US-Visas – Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs)

  1. When should I apply for my Visa appointment?

Although the majority of applications are processed and ready to pick up within a few business days, some applications will require administrative processing. We cannot predict in advance which applications will require administrative processing, nor do we know how long it will take. Please apply at least 6-8 weeks before you plan to travel, and do not book plane tickets or hotels until you have a visa.

2. 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.

3. My passport is damaged or expiring soon, but I want to apply for a U.S. visa. What should I do?

Please obtain a new passport before your interview if:

4.Your passport is going to expire in less than 6 months after the time you enter the United States.

The film on the biographic data pages of your passport (i.e., page with your photo and back page with your parents’ information) is peeling, or

Your passport is otherwise torn, damaged, mutilated or has been washed or laundered.

5.Do I qualify for the Visa Waiver Program(VWP)?

You qualify for the  (VWP) if you are a citizen of a Visa Waiver Program eligible country, possess a machine-readable passport, are traveling for temporary business or a visit of less than 90 days, meet other program requirements, and have obtained an authorization through  the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA)

 You must be a citizen of a Visa Waiver program eligible country in order to use this. Permanent residents of VWP eligible countries do not qualify for the Visa Waiver Program unless they are also citizens of VWP eligible countries.

6. If I am a nonresident living in the India can I apply for a nonimmigrant visa in New Delhi, Chennai, Mumbai, Kolkata or Hyderabad?

Applicants are generally advised to apply in their country of nationality or residence. Any person who is legally present in India may apply for a visa in New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad or Kolkata. However, applicants should decide where to apply based on more than just convenience or delay in getting an appointment in their home district. One thing to consider, for example, is in which consular district the applicant can demonstrate the strongest ties.

There is no guarantee that a visa will be issued, nor is there a guarantee of processing time. If refused, there is no refund of the application fee.

7. Do all nonimmigrant visa applicants have to come to the Embassy or Consulate for an interview?

Yes, for most applicants. There are only a few exceptions to the interview requirement. The following applicants generally do not have to appear in person:

8. Applicants who are renewing their visa may be eligible for the Interview Waiver.

Applicants for A1, A2 (official travelers on central government business), C2, C3 (central government officials in transit on central government business) or G1, G2, G3, G4 (central government officials traveling in connection with an international organization, or employees of an international organization)

Children under the age of 14 years of age at the date of the initial visa interview in the Embassy or Consulate if both parents have a valid nonimmigrant visa.

Applicants of age 80 and over.

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

Yes, unless you are eligible to apply using the Interview Waiver

10. 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 valid and unmarked or undamaged, you can travel with your two passports together (old and new), if the purpose of your travel matches your current nonimmigrant visa. Also, the name and other personal data must be the same in both passports, and both passports must be from the same country and of the same type (i.e., both tourist passports and both diplomatic passports).

11. I have accidentally damaged my U.S. visa. Do I need to reapply?

If your visa has been damaged, you will need to reapply for a new visa. If your visa was issued recently, you may not need to have a new interview.

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

If one of your nationalities is not U.S., you can apply using whichever nationality you prefer, but you must disclose all nationalities to the Embassy on your application form. U.S. citizens, even dual citizens/nationals, must enter and depart the United States using a U.S. passport.

13. How can I extend my visa?

The validity of a visa cannot be extended regardless of its type. You will need to apply for a new visa.

14. 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/Consulate and at Visa Application Center for biometrics.

15. 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 when you apply. Most administrative processing is resolved within 180 days of the visa interview. 

16. How do I read and understand 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 issuing authority (i.e. the U.S. Embassy) immediately.

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 your 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.

17. My visa was printed incorrectly. What do I do?

If you think your visa was printed incorrectly, please email support-india@ustraveldocs.com  and explain why you think there is an error. If necessary, we will provide instructions on how to submit your passport.

18. Why does my visa say “FNU”?

If you have only one name or if your name appears in only one line in your passport, then on the visa your full name will only be printed in the surname field and “First Name Unknown”, or “FNU,” will be printed in the given name field.

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

No. You may stay in the U.S. for the period of time and conditions authorized by the Department of Homeland Security officer when you arrived in the U.S., which will be noted on the I-94, even if your visa expires during your stay.

20. What will happen when I enter the U.S.?

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 stamp the travel document of each arriving nonimmigrant traveler. The admission stamp will show the date of admission, class of admission, and the date until which the traveler is admitted.

21.  I do not have an Internet Bank account. Can somebody else pay for me?

If you don’t have internet account you can use another online bank account (For example, your relatives’ or friends’).

22. I want to book my travel as far in advance as possible. When should I book my travel tickets?

Applicants are strongly advised not to book their travel until after they receive their passport and new visa. The best way to avoid the unpleasant circumstance of having bought an airplane ticket only to find out that the visa was refused, or that you will need to go through the costly process of changing your tickets to another travel date, is to wait until after your visa arrives.

23. What information do I need to provide about social media while filling out the DS-160 form?

On May 31 2019, the Department of State updated its immigrant and nonimmigrant visa application forms to request additional information, including social media identifiers, from most U.S. visa applicants worldwide. 

24. How do I reschedule existing appointments to a different post?

You can reschedule your visa interview appointment by  selecting “Reschedule Appointment” on the left side of your dashboard. Please note that you have to reschedule before 4:30 p.m. local time one business day prior to your appointment at the Visa Application Center (VAC). We do not recommend you reschedule your originally scheduled VAC or interview appointment to another post as it may create significant delays in your appointment scheduling.  If you choose to do so, you must keep in mind that you have limited opportunities to reschedule your appointments. 

25. How do I transfer an expedited appointment after approval to a different post?

It is not possible to transfer an expedited appointment to a different post. If you wish to apply for an expedited appointment at a different post, you must do the following:

  • Cancel your existing appointment.
  • Schedule a new appointment at your desired post.
  • Submit a new expedited request, which will be reviewed by your desired post. 

We do not recommend that you cancel or reschedule your existing appointment, as this may create significant delays in your appointment scheduling. If you choose to do so, you must keep in mind that you have limited opportunities to reschedule your appointment or request an expedited appointment. Additionally, please keep in mind that having a previously approved expedite request does not guarantee that any subsequent expedite request will be granted.

26. What is Section 214(b)?

Section 214(b) is part of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). It states:

Every alien shall be presumed to be an immigrant until he establishes to the satisfaction of the consular officer, at the time of application for admission, that he is entitled to a nonimmigrant status.

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/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.

27. How can an applicant prove “strong ties?”

Strong ties differ from country to country, city to city, and individual to individual. Some examples of ties can be a job, a house, a family, a bank account. “Ties” are the various aspects of your life that bind you to your country of residence: your possessions, employment, social and family relationships.

Imagine your own ties in the country where you live. Would a consular office of another country consider that you have a residence there that you do not intend to abandon? It is likely that the answer would be “yes” if you have a job, a family, if you own or rent a house or apartment, or if you have other commitments that would require you to return to your country at the conclusion of a visit abroad. Each person’s situation is different.

U.S. consular officers are aware of this diversity. During the visa interview they look at each application individually and consider professional, social, cultural and other factors. In cases of younger applicants who may not have had an opportunity to form many ties, consular officers may look at the applicants specific intentions, family situations, and long-range plans and prospects within his or her country of residence. Each case is examined individually and is accorded every consideration under the law.

28. Is a denial under Section 214(b) permanent?

No. A 214(b) refusal is not permanent. Unfortunately, some applicants will not qualify for a nonimmigrant visa, regardless of how many times they reapply, until their personal, professional, and financial circumstances change considerably.

An applicant refused under Section 214(b) should carefully review their situation and realistically evaluate their ties. They may consider what qualifying ties they think they have which may not have been evaluated at the time of their interview with the consular officer. Applicants refused visas under section 214(b) may reapply for a visa. When they do, they will have to show further evidence of their ties or how their circumstances have changed since the time of the original application. It may help to consider the following questions before reapplying: (1) Did I explain my situation accurately? (2) Did the consular officer overlook something? (3) Is there any additional information I can present to establish my residence and strong ties abroad?

Applicants should also bear in mind that they will be charged a nonrefundable application fee each time they reapply for a visa, regardless of whether a visa is issued. Additionally, each time they reapply, applicants will have to complete a new DS160 visa form.

29. Who can influence the consular officer to reverse a decision?

Immigration law delegates the responsibility for issuance or refusal of visas to consular officers overseas. 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, as contrasted to determinations of facts. The question at issue in such denials, whether an applicant possesses the required residence abroad, is a factual one. Therefore, it falls exclusively within the authority of consular officers at our Foreign Service Embassies/Consulates to resolve. An applicant can influence the Embassy/Consulate to change a prior visa denial only through the presentation of new convincing evidence of strong ties.

30. How long can I stay in the United States on a tourist or business visa?

A U.S. nonimmigrant visa grants you permission to travel to a Port of Entry (airport/seaport) in the United States. When you arrive at your destination Port of Entry, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer who processes your entry will determine the length of time that you may remain in the country. You may travel to the Port of Entry during the validity of your nonimmigrant visa up to and including the last day the visa is valid. The visa duration does not determine the length of time that you may legally remain in the United States; only the Customs and Border Protection officer can decide this upon your arrival in the United States.

30. My U.S. visa will expire in the next 6 months. Do I need to apply for a new visa after my current visa expires or can I apply in advance?

You do not have to wait until your current visa expires. You can apply for a new visa even if your current visa is valid.

31. 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.

32. My current U.S. visa was issued to me when I was working in my previous job. Now I have changed to a new job at a new company and my new employer wants me to attend a conference in the United States, scheduled for next month. Can I use the same visa or do I have to apply for a new visa?

You can travel to the United States on the same visa as long as your visa is valid for business or pleasure. If your visa is annotated with your previous company name, you cannot travel on the same visa and need to apply for a new visa.

33. My child is studying in the United States. Can I go live with him/her?

While you can use your own B-1/B-2 visa  to visit your child, you may not live with your child unless you have your own immigrant, work, or student visa.

34. What should I do if my visa is lost or stolen?

If the loss/theft took place in India, you must report the loss of your passport and visa to the local Indian Police and obtain a police report. If this happened overseas, please obtain a police report from that locale. Then report the loss of the visa to support-india@ustraveldocs.com , including the following information:

  • Your name, date and place of birth, and nationality.
  • The city where your visa was issued (Mumbai, Chennai, New Delhi, Hyderabad, or Kolkata).
  • Your address and phone number.
  • A photocopy of the lost visa, if available, or the date and place of issuance, if known.
  • A photocopy of the bio-data page of your lost passport, if available. If not, the nationality and number of your lost passport as well as the issuance and expiration dates, if available.
  • Circumstances of the loss: When and how your passport was lost or stolen.

35. When I reapply to replace my lost or stolen visa with a new visa, will I qualify for the interview to be waived?

No. When replacing a lost or stolen visa, you must attend a visa interview to discuss the lost visa with an officer. You would not be eligible for an interview waiver.

36. When will I receive my passport after the visa is processed?

Although visa processing time is typically seven to ten working days, processing time for specific cases may vary due to individual circumstances and other special requirements. You may pick up the passport from the location you chose at the time of appointment scheduling.

37. I currently have a valid B1/B2 visa. If my H1B visa is stamped, will my B1/B2 visa be cancelled?

Generally, no. It is usually permitted to hold multiple visas as long as they are different visa classifications. However, the final decision rests with the consular officer.

38. Why only one passport per envelope? Why no family discounts?

The courier’s security and safety rules require separate tracking of every passport.

39. How will I get my passport back after the interview?

You must pick up your passport from the document delivery location you selected at the time you scheduled your interview. If you want to change this location you may do so until midnight of the day before your appointment. If you are planning urgent travel, the courier location closest to the location of your interview may result in a faster pick-up time.

Note: Premium delivery of passport/document is available at an additional fee of ₹ 650/- per individual, payable in cash only. Payment for this service needs to be made to the courier at the time of delivery of passport/document. This service is optional.

40. What do I need to show to pick up the passport at the document delivery location?

In order to ensure that your passport and visa are not given to an unauthorized person, please carry all listed documents to collect your passport from selected document delivery location.

42. What happens to my passport if I’m unable to collect it from the document delivery location?

Please note that passports not collected within 14 working days from 11 service centers or within 7 working days from 22 Blue Dart locations will be RETURNED to the respective U.S. Embassy/Consulate and applicants will need to pick up their passports/documents directly from U.S. Embassy/Consulate. As the consular sections have limited hours to return passports, and this will be cause significant delays.

42. What is the difference between an immigrant and nonimmigrant visa?

An immigrant visa is issued to a qualified person who has an approved petition based on a family or work relationship and who wishes to live in the United States permanently. A nonimmigrant visa is issued to a person who is traveling to the United States for a specific purpose (vacation, studies, medical treatment, business, temporary work) and who will depart the U.S. after completion of that purpose.

43. What may delay a decision on my application?

A decision on your application will be delayed if you fail to follow instructions and come to your interview without required documentation. It could also be delayed if you do not come with recommended secondary documents to help establish your qualifications. When you cannot present required or secondary supporting documents, your application will be refused under Section 221(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. You will be provided a pending letter indicating the additional documentation you must present for your application to be completed

44. What else could delay a decision on my application?

The U.S. Embassy or Mumbai Consulate may ask the Indian government agency in charge of civil records or other official agencies to confirm or verify information about an applicant. An applicant with a spouse or a fiancé(e) petition, for example, must provide documentation to show termination of any prior marriages. Consular officers may also conduct investigations to determine whether applicants are legally eligible to receive visas.These extra steps can delay visa issuance. Applicants are advised not to finalize their travel arrangements until they have received their visas.

45. Will the same consular officer talk to me if I have to return to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate?

You might see a different consular officer upon return. All officers have access to the information about your case and will review your application based on the same requirements.

46. Can I request an earlier interview appointment? Or if I did not come for my scheduled interview, can I request a new interview appointment?

Requests for earlier appointments are granted only if there are available slots. If you wish to reschedule your appointment to an earlier date or have missed a previously scheduled appointment, you should write to support-india@ustraveldocs.com

47. Can the children of an immigrant visa applicant be included in a single petition?

Children of U.S. citizens are considered Immediate Relatives (IR) and must have individual petitions filed for them. Petitions for immediate relatives may be filed simultaneously at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Children of applicants with family-based petitions (F category) may derive immigration benefits from the same petition provided that they are single and under 21. Such children are called derivatives for purposes of immigration. Only biological or legally-adopted children are entitled to derivative status. A non-orphan adopted child must have been legally adopted before the age of 16 and must have been in the physical and legal custody of the adoptive parent for at least two years. A child born after a petition was filed and approved may be registered or added on to the petition as a derivative. The principal applicant should submit photocopies of the child’s birth certificate and child’s passport to the NVC or the U.S. Embassy or Mumbai Consulate and pay the corresponding visa processing fee

48. Can my child, who is nearing 21 years old, be issued a visa before he turns 21?

If visa numbers are available for you (or your visa case becomes current for processing) and your child is aging out (or turning 21), we are prepared to expedite the processing of the application. However, it is still the applicant’s responsibility to complete the application requirements in a timely manner. U.S. immigration law requires that visa applications be strictly processed according to priority date because of the limited number of visas available worldwide. This means the U.S. Embassy or Mumbai Consulate will not process visa applications until priority dates are current.

If you plan to immigrate to the United States with your children, or to have your children join you in the United States later, you must prove that your children are:

  • Unmarried
  • Eligible to be listed under your visa classification, and
  • Under the age of 21 at the time they enter the United States

If your child will soon turn 21, your child could become ineligible to immigrate with you. If your child cannot immigrate with you because of his or her age, then a separate petition must be filed for your child and there may be a significant delay before your child becomes eligible for the visa.

If visas are available in your visa category before your child’s birthday, the NVC may be able to expedite your case so that you and your child can immigrate together. Unfortunately, if visas are not available before the child’s birthday, the NVC cannot expedite the case.

There is also a law called the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA), which applies to a narrow range of cases and may allow the principal applicant’s son or daughter to remain eligible beyond age 21 under this petition. At the time of the parent’s visa interview, the consular officer will determine whether or not CSPA is applicable in your particular situation.

49. What happens if a petition is filed by a Lawful Permanent Resident (F2A or F2B) and the petitioner becomes a U.S. citizen before the applicant is called for an interview?

If you filed a petition for your spouse and/or minor children 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 bio data page of your U.S. passport; or
  • A copy of your certificate of naturalization

Important Notice: If you upgrade a family second preference (F2) petition for your spouse and you did not file separate petitions for your minor children when you were an LPR, you must do so now. A child is not included in an immediate relative (IR) petition. (This is different from the family second preference (F2) petition, which includes minor children in their parents’ F2 petitions.)

Children born abroad after you became a U.S. citizen may qualify for U.S. citizenship. They should apply for U.S. passports. A consular officer in the American Citizens Services Unit 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.

50. I immigrated to the United States as the adopted child of a petitioner. Now that I am a U.S. citizen, can I petition for my natural parent(s)?

No. Once you receive an immigrant visa as an adopted child, your biological parents can no longer benefit from a petition that you file

51. We have raised a child who is neither our biological nor legally adopted child. Can he/she be included as a derivative on our immigrant visa application?

No. A child may only become your derivative if that child is born to you or meets the definition of an adopted child under the Immigration and Nationality Act. If you attempt to bring in a child who does not meet any of these definitions, you risk being denied an immigrant visa and being barred permanently from entering the United States.

52. Can I still qualify for a tourist visa if I have a pending immigrant petition?

Yes. Having an immigrant petition on file is not grounds for an automatic refusal for a nonimmigrant visa. However, the consular officer reviewing your nonimmigrant visa application will require strong evidence that you are not intending to immigrate at this time and that you will return to India after your temporary visit to the United States.

53. I recently had my immigrant visa interview at the embassy/consulate and received my passport and visa. However, I did not receive a packet of documents in a sealed envelope to take with me on the plane to the United States. My lawyer/petitioner/friends are saying that I can’t fly without one. What should I do?

The Department of State has begun electronic processing of some immigrant visa applications. If either the National Visa Center or the embassy/consulate which conducted your visa interview required that you electronically submit your civil and financial supporting documents via the CEAC portal, then your visa was issued under the new electronic process. Unless specifically informed by the embassy/consulate which interviewed you and issued the visa, you are NOT required to hand-carry a packet of documents in a sealed envelope to present at the U.S. Port of Entry. Be assured that your documents were transmitted electronically from the Department of State to the Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection (DHS/CBP), the agency that inspects all immigrants entering into the country. When you arrive at Immigration Control at the U.S. Port of Entry, the CBP officers will have access to all of the information required to process your entry into the United States. This new electronic process will streamline the processing of your immigrant visa application and entry to the United States.

54. I don’t remember if I submitted my civil and financial documents electronically or by mail. Is there another way to determine if my visa was issued under the paperless process?

Yes. Look at your visa. If you do not need a packet of papers, your visa will have an annotation by the bottom right corner of your picture that says “IV DOCS in CCD”.

55.I know other people that have received immigrant visas and they had to hand-carry and sealed envelope to the U.S. Port of Entry. Why is the process different for them?

The electronic processing of some immigrant visa applications began in 2018. To convert all the different types of immigrant visas to electronic processing will take several years. Until the process is complete, some immigrant visa holders will still need to hand-carry a packet of documents in a sealed envelope to the U.S. Port of Entry. These individuals will not have the annotation “IV DOCS in CCD” printed in the lower right hand corner of their visa.

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