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usa FAQ USA Visa

Frequently Asked Questions – Students

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 (unless country-specific agreements provide exemptions).

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

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 U.S. to determine if you are eligible for the VWP.

What is the fee for ESTA(Electronic System for Travel Authorization) 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.

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.

If I am a third-country national living in the India, can I apply for a nonimmigrant visa in New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad or Kolkata?

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.

Do all nonimmigrant visa applicants have to come to the Embassy 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:

Applicants who are renewing their visa may be eligible for the Interview Waiver Program. Please visit the page http://cdn.ustraveldocs.com/in/in-niv-visarenew.asp for more information about interview waiver eligibility.
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 either of the parents have a valid nonimmigrant visa.
Applicants over 80.

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 Program. Please visit the page http://cdn.ustraveldocs.com/in/in-niv-visarenew.asp for further information.

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 (unless the name change was due to marriage), and both passports must be from the same country and of the same type (i.e., both tourist passports and both diplomatic passports).
If your name changed due to marriage, you can travel to the United States with both passports as well as your marriage certificate.

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.

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.

Must I submit my visa application form electronically?

Yes, you must complete the DS-160 and bring a printed copy of the the DS-160 confirmation page with you when you go for your interview at the U.S. Embassy/Consulate and at Visa Application Centre for Biometric.

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 they apply. Most administrative processing is resolved within 60 days of the visa interview.

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

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.

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 non-immigrant traveller.The admission stamp will show the date of admission,class of admission, and the date the traveller is admitted until.Travelers will also receive on arrival a flier alerting them to go to www.cbp.gov/I94 for their admission record information.This online record replaces the paper I-94 form. Visa Waiver Program travelers receive Form 1-94W. On this form , the officer records either a date or “D/S” (duration of status). If your I-94 record a specific date, then that is the date by which you must leave the united states. You can review information about admission on the CBP Website .The Department of State’s Consular Affairs website has more information about duration of stay.

I did not turn in my I-94 when I left the United States. What should I do?

On April 30, 2013, U.S. Customs and Border Protection stopped issuing paper I-94 forms in lieu of a digital record. If you received a paper I-94 form and did not surrender it upon leaving the United States, please follow the directions at https://help.cbp.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/752/kw/i94 .
If you entered the U.S. after April 30, 2013, you do not need to take any action, as your departure from the U.S. is automatically recorded.

I have questions on submitting my DS-160 and printing the confirmation page. Where can I go for more information?

Our call center is unable to provide assistance on the application form. Any inquiries on completing the DS-160 can be addressed on the following website, http://travel.state.gov/visa/forms/forms_4401.html.

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.
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.

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.

Is a denial under Section 214(b) permanent?

No. The consular officer will reconsider a case if an applicant can show further convincing evidence of ties outside the United States. 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 review carefully their situation and realistically evaluate their ties. They may write down on paper what qualifying ties they think they have which may not have been evaluated at the time of their interview with the consular officer. Also, if they have been refused, they should review what documents were submitted for the consul to consider. 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 answer 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 apply for a visa, regardless of whether a visa is issued and each time they reply, will have to complete new DS160 visa form.

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.
For information about visa ineligibilities other than 214(b), please visit the Department of State’s Consular Affairs website.

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.

My visitor visa (B-1/B-2) expires after my intended date of arrival in the United States. Do I need to get a new visa before departure?

You can arrive in the United States right up to the last date of validity indicated on the visa. The Customs and Border Protection officer on arrival determines the duration of your stay in the United States. Your visa can expire while you are still in the United States – just be sure that you do not overstay the period of time the officer grants.

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.

I currently hold a valid B-1/B-2 visa, which is in my maiden name, in my old passport. I wish to transfer this visa to my new passport, which is in my married name. What is the procedure?

U.S. visas cannot be transferred from one passport to another. You can travel to the United States with both passports as well as your marriage certificate, or you can apply for a new visa.

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 annoted with your previous company name then you cannot travel on the same visa and need to apply fresh.

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 (or travel under the Visa Waiver Program, if eligible) to visit your child, you may not live with your child unless you have your own immigrant, work, or student visa.

I have a previous B1 visa that is going to expire next month. Can I apply for a B1/B2 visa under Interview Waiver Program ?

You can check your qualifications for the Interview Waiver Program at http://www.ustraveldocs.com/in/in-niv-visarenew.asp.