mailed to you.

How to Apply for a Social Security Number Card

If you elected on your immigrant visa application form to receive your Social Security Number Card upon admission to the United States as an immigrant, your card will be sent via mail to the U.S. address you designated on your application form, and should arrive approximately six weeks following your admission. If you did not elect to receive your Social Security Number Card automatically, you will have to apply to be issued a card following your arrival in the United States. To learn about applying for a Social Security Number Card, visit the Social Security Administration website.

When You Are a Permanent Resident

Coming to the United States to live permanently, you will want to learn more about your status as a Lawful Permanent Resident. See Welcome to the United States: A Guide for New Immigrants to review information on the USCIS website about living in the United States.

Additional Information

Immigrant visa applicants should not make any final travel arrangements, dispose of property, or give up jobs until and unless visas are issued. Some visa applications require further administrative processing, which takes additional time after the visa applicant’s interview by a consular officer. An immigrant visa is generally valid for six months from the issuance date.

General Visa Questions

  • Before submitting your inquiry, we request that you carefully review this website for answers to your questions. Because of the volume of inquiries, we cannot promise an immediate reply to your inquiry.
  • If your inquiry concerns a visa case in progress overseas, you should first contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate handling your case for status information. Select S. Embassy or Consulate to find contact information.
  • You can find contact information for our Public Inquiries Division at Contact Us.
    1. Nonimmigrant Visa for a Spouse (K-3)

Important Notice: Same-sex Marriage

Same-sex spouses of U.S. citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs), along with their minor children, are now eligible for the same immigration benefits as opposite-sex spouses. Consular officers at U.S. Embassies and Consulates will adjudicate their immigrant visa applications upon receipt of an approved I-130 or I-140  petition from USCIS. For further information, please see our FAQ’s.

Overview – What Is a K-3 Visa?

The K-3 nonimmigrant visa is for the foreign-citizen spouse of a United States (U.S.) citizen. This visa category is intended to shorten the physical separation between the foreign-citizen and U.S. citizen spouses by having the option to obtain a nonimmigrant K-3 visa overseas and enter the United States to await approval of the immigrant visa petition.  K-3 visa recipients subsequently apply to adjust status to a permanent resident (LPR) with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) upon approval of the petition. Because the spouse of a U.S. citizen applying for a nonimmigrant K-3 visa must have a immigrant visa petition filed on his or her behalf by his or her U.S. citizen spouse and pending approval, a K-3 applicant must meet some of the requirements of an immigrant visa. It should be noted that under U.S. immigration law, a foreign citizen who marries a U.S. citizen outside the U.S. must apply for the K-3 visa in the country where the marriage took place. Learn more in the Applying for a Visa section below.

Eligible children of K-3 visa applicants receive K-4 visas. Both K-3 and the K-4 visas allow their recipients to stay in the United States while immigrant visa petitions are pending approval by USCIS.

What is a “Spouse”?

A spouse is a legally wedded husband or wife. Same-sex spouses of U.S. citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents, along with their minor children, are now eligible for the same immigration benefits as opposite-sex spouses.

  • Merely living together does not qualify a marriage for immigration.
  • Common-law spouses may qualify as spouses for immigration purposes depending on the laws of the country where the common-law marriage occurs.
  • In cases of polygamy, only the first spouse may qualify as a spouse for immigration.

The International Marriage Broker Regulation Act of 2005 (IMBRA)

Detailed information about IMBRA requirements is contained in the Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e), instructions.

The First Step: Filing the Petitions

The Second Step: Applying for a Visa

Important Notice:

When both petitions have been approved by USCIS and sent to the NVC or when USCIS approves the I-130 before the I-129F, the availability of, as well as the need for, a nonimmigrant K-3 visa ends. If the NVC receives both an approved I-130 petition and an approved I-129F petition:

  • The nonimmigrant K-3 visa case will be administratively closed.
  • The application process explained below will not be available to the foreign-citizen spouse and cannot be used.
  • The NVC will contact the U.S. citizen sponsor and foreign-citizen spouse, with instructions for processing the IR-1 (or CR-1) immigrant visa. For more information on the immigrant visa process, review the Immigrant Visa for a Spouse

If the NVC receives the approved I-129F petition before it receives the I-130 petition, the NVC will process the I-129F petition. NVC will then send the I-129F petition to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the country where the marriage took place. If the marriage took place in the United States, the NVC will send the petition to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate that issues visas in the foreign-citizen spouse’s country of nationality. If the marriage took place in a country that does not have a U.S. Embassy, or the Embassy or Consulate does not issue visas, the NVC will send the petition to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate that normally processes visas for citizens of that country. For example, if the marriage took place in Iran where the U.S. does not have an Embassy or Consulate, the petition would be sent to Turkey.

The U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you, the foreign-citizen spouse, will apply will provide you with specific instructions, including, where to go for the required medical examination. During your interview, ink-free, digital fingerprint scans will be taken. Some visa applications require further administrative processing, which takes additional time after the visa applicant’s interview by a Consular Officer.

Eligible children of K-3 visa applicants may apply for K-4 visas. Separate applications must be submitted for each K visa applicant, and each K visa applicant must pay the visa application fee.

Required Documentation

You, the foreign-citizen spouse, (and eligible children applying for K-4 visas) will be required to bring the following forms and documents to the visa interview:

  • Completed Form DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application. You (and any eligible children applying for K-4 visas) must: (1) complete Form DS-160 and (2) print the DS-160 confirmation page to bring to your intervew.
  • A passport valid for travel to the United States and with a validity date at least six months beyond your intended period of stay in the United States (unless country-specific agreements(PDF – 57 KB) provide exemptions).
  • Civil documents – the original(s) (or certified copies) and photocopies of the following:
    • Birth certificate
    • Marriage certificate for the marriage to the U.S. citizen spouse
    • Divorce or death certificate(s) of any previous spouse(s)
    • Police certificates from your present country of residence and all countries where you have lived for 6 months or more since age 16. (Police certificates are also required for accompanying children age 16 or older.)
  • Medical examination (vaccinations are optional, see below)
  • Evidence of financial support (Form I-134, Affidavit of Support may be requested)
  • Two (2) 2×2 photographs. See the required photo format explained in Photograph Requirements
  • Evidence of relationship with your U.S. citizen spouse
  • Payment of fees, as explained below

Note: The consular officer may ask for additional information, such as wedding photographs and other proof that the marriage to your U.S. citizen spouse is genuine. Documents in foreign languages, other than the language of the country in which the application takes place, should be translated. Applicants should take to the visa interview all original civil documents, such as birth and marriage certificates as well as legible photocopies of the documents and translations. Original documents and translations will be returned.

Review Additional U.S. Embassy/Consulate-Specific Instructions

There may be additional instructions for collecting documentation needed for your K visa interview. Review U.S. Embassy/Consulate-Specific Instructions here, to learn what additional requirements there are, if any.

Medical Examination and Vaccination Requirements

In preparing for the interview, applicants will need to schedule and complete a medical examination. Before the issuance of an immigrant or K visa, every applicant, regardless of age, must undergo a medical examination which must be performed by an authorized panel physician. You will be provided instructions regarding medical examinations from the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you will apply for your visa, including information on authorized panel physicians. See Medical Examination for more information, including a list of panel physicians by country, and frequently asked questions.

K visa applicants are encouraged to get the vaccinations required under U.S. immigration law for immigrant visa applicants. Although such vaccinations are not required for K visa issuance, they will be required when adjusting status to that of legal permanent resident.  Applicants are therefore encouraged to fulfill these vaccination requirements at the time of the medical examination. See Vaccination Requirements for IV Applicants for the list of required vaccinations and additional information.

Proof of Financial Support and Affidavit of Support Forms

During the visa interview, applicants will be required to present evidence to the Consular Officer that they will not become a public charge in the United States. You may present evidence that you are able to financially support yourself or that your U.S. citizen spouse is able to provide support. The Consular Officer may request that a Form I-134, Affidavit of Support, be submitted by the U.S. citizen spouse.

The U.S. citizen spouse will need to submit Form I-864 to USCIS with the application for adjustment of status to that of legal permanent resident.

Do the Same Income Requirements Apply to Form I-134 as Apply to Form I-864?

No. The 125 percent of the federal poverty guideline minimum income requirement, the most recent year’s tax return, and other requirements only apply when a Form I-864 is needed. Applicants using Form I-134 will need to show that their U.S. sponsor’s income is 100 percent of the federal poverty guideline.

Fees

Fees are charged for the following services:

  • Filing a Petition for Alien Relative, Form I-130
  • Filing an Alien Fiancé(e) Petition, Form I-129F
  • Nonimmigrant visa application processing fee, Form DS-160 (required for each K visa applicant)
  • Medical examination (required for each K visa applicant; costs vary from post to post)
  • Other costs may include translation and photocopying charges, fees for getting the documents required for the visa application (such as passport, police certificates, birth certificates, etc.), and travel expenses to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate for an interview. Costs vary from country to country and case to case.
  • Filing Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status

For current fees for Department of State, see Fees for Visa Services. For current fees for USCIS, see Check Filing Fees on the USCIS website.

Rights and Protections – Pamphlet

You should read the Rights and Protections pamphlet before your visa interview to learn about your rights in the United States relating to domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse and protection available to you. The consular officer will verbally summarize the pamphlet to you during your interview. Additionally, K-3 visa applicants will be provided with any existing criminal background information on their U.S. citizen spouses that USCIS received from other government agencies during processing of their Form I-129F petitions.

My Petition Expired – Can It Be Extended?

The I-129F petition is valid for four months from the date of approval by USCIS. A Consular Officer can extend the validity of the petition if it expires before visa processing is completed.

Ineligibilities for Visas

Certain conditions and activities may make you, the applicant, ineligible for a visa. Examples of these ineligibilities include: drug trafficking; overstaying a previous visa; and submitting fraudulent documents.

If you are ineligible for a visa, you will be informed by the Consular Officer and advised whether there is a waiver of the ineligibility and what the waiver process is. Learn more and see the complete list of ineligibilities.

How Long Will It Take to Get My K Visa?

For Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e), you can visit the USCIS website for the status of your petition.

Once your case has been received from NVC by the U.S. Embassy or Consulate that will process it, the length of time varies from case to case according to its circumstances. Some cases are delayed because applicants do not follow instructions carefully or supply incomplete information. (It is important to give us correct postal addresses and telephone numbers.) Some visa applications require further administrative processing, which takes additional time after the visa applicant’s interview by a Consular Officer.

After You Receive a K-3 Visa

If you are issued a K-3 visa, the consular officer will give you your passport containing the K-3 visa and a sealed packet containing the civil documents you provided, plus other documents prepared by the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. It is important that you do not open the sealed packet. Only the DHS immigration official should open this packet when you enter the United States. As the K-3 visa holder, you must enter the U.S. before or at the same time as any qualifying children holding K-4 visas.

Does My U.S. Citizen Spouse Need to File Separate Petitions for My Children?

No. Your children may apply for K-4 visas based on the approval of Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e), that your U.S. citizen spouse filed on your behalf, but your U.S. citizen spouse must list the children on the petition. Separate visa applications must be submitted for each K-4 visa applicant, and each applicant must pay the K visa application fee.

Your U.S. citizen spouse is also not required to file I-130 petitions on behalf of your children before he or she is able to list them on the I-129F petition. However, your U.S. citizen spouse must file separate I-130 immigrant visa petitions for your children before they can qualify for permanent residence or apply for adjustment of status. More information about adjustment of status is available on USCIS’s website under Green Card (Permanent Residence).

Important Notice: Under U.S. immigration law, a child must be unmarried. In order to file for adjustment of status for your child, the child’s stepchild relationship with your spouse must be created before your child reaches the age of 18.

Are My Children Required to Travel with Me?

Your children may travel with (accompany) you to the United States or travel later (follow-to-join). Like you, your children must travel within the validity of their K-4 visas. Separate petitions are not required if the children accompany or follow to join you within one year from the date of issuance of your K-3 visa. If they want to travel later than one year from the date your K-3 visa was issued, they will not be eligible to receive K-4 visas, and separate immigrant visa petitions will be required. If your child has a valid K-4 visa and you have already adjusted status to that of permanent resident, your child may still travel on the K-4 visa.

Entering the United States: Port-of-Entry

A visa allows a foreign citizen to travel to the U.S. port-of-entry and request permission to enter the United States. You should be aware that a visa does not guarantee entry into the United States. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials have authority to permit or deny admission to the U.S. Upon arrival at the port-of-entry, be prepared to present to the CBP officer your passport with visa and your unopened/sealed packet containing your documents. Travelers should review important information about admissions and entry requirements on the CBP website under Travel.

Adjustment of Status, Working in the United States, and Traveling Outside of the United States

Information for K-3/K-4 visa holders about adjustment of status, permission to work in the United States, and travel outside of the United States is available on the USCIS website under K-3/K-4 Nonimmigrant Visas.

How to Apply for a Social Security Number Card

To learn about applying for a Social Security Number Card, visit the website for the Social Security Administration.

Further Questions

  • If your inquiry concerns a visa case in progress at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate, you should first contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate handling your case for status information. Select S. Embassy or Consulate to review their website for contact information.
  • Before making an inquiry, we request that you carefully review this website. Often, the answers to questions are easily found which enables us to help other applicants and U.S. sponsors in need of assistance. Due to the volume of inquiries we receive, Visa Services cannot promise an immediate reply to your inquiry.
  • You can find contact information for our Public Inquiries Division at Contact Us.

 

  1. Overview – Family-Based Immigrant Visas((IR2, CR2, IR5,F1, F3, F4)

Two groups of family based immigrant visa categories, including immediate relatives and family preference categories, are provided under the provisions of United States immigration law, specifically the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

Immediate Relative Immigrant Visas (Unlimited): These visa types are based on a close family relationship with a United States (U.S.) citizen described as an Immediate Relative (IR). The number of immigrants in these categories is not limited each fiscal year. Immediate relative visa types include:

  • IR-1: Spouse of a U.S. Citizen – Learn More
  • IR-2: Unmarried Child Under 21 Years of Age of a U.S. Citizen
  • IR-3: Orphan adopted abroad by a U.S. Citizen – Learn More
  • IR-4: Orphan to be adopted in the U.S. by a U.S. citizen – Learn More
  • IR-5: Parent of a U.S. Citizen who is at least 21 years old

Family Preference Immigrant Visas (Limited): These visa types are for specific, more distant, family relationships with a U.S. citizen and some specified relationships with a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR). There are fiscal year numerical limitations on family preference immigrants, shown at the end of each category. The family preference categories are:

  • Family First Preference (F1): Unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, and their minor children, if any. (23,400)
  • Family Second Preference (F2): Spouses, minor children, and unmarried sons and daughters (age 21 and over) of LPRs. At least seventy-seven percent of all visas available for this category will go to the spouses and children; the remainder is allocated to unmarried sons and daughters. (114,200)
  • Family Third Preference (F3): Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, and their spouses and minor children. (23,400)
  • Family Fourth Preference (F4): Brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens, and their spouses and minor children, provided the U.S. citizens are at least 21 years of age. (65,000)

Note: Grandparents, aunts, uncles, in-laws, and cousins cannot sponsor a relative for immigration.

Numerical Limitations for Limited Family-Based Preference Categories

Whenever the number of qualified applicants for a category exceeds the available immigrant visas, there will be an immigration wait. In this situation, the available immigrant visas will be issued in the chronological order in which the petitions were filed using their priority date. The filing date of a petition becomes what is called the applicant’s priority date. Immigrant visas cannot be issued until an applicant’s priority date is reached. In certain categories with many approved petitions compared to available visas, there may be a waiting period of several years, or more, before a priority date is reached. Check the Visa Bulletin for the latest priority dates.

Returning Resident Immigrant Visas (SB) – A lawful permanent resident (LPR) who has remained outside the United States, for longer than twelve months, or beyond the validity period of a re-entry permit, will require a new immigrant visa to enter the United States and resume permanent residence. A provision exists under U.S. visa law for the issuance of a returning resident special immigrant visa to an LPR who remained outside the United States due to circumstances beyond his/her control. For more information about international travel as a LPR, and returning resident immigrant visas, visit our Returning Resident webpage.

The First Step toward an Immigrant Visa: Filing a Petition

As the first step, a sponsoring relative must file a Petition for Alien Relative, Form I-130 with the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

In certain circumstances, a U.S. citizen living abroad can file an immigrant visa petition outside the United States. Review Filing Immigrant Petitions Outside the United States to learn more.

U.S. Sponsor Minimum Age Requirement

U.S. citizens must be age 21 or older to file petitions for siblings or parents. There is no minimum age for a sponsor to file petitions for all other categories of family based immigrant visas. However, a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (LPR) must be at least 18 years of age and have a residence (domicile) in the United States before he or she can sign an Affidavit of Support, Form I-864 or I-864-EZ. This form is required for an immigrant visa for a spouse and other relatives of U.S. sponsors.

Is Residence in the U.S. Required for the U.S. Sponsor?

Yes. As a U.S. sponsor/petitioner, you must maintain your principal residence (also called domicile) in the United States, which is where you plan to live for the foreseeable future. Living in the U.S. is required for a U.S. sponsor to file the Affidavit of Support, with few exceptions. To learn more, review the Affidavit of Support (I-864 or I-864EZ) Instructions.

If You Were an LPR and Are Now a U.S. Citizen

If you filed a petition for your spouse and/or children when you were a lawful permanent resident (LPR) and you are now a U.S. citizen, the type of immigrant visa that your family members can receive will change. Click here for instructions on how to submit proof of naturalization to the National Visa Center (NVC).

Effect on spouses and minor children: If you filed a petition for your spouse or minor children (under age 21 and unmarried) while you were an LPR, the visa category was family second preference (F2A). When you become a U.S. citizen, NVC will upgrade the petition to an immediate relative (IR) visa category. This benefits your immigrating family member(s) because there are no limits on the number of visas that can be issued each year in the IR categories.

  • Important: If the family second preference (F2A) petition that you filed for your spouse included your minor children, now that you are a U.S. citizen you must file new and separate petitions for each child. This is because children cannot be included as “derivative applicants” on a parent’s immediate relative (IR) visa or petition. (This is different from the family second preference (F2A) petition, which allows minor children to be included in their parent’s F2A petition.)
  • Children born abroad after you became a U.S. citizen may qualify for U.S. citizenship. They should apply for U.S. passports. The consular officer will determine whether your child is a U.S. citizen and can have a passport. If the consular officer determines your child is not a U.S. citizen, the child must apply for an immigrant visa if he/she wants to live in the United States.

Effect on adult children: If you filed a petition for your unmarried adult children (age 21 or older) when you were an LPR, NVC will change the visa category from family second preference (F2B) to family first preference (F1). However, under a federal law called the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA), visa applicants can “opt out” of conversion to the F1 visa category and remain as an F2B visa applicant. This may be beneficial because sometimes the waiting time for an F2B visa is shorter than the waiting time for an F1 visa. When you naturalize and become a U.S. citizen, you should check the Visa Bulletin to see if it would be helpful for your adult unmarried child to remain in the F2B category. (Applicants keep the priority date of their F2B petition even if it converts to the F1 visa category.) Applicants who want to opt-out of the F1 category must submit a request using these guidelines:

  • Applicants whose case is at NVC should submit requests using NVC’s online inquiry form. NVC will forward the request to USCIS and change the visa category back to F2B upon receipt of USCIS’s approval.
  • Applicants whose case is at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate overseas should ask the embassy to submit a request on their behalf. The consular officer will forward the request and adjudicate the visa application in the F2B category only upon receipt of USCIS’s approval.

Next Steps – Fees, Affidavit of Support, and Visa Application

After USCIS approves the petition, it is sent to the National Visa Center (NVC). Once received, the NVC will assign a case number for the petition. For family preference immigrant visa cases, when an applicant’s priority date meets the most recent qualifying date, the NVC will instruct the applicant to complete Form DS-261, Choice of Address and Agent. (NOTE: If you already have an attorney, the NVC will not instruct you to complete Form DS-261.) The NVC will begin pre-processing the applicant’s case by providing the applicant and petitioner with instructions to submit the appropriate fees. After the appropriate fees are paid, the NVC will request that the applicant submit the necessary immigrant visa documents, including the Affidavit of Support, application forms, civil documents, and more. Learn more about National Visa Center visa case processing.

Can My Family Members also Receive Immigrant Visas?

Based on your approved petition, your spouse and minor unmarried children, younger than 21, may apply for immigrant visas with you. Like you, they must also fill out required application forms, obtain required civil documents, pay the required fees, and undergo medical examinations. Same-sex spouses of U.S. citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents(LPRs), along with their minor children, are now eligible for the same immigration benefits as opposite-sex spouses. Consular officers at U.S. Embassies and Consulates will adjudicate their immigrant visa applications upon receipt of an approved I-130 or I-140 petition from USCIS. For further information, please see our FAQ’s.

Numerical Limitations

All categories of family preference immigrant visas are issued in the chronological order in which the petitions were filed until the numerical limit for the category is reached. The filing date of a petition becomes the applicant’s priority date. Immigrant visas cannot be issued until an applicant’s priority date is reached. In certain heavily oversubscribed categories, there may be a waiting period of several years before a priority date is reached. Check the Visa Bulletin for the latest priority dates.

Fees

Fees are charged for the following services:

  • Filing an immigrant Petition for Alien Relative, Form I-130 (this fee is charged by USCIS).
  • Processing an immigrant visa application, Form DS-260 (see Note below)
  • Medical examination and required vaccinations (costs vary)
  • Other costs may include: translations; photocopying charges; fees for obtaining the documents you need for the immigrant visa application (such as passport, police certificates, birth certificates, etc.); and expenses for travel to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate for your visa interview. Costs vary from country to country and case to case.

For current fees for Department of State services, see Fees for Visa Services. For current fees for USCIS services, see Check Filing Fees on the USCIS website.

Note: Fees must be paid for each intending immigrant, regardless of age, and are not refundable.

Fees should not be paid to the NVC or paid at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you have your visa interview unless specifically requested. Applicants will be provided with instructions by the NVC on where and when to pay the appropriate fees. Do not send payments to the NVC’s address in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

Required Documentation

In general, the following documents are required:

  • Passport(s) valid for six months beyond the intended date of entry into the United States, unless longer validity is specifically requested by the U.S. Embassy/Consulate in your country. Please review the instructions for guidance.
  • Affidavit of Support (Form I-864, I-864A, I-864 EZ, or I-864W, as appropriate) from the petitioner/U.S. sponsor. In addition to this guidance, tips are available for completing the affidavit of support (tips for I-864, tips for I-864A, tips for I-864EZ, and tips for I-864W).
  • Form DS-260, Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration Application.
    • Preview a sample DS-260 (6.4MB).
  • Two (2) 2×2 photographs. See the required photo format explained in Photograph Requirements.
  • Civil Documents for the applicant (and petitioner in F4 cases). See Documents the Applicant Must Submit for more specific information about documentation requirements, including information on which documents may need to be translated. The consular officer may ask for more information during your visa interview. Bring your original civil documents (or certified copies), such as birth and marriage certificates, as well as legible photocopies of the original civil documents, and any required translations to your immigrant visa interview. Original documents and translations can then be returned to you.
  • Completed Medical Examination Forms – These are provided by the panel physician after you have completed your medical examination and vaccinations (see below).

Visa Interview

Once the NVC determines the file is complete with all the required documents, they schedule the applicant’s interview appointment. NVC then sends the file, containing the applicant’s petition and the documents listed above, to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where the applicant will be interviewed for a visa. The applicant, attorney, and third-party agent, if applicable, will receive appointment emails, or letters (if no email address is available), containing the date and time of the applicant’s visa interview along with instructions, including guidance for obtaining a medical examination.

Each applicant should bring a valid passport to the interview, as well as any other documentation above not already provided to NVC. A consular officer will interview the applicant, and the consular officer will determine whether the applicant is eligible to receive an immigrant visa in accordance with U.S. immigration law. Ink-free, digital fingerprint scans will be taken on the day of the interview. Generally, an applicant receives original civil documents and original translations back at the time of interview.

F2A Spouse of Lawful Permanent Resident Visa Applicants: Rights and Protections – Pamphlet

You should read the Rights and Protections pamphlet before your visa interview to learn about your rights in the United States relating to domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse and protection available to you. The consular officer will verbally summarize the pamphlet to you during your interview.

Medical Examination and Vaccinations

Important Notice: In preparing for your interview, you will need to schedule and complete your medical examination and any required vaccinations before your visa interview. Before an immigrant visa can be issued, every applicant, regardless of age, must undergo a medical examination which must be performed by an authorized panel physician. NVC provides applicants instructions regarding medical examinations, including information on authorized panel physicians. See Medical Examination for more information, including a list of panel physicians by country, and frequently asked questions.

Vaccination Requirements

U.S. immigration law requires immigrant visa applicants to obtain certain vaccinations prior to the issuance of immigrant visas. See Vaccination Requirements for IV Applicants for the list of required vaccinations and additional information.

How Long Does it Take?

Family preference immigrant visa cases take additional time because they are in numerically limited visa categories. The length of time varies from case to case and cannot be predicted for individual cases with any accuracy. Some cases are delayed because applicants do not follow instructions carefully. Some visa applications require further administrative processing, which takes additional time after the consular officer interviews the applicant.

Visa Ineligibility

Certain conditions and activities may make an applicant ineligible for a visa. Examples of these ineligibilities include: drug trafficking; overstaying a previous visa; and submitting fraudulent documents. If you are ineligible for a visa, you will be informed by the consular officer and advised whether there is a waiver of the ineligibility available to you and what the waiver process is. Ineligibilities and Waiver: Laws contains the complete list of ineligibilities.

Misrepresentation of Material Facts or Fraud

Attempting to obtain a visa by the willful misrepresentation of a material fact or fraud may result in you becoming permanently ineligible to receive a U.S. visa or enter the United States.

When You Have Your Immigrant Visa – What You Should Know

If you are issued an immigrant visa, the consular officer will give you your passport containing the immigrant visa and a sealed packet containing the documents which you provided. It is important that you do not open the sealed packet. Only the U.S. immigration official should open this packet when you enter the United States. You are required to enter the United States before the expiration date printed on your visa. When traveling, the primary (or principal) applicant must enter the United States before or at the same time as family members holding visas.

USCIS Immigrant Fee – You must pay the USCIS Immigrant Fee to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) after you receive your immigrant visa and before you travel to the United States. Only children who enter the United States under the Orphan or Hague adoption programs are exempt from this fee. Select USCIS Immigrant Fee on the USCIS website for more information. Important Notice: USCIS will not issue a Permanent Resident Card (Form I-551 or Green Card) until you have paid the fee.

Entering the United States: Port-of-Entry

A visa allows a foreign citizen to travel to the U.S. port-of-entry and request permission to enter the United States. Applicants should be aware that a visa does not guarantee entry into the United States. The DHS, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials have authority to permit or deny admission to the U.S. Travelers should review important information about admissions and entry requirements on the CBP website under Travel.

Once you have paid the USCIS Immigrant Fee (explained above) and have been admitted to the United States as a permanent resident, your Permanent Resident Card, Form I-551 (formerly called Alien Registration Card, also known as a green card) will be mailed to you. (Intercountry adoption IR-3, IH-3, IR-4 and IH-4 visa holders do not pay the USCIS Immigrant fee.)

How to Apply for a Social Security Number Card

If you elected on your immigrant visa application form to receive your Social Security Number Card upon admission to the United States as an immigrant, your card will be sent by mail to the U.S. address you designated on your application form, and should arrive approximately six weeks following your admission. If you did not elect to receive your Social Security Number Card automatically, you will have to apply to be issued a card following your arrival in the United States. Learn more on Social Security Administration website.

When You Are a Permanent Resident

Coming to the United States to live permanently, you will want to learn more about your status as a Lawful Permanent Resident. See Welcome to the United States: A Guide for New Immigrants to review information on the USCIS website about living in the United States.

Additional Information

Immigrant visa applicants should not make any final travel arrangements, dispose of property, or give up jobs until and unless visas are issued. Some visa applications require further administrative processing, which takes additional time after the visa applicant’s interview. An immigrant visa is generally valid for six months from the issuance date.

General Visa Questions

  • Before submitting your inquiry, we request that you carefully review this website for answers to your questions. Because of the volume of inquiries, we cannot promise an immediate reply to your inquiry.
  • If your inquiry concerns a visa case in progress overseas, you should first contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate handling your case for status information. Select U.S. Embassy or Consulate to find contact information.
  • You can find contact information for our Public Inquiries Division at Contact Us.
  1. Overview – Family-Based Immigrant Visas (F2A, F2B)

Two groups of family based immigrant visa categories, including immediate relatives and family preference categories, are provided under the provisions of United States immigration law, specifically the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

Immediate Relative Immigrant Visas (Unlimited): These visa types are based on a close family relationship with a United States (U.S.) citizen described as an Immediate Relative (IR). The number of immigrants in these categories is not limited each fiscal year. Immediate relative visa types include:

  • IR-1: Spouse of a U.S. Citizen – Learn More
  • IR-2: Unmarried Child Under 21 Years of Age of a U.S. Citizen
  • IR-3: Orphan adopted abroad by a U.S. Citizen – Learn More
  • IR-4: Orphan to be adopted in the U.S. by a U.S. citizen – Learn More
  • IR-5: Parent of a U.S. Citizen who is at least 21 years old

Family Preference Immigrant Visas (Limited): These visa types are for specific, more distant, family relationships with a U.S. citizen and some specified relationships with a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR). There are fiscal year numerical limitations on family preference immigrants, shown at the end of each category. The family preference categories are:

  • Family First Preference (F1): Unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, and their minor children, if any. (23,400)
  • Family Second Preference (F2): Spouses, minor children, and unmarried sons and daughters (age 21 and over) of LPRs. At least seventy-seven percent of all visas available for this category will go to the spouses and children; the remainder is allocated to unmarried sons and daughters. (114,200)
  • Family Third Preference (F3): Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, and their spouses and minor children. (23,400)
  • Family Fourth Preference (F4): Brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens, and their spouses and minor children, provided the U.S. citizens are at least 21 years of age. (65,000)

Note: Grandparents, aunts, uncles, in-laws, and cousins cannot sponsor a relative for immigration.

Numerical Limitations for Limited Family-Based Preference Categories

Whenever the number of qualified applicants for a category exceeds the available immigrant visas, there will be an immigration wait. In this situation, the available immigrant visas will be issued in the chronological order in which the petitions were filed using their priority date. The filing date of a petition becomes what is called the applicant’s priority date. Immigrant visas cannot be issued until an applicant’s priority date is reached. In certain categories with many approved petitions compared to available visas, there may be a waiting period of several years, or more, before a priority date is reached. Check the Visa Bulletin for the latest priority dates.

Returning Resident Immigrant Visas (SB) – A lawful permanent resident (LPR) who has remained outside the United States, for longer than twelve months, or beyond the validity period of a re-entry permit, will require a new immigrant visa to enter the United States and resume permanent residence. A provision exists under U.S. visa law for the issuance of a returning resident special immigrant visa to an LPR who remained outside the United States due to circumstances beyond his/her control. For more information about international travel as a LPR, and returning resident immigrant visas, visit our Returning Resident webpage.

The First Step toward an Immigrant Visa: Filing a Petition

As the first step, a sponsoring relative must file a Petition for Alien Relative, Form I-130 with the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

In certain circumstances, a U.S. citizen living abroad can file an immigrant visa petition outside the United States. Review Filing Immigrant Petitions Outside the United States to learn more.

U.S. Sponsor Minimum Age Requirement

U.S. citizens must be age 21 or older to file petitions for siblings or parents. There is no minimum age for a sponsor to file petitions for all other categories of family based immigrant visas. However, a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (LPR) must be at least 18 years of age and have a residence (domicile) in the United States before he or she can sign an Affidavit of Support, Form I-864 or I-864-EZ. This form is required for an immigrant visa for a spouse and other relatives of U.S. sponsors.

Is Residence in the U.S. Required for the U.S. Sponsor?

Yes. As a U.S. sponsor/petitioner, you must maintain your principal residence (also called domicile) in the United States, which is where you plan to live for the foreseeable future. Living in the U.S. is required for a U.S. sponsor to file the Affidavit of Support, with few exceptions. To learn more, review the Affidavit of Support (I-864 or I-864EZ) Instructions.

If You Were an LPR and Are Now a U.S. Citizen

If you filed a petition for your spouse and/or children when you were a lawful permanent resident (LPR) and you are now a U.S. citizen, the type of immigrant visa that your family members can receive will change. Click here for instructions on how to submit proof of naturalization to the National Visa Center (NVC).

Effect on spouses and minor children: If you filed a petition for your spouse or minor children (under age 21 and unmarried) while you were an LPR, the visa category was family second preference (F2A). When you become a U.S. citizen, NVC will upgrade the petition to an immediate relative (IR) visa category. This benefits your immigrating family member(s) because there are no limits on the number of visas that can be issued each year in the IR categories.

  • Important: If the family second preference (F2A) petition that you filed for your spouse included your minor children, now that you are a U.S. citizen you must file new and separate petitions for each child. This is because children cannot be included as “derivative applicants” on a parent’s immediate relative (IR) visa or petition. (This is different from the family second preference (F2A) petition, which allows minor children to be included in their parent’s F2A petition.)
  • Children born abroad after you became a U.S. citizen may qualify for U.S. citizenship. They should apply for U.S. passports. The consular officer will determine whether your child is a U.S. citizen and can have a passport. If the consular officer determines your child is not a U.S. citizen, the child must apply for an immigrant visa if he/she wants to live in the United States.

Effect on adult children: If you filed a petition for your unmarried adult children (age 21 or older) when you were an LPR, NVC will change the visa category from family second preference (F2B) to family first preference (F1). However, under a federal law called the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA), visa applicants can “opt out” of conversion to the F1 visa category and remain as an F2B visa applicant. This may be beneficial because sometimes the waiting time for an F2B visa is shorter than the waiting time for an F1 visa. When you naturalize and become a U.S. citizen, you should check the Visa Bulletin to see if it would be helpful for your adult unmarried child to remain in the F2B category. (Applicants keep the priority date of their F2B petition even if it converts to the F1 visa category.) Applicants who want to opt-out of the F1 category must submit a request using these guidelines:

  • Applicants whose case is at NVC should submit requests using NVC’s online inquiry form. NVC will forward the request to USCIS and change the visa category back to F2B upon receipt of USCIS’s approval.
  • Applicants whose case is at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate overseas should ask the embassy to submit a request on their behalf. The consular officer will forward the request and adjudicate the visa application in the F2B category only upon receipt of USCIS’s approval.

Next Steps – Fees, Affidavit of Support, and Visa Application

After USCIS approves the petition, it is sent to the National Visa Center (NVC). Once received, the NVC will assign a case number for the petition. For family preference immigrant visa cases, when an applicant’s priority date meets the most recent qualifying date, the NVC will instruct the applicant to complete Form DS-261, Choice of Address and Agent. (NOTE: If you already have an attorney, the NVC will not instruct you to complete Form DS-261.) The NVC will begin pre-processing the applicant’s case by providing the applicant and petitioner with instructions to submit the appropriate fees. After the appropriate fees are paid, the NVC will request that the applicant submit the necessary immigrant visa documents, including the Affidavit of Support, application forms, civil documents, and more. Learn more about National Visa Center visa case processing.

Can My Family Members also Receive Immigrant Visas?

Based on your approved petition, your spouse and minor unmarried children, younger than 21, may apply for immigrant visas with you. Like you, they must also fill out required application forms, obtain required civil documents, pay the required fees, and undergo medical examinations. Same-sex spouses of U.S. citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents(LPRs), along with their minor children, are now eligible for the same immigration benefits as opposite-sex spouses. Consular officers at U.S. Embassies and Consulates will adjudicate their immigrant visa applications upon receipt of an approved I-130 or I-140 petition from USCIS. For further information, please see our FAQ’s.

Numerical Limitations

All categories of family preference immigrant visas are issued in the chronological order in which the petitions were filed until the numerical limit for the category is reached. The filing date of a petition becomes the applicant’s priority date. Immigrant visas cannot be issued until an applicant’s priority date is reached. In certain heavily oversubscribed categories, there may be a waiting period of several years before a priority date is reached. Check the Visa Bulletin for the latest priority dates.

Fees

Fees are charged for the following services:

  • Filing an immigrant Petition for Alien Relative, Form I-130 (this fee is charged by USCIS).
  • Processing an immigrant visa application, Form DS-260 (see Note below)
  • Medical examination and required vaccinations (costs vary)
  • Other costs may include: translations; photocopying charges; fees for obtaining the documents you need for the immigrant visa application (such as passport, police certificates, birth certificates, etc.); and expenses for travel to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate for your visa interview. Costs vary from country to country and case to case.

For current fees for Department of State services, see Fees for Visa Services. For current fees for USCIS services, see Check Filing Fees on the USCIS website.

Note: Fees must be paid for each intending immigrant, regardless of age, and are not refundable.

Fees should not be paid to the NVC or paid at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you have your visa interview unless specifically requested. Applicants will be provided with instructions by the NVC on where and when to pay the appropriate fees. Do not send payments to the NVC’s address in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

Required Documentation

In general, the following documents are required:

  • Passport(s) valid for six months beyond the intended date of entry into the United States, unless longer validity is specifically requested by the U.S. Embassy/Consulate in your country. Please review the instructions for guidance.
  • Affidavit of Support (Form I-864, I-864A, I-864 EZ, or I-864W, as appropriate) from the petitioner/U.S. sponsor. In addition to this guidance, tips are available for completing the affidavit of support (tips for I-864, tips for I-864A, tips for I-864EZ, and tips for I-864W).
  • Form DS-260, Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration Application.
    • Preview a sample DS-260 (6.4MB).
  • Two (2) 2×2 photographs. See the required photo format explained in Photograph Requirements.
  • Civil Documents for the applicant (and petitioner in F4 cases). See Documents the Applicant Must Submit for more specific information about documentation requirements, including information on which documents may need to be translated. The consular officer may ask for more information during your visa interview. Bring your original civil documents (or certified copies), such as birth and marriage certificates, as well as legible photocopies of the original civil documents, and any required translations to your immigrant visa interview. Original documents and translations can then be returned to you.
  • Completed Medical Examination Forms – These are provided by the panel physician after you have completed your medical examination and vaccinations (see below).

Visa Interview

Once the NVC determines the file is complete with all the required documents, they schedule the applicant’s interview appointment. NVC then sends the file, containing the applicant’s petition and the documents listed above, to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where the applicant will be interviewed for a visa. The applicant, attorney, and third-party agent, if applicable, will receive appointment emails, or letters (if no email address is available), containing the date and time of the applicant’s visa interview along with instructions, including guidance for obtaining a medical examination.

Each applicant should bring a valid passport to the interview, as well as any other documentation above not already provided to NVC. A consular officer will interview the applicant, and the consular officer will determine whether the applicant is eligible to receive an immigrant visa in accordance with U.S. immigration law. Ink-free, digital fingerprint scans will be taken on the day of the interview. Generally, an applicant receives original civil documents and original translations back at the time of interview.

F2A Spouse of Lawful Permanent Resident Visa Applicants: Rights and Protections – Pamphlet

You should read the Rights and Protections pamphlet before your visa interview to learn about your rights in the United States relating to domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse and protection available to you. The consular officer will verbally summarize the pamphlet to you during your interview.

Medical Examination and Vaccinations

Important Notice: In preparing for your interview, you will need to schedule and complete your medical examination and any required vaccinations before your visa interview. Before an immigrant visa can be issued, every applicant, regardless of age, must undergo a medical examination which must be performed by an authorized panel physician. NVC provides applicants instructions regarding medical examinations, including information on authorized panel physicians. See Medical Examination for more information, including a list of panel physicians by country, and frequently asked questions.

Vaccination Requirements

U.S. immigration law requires immigrant visa applicants to obtain certain vaccinations prior to the issuance of immigrant visas. See Vaccination Requirements for IV Applicants for the list of required vaccinations and additional information.

How Long Does it Take?

Family preference immigrant visa cases take additional time because they are in numerically limited visa categories. The length of time varies from case to case and cannot be predicted for individual cases with any accuracy. Some cases are delayed because applicants do not follow instructions carefully. Some visa applications require further administrative processing, which takes additional time after the consular officer interviews the applicant.

Visa Ineligibility

Certain conditions and activities may make an applicant ineligible for a visa. Examples of these ineligibilities include: drug trafficking; overstaying a previous visa; and submitting fraudulent documents. If you are ineligible for a visa, you will be informed by the consular officer and advised whether there is a waiver of the ineligibility available to you and what the waiver process is. Ineligibilities and Waiver: Laws contains the complete list of ineligibilities.

Misrepresentation of Material Facts or Fraud

Attempting to obtain a visa by the willful misrepresentation of a material fact or fraud may result in you becoming permanently ineligible to receive a U.S. visa or enter the United States.

When You Have Your Immigrant Visa – What You Should Know

If you are issued an immigrant visa, the consular officer will give you your passport containing the immigrant visa and a sealed packet containing the documents which you provided. It is important that you do not open the sealed packet. Only the U.S. immigration official should open this packet when you enter the United States. You are required to enter the United States before the expiration date printed on your visa. When traveling, the primary (or principal) applicant must enter the United States before or at the same time as family members holding visas.

USCIS Immigrant Fee – You must pay the USCIS Immigrant Fee to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) after you receive your immigrant visa and before you travel to the United States. Only children who enter the United States under the Orphan or Hague adoption programs are exempt from this fee. Select USCIS Immigrant Fee on the USCIS website for more information. Important Notice: USCIS will not issue a Permanent Resident Card (Form I-551 or Green Card) until you have paid the fee.

Entering the United States: Port-of-Entry

A visa allows a foreign citizen to travel to the U.S. port-of-entry and request permission to enter the United States. Applicants should be aware that a visa does not guarantee entry into the United States. The DHS, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials have authority to permit or deny admission to the U.S. Travelers should review important information about admissions and entry requirements on the CBP website under Travel.

Once you have paid the USCIS Immigrant Fee (explained above) and have been admitted to the United States as a permanent resident, your Permanent Resident Card, Form I-551 (formerly called Alien Registration Card, also known as a green card) will be mailed to you. (Intercountry adoption IR-3, IH-3, IR-4 and IH-4 visa holders do not pay the USCIS Immigrant fee.)

How to Apply for a Social Security Number Card

If you elected on your immigrant visa application form to receive your Social Security Number Card upon admission to the United States as an immigrant, your card will be sent by mail to the U.S. address you designated on your application form, and should arrive approximately six weeks following your admission. If you did not elect to receive your Social Security Number Card automatically, you will have to apply to be issued a card following your arrival in the United States. Learn more on Social Security Administration website.

When You Are a Permanent Resident

Coming to the United States to live permanently, you will want to learn more about your status as a Lawful Permanent Resident. See Welcome to the United States: A Guide for New Immigrants to review information on the USCIS website about living in the United States.

Additional Information

Immigrant visa applicants should not make any final travel arrangements, dispose of property, or give up jobs until and unless visas are issued. Some visa applications require further administrative processing, which takes additional time after the visa applicant’s interview. An immigrant visa is generally valid for six months from the issuance date.

General Visa Questions

  • Before submitting your inquiry, we request that you carefully review this website for answers to your questions. Because of the volume of inquiries, we cannot promise an immediate reply to your inquiry.
  • If your inquiry concerns a visa case in progress overseas, you should first contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate handling your case for status information. Select U.S. Embassy or Consulate to find contact information.
  • You can find contact information for our Public Inquiries Division at Contact Us.
  1. Employment-Based Immigrant Visa(E1, E2, E3, EW3, C5, T5, R5, I5, S(many **)

Important Notice: Same-sex Marriage

Same-sex spouses of U.S. citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs), along with their minor children, are now eligible for the same immigration benefits as opposite-sex spouses. Consular officers at U.S. Embassies and Consulates will adjudicate their immigrant visa applications upon receipt of an approved I-130 or I-140  petition from USCIS. For further information, please see our FAQ’s.

Overview

Every fiscal year (October 1st – September 30th), approximately 140,000 employment-based immigrant visas are made available to qualified applicants under the provisions of U.S. immigration law. Employment based immigrant visas are divided into five preference categories. Certain spouses and children may accompany or follow-to-join employment-based immigrants.

The First Steps toward an Immigrant Visa: Labor Certification and Filing a Petition

To be considered for an immigrant visa under some of the employment-based categories below, the applicant’s prospective employer or agent must first obtain a labor certification approval from the Department of Labor. Once received (if required), the employer then files an Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, Form I-140, with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for the appropriate employment-based preference category. (NOTE: Persons with extraordinary abilities in the Employment First preference category are able to file their own petitions.) When filing the Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, Form I-140, see the detailed form instructions, as well as more detailed requirements information on the USCIS Permanent Workers webpage.

CATEGORIES

Employment First Preference (E1): Priority Workers

A First Preference applicant must be the beneficiary of an approved Immigrant Petition for Foreign Worker, Form I-140, filed with USCIS. Labor certification is not required for any of the Priority Worker subgroups. Priority Workers receive 28.6 percent of the yearly worldwide limit of employment-based immigrant visas.

There are three sub-groups within this category:

  1. Persons with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics. Applicants in this category must have extensive documentation showing sustained national or international acclaim and recognition in their fields of expertise. Such applicants do not have to have specific job offers, so long as they are entering the U.S. to continue work in the fields in which they have extraordinary ability. Such applicants can file their own Immigrant Petitions for Alien Worker, Form I-140, with the USCIS.
  2. Outstanding professors and researchers with at least three years experience in teaching or research, who are recognized internationally. Applicants in this category must be coming to the U.S. to pursue tenure, tenure track teaching, or a comparable research position at a university or other institution of higher education. The prospective employer must provide a job offer and file an Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, Form I-140, with the USCIS.
  3. Multinational managers or executives who have been employed for at least one of the three preceding years by the overseas affiliate, parent, subsidiary, or branch of the U.S. employer. The applicant’s employment outside of the U.S. must have been in a managerial or executive capacity, and the applicant must be coming to work in a managerial or executive capacity. The prospective employer must provide a job offer and file an Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, Form I-140, with the USCIS.

Employment Second Preference (E2): Professionals Holding Advanced Degrees and Persons of Exceptional Ability

A Second Preference applicant must generally have a labor certification approved by the Department of Labor. A job offer is required and the U.S. employer must file an Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, Form I-140, on behalf of the applicant. Applicants may apply for an exemption, known as a National Interest Waiver, from the job offer and labor certification if the exemption would be in the national interest. In this case, the applicant may self-petition by filing the Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, Form I-140, along with evidence of the national interest. Professionals Holding Advanced Degrees and Persons of Exceptional Ability receive 28.6 percent of the yearly worldwide limit of employment-based immigrant visas, plus any unused visas from the Employment First Preference category.

There are two subgroups within this category:

  1. Professionals holding an advanced degree (beyond a baccalaureate degree), or a baccalaureate degree and at least five years progressive experience in the profession.
  2. Persons with exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business. Exceptional ability means having a degree of expertise significantly above that ordinarily encountered in the sciences, arts, or business.

Employment Third Preference (E3): Skilled Workers, Professionals, and Unskilled Workers (Other Workers)

A Third Preference applicant must have an approved Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, Form I-140, filed by the prospective employer. All such workers generally require labor certification approved by the Department of Labor. Skilled Workers, Professionals, and Unskilled Workers (Other Workers) receive 28.6 percent of the yearly worldwide limit of employment-based immigrant visas, plus any unused visas from the Employment First Preference and Second Preference categories.

There are three subgroups within this category:

  1. Skilled workers are persons whose jobs require a minimum of 2 years training or work experience that are not temporary or seasonal.
  2. Professionals are members of the professions whose jobs require at least a baccalaureate degree from a U.S. university or college or its foreign equivalent degree.
  3. Unskilled workers (Other workers) are persons capable of filling positions that require less than two years training or experience that are not temporary or seasonal.

Employment Fourth Preference (E4): Certain Special Immigrants

A Fourth Preference applicant must be the beneficiary of an approved Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant, Form I-360, with the exception of Certain Employees or Former Employees of the U.S. Government Abroad (see number 3 below). Labor certification is not required for any of the Certain Special Immigrants subgroups. Special Immigrants receive 7.1 percent of the yearly worldwide limit of employment-based immigrant visas.

There are many subgroups within this category:

  1. Broadcasters in the U.S. employed by the International Broadcasting Bureau of the Broadcasting Board of Governors or a grantee of such organization
  2. Ministers of Religion
  3. Certain Employees or Former Employees of the U.S. Government Abroad – Must use Form DS-1884, Petition To Classify Special Immigrant Under INA 203(b)(4) As An Employee Or Former Employee of the U.S. Government Abroad
  4. Certain Former Employees of the Panama Canal Company or Canal Zone Government
  5. Certain Former Employees of the U.S. Government in the Panama Canal Zone
  6. Certain Former Employees of the Panama Canal Company or Canal Zone Government on April 1st, 1979
  7. Iraqi and Afghan interpreters/translators who have worked directly with the United States armed forces or under Chief of Mission authority as a translator/interpreter for a period of at least 12 months and meet requirements. This classification has an annual numeric limitation of 50 visas. See Special Immigrant Visas for Iraqi and Afghan Translators/Interpretersfor more information.
  8. Iraqi and Afghan nationals who have provided faithful and valuable service while employed by or on behalf of the U.S. government in Iraq for not less than one year on or after March 20th, 2003 and prior to September 30, 2013, or in Afghanistan for not less than one year after October 7th, 2001, and have experienced an ongoing serious threat as a consequence of that employment. See Special Immigrant Visas for Iraqis – Worked for/on behalf of the U.S. Government and Afghans – Worked for/on behalf of the U.S. Government for more information.
  9. Certain Foreign Medical Graduates (Adjustments Only)
  10. Certain Retired International Organization Employees
  11. Certain Unmarried Sons and Daughters of International Organization Employees
  12. Certain Surviving Spouses of deceased International Organization Employees
  13. Special Immigrant Juveniles (no family member derivatives; Adjustments Only)
  14. Persons Recruited Outside of the United States Who Have Served or are Enlisted to Serve in the U.S. Armed Forces
  15. Certain retired NATO-6 civilians
  16. Certain Unmarried Sons and Daughters of NATO-6 civilians
  17. Certain Surviving Spouses of deceased NATO-6 civilian employees
  18. Persons who are beneficiaries of petitions or labor certification applications filed prior to September 11th, 2001, if the petition or application was rendered void due to a terrorist act on September 11th, 2001
  19. Certain Religious Workers

Employment Fifth Preference (E5): Immigrant Investors

Immigrant Investor visa categories are for capital investment by foreign investors in new commercial enterprises in the United States which provide job creation. Select Immigrant Investor Visas to learn more about this employment-based category.

Next Steps – Fees and Visa Application

After USCIS approves the petition, it is sent to the National Visa Center (NVC). Once received, the NVC will assign a case number for the petition. When an applicant’s priority date meets the most recent qualifying date, the NVC will instruct the applicant to complete Form DS-261, Choice of Address and Agent. (NOTE: If you already have an attorney, the NVC will not instruct you to complete Form DS-261.) The NVC will begin pre-processing the applicant’s case by providing the applicant with instructions to submit the appropriate fees. After the appropriate fees are paid, the NVC will request that the applicant submit the necessary immigrant visa documents, including application forms, civil documents, and more. Learn more about National Visa Center visa case processing.

Can My Family Members also Receive Immigrant Visas?

Based on your approved petition, your spouse and minor unmarried children, younger than 21, may apply for immigrant visas with you. Like you, they must also fill out required application forms, obtain required civil documents, pay the required fees, and undergo medical examinations. Same-sex spouses of U.S. citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs), along with their minor children, are now eligible for the same immigration benefits as opposite-sex spouses. Consular officers at U.S. Embassies and Consulates will adjudicate their immigrant visa applications upon receipt of an approved I-130 or I-140  petition from USCIS. For further information, please see our FAQ’s.

Numerical Limitations

All categories of employment-based immigrant visas are issued in the chronological order in which the petitions were filed until the annual numerical limit for the category is reached. The filing date of a petition becomes the applicant’s priority date. Immigrant visas cannot be issued until an applicant’s priority date is reached. In certain heavily oversubscribed categories, there may be a waiting period of several years before a priority date is reached. Check the Visa Bulletin for the latest priority dates.

Fees

Fees are charged for the following services:

  • Filing of Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, Form I-140, or Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant, Form I-360 (this fee is charged by USCIS)
  • Processing an immigrant visa application, Form DS-260 (see Note below)
  • Medical examination and required vaccinations (costs vary)
  • Other costs may include: translations; photocopying charges; fees for obtaining the documents you need for the immigrant visa application (such as passport, police certificates, birth certificates, etc.); and expenses for travel to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate for your visa interview. Costs vary from country to country and case to case.

For current fees for Department of State services, see Fees for Visa Services. For current fees for USCIS services, see Check Filing Fees on the USCIS website.

Note: Fees must be paid for each intending immigrant, regardless of age, and are not refundable.

Fees should not be paid to the NVC or paid at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you have your visa interview unless specifically requested. Applicants will be provided with instructions by the NVC on where and when to pay the appropriate fees. Do not send payments to the NVC’s address in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

Required Documentation

In general, the following documents are required:

  • Passport(s)valid for six months beyond the intended date of entry into the United States, unless longer validity is specifically requested by the U.S. Embassy/Consulate in your country. Please review the instructions for guidance.
  • Form DS-260, Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration Application.
    • Preview a sample DS-260 (6.4MB).
  • Two (2) 2×2 photographs. See the required photo format explained in Photograph Requirements.
  • Civil Documents for the applicant. See Documents the Applicant Must Submit for more specific information about documentation requirements, including information on which documents may need to be translated. The consular officer may ask for more information during your visa interview. Bring your original civil documents (or certified copies) such as birth and marriage certificates, as well as legible photocopies of the original civil documents, and any required translations to your immigrant visa interview. Original documents and translations can then be returned to you.
  • Financial Support – At your immigrant visa interview, you must demonstrate to the consular officer that you will not become a public charge in the United States. (NOTE: For applicants where a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (LPR) relative filed the Form I-140 petition or where such a relative has a significant ownership interest in the entity that filed the petition, that relative must complete Form I-864, Affidavit of Support Under Section 213A of the Act, on behalf of the applicant.)
  • Completed Medical Examination Forms – These are provided by the panel physician after you have completed your medical examination and vaccinations (see below).

Visa Interview

Once the NVC determines the file is complete with all the required documents, they schedule the applicant’s interview appointment. NVC then sends the file, containing the applicant’s petition and the documents listed above, to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where the applicant will be interviewed for a visa. The applicant, attorney, and third-party agent, if applicable, will receive appointment emails, or letters (if no email address is available), containing the date and time of the applicant’s visa interview along with instructions, including guidance for obtaining a medical examination.

Each applicant should bring a valid passport to the interview, as well as any other documentation above not already provided to NVC. A consular officer will interview the applicant, and the consular officer will determine whether the applicant is eligible to receive an immigrant visa in accordance with U.S. immigration law. Ink-free, digital fingerprint scans will be taken on the day of the interview. Generally, an applicant receives original civil documents and original translations back at the time of interview.

Medical Examinations and Vaccinations

Important Notice: In preparing for your interview, you will need to schedule and complete your medical examination and any required vaccinations before your visa interview. Before an immigrant visa can be issued, every applicant, regardless of age, must undergo a medical examination which must be performed by an authorized panel physician. NVC provides applicants instructions regarding medical examinations, including information on authorized panel physicians. See Medical Examination for more information, including a list of panel physicians by country, and frequently asked questions.

Vaccination Requirements

U.S. immigration law requires immigrant visa applicants to obtain certain vaccinations prior to the issuance of immigrant visas. See Vaccination Requirements for IV Applicants for the list of required vaccinations and additional information.

How Long Does It Take?

Employment based immigrant visa cases take additional time because they are in numerically limited visa categories. The length of time varies from case to case and cannot be predicted for individual cases with any accuracy. Some cases are delayed because applicants do not follow instructions carefully. Some visa applications require further administrative processing, which takes additional time after the consular officer interviews the applicant.

Visa Ineligibility

Certain conditions and activities may make an applicant ineligible for a visa. Examples of these ineligibilities include: drug trafficking; overstaying a previous visa; and submitting fraudulent documents. If you are ineligible for a visa, you will be informed by the consular officer and advised whether there is a waiver of the ineligibility available to you and what the waiver process is. Ineligibilities and Waivers: Laws contains the complete list of ineligibilities.

Misrepresentation of Material Facts or Fraud

Attempting to obtain a visa by the willful misrepresentation of a material fact or fraud may result in you becoming permanently ineligible to receive a U.S. visa or enter the United States.

When You Have Your Immigrant Visa – What You Should Know

If you are issued an immigrant visa, the consular officer will give you your passport containing the immigrant visa and a sealed packet containing the documents which you provided. It is important that you do not open the sealed packet. Only the U.S. immigration official should open this packet when you enter the United States. You are required to enter the United Statesbefore the expiration date printed on your visa. When traveling, the primary (or principal) applicant must enter the United States before or at the same time as family members holding visas.

USCIS Immigrant Fee –  You must pay the USCIS Immigrant Fee to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) after you receive your immigrant visa and before you travel to the United States. (SI-1, SI-2, SI-3, SQ-1, SQ-2, and SQ-3 visa holders will not pay the fee.) Select USCIS Immigrant Fee on the USCIS website for more information.

Important Notice: USCIS will not issue a Permanent Resident Card (Form I-551 or Green Card) until you have paid the fee.

Entering the United States: Port-of-Entry

A visa allows a foreign citizen to travel to the U.S. port-of-entry and request permission to enter the United States. Applicants should be aware that a visa does not guarantee entry into the United States. The DHS, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials have authority to permit or deny admission to the United States. Travelers should review important information about admissions and entry requirements on the CBP website under Travel.

Once you have paid the USCIS immigrant fee and have been admitted to the U.S. as a permanent resident, your Permanent Resident Card, Form I-551 (formerly called Alien Registration Card, also known as a green card) will be mailed to you.

How to Apply for a Social Security Number Card

If you elected on your immigrant visa application form to receive your Social Security Number Card upon admission to the United States as an immigrant, your card will be sent by mail to the U.S. address you designated on your application form, and should arrive approximately six weeks following your admission. If you did not elect to receive your Social Security Number Card automatically, you will have to apply to be issued a card following your arrival in the United States. To learn about applying for a Social Security Number Card, visit the Social Security Administration website.

When You Are a Permanent Resident

Coming to the United States to live permanently, you will want to learn more about your status as a Lawful Permanent Resident. See Welcome to the United States: A Guide for New Immigrants to review information on the USCIS website about living in the United States.

Additional Information

Immigrant visa applicants should not make any final travel arrangements, dispose of property, or give up jobs until and unless visas are issued. Some visa applications require further administrative processing, which takes additional time after the visa applicant’s interview. An immigrant visa is generally valid for six months from the issuance date.

General Visa Questions

  • Before submitting your inquiry, we request that you carefully review this website for answers to your questions. Because of the volume of inquiries, we cannot promise an immediate reply to your inquiry.
  • If your inquiry concerns a visa case in progress overseas, you should first contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate handling your case for status information. Select S. Embassy or Consulate to find contact information.
  • You can find contact information for our Public Inquiries Division at Contact Us.
    1. Employment-Based Immigrant Visa

Important Notice: Same-sex Marriage

Same-sex spouses of U.S. citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs), along with their minor children, are now eligible for the same immigration benefits as opposite-sex spouses. Consular officers at U.S. Embassies and Consulates will adjudicate their immigrant visa applications upon receipt of an approved I-130 or I-140  petition from USCIS. For further information, please see our FAQ’s.

Overview

Every fiscal year (October 1st – September 30th), approximately 140,000 employment-based immigrant visas are made available to qualified applicants under the provisions of U.S. immigration law. Employment based immigrant visas are divided into five preference categories. Certain spouses and children may accompany or follow-to-join employment-based immigrants.

The First Steps toward an Immigrant Visa: Labor Certification and Filing a Petition

To be considered for an immigrant visa under some of the employment-based categories below, the applicant’s prospective employer or agent must first obtain a labor certification approval from the Department of Labor. Once received (if required), the employer then files an Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, Form I-140, with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for the appropriate employment-based preference category. (NOTE: Persons with extraordinary abilities in the Employment First preference category are able to file their own petitions.) When filing the Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, Form I-140, see the detailed form instructions, as well as more detailed requirements information on the USCIS Permanent Workers webpage.

CATEGORIES

Employment First Preference (E1): Priority Workers

A First Preference applicant must be the beneficiary of an approved Immigrant Petition for Foreign Worker, Form I-140, filed with USCIS. Labor certification is not required for any of the Priority Worker subgroups. Priority Workers receive 28.6 percent of the yearly worldwide limit of employment-based immigrant visas.

There are three sub-groups within this category:

  1. Persons with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics. Applicants in this category must have extensive documentation showing sustained national or international acclaim and recognition in their fields of expertise. Such applicants do not have to have specific job offers, so long as they are entering the U.S. to continue work in the fields in which they have extraordinary ability. Such applicants can file their own Immigrant Petitions for Alien Worker, Form I-140, with the USCIS.
  2. Outstanding professors and researchers with at least three years experience in teaching or research, who are recognized internationally. Applicants in this category must be coming to the U.S. to pursue tenure, tenure track teaching, or a comparable research position at a university or other institution of higher education. The prospective employer must provide a job offer and file an Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, Form I-140, with the USCIS.
  3. Multinational managers or executives who have been employed for at least one of the three preceding years by the overseas affiliate, parent, subsidiary, or branch of the U.S. employer. The applicant’s employment outside of the U.S. must have been in a managerial or executive capacity, and the applicant must be coming to work in a managerial or executive capacity. The prospective employer must provide a job offer and file an Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, Form I-140, with the USCIS.

Employment Second Preference (E2): Professionals Holding Advanced Degrees and Persons of Exceptional Ability

A Second Preference applicant must generally have a labor certification approved by the Department of Labor. A job offer is required and the U.S. employer must file an Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, Form I-140, on behalf of the applicant. Applicants may apply for an exemption, known as a National Interest Waiver, from the job offer and labor certification if the exemption would be in the national interest. In this case, the applicant may self-petition by filing the Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, Form I-140, along with evidence of the national interest. Professionals Holding Advanced Degrees and Persons of Exceptional Ability receive 28.6 percent of the yearly worldwide limit of employment-based immigrant visas, plus any unused visas from the Employment First Preference category.

There are two subgroups within this category:

  1. Professionals holding an advanced degree (beyond a baccalaureate degree), or a baccalaureate degree and at least five years progressive experience in the profession.
  2. Persons with exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business. Exceptional ability means having a degree of expertise significantly above that ordinarily encountered in the sciences, arts, or business.

Employment Third Preference (E3): Skilled Workers, Professionals, and Unskilled Workers (Other Workers)

A Third Preference applicant must have an approved Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, Form I-140, filed by the prospective employer. All such workers generally require labor certification approved by the Department of Labor. Skilled Workers, Professionals, and Unskilled Workers (Other Workers) receive 28.6 percent of the yearly worldwide limit of employment-based immigrant visas, plus any unused visas from the Employment First Preference and Second Preference categories.

There are three subgroups within this category:

  1. Skilled workers are persons whose jobs require a minimum of 2 years training or work experience that are not temporary or seasonal.
  2. Professionals are members of the professions whose jobs require at least a baccalaureate degree from a U.S. university or college or its foreign equivalent degree.
  3. Unskilled workers (Other workers) are persons capable of filling positions that require less than two years training or experience that are not temporary or seasonal.

Employment Fourth Preference (E4): Certain Special Immigrants

A Fourth Preference applicant must be the beneficiary of an approved Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant, Form I-360, with the exception of Certain Employees or Former Employees of the U.S. Government Abroad (see number 3 below). Labor certification is not required for any of the Certain Special Immigrants subgroups. Special Immigrants receive 7.1 percent of the yearly worldwide limit of employment-based immigrant visas.

There are many subgroups within this category:

  1. Broadcasters in the U.S. employed by the International Broadcasting Bureau of the Broadcasting Board of Governors or a grantee of such organization
  2. Ministers of Religion
  3. Certain Employees or Former Employees of the U.S. Government Abroad – Must use Form DS-1884, Petition To Classify Special Immigrant Under INA 203(b)(4) As An Employee Or Former Employee of the U.S. Government Abroad
  4. Certain Former Employees of the Panama Canal Company or Canal Zone Government
  5. Certain Former Employees of the U.S. Government in the Panama Canal Zone
  6. Certain Former Employees of the Panama Canal Company or Canal Zone Government on April 1st, 1979
  7. Iraqi and Afghan interpreters/translators who have worked directly with the United States armed forces or under Chief of Mission authority as a translator/interpreter for a period of at least 12 months and meet requirements. This classification has an annual numeric limitation of 50 visas. See Special Immigrant Visas for Iraqi and Afghan Translators/Interpretersfor more information.
  8. Iraqi and Afghan nationals who have provided faithful and valuable service while employed by or on behalf of the U.S. government in Iraq for not less than one year on or after March 20th, 2003 and prior to September 30, 2013, or in Afghanistan for not less than one year after October 7th, 2001, and have experienced an ongoing serious threat as a consequence of that employment. See Special Immigrant Visas for Iraqis – Worked for/on behalf of the U.S. Government and Afghans – Worked for/on behalf of the U.S. Government for more information.
  9. Certain Foreign Medical Graduates (Adjustments Only)
  10. Certain Retired International Organization Employees
  11. Certain Unmarried Sons and Daughters of International Organization Employees
  12. Certain Surviving Spouses of deceased International Organization Employees
  13. Special Immigrant Juveniles (no family member derivatives; Adjustments Only)
  14. Persons Recruited Outside of the United States Who Have Served or are Enlisted to Serve in the U.S. Armed Forces
  15. Certain retired NATO-6 civilians
  16. Certain Unmarried Sons and Daughters of NATO-6 civilians
  17. Certain Surviving Spouses of deceased NATO-6 civilian employees
  18. Persons who are beneficiaries of petitions or labor certification applications filed prior to September 11th, 2001, if the petition or application was rendered void due to a terrorist act on September 11th, 2001
  19. Certain Religious Workers

Employment Fifth Preference (E5): Immigrant Investors

Immigrant Investor visa categories are for capital investment by foreign investors in new commercial enterprises in the United States which provide job creation. Select Immigrant Investor Visas to learn more about this employment-based category.

Next Steps – Fees and Visa Application

After USCIS approves the petition, it is sent to the National Visa Center (NVC). Once received, the NVC will assign a case number for the petition. When an applicant’s priority date meets the most recent qualifying date, the NVC will instruct the applicant to complete Form DS-261, Choice of Address and Agent. (NOTE: If you already have an attorney, the NVC will not instruct you to complete Form DS-261.) The NVC will begin pre-processing the applicant’s case by providing the applicant with instructions to submit the appropriate fees. After the appropriate fees are paid, the NVC will request that the applicant submit the necessary immigrant visa documents, including application forms, civil documents, and more. Learn more about National Visa Center visa case processing.

Can My Family Members also Receive Immigrant Visas?

Based on your approved petition, your spouse and minor unmarried children, younger than 21, may apply for immigrant visas with you. Like you, they must also fill out required application forms, obtain required civil documents, pay the required fees, and undergo medical examinations. Same-sex spouses of U.S. citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs), along with their minor children, are now eligible for the same immigration benefits as opposite-sex spouses. Consular officers at U.S. Embassies and Consulates will adjudicate their immigrant visa applications upon receipt of an approved I-130 or I-140  petition from USCIS. For further information, please see our FAQ’s.

Numerical Limitations

All categories of employment-based immigrant visas are issued in the chronological order in which the petitions were filed until the annual numerical limit for the category is reached. The filing date of a petition becomes the applicant’s priority date. Immigrant visas cannot be issued until an applicant’s priority date is reached. In certain heavily oversubscribed categories, there may be a waiting period of several years before a priority date is reached. Check the Visa Bulletin for the latest priority dates.

Fees

Fees are charged for the following services:

  • Filing of Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, Form I-140, or Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant, Form I-360 (this fee is charged by USCIS)
  • Processing an immigrant visa application, Form DS-260 (see Note below)
  • Medical examination and required vaccinations (costs vary)
  • Other costs may include: translations; photocopying charges; fees for obtaining the documents you need for the immigrant visa application (such as passport, police certificates, birth certificates, etc.); and expenses for travel to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate for your visa interview. Costs vary from country to country and case to case.

For current fees for Department of State services, see Fees for Visa Services. For current fees for USCIS services, see Check Filing Fees on the USCIS website.

Note: Fees must be paid for each intending immigrant, regardless of age, and are not refundable.

Fees should not be paid to the NVC or paid at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you have your visa interview unless specifically requested. Applicants will be provided with instructions by the NVC on where and when to pay the appropriate fees. Do not send payments to the NVC’s address in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

Required Documentation

In general, the following documents are required:

  • Passport(s)valid for six months beyond the intended date of entry into the United States, unless longer validity is specifically requested by the U.S. Embassy/Consulate in your country. Please review the instructions for guidance.
  • Form DS-260, Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration Application.
    • Preview a sample DS-260 (6.4MB).
  • Two (2) 2×2 photographs. See the required photo format explained in Photograph Requirements.
  • Civil Documents for the applicant. See Documents the Applicant Must Submit for more specific information about documentation requirements, including information on which documents may need to be translated. The consular officer may ask for more information during your visa interview. Bring your original civil documents (or certified copies) such as birth and marriage certificates, as well as legible photocopies of the original civil documents, and any required translations to your immigrant visa interview. Original documents and translations can then be returned to you.
  • Financial Support – At your immigrant visa interview, you must demonstrate to the consular officer that you will not become a public charge in the United States. (NOTE: For applicants where a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (LPR) relative filed the Form I-140 petition or where such a relative has a significant ownership interest in the entity that filed the petition, that relative must complete Form I-864, Affidavit of Support Under Section 213A of the Act, on behalf of the applicant.)
  • Completed Medical Examination Forms – These are provided by the panel physician after you have completed your medical examination and vaccinations (see below).

Visa Interview

Once the NVC determines the file is complete with all the required documents, they schedule the applicant’s interview appointment. NVC then sends the file, containing the applicant’s petition and the documents listed above, to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where the applicant will be interviewed for a visa. The applicant, attorney, and third-party agent, if applicable, will receive appointment emails, or letters (if no email address is available), containing the date and time of the applicant’s visa interview along with instructions, including guidance for obtaining a medical examination.

Each applicant should bring a valid passport to the interview, as well as any other documentation above not already provided to NVC. A consular officer will interview the applicant, and the consular officer will determine whether the applicant is eligible to receive an immigrant visa in accordance with U.S. immigration law. Ink-free, digital fingerprint scans will be taken on the day of the interview. Generally, an applicant receives original civil documents and original translations back at the time of interview.

Medical Examinations and Vaccinations

Important Notice: In preparing for your interview, you will need to schedule and complete your medical examination and any required vaccinations before your visa interview. Before an immigrant visa can be issued, every applicant, regardless of age, must undergo a medical examination which must be performed by an authorized panel physician. NVC provides applicants instructions regarding medical examinations, including information on authorized panel physicians. See Medical Examination for more information, including a list of panel physicians by country, and frequently asked questions.

Vaccination Requirements

U.S. immigration law requires immigrant visa applicants to obtain certain vaccinations prior to the issuance of immigrant visas. See Vaccination Requirements for IV Applicants for the list of required vaccinations and additional information.

How Long Does It Take?

Employment based immigrant visa cases take additional time because they are in numerically limited visa categories. The length of time varies from case to case and cannot be predicted for individual cases with any accuracy. Some cases are delayed because applicants do not follow instructions carefully. Some visa applications require further administrative processing, which takes additional time after the consular officer interviews the applicant.

Visa Ineligibility

Certain conditions and activities may make an applicant ineligible for a visa. Examples of these ineligibilities include: drug trafficking; overstaying a previous visa; and submitting fraudulent documents. If you are ineligible for a visa, you will be informed by the consular officer and advised whether there is a waiver of the ineligibility available to you and what the waiver process is. Ineligibilities and Waivers: Laws contains the complete list of ineligibilities.

Misrepresentation of Material Facts or Fraud

Attempting to obtain a visa by the willful misrepresentation of a material fact or fraud may result in you becoming permanently ineligible to receive a U.S. visa or enter the United States.

When You Have Your Immigrant Visa – What You Should Know

If you are issued an immigrant visa, the consular officer will give you your passport containing the immigrant visa and a sealed packet containing the documents which you provided. It is important that you do not open the sealed packet. Only the U.S. immigration official should open this packet when you enter the United States. You are required to enter the United Statesbefore the expiration date printed on your visa. When traveling, the primary (or principal) applicant must enter the United States before or at the same time as family members holding visas.

USCIS Immigrant Fee –  You must pay the USCIS Immigrant Fee to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) after you receive your immigrant visa and before you travel to the United States. (SI-1, SI-2, SI-3, SQ-1, SQ-2, and SQ-3 visa holders will not pay the fee.) Select USCIS Immigrant Fee on the USCIS website for more information.

Important Notice: USCIS will not issue a Permanent Resident Card (Form I-551 or Green Card) until you have paid the fee.

Entering the United States: Port-of-Entry

A visa allows a foreign citizen to travel to the U.S. port-of-entry and request permission to enter the United States. Applicants should be aware that a visa does not guarantee entry into the United States. The DHS, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials have authority to permit or deny admission to the United States. Travelers should review important information about admissions and entry requirements on the CBP website under Travel.

Once you have paid the USCIS immigrant fee and have been admitted to the U.S. as a permanent resident, your Permanent Resident Card, Form I-551 (formerly called Alien Registration Card, also known as a green card) will be mailed to you.

How to Apply for a Social Security Number Card

If you elected on your immigrant visa application form to receive your Social Security Number Card upon admission to the United States as an immigrant, your card will be sent by mail to the U.S. address you designated on your application form, and should arrive approximately six weeks following your admission. If you did not elect to receive your Social Security Number Card automatically, you will have to apply to be issued a card following your arrival in the United States. To learn about applying for a Social Security Number Card, visit the Social Security Administration website.

When You Are a Permanent Resident

Coming to the United States to live permanently, you will want to learn more about your status as a Lawful Permanent Resident. See Welcome to the United States: A Guide for New Immigrants to review information on the USCIS website about living in the United States.

Additional Information

Immigrant visa applicants should not make any final travel arrangements, dispose of property, or give up jobs until and unless visas are issued. Some visa applications require further administrative processing, which takes additional time after the visa applicant’s interview. An immigrant visa is generally valid for six months from the issuance date.

General Visa Questions

  • Before submitting your inquiry, we request that you carefully review this website for answers to your questions. Because of the volume of inquiries, we cannot promise an immediate reply to your inquiry.
  • If your inquiry concerns a visa case in progress overseas, you should first contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate handling your case for status information. Select S. Embassy or Consulate to find contact information.
  • You can find contact information for our Public Inquiries Division at Contact Us.

 

  1. Temporary Religious Worker Visa (SD, SR)

Generally, a citizen of a foreign country who wishes to enter the United States must first obtain a visa, either a nonimmigrant visa for temporary stay, or an immigrant visa for permanent residence.  Temporary religious worker (R-1) visas are for persons who want to enter the United States to work temporarily in religious capacities.

Important Notice: Same-sex Marriage

Effective immediately, U.S. Embassies and Consulates will adjudicate visa applications that are based on a same-sex marriage in the same way that we adjudicate applications for opposite gender spouses. Please reference the specific guidance on the visa category for which you are applying for more details on documentation required for derivative spouses. For further information, please see our FAQ’s.

As a Temporary Religious Worker, You Must:

  • be a member of the same religious denomination as the religious organization you plan to work for in the United States for at least two years before that organization files a petition on your behalf;
  • be coming to work as a minister or in a religious vocation or occupation in the United States;
  • be employed by a non-profit religious organization in the United States (or an organization affiliated with the religious denomination in the United States); and
  • work at least part time, an average of at least 20 hours per week.

For Some Temporary Religious Activity, a Visitor (B) Visa Can Be Used

Certain religious related activities can be undertaken using a visitor (B) visa, such as private worship, prayer, meditation, informal religious study, and attendance at religious services or conferences in the United States. Also, a visitor visa is generally appropriate for ministers of religion seeking to come to the United States temporarily, whose wages and reimbursement will be paid by their own religious group outside the United States, and when coming for:

  • An evangelical tour, without taking an appointment with any one church; or
  • Exchanging pulpits temporarily with U.S. counterparts; or
  • Members performing missionary or voluntary service for a denomination, such as to aid the elderly or needy.

When you have a religious vocation or profession, or are a religious worker coming temporarily to be employed, with your salary paid by a non-profit religious organization in the United States, the visitor visa is not permitted, and you must have a religious worker (R) visa or other work visa.

Petition Approval

Before you can apply for a temporary religious worker visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate, a Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, Form I-129, must be filed on your behalf by a prospective employer and approved by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). For more information about the petition process and eligibility requirements, see Working in the U.S., Temporary (Nonimmigrant) Workers, and R-1 Temporary Nonimmigrant Religious Workers on the USCIS website. USCIS will notify your prospective employer about the petition approval or denial, by sending a Notice of Action, Form I-797.

Important Notice: USCIS recently published revised Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker. The revised Form I-129 is labeled with an Oct. 23, 2014, edition date. You can download the revised form and details about who may file Form I-129 from the USCIS forms website. Starting on May 1, 2015, USCIS will accept only the Oct. 23, 2014, edition of Form I-129. USCIS will not accept previous editions of Forms I-129 (edition dates: Oct. 7, 2011, Jan. 19, 2011, and Nov. 23, 2010) on or after May 1, 2015.

How to Apply

There are several steps to apply for a visa. The order of these steps and how you complete them may vary at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you apply. Please consult the instructions available on the embassy or consulate website where you will apply.

Complete the Online Visa Application

  • Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160Learn more about completing the DS-160. You must: 1) complete the online visa application and 2) print the application form confirmation page to bring to your interview.
  • Photo – You will upload your photo while completing the online Form DS-160. Your photo must be in the format explained in the Photograph Requirements.

Schedule an Interview

While interviews are generally not required for applicants of certain ages outlined below, consular officers have the discretion to require an interview of any applicant, regardless of age.

If you are age: Then an interview is:
13 and younger Generally not required
14-79 Required (some exceptions for renewals)
80 and older Generally not required

You must schedule an appointment for your visa interview, generally, at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the country where you live. You may schedule your interview at any U.S. Embassy or Consulate, but be aware that it may be difficult to qualify for a visa outside of your place of permanent residence.

Wait times for interview appointments vary by location, season, and visa category, so you should apply for your visa early. Review the interview wait time for the location where you will apply:

Appointment Wait Time

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Select a U.S. Embassy or Consulate:Where will you apply?

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See Details

You must provide the receipt number printed on your approved Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, Form I-129, or Notice of Action, Form I-797, to schedule an interview.

Prepare for Your Interview

  • Fees – Pay the non-refundable visa application fee, if you are required to pay it before your interview.  When your visa is approved, you may also pay a visa issuance fee, if applicable to your nationality.  Fee information is provided below:

Application Fee

$190

All Fees

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Select your nationality to see your Issuance Fee

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  • Review the instructions available on the website of the embassy or consulate where you will apply to learn more about fee payment.

Gather Required Documentation

Gather and prepare the following required documents before your visa interview:

  • Passport valid for travel to the United States – Your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond your period of stay in the United States (unless exempt by country-specific agreements). If more than one person is included in your passport, each person who needs a visa must submit a separate application.
  • Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160 confirmation page
  • Application fee payment receipt, if you are required to pay before your interview
  • Photo– You will upload your photo while completing the online Form DS-160. If the photo upload fails, you must bring one printed photo in the format explained in the Photograph Requirements.
  • Receipt Number for your approved petition as it appears on your Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, Form I-129, or Notice of Action, Form I-797, from USCIS.

Additional Documentation May Be Required

Review the instructions for how to apply for a visa on the website of the embassy or consulate where you will apply. Additional documents may be requested to establish if you are qualified.

Attend Your Visa Interview

During your visa interview, a consular officer will determine whether you are qualified to receive a visa, and if so, which visa category is appropriate based on your purpose of travel. You will need to establish that you meet the requirements under U.S. law to receive the category of visa for which you are applying.

Ink-free, digital fingerprint scans will be taken as part of your application process. They are usually taken during your interview, but this varies based on location.

After your visa interview, your application may require further administrative processing. You will be informed by the consular officer if further processing is necessary for your application.

When the visa is approved, you may pay a visa issuance fee if applicable to your nationality, and will be informed how your passport with visa will be returned to you. Review the visa processing time, to learn how soon your passport with visa will generally be ready for pick-up or delivery by the courier.

Additional Information

  • Petition approval by USCIS does not guarantee visa issuance. Do not make final travel plans or buy tickets until you have a visa.
  • Unless canceled or revoked, a visa is valid until its expiration date.  Therefore, a valid U.S. visa in an expired passport is still valid. If you have a valid visa in your expired passport, do not remove it from your expired passport. You may use your valid visa in your expired passport along with a new valid passport for travel and admission to the United States.
  • Spouse and Children –
    • Your spouse and unmarried children under age 21 may apply for R-2 visas to accompany or join you to reside temporarily. You must demonstrate that you will be able to financially support your family in the United States. They are permitted to study while in the United States, but are not authorized to accept employment.
    • For information about employment or stud while in the United States, review Religious (R) Workers and Employment Authorization on the USCIS website.

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Visa Denial and Ineligibility

Review Visa Denials for detailed information about visa ineligibilities, denials, and waivers.

Visa Renewal

Whether you are applying for the first time or renewing your visa, you will use the same application process (please review How to Apply, above). Some applicants seeking to renew their visas in certain visa classes may be eligible for the Interview Waiver Program (IWP) which allows qualified individuals to apply for visa renewals without being interviewed in person by a U.S. consular officer. Review the instructions on the website of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you will apply to determine if the IWP is available and if you qualify.

I was refused a visa under section 214(b). May I reapply?

Yes, if you feel circumstances have changed regarding your application. Review Visa Denials to learn more.

Misrepresentation or Fraud

Attempting to obtain a visa by the willful misrepresentation of a material fact, or fraud, may result in the permanent refusal of a visa application or denial of entry into the United States.

Review Ineligibilities and Waivers: Laws.

Citizens of Canada and Bermuda

Citizens of Canada and Bermuda do not require visas to enter the United States as temporary religious workers; however, a temporary worker petition approved by USCIS is required.  For more information, see U.S. Embassy Ottawa websiteU.S. Consulate Hamilton website, and CBP website.

Additional resources for Canadian temporary religious workers can be found on the U.S. embassy and consulate websites in Canada.

Further Questions

  • Case-Specific Questions– Contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate handling your visa application for status information. Select S. Embassy or Consulate for contact information.
  • General Questions– review Contact Us.
  1. B. SIMPLIFIED USA VISA APPLICATION STEPS:

Apply for a USA Visa

Overview

Before applying, please confirm whether or not you need to apply for a visa.

If you do need to apply for a nonimmigrant visa, please follow the steps below.

Nonimmigrant Visas

A nonimmigrant visa is used by tourists, business people, students, or specialty workers who wish to stay for a particular period of time in the United States to accomplish specific purposes. According to U.S. visa laws and regulations, most nonimmigrant visa applicants must demonstrate to the consular officer that they have strong ties to their country of residence and must show that they intend to depart the United States after their temporary stay. In Nigeria, you can apply for a nonimmigrant visa at the U.S. Embassy in Abuja and the U.S. Consulate General in Lagos.

Immigrant Visas

Immigrant visas are for persons who plan to live permanently in the United States. The immigrant visa permits an application for admission to the United States as a Legal Permanent Resident and is a potential step toward acquiring U.S. citizenship. Most immigrant visa applications begin when a qualified family member who is a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident submits a petition on behalf of the intending immigrant to the U. S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) in the United States. It is also possible for a U.S. employer to file a petition for a foreign national whom the employer wishes to hire for an eligible permanent position. In Nigeria, the U.S. Embassy in Abuja does not process immigrant visa applicants. Applicants from across Nigeria apply for immigrant visas at the U.S. Consulate General in Lagos. If you have any questions regarding the immigrant visa process, please write to the U.S Consulate General in Lagos .

 

How to Apply for a Nonimmigrant Visa

 

Step1 VISA TYPE
For Nonimmigrant Visa applicants:

Determine your visa type by reading Common Nonimmigrant Visas. Each visa type explains the qualifications and application items. Choose the visa type that applies to your situation.

Be sure to also review the Visa Waiver Program. If your country participates in the Visa Waiver Program, you do not need to apply for a visa if you are traveling for business or pleasure and will only be staying in the United States for 90 days or less.

 

Step2 VISA FEE
Once you have determined the correct visa type, you must pay the visa fee. The visa fee page lists the visa types and correlating visa fee in US dollars and native currency.

To pay your visa fee, read the Bank and Payment Options page. This page explains how to make your visa fee payment. You must keep your receipt number to book your visa appointment.

 

Payment Information

Although fees are listed in U.S. dollars, payment must be made using local currency. You can pay your fee at any GTBank branch or, if you are an account holder at GTBank, you can pay online. More information about payment options is here. To find a GTBank or GTBank branch, click here.

 

 

Fee Amount (USD) Fee Amount (NGN) Visa Type Description
$160 64000.00 B Business/Tourist
$160 64000.00 C-1 Transit
$160 64000.00 D Ship/Airline Crew
$160 64000.00 F Student (academic)
$160 64000.00 I Journalist and Media
$160 64000.00 J Exchange Visitors
$160 64000.00 M Student (vocational)
$160 64000.00 T Victim of Human Trafficking
$160 64000.00 TN/TD NAFTA Professionals
$160 64000.00 U Victim of Criminal Activity
$190 76000.00 H Temporary/Seasonal Workers and Employment, Trainees
$190 76000.00 L Intracompany Transferees
$190 76000.00 O Persons with Extraordinary Ability
$190 76000.00 P Athletes. Artists & Entertainers
$190 76000.00 Q International Cultural Exchange
$190 76000.00 R Religious Worker
$265 106000.00 K Fiancé(e) or Spouse of U.S. Citizen
$205 82000.00 E Treaty Trader/Investor, Australian Professional Specialty
Visa Types and Application Fee Amounts – Sorted by Fee Class

 

 

Step3 VISA FORM (COMPLETING THE DS-160 FORM)
The next step is to complete the DS-160 form. Be sure to read the Guidelines for Completing the DS-160 Formcarefully. All information must be correct and accurate. Once the form is submitted, you cannot make any changes. If you need assistance, please consult an immigration lawyer or translator. The call center cannot help you complete your DS-160. You will need your DS-160 number to book your appointment.

 

Guidelines for Completing the DS-160 Form

Complete and submit your DS-160 after reviewing the nonimmigrant visa application process. You must submit your DS-160 application online prior to making an appointment for an interview at the Embassy or Consulate.

  • The interview post you select at the beginning of the Form DS-160 must be the same post where you schedule your interview appointment.
  • All questions must be answered in English using English-language characters only, except when you are asked to provide your full name in your native alphabet.
  • If you stop working on this application for more than 20 minutes, your session will expire. You will have to start over, unless you have recorded your Application ID Number or have saved your application to a file on your computer. Write down the Application ID displayed on the top right-hand corner of the page. If you need to close the browser before submitting your application, you will need this Application ID to continue your application.
  • The completed DS-160 application form will generate an alpha-numeric barcode confirmation page. The printed confirmation page is required for the interview at the Embassy/Consulate.
  • Once you have printed the barcode confirmation page, hit the “Back” button on your web browser and then email yourself a backup copy of the DS-160. The emailed file will be in PDF format, which requires Adobe Acrobatto view or print.

 

 

Step4Schedule an Interview/Appointment

 

You are almost ready to schedule your visa appointment!

Now you will need to create a profile in our system. Follow this link and click on New User.

Complete all fields and create a password. Once you are in the system, you will see your dashboard.
On the left-hand side, click on Schedule Appointment.

This will start the process for scheduling your appointment. For each applicant being scheduled you will need:

  • The applicant’s passport number
  • The receipt number from GT Bank receipt. (Click hereif you need help finding this number.)
  • The ten (10) digit barcode number from the applicant’s DS-160 confirmation page

As you go through the process you will be able to select your visa type, enter personal data, add dependents, select your document delivery location, confirm visa payment and finally, schedule your appointment.

Schedule an Interview

While interviews are generally not required for applicants of certain ages outlined below, consular officers have the discretion to require an interview of any applicant, regardless of age.

If you are age: Then an interview is:
13 and younger Generally not required
14-79 Required (some exceptions for renewals)
80 and older Generally not required

 

Supporting Documents

 

To schedule a nonimmigrant visa appointment, you must have the following information and documents available:

  • A passport valid for travel to the United States with a validity date at least six months beyond your intended period of stay in the United States (unless country-specific agreementsprovide exemptions). If more than one person is included in your passport, each person desiring a visa must submit an application.
  • Your visa application fee payment receipt from GTBank
  • Your DS-160 confirmation page
  • Valid e-mail address and telephone number
  • If applicable, required documents based on visa class (such as a copy of your petition approval for petition-based visas, I-20 for student visas, DS-2019 for exchange visitor visas, etc.; more information about visa types and information about each can be found here).

Restrictions to Changing Appointments

 

Applicants are limited to the number of times they can reschedule their appointments. Please plan accordingly so that you are not required to pay another visa application fee.

 

Step5 Interview Date
Visit the U.S. Embassy on the date and time of your visa interview. Be sure to check the Schedule My Appointmentpage for the necessary documentation needed for your appointment.

 

Step6 VISA Collection
If your visa is approved, the visa will be sent to the document drop-off location you selected when you scheduled your appointment.

Business/Tourist Visa

The B-1/B-2 visitor visa is for people traveling to the United States temporarily for business (B-1) or for pleasure or medical treatment (B-2). Generally, the B-1 visa is for travelers consulting with business associates, attending scientific, educational, professional or business conventions/conferences, settling an estate or negotiating contracts. The B-2 visa is for travel that is recreational in nature, including tourism, visits with friends or relatives, medical treatment and activities of a fraternal, social or service nature. Often, the B-1 and B-2 visas are combined and issued as one visa: the B-1/B-2.

Qualifications

If you apply for a B-1/B-2 visa, you must demonstrate to a consular officer that you qualify for a U.S. visa in accordance with the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Section 214(b) of the INA presumes that every B-1/B-2 applicant is an intending immigrant. You must overcome this legal presumption by showing:

  • That the purpose of your trip to the U .S. is for a temporary visit, such as business, pleasure, or medical treatment
  • That you plan to remain in the U.S. for a specific, limited period of time
  • Evidence of funds to cover your expenses while in the United States
  • That you have a residence outside the U.S., as well as other binding social or economic ties, that will ensure your return abroad at the end of your visit

Personal or domestic employees and crew members working aboard vessels within the Outer Continental Shelf may qualify for B-1 visas under certain circumstances.

Some foreign nationals may be ineligible for visas according to The Immigration and Nationality Act. You can read more about The Immigration and Nationality Act and visa ineligibility here.

 

Application Items

If you apply for a business/tourist visa, you must submit the following:

  • A Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application (DS-160) Form. Visit the DS-160 webpagefor more information about the DS-160.
  • A passport valid for travel to the United States with a validity date at least six months beyond your intended period of stay in the United States (unless country-specific agreementsprovide exemptions). If more than one person is included in your passport, each person desiring a visa must submit an application.
  • One (1) 2″x2″ (5cmx5cm) photograph. This pagehas information about the required photo format.
  • A receipt showing payment of your US$160 non-refundable nonimmigrant visa application processing fee, paid in local currency. This pagehas more information about paying this fee. If a visa is issued, there may be an additional visa issuance reciprocity fee, depending on your nationality. The Department of State’s website can help you find out if you must pay a visa issuance reciprocity fee and what the fee amount is.
  • If you are an L-1 applicant on a blanket petition, you must pay a fraud prevention and detection fee (more information about this fee is here).
  • The receipt number printed on your approved I-129 petition. Please note that Form I-797 is no longer required for the interview.

In addition to these items, you must present an interview appointment letter confirming that you booked an appointment through this service. You may also bring whatever supporting documents you believe support the information provided to the consular officer.

 

Supporting Documents

Supporting documents are only one of many factors a consular officer will consider in your interview. Consular officers look at each application individually and consider professional, social, cultural and other factors during adjudication. Consular officers may look at your specific intentions, family situation, and your long-range plans and prospects within your country of residence. Each case is examined individually and is accorded every consideration under the law.

Caution: Do not present false documents. Fraud or misrepresentation can result in permanent visa ineligibility. If confidentiality is of concern, the applicant should bring the documents to the Embassy in a sealed envelope. The Embassy will not make this information available to anyone and will respect the confidentiality of the information.

You may consider bringing the following documents to your interview, but they are not required and in most cases not viewed. Original documents are always preferred over photocopies. Do not fax, email or mail any supporting documents to the Embassy/Consulate General unless specifically requested by a consular officer to do so.

  • Current proof of income, tax payments, property or business ownership, or assets.
  • Your travel itinerary and/or other explanation about your planned trip.
  • A letter from your employer detailing your position, salary, how long you have been employed, any authorized vacation, and the business purpose, if any, of your U.S. trip.
  • Criminal/court records pertaining to any arrest or conviction anywhere, even if you completed your sentence or were later pardoned.

Additionally, based on your purpose of travel, you should consider bringing the following:

Students

Bring your latest school results, transcripts and degrees/diplomas. Also bring evidence of financial support such as monthly bank statements, fixed deposit slips, or other evidence.

Working adults

An employment letter from your employer and pay slips from the most recent three months.

Businessmen and company directors

Evidence of your position in the company and remuneration.

 Visiting a relative

Photocopies of your relative’s proof of status (e.g. Green Card, naturalization certificate, valid visa, etc).

 Previous visitors to the U.S.

If you were previously in the United States, any documents attesting to your immigration or visa status.

Supporting Documents for Applicants Seeking Medical Care

If you wish to travel to the U.S. for medical treatment, then you should be prepared to present the following documentation in addition to the documents listed above and those the consular officer may require:

  • A medical diagnosis from a local physician explaining the nature of your ailment and the reason you require treatment in the United States.
  • A letter from a physician or medical facility in the United States expressing a willingness to treat this specific ailment and detailing the projected length and cost of treatment (including doctors’ fees, hospitalization fees, and all medical-related expenses).
  • If someone other than yourself is paying for your medical care in the U.S., a statement of financial responsibility from the individuals or organization paying for your transportation, medical and living expenses. The individuals guaranteeing payment of these expenses must provide proof of their ability to do so, often in the form of bank or other statements of income/savings or certified copies of income tax returns.

 

 

Who Needs a B1 Business Visa?

The B1 Business Visa is required in order to enter the United States for business trips, conferences, and meetings. This is a visitor visa and not a work visa, so it does not allow you to work for pay or attend school during your visit. If you are planning a business trip to the U.S., or even passing through on your way to another country, it is important to allow a few weeks for the process of applying for your B1 visitor visa.

How can I get a B1 Visa?

We make it simple to apply for your B1 visa online with TD TRAVEL & LOGISTICS and to prepare for your face-to-face interview. If you need a business visa for America, we can help you to complete the DS-160 application form and provide the necessary documentation. Our team will review your visa application, advising you what is missing or unclear, and submitting it on your behalf.

It generally takes between 7-10 days after submitting the online form until your interview is scheduled, and then a few days after that to receive your visa. Without our professional advice, the chances of errors and delays are increased.

We will help you to schedule an interview at the U.S. embassy or consulate in the country where you live and guide you through the interview process. Our legal advisors are available to answer your questions at every stage, and to assist with any appeals process that may be required if your initial application is unsuccessful. TD TRAVEL & LOGISTICS has a 98% success rate, so you can rely on us to get you through!

What Documentation is Required?

In addition to the DS-160 visa application form, you will need to submit:
1. Details of a valid passport
2. Proof that your visit to the U.S. is temporary
3. Proof that you have a residence outside of the U.S. that do not intend to abandon
4. Proof that you are able to support yourself financially while visiting the U.S.
5. Proof that you fulfil all U.S. entry requirements for health, criminal, and national security checks
6. A valid photograph that meets all visa requirements.

Photo Requirements

Your visa application photo must meet certain criteria regarding size and content. Submitting photos that do not meet these criteria can delay the visa application process. To reflect your current appearance, your photo must be taken within the last six months. If you are renewing a previous visa, this generally means your photo must not be the same one that appeared on your old visa.
If your photo does not meet the requirements, you will be required to submit a new photo before your visa is processed, even if the visa application system accepted it as a digital photo upload.

 

Your photo or digital image must be:

  • In color but white back ground
  • Taken within the last 6 months to reflect your current appearance
  • With a neutral facial expression and both eyes open
  • Taken in clothing that you normally wear on a daily basis
    • Uniforms should not be worn in your photo, except religious clothing that is worn daily.
    • Do not wear a hat or head covering that obscures the hair or hairline, unless worn daily for a religious purpose. Your full face must be visible, and the head covering must not cast any shadows on your face.
    • Headphones, wireless hands-free devices, or similar items are not acceptable in your photo
    • Eyeglasses: Starting November 1, 2016, eye glasses will no longer be allowed in visa photos. For further details on photo requirements please visit https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/general/photos.html.
    • If you normally wear a hearing device, or similar articles, they may be worn in your photo.

 

After scanning and uploading these items to the internet from a computer, you will also need to print off a copy of your completed online application form to take with you to your interview.

How TD Travel & Logistics USA Visa Team can help you?

The process of applying for a B1 Business Visitor Visa is complex, so it’s good to have the visa application experts from TD TRAVEL & LOGISTICS VISATEAM on your side. We advise our clients to start the application process well in advance of their visit, and we work with you to present the strongest case for your visit being temporary, so that you have the best chance of success. We are happy to answer any questions or concerns that you may have.

So don’t wait! Start the visa application process today by signing up with TD TRAVEL & LOGISTICS. We’ll make it easier for to get your B1 Business Visa.

 

Who needs a B2 Tourist Visa?

You will need a B2 visitor visa if you are planning to visit the U.S. either for a vacation, to visit with friends or relatives, or for medical treatment. This tourist visa permits you to participate in social, cultural and sports events, so long as you are not being paid to participate, but it does not allow you to work for pay or attend school during your visit. It is important to allow a few weeks for the process of applying for your B2 visitor visa.

How can I get a B2 Tourist Visa?

We make it simple to apply for your B2 visa online with TD TRAVEL & LOGISTICS and to prepare for your face-to-face interview. We can help you to complete the DS-160 application form and provide the necessary documentation. We will review your visa application, advise you what is missing or unclear, and submit it on your behalf.

It generally takes between 7-10 days after submitting the online form until your interview is scheduled, and then a few days after that to receive your visa. Without our professional advice, the chances of errors and delays are increased.

We will help you to schedule an interview at the U.S. embassy or consulate in the country where you live and guide you through the interview process. Our legal advisors are available to answer your questions at every stage, and to assist with any appeals process that may be required if your initial application is unsuccessful. TD TRAVEL &LOGISTICS  has a 98% success rate, so you can rely on us to get you through!

What Documentation is Required?

In addition to the DS-160 visa application form, you will need to submit:

  1. Details of a valid passport
    2. Proof that your visit to the U.S. is temporary
    3. Proof that you have a residence outside of the U.S. that do not intend to abandon
    4. Proof that you are able to support yourself financially while visiting the U.S.
    5. Proof that you fulfil all U.S. entry requirements for health, criminal, and national security checks
    6. A valid photograph that meets all visa requirements

Photo Requirements

Your visa application photo must meet certain criteria regarding size and content. Submitting photos that do not meet these criteria can delay the visa application process. To reflect your current appearance, your photo must be taken within the last six months. If you are renewing a previous visa, this generally means your photo must not be the same one that appeared on your old visa.
If your photo does not meet the requirements, you will be required to submit a new photo before your visa is processed, even if the visa application system accepted it as a digital photo upload.

 

Your photo or digital image must be:

  • In color but white back ground
  • Taken within the last 6 months to reflect your current appearance
  • With a neutral facial expression and both eyes open
  • Taken in clothing that you normally wear on a daily basis
    • Uniforms should not be worn in your photo, except religious clothing that is worn daily.
    • Do not wear a hat or head covering that obscures the hair or hairline, unless worn daily for a religious purpose. Your full face must be visible, and the head covering must not cast any shadows on your face.
    • Headphones, wireless hands-free devices, or similar items are not acceptable in your photo
    • Eyeglasses: Starting November 1, 2016, eye glasses will no longer be allowed in visa photos. For further details on photo requirements please visit https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/general/photos.html.
    • If you normally wear a hearing device, or similar articles, they may be worn in your photo.
  1. If you are visiting for medical treatment, further medical documentation will be required.

After to scanning and uploading these documents to the internet from a computer, you will also need to print off a copy of your completed online application form to take with you to your interview.

How TD Travel & Logistics Visa Team help you

The process of applying for a B2 Visitor Visa is complex, so it’s good to have the visa application experts from TD TRAVEL & LOGISTICS VISA TEAM on your side. We advise our clients to start the application process well in advance of their visit, and we work with you to present the strongest case for your visit being temporary, so that you have the best chance of success. We are happy to answer any questions or concerns that you may have.

So don’t wait! Start the visa application process today by signing up with TD TRAVEL &LOGISTICS. We’ll make it easier for to get your B2 Tourist Visa.

Visit: www.flytdtravel.com or email: flytdtravel@gmail.com (c2017)

 

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