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US VISA Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

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Q.1 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 US VISA FAQ with a validity date at least six months beyond your intended period of stay in the United States (unless country-specific agreements provide exemptions).


 

Q.2 Do I qualify for the Visa Waiver Program?

You qualify for the Visa Waiver Program if you are a citizen of a Visa Waiver Program 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 program. Permanent residents of VWP-eligible countries do not qualify for the Visa Waiver Program unless they are also citizens of VWP-eligible countries. We recommend you visit the Visa Waiver Program website before any travel to the United States to determine if you are eligible for the VWP. If you have had a previous visa refusal, including a 221(g) refusal, you are not eligible for the VWP.


 

Q.3 What is the fee for ESTA and who has to pay it?

ESTA registration is required for all travelers to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program. There is a US$14 fee for ESTA registration. The fee can be paid online using a debit card or any of the following credit cards: Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover. Third parties (travel agents, family members, etc.) can pay your ESTA fee for you if you do not have the correct type of credit card. If the ESTA registration is denied, the fee is only US$4.


 

Q.4 If I travel to the United States without ESTA, what happens?

Visa Waiver Program travelers who have not obtained approval through ESTA should expect to be denied boarding on any air carrier bound for the United States. If you are allowed to board, you can expect to encounter significant delays and possible denial of admission at the U.S. port of entry (i.e., arrival airport). ESTA registration usually only takes a few minutes to complete, authorization often arrives in seconds, and it is valid for two years, unless the traveler’s passport expires within that two-year period. In those cases, ESTA validity is limited to the passport’s validity.


 

Q.5 If I am a third-country national living in Pakistan, can I apply for a nonimmigrant visa in Pakistan?

Applicants are generally advised to apply in their country of nationality or residence. Any person who is legally present in Pakistan may apply for a visa in Pakistan. 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.


 

Q.6 Do all nonimmigrant visa applicants have to come to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate for an interview?

Yes, for most applicants. There are only a few exceptions to the interview requirement. For details on visa classes exempted from the Interview, please visit “Renew my Visa” and “US VISA APPLICATION PROCESS for Applicants under 14 and over 79”. The following applicants generally do not have to appear in person:

  • Applicants for A-1, A-2 (official travelers on central government business), C-2, C-3 (central government officials in transit on central government business) or G-1, G-2, G-3, G-4 (central government officials traveling in connection with an international organization, or employees of an international organization)

 

Q.7 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?

Each nonimmigrant visa application is a separate process. You must apply in the normal manner, even if you had a visa before and even if your current nonimmigrant visa is still valid.


 

Q.8 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. (Example: 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.


 

Q.9 I have dual citizenship. Which passport should I use to travel to the United States?

If one of your nationalities is not American, 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.


 

Q.10 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.


 

Q.11 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.


 

Q.12 What is “administrative processing?”

Some visa applications require further administrative processing, which takes additional time after your interview with a consular officer. This web page on the Consular Affairs website has more information about administrative processing.


 

Q.13 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 embassy or consulate 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.

Further information about interpreting your visa can be found at the Department of State’s Consular Affairs website.

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