Green Cards (Common)
National Interest Waivers
Professors & Researchers
Executives & Managers
PERM Labor Certification
Investors (EB-5 visas)
Family (Spouse, etc.)
Work Visas (Common)
O-1 Extraordinary Ability
TN Canadians & Mexicans
J-1 Visa Holders
Nurses & Physical Therapists
Visa Application Process
Applicants for a visa should generally apply at the American Embassy or Consulate with jurisdiction over their place of permanent residence. Although you may apply at any U.S. consular office abroad, it may be more difficult to qualify for the visa outside the country where you reside.
The United States enhanced its national security measures for visa issuance shortly after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Visa applications are now subject to a greater degree of scrutiny than in the past. These security measures have caused some delays in visa issuance. It is important to apply for your visa well in advance of your travel departure date.
Each applicant for a visa must submit the following forms and documentation:
You should refer to the Embassy Consular Section web site for your country to determine visa processing timeframes and instructions, learn about interview scheduling, and find out if there are any additional documentation items required.
When applying for a visa, you must also demonstrate that you are eligible for the visa under U.S. law. You should provide the following:
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.
The State Department provides information about Aliens who are Ineligible to Receive Visas. In some cases, an applicant who is ineligible but who otherwise qualify for a visa may apply for a waiver of ineligibility. If the waiver is approved, the applicant may be issued a visa and enter the United States.
Unless previously canceled, a visa is valid until its expiration date. If you have a valid U.S. visa in an expired passport, you may use it along with a new valid passport for travel and admission to the United States.
If the consular officer denies the issuance of a visa, you may apply again if there is new evidence to overcome the basis for the refusal. For additional information, see the State Department website on Visa Denials to learn more. In the absence of new evidence, consular officers are not obliged to re-examine such cases.
A visa does not guarantee entry into the United States. The visa allows a foreign citizen coming from abroad to travel to the United States port-of entry and request permission to enter the United States. The Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection has authority to permit or deny admission to the United States.
The period for which you are authorized to remain in the United States is determined by a U.S. immigration officer, not the consular officer. At the port of entry (such as an international airport, seaport or land border crossing), a U.S. immigration official determines whether you can enter and how long you can stay here, on any particular visit. If you are allowed to enter, the U.S. immigration official authorizes your admission to the United States. The immigration official issues you a Form I-94, Record of Arrival-Departure, which shows the length of stay permitted.
You may ask questions about visa application procedures and visa ineligibilities at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your home country.