Consular Processing NonImmigrant Visa

Frequently Asked Questions & Answers

1. What is Consular Processing of nonimmigrant visa?

Consular Processing of nonimmigrant visa is the process by which you apply for a nonimmigrant visa at a U.S. consulate overseas if you are outside the U.S.

2. What are the documents required for Consular Processing of nonimmigrant visa?

You will require the following documents to apply for a nonimmigrant visa:

  1. A completed Form DS-156, Nonimmigrant Visa Application form
  2. Two recent (taken within the last six months) black and white or color photographs of size 50mm x 50mm
  3. A passport endorsed for travel abroad and valid for return to your country of residence or re-entry into another country. Business travelers, tourists, and other short-term visitors must have a passport valid for at least six months after the intended date of departure from the U.S.
  4. Evidence establishing social, economic, and other ties that would compel your departure from the U.S. after a temporary and lawful stay
  5. Visa application fee
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3. Do I need a consulate interview if I have traveled to the U.S. before?

No, a visa application drop-off system is available for repeat travelers to the U.S. You also have the option of scheduling a regular visa interview at the Consular Section, if you do not wish to participate in this program.

4. What are the requirements if I have to apply for Consular Processing of nonimmigrant visa through the drop-box system?

The requirements for the drop-box system are that you:

  1. Hold a previous U.S. visa in your private or public affairs passport
  2. Are applying for the same class of U.S. visa
  3. Have not been refused a U.S. visa since you last traveled to the U.S.
  4. Traveled to the U.S. within the last five years on a private passport or within the last two years on a public affairs passport
  5. Did not exceed time limit authorized by the U.S. immigration officer for the stay in the U.S.

5. What is Section 221(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act?

Section 221(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (the Act) of 1952, as amended, prohibits the issuance of a visa to anyone whose application does not comply with the provisions of the Act and State Department regulations. In practice, it means that sometimes nonimmigrant visa seekers do not provide complete information or documentation necessary for a nonimmigrant visa issuance, or the Consular officer has to apply certain administrative procedures to a nonimmigrant visa application.

6. What should I do if my nonimmigrant visa application has been refused under Section 221(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act?

Any visa applicant refused under Section 221(g) for administrative procedures will be contacted by the Consular Section as soon as the process is complete in order to continue the visa interview. Requests for 221(g) appointments take a shorter amount of time to process, but requests should be made several days in advance to ensure that the desired date of application can be given.

7. What is Section 214(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act?

Section 214(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) states that ‘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’.

8. Is a denial under Section 214(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act permanent?

No, if you have new information which was not presented to the interviewing officer at the time of your first application or if your overall circumstances have changed significantly since your last application and you can now better establish convincing ties outside of the U.S., you may reapply.

9. How long do I have to wait before I reapply for Consular Processing of nonimmigrant visa?

There is no time restriction on reapplying for a nonimmigrant visa after a denial. If you have additional information or supporting documentation to present which is substantially different from your initial application you are encouraged to reapply.

Note: If your circumstances are unchanged and you will present only evidence which has already been reviewed recently by an officer, your chances of gaining approval on a second or third application are much lower. In such cases, it is probably better to wait until your personal circumstances have changed significantly before reapplying.

10. What constitutes ‘strong ties’ for the purpose of a nonimmigrant visa?

The meaning of ‘strong ties’ differs 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 like your possessions, employment, social and family relationships.

11. Is it true that it is better to say that I am going for business than for tourism or to see relatives during a nonimmigrant visa interview?

No, you should always tell the truth during a visa interview. If your ties to your residence abroad are adequate to overcome the presumption of immigrant intent, a tourist visa will be issued. Problems arise if you mislead the interviewing officer as to your intent in visiting the U.S. Once a misrepresentation is made, it is difficult to believe other information you have supplied.

12. How long can I stay in the U.S. once I have an approved nonimmigrant visa?

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) at the port of entry will determine how long you may remain in the U.S. In the past, the USCIS granted a minimum stay of six months in the U.S. Recent changes though now instruct the USCIS to grant a maximum stay of thirty days in the U.S. However, you may be granted a stay of longer than thirty days if you can justify reasons for a longer stay when you enter the U.S.

13. Why does the U.S. have such strict immigration laws?

The U.S. is an open society. Unlike many other countries, the U.S. does not impose internal controls on visitors, such as registration with local authorities. In order to enjoy the privilege of unencumbered travel in the U.S., you have a responsibility to prove you are going to return to your home country before a visitor or student visa is issued. U.S. immigration law requires consular officers to view every visa applicant as an intending immigrant until you prove otherwise.

14. Can the Consular officer be influenced to reverse a decision?

No, 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 you possess the required residence abroad, is a factual one. Therefore, it falls exclusively within the authority of consular officers at U.S. Foreign Service posts to resolve. You can influence the post to change a prior visa denial only through the presentation of new convincing evidence of strong ties.