How long does my passport have to be valid in order to apply for a U. S. visa?
You must possess 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
I have a nonimmigrant visa that will expire soon and I would like a new visa. Do I need to go through the whole visa application process again?
You may qualify for the interview waiver. If you do not meet the criteria for the interview waiver, you must apply in the normal manner.
My passport has expired, but the U.S. visa in it is still valid. Do I need to apply for a new visa?
No. If your visa is still valid you can travel to the United States with your two passports (old and new), as long as the visa is valid, not damaged, and is the appropriate type of visa required for your principal purpose of travel, i.e., a tourist visa when your principal purpose of travel is tourism. Also, the name and other personal data should be the same in both passports. Your nationality, as indicated in the new passport, must be the same as that shown in the passport bearing the visa.
I have dual citizenship. Which passport should I use to travel to the United States?
If one of your nationalities is not a U.S. citizen, you can apply using whichever nationality you prefer, but you must disclose all nationalities to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate on your application form. U.S. citizens, even dual citizens/nationals, must enter and depart the United States using a U.S. passport.
Table of Contents
How can I extend my visa?
The validity of a visa cannot be extended regardless of its type. You must apply for a new visa.
Must I submit my visa application form electronically?
Yes, you must complete the DS-160 and bring a printed copy of the DS-160 confirmation page with you when you go for your interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
What is “administrative processing?”
Some visa applications require further administrative processing, which takes additional time after your interview with a consular officer. You are advised of this possibility at the conclusion of your visa interview. We realize that applicants have time sensitive travel plans; therefore, we try to complete the administrative processing as quickly as possible. The consular officer may require further information to continue your administrative processing and will give you a questionnaire to fill out and submit via e-mail. The sooner you submit the questionnaire, the sooner the officer can make a decision on your application. For further information regarding administrative processing, please click here.
What should I do after I receive my visa?
As soon as you receive your visa, check to make sure all your personal information printed on the visa is correct. If any of the information on your visa does not match the information in your passport or is otherwise incorrect, please contact the Consular Section immediately. Further information about interpreting your visa can be found at the Department of State’s Consular Affairs website.
My visa will expire while I am in the United States. Is there a problem with that?
No. You may stay in the United States for the period of time and conditions authorized by the Department of Homeland Security officer when you arrived in the United States, which will be stamped in your passport, even if your visa expires during your stay. The expiration date of your visa is the last day you may use the visa to enter the United States. It does not indicate how long you may stay in the United States. Your stay is determined by the Department of Homeland Security at the port of entry. As long as you comply with the Department of Homeland Security decision on the conditions of your stay, you should have no problem. You can find more information here.
What will happen when I enter the United States?
Your airline should give you a blank Customs Declaration form 6059B. Only one Customs Declaration is required for a family traveling together.
A visa does not guarantee entry into the United States, but allows a foreign citizen coming from abroad to travel to a U.S. port of entry 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 Customs and Border Protection officer will determine the length of stay permitted. Previously, travelers received a paper I-94 (record of admission) with this information. This process is now automated, with some exceptions. The traveler will be provided with a CBP admission stamp on their travel document that shows the date of admission, class of admission, and admitted-until date. Learn more on the CBP Website. If a traveler needs a copy of their I-94 for verification of alien registration, immigration status or employment authorization, it can be obtained from www.cbp.gov/I94. You can review information about admission on the CBP Website.
I have questions about submitting my DS-160 and printing the confirmation page. Where can I go for more information?
Our call center is unable to provide assistance on the application form. Any inquiries on completing the DS-160 can be addressed on the following website.
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.
The United States is an open society. Unlike many other countries, the United States does not impose internal controls on most visitors, such as registration with local authorities. Our immigration law requires consular officers to view every visa applicant as an intending immigrant until the applicant proves otherwise. In order to enjoy the privilege of unencumbered travel in the United States, you have a responsibility to prove you are going to return abroad before a visitor or student visa is issued.
What Is Section 214(b)?
Section 214(b) is part of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). This law states that any alien applying for a nonimmigrant visa is presumed to be an immigrant (wants to stay permanently in the U.S.) until they can demonstrate, to the satisfaction of a consular officer, that they have compelling reasons to return to a country outside the U.S.. An applicant can also be refused under Section 214(b) if the consular officer believes they will not use the visa as intended or do not meet the requirements of the visa.
214(b) Every alien (other than a nonimmigrant described in subparagraph (L) or (V) of section 101(a)(15), and other than a nonimmigrant described in any provision of section 101(a)(15)(H)(i) except subclause (b1) of such section) shall be presumed to be an immigrant until he establishes to the satisfaction of the consular officer, at the time of application for a visa, and the immigration officers, at the time of application for admission, that he is entitled to a nonimmigrant status under section 101(a)(15). An alien who is an officer or employee of any foreign government or of any international organization entitled to enjoy privileges, exemptions, and immunities under the International Organizations Immunities Act, or an alien who is the attendant, servant, employee, or member of the immediate family of any such alien shall not be entitled to apply for or receive an immigrant visa, or to enter the United States as an immigrant unless he executes a written waiver in the same form and substance as is prescribed by section 247(b).
Our consular officers have a difficult job. They must decide in a very short time if someone is qualified to receive a temporary visa. Most cases are decided after a brief interview and review of whatever evidence of ties an applicant presents. To qualify for a visitor or student visa, an applicant must meet the requirements of sections 101(a)(15)(B) or (F) of the INA respectively. Failure to do so will result in a refusal of a visa under INA 214(b). The most frequent basis for such a refusal concerns the requirement that the prospective visitor or student possess a residence abroad he or she has no intention of abandoning. Applicants prove the existence of such residence by demonstrating that they have ties abroad that would compel them to leave the United States at the end of the temporary stay. The law places this burden of proof on the applicant.
How can an applicant prove “strong ties?”
Our best advice is for you to explain your personal circumstances truthfully and in detail. Why do you want to visit the U.S.? Are you going on a business trip, visiting family, going to study? The consular officer considers whether your story makes sense and considers what would compel you to return home, i.e., do you need to return to your job, your school, your family, your social network, your pet? Since each applicant has different circumstances, there is no right or wrong answer. In other words, don’t exaggerate or embellish, telling us what you think we want to hear. Listen to the questions the officer is asking, and answer them truthfully about why you need to travel and what compels you to return. If your purpose of travel makes sense, you have good reasons to return home, and we believe you’ll use your visa properly, then you’ll likely get the visa. Remember, the officer must follow U.S. law and presume you intend to immigrate.
Ties are the various aspects of your life that bind you to your home country. Strong ties vary from country to country, city to city, and person to person, but examples include:
- Your job;
- Your home; and/or
- Your relationships with family and friends.
- While conducting visa interviews, consular officers look at each application individually and consider the applicant’s circumstances, travel plans, financial resources, and ties outside of the United States that will ensure the applicant’s departure after a temporary visit.
Is a denial under Section 214(b) permanent?
No. A refusal, or ineligibility, under Section 214(b) is for that specific application, so once a case is closed, the consular section cannot take any further action. There is no appeal process. If you have additional information that should be considered related to the visa decision, or there are significant changes in your circumstances since your last application, you may reapply for a visa. To reapply, you must complete a new application form, pay the application fee, and schedule an appointment for a new interview. Review the website of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you plan to reapply to learn about any reapplication procedures.
Who can influence the consular officer to reverse a decision?
Immigration law delegates sole responsibility for issuance or refusal of visas to consular officers. They have the final say on all visa cases. By regulation, the U.S. Department of State has authority to review consular decisions, but this authority is limited to the interpretation of law, not facts. When an applicant is refused under Section 214(b), the refusal is based on the facts given, not in the application of the law. The consular officer is the sole arbiter of whether the facts an applicant presents are credible and sufficient to overcome a presumption of immigrant intent. An applicant can have better success in future interviews by presenting new, convincing evidence of strong ties.
Why didn’t the officer look at the documents I brought?
Applying for a nonimmigrant visa is not primarily a document-based process. In many cases, the visa application form and information provided by the applicant during the visa interview is sufficient for the consular officer to determine eligibility for a visa. We do suggest though that supporting documents be readily available to present, if asked, which demonstrate eligibility for a visa. You must be able to speak credibly, knowledgeably, and in depth about your purpose of travel, intent and what will compel you to leave the U.S.
Does an invitation letter, affidavit of support, or bond help my chances of success?
An invitation letter, either from a business or family member, may help explain your purpose for travel. However, the officer will review your DS-160 application form and then ask some questions to assess your personal circumstances and ties to your country of residence.. We don’t accept affidavits of support or bonds in the nonimmigrant visa application process.
If I reapply, will I get a visa?
The visa application process is not a lottery. A rejection under Section 214(b) does not mean that you are permanently ineligible to receive a visa. Unless your personal circumstances change significantly since your previous interview, we do not recommend reapplying. If you do reapply, you will have to fill out a new DS-160 form, pay a new visa application fee, and schedule a new appointment.
Can a broker improve my chances of getting a visa?
There are many brokers who claim to have an inside connection in the Embassy or special knowledge of the visa application process. Be wary of these brokers. Most will try to sell you fake documents and useless interview coaching that may actually hurt your chances of receiving a visa. All of the information that you need to apply for a visa is public knowledge and freely available. For information about visa ineligibilities other than 214(b), please visit the Department of State’s Consular Affairs website.
What is an I-20 and how do I get it?
The Form I-20 is an official U.S. Government form, issued by a certified school, which a prospective nonimmigrant student must have in order to get an F-1 or M-1 visa. Form I-20 acts as proof-of-acceptance and contains the information necessary to pay the SEVIS I-901 fee, apply for a visa or change visa status, and be admitted into the United States. The Form I-20 has the student’s SEVIS identification number, which starts with the letter N and is followed by nine digits, on the upper right side directly above the barcode.
How early should I apply for my student visa?
You are encouraged to apply for your nonimmigrant student visa as soon as you have your I-20. To ensure you get an early and timely date you may apply at any time. However, a student visa may be issued no more than 120 days prior to the start date mentioned on your I-20.
I received my visa, when should I travel?
For your initial entry, you may only enter the United States within 30 days of the beginning of the course of study stated on your I-20, regardless of when your visa was issued.
Can a person on a visitor visa change his or her status to student while in the United States if he or she gains admission to a school and gets a Form I-20?
Yes. In general, you may apply to change your nonimmigrant visa status if you were lawfully admitted to the United States with a nonimmigrant visa, if your nonimmigrant status remains valid, if you have not violated the conditions of your status, and you have not committed any actions that would make you ineligible. For more details, please visit the USCIS website.
What if I receive an I-20 to a different school?
If you received an I-20 after scheduling your appointment, then you can inform the U.S. consular officer of the new I20 at the time of the interview.
Can an F-1 student work in the United States?
Full-time students on F visas may seek on-campus employment not to exceed 20 hours per week. After the first year in student status, an applicant may apply for employment off campus with authorization from USCIS. Please contact your student advisor for further information.
What is the SEVIS system and how does it affect me?
The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) program requires schools and exchange programs to verify the enrollment status of all new and continuing foreign students and exchange visitors. Student visa applicants are required to pay a SEVIS fee before a visa can be issued. The SEVIS website has more details.
Where can I learn more about higher study options in the U.S.?
Studying abroad is a big decision and the application process can be daunting. To assist aspiring students, the U.S. Embassy offers EducationUSA counseling services which can help you find the right program for your educational needs. To learn more, please visit EducationUSA’s website for more details.
How can I prepare for my interview?
The student visa interview is, above all else, a conversation. The consular officer needs to determine that you are a genuine student and you have the funds to pay for your education. While it’s not required or encouraged to prepare and memorize a speech, you should think about your reasons for study, understand your sponsor’s plan for financing your schooling, and be prepared to discuss this information with the consular officer. Above all else, relax! The consular officer’s job is to determine facts, not to intimidate.
What should I bring to my interview?
Bring with you any documents that demonstrate your ability to fund your studies and confirm your educational qualifications. These documents may include educational certificates, standardized test scores, and bank statements. Many applicants feel the need to falsify or embellish documents. If an applicant presents fraudulent documents in conjunction with a visa application, they may be subject to a lifetime ban from receiving a U.S. visa and/or travel to the United States. If you do not have the funds to support your education, EducationUSA can provide you with information
Track My Passport
How will I get my passport back after the interview?
If your visa application is approved, your passport and visa can be collected from the pickup location you selected when you scheduled for interview appointment. When your passport is available at selected location you will receive an email that your passport is “Ready for Pick Up”.
What do I need to show to pick-up the passport at the Embassy/Consulate?
In order to ensure that your passport and visa are not given to an unauthorized person, you must present a governmentissued photo ID for identification when you collect your passport.
What types of ID are acceptable as proof-of-identity?
You must present an original government-issued photo ID.
Can someone besides me pick-up my passport?
Yes. However, your representative -must present the following in order to collect your passport:
For a Family, any adult applicant of the family that interviewed together may collect the passports from the document delivery centers. It is not necessary for all the family members to appear to collect the passports
For an individual, any individual may collect the passport if they provide the following documents:
The applicant’s representative must provide a signed “authorization form.” The signature on the authorization form has to exactly match the signature on the passport. The signed “authorization form” should include the name of the person authorized to collect the passport, plus the phone number and address of the person picking up the passport. You should also provide a valid photo ID of authorized person (e.g. valid passport, voter ID, etc.).
A VALID photo ID of authorized person (e.g., passport, voter ID, etc.)
Original DS-160 confirmation page
For officials of Bangladesh Government, international organizations, foreign embassies, etc., one of the authorized staff from the same organization from his/her office may collect the passport on his/her behalf. But the applicant must provide:
A signed authorization letter. The signed authorization letter must be printed on an official letterhead and include a recent date and the signature of the applicant (signature that exactly matches the signature on the passport) attesting the full name, designation and the signature of the person who will collect the passport/s.
The signed authorization letter should also include the phone number and address of the person picking up the passport.
A VALID photo ID of authorized person (e.g., valid passport, voter ID, etc.)
Original DS-160 confirmation page.