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FAQ About Visa

Q.1 How soon should I apply for my appointment?

Apply early! The wait times for appointments by post are available at the Department of State Travel site.

Although the majority of applications are processed and ready to pick up within a few business days, some applications will require administrative processing. We cannot predict in advance which applications will require administrative processing, nor do we know how long it will take. Please apply at least 6-8 weeks before you plan to travel, and do not book plane tickets or hotels until you have a visa.

Q.2 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).

Q.3 My passport is damaged or expiring soon, but I want to apply for a U.S. visa. What should I do?

Please obtain a new passport before your interview if:
  • Your passport is going to expire in less than 6 months after the time you enter the United States.
  • The film on the biographic data pages of your passport (i.e., page with your photo and back page with your parents' information) is peeling, or
  • Your passport is otherwise torn, damaged, mutilated or has been washed or laundered.

Q.4 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.

Q.5 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.

Q.6 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.7 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.

Q.8 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 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.

Q.9 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 for further information.

Q.10 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.

Q.11 I have accidentally damaged my U.S. visa. Do I need to reapply?

If your visa has been damaged, you will need to reapply for a new visa. If your visa was issued recently, you may not need to have a new interview. More information is available in the Renew My Visa section of our website.

Q.12 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.

Q.13 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.

Q.14 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.

Q.15 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. This web page on the Consular Affairs website has more information about administrative processing.

Q.16 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.

Q.17 My visa was printed incorrectly. What do I do?

If you think your visa was printed incorrectly, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and explain why you think there is an error. If necessary, we will provide instructions on how to submit your passport.

Q.18 Why does my visa say "FNU"?

If you have only one name or if your name appears in only one line in your passport, then on the visa your full name will only be printed in the surname field and "First Name Unknown", or "FNU," will be printed in the given name field.

Q.19 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. You can find more information here

Q.20 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 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.

Q.21 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

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.

Q.22 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,

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