Since September 11, visa applications have been subject to a greater degree of scrutiny than in the past. The timeframes for visa processing today are difficult to predict with accuracy for any individual applicant and could vary significantly by country and visa applicant. Advance planning on the part of travelers is essential to receive a visa in time for proposed travel dates to the United States.
For the 37 countries in the Visa Waiver Program, citizens meeting the visa waiver criteria will not need a visa, but they must have an E-readable passport. For more information on these requirements, please click here.
Canadian citizens do not need a visa, but should click here for more information.
The type of visa the foreign citizen must have is defined by immigration law, and relates to the purpose of travel. The U.S. Embassy Consular Section will decide, based on immigration law, about a particular applicant’s eligibility for a given visa type from the information and documentation presented to the consular officer. As a general rule, except for Canadian citizens and those who can travel on the visa waiver program, anyone who wants to attend a business, educational, professional, or amateur sports event, conference or meeting who is not a government official, will generally need a visitor visa (B1/B2).
Visa applicants will need to schedule an interview appointment as a first step in the visa process.
Scheduling Interview Appointments – Specific visa wait time for interview appointment information for each embassy or consulate is now available on this website. Since wait times vary by embassy and time of year, we strongly encourage travelers to review this information, updated weekly. Applicants should check the U.S. Embassy or Consulate website procedures for making an interview appointment. Embassy websites worldwide can be located here.
How to Apply for a Visa & More Website Information
The Department of State recommends this website as the primary source for current visa information.
To contact any Embassy Consular Section worldwide for additional procedures, including how to schedule an interview appointment, pay fees, review local instructions and much more, click here.
Applicants should apply to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in his or her country of residence.
If you need information on (B1) business related travel, go the Business Visa Center’s webpage.
The Visa Process – Important Information
Under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), an applicant must overcome the presumption that he or she is an intending immigrant. An applicant must demonstrate, to the consular officer’s satisfaction, that he or she has strong social and economic ties to his or her country of residence, plans to remain for a specific, limited period, has a residence outside the U.S., as well as other binding ties which will ensure his or her return abroad at the end of the visit. An applicant may provide a summary of employment history, experience and expertise associated with the purpose of travel, particularly in cases where the applicant is recently employed or may have few years of work experience. It is important that the applicant has access to sufficient funds to cover the entire trip. Applicants for nonimmigrant visas must show that they qualify individually on their own merit under provisions of U.S. immigration law, and not based on the assurances of others.
Please note that Embassy Consular Sections overseas have sole responsibility for issuance of visas, and they generally are the first point of contact for visa processing status. Visa Services at the Department of State is not able to expedite interview appointments or the processing of visa applications.