Guide to obtaining a Visa stamping from a US Consulate
Non-immigrant visa issuance at a US Consulate may be done either in your home country or in Canada or Mexico. If you choose to go to Canada or Mexico, and your visa is denied, please be advised that you will then be required to return to your home country to obtain the visa before you will be allowed to re-enter the U.S.
Most non-immigrant visa applicants must be interviewed in person by a US Consular Office. Prior to that interview, an application must be submitted and fees paid. That process is described below.
Step #1: Identify the Process for the Consulate You Will be Using
Non-immigrant visa applications, with the exception of individuals applying for K, N, S, T, or U visas, are now processed electronically, as described below, through the US Department of State Consular Electronic Application Center.
In addition, some US consulate have their own additional procedures and requirements for processing non-immigrant visas. Please go to the website for the consulate you intend to visit and review all relevant information before taking any further action. Make sure you are reviewing the information for a non-immigrant visa.
A list of consulates and links to their websites can be found at: http://usembassy.state.gov/.
Step #2: Complete the Online Application
All non-immigrant applications are now completed online using the DS-160 Nonimmigrant Visa Application Form. This application is completed for all consulates at the website of the US Department of State Consular Electronic Application Center, which can be found at https://ceac.state.gov/genniv/. Once completed, print the confirmation page on a laser printer. You will need the barcode on this page for the rest of the application process. Only the final confirmation sheet will be accepted.
Here is a link to a list of the information you will generally you need to complete the DS 160 online application. This list is not comprehensive, but will give you an idea of the kind of information you need to begin completing the application online.
Each family member desiring a visa must complete an application without regard to whether they have their own passport or are in another family member’s passport.
Depending upon the Consulate you are going to, you may be required to submit one photograph, taken according to the instructions outlined on the consulate’s website, or you may be required to appear in person to provide a photograph. Please consult with the consulates website for more information about these requirements. If the photograph is to be provided with the online application, it can be uploaded. Please follow instructions on the consulate’s website for having the photographs taken, and how to upload them.
Some consulates require the applicant to provide fingerprints. The consulate’s website will provide information about this process and the scheduling of an appointment to have the fingerprints taken.
Step #3: Pay Visa Fees
Pay the non-immigrant visa application fee and the reciprocity fee, which varies by country. These fees are paid at a bank approved by the consulate. Each consulate’s website lists the banks which has been approved for processing these fees for that consulate, as well as an outline of the fees required.
Step #4: Schedule the Interview
Non-immigrant visa appointments are now scheduled online. You will need your fee receipt and the barcode from your DS-160 online application to schedule an appointment. The link to the website to schedule the appointment is located at the Consulate’s website. Final travel plans or nonrefundable tickets should not be made until an appointment has been successfully scheduled.
Step #5: Attend the Interview
Take the following documentation with you to the interview:
In addition to individualized consulate requirements, every application will require the following information and documentation. Collect the following for yourself and each family member who will be having a visa issued.
• The original, photocopy, or facsimile copy of the form I-797A or B.
• A passport or other travel document valid for at least six months beyond the period of stay in the United States and with at least one blank page. Please obtain a new passport prior to your interview if the film on the biographic data pages of your passport (i.e., page with your photo and back page with your parents’ information) is separating from the pages in your passport, or your passport is otherwise torn, damaged, mutilated or has been washed or laundered.
• A copy of the signed employment contract or a signed offer and acceptance letter specifying terms and conditions of employment, as well as salary.
• Valid VisaScreen for all relevant health care workers.
• Online application confirmation page (printed on a laser printer).
• Appointment letter.
• Fee receipt.
• A copy of the visa petition and all supporting documents filed with USCIS.
• Passport photos (if uploaded)
Step #6: After Your Interview
At the end of your interview, the Consular Officer will tell you about the status of your case.
If your Visa is Approved
Congratulations! The consulate will keep your passport for a couple of days in order to place your stamp in it. You will be provided information regarding how you are to pick your passport up.
If Your Visa is Not Approved
Your visa may not be approved for one of four reasons:
1. You did not provide all of the required information.
2. The consular officer wants additional information beyond that which is normally required.
3. Your case is being held for administrative processing.
4. Your case has been denied.
You will be given instructions regarding what to do next based upon the reason your visa was not approved.
Please contact us immediately if this happens so that we may discuss your options.
Third Country Nationals Going to Canada and Mexico
A third country national is an individual going to a US consulate in a country who is not a US citizen or a citizen of the country in which the consulate is located. Many third country nationals can obtain non-immigrant visas in Canada and Mexico. The following nationals cannot apply as third country nationals for a visa in Canada: North Korea, Cuba, Syria, Sudan, Iran, Iraq, and Libya.
The first issue to address is admission into Canada and Mexico. You must have a visitor visa or visa waiver to go to a US consulate in these countries. Please make sure you can enter Canada or Mexico before proceeding with any preparations for consular processing in these countries. This may take some time, so include this in your planning.
Once you have obtained a visa to enter Canada or Mexico, complete the process identified above for non-immigrant visa applications.
Please note that not all consulates in Canada and Mexico process third country national non-immigrant visa petitions. Make sure you have chosen a consulate which does before proceeding with the process.