Non-Immigrant Visa FAQ

We’ve made a list of our most common questions. If you can’t find the answer here,look through the blog and leave us a comment. We’ll respond to your question as soon as we can.

Application Procedures

How do I apply for a nonimmigrant visa?
Please see the step-by-step application procedures at the Nonimmigrant Visas webpage.

My nonimmigrant visa has expired.  How do I renew my visa?

If you are not a first time applicant, you may be eligible for an appointment without interview through the Visa Reissuance Program (VRP).  See our blog post on VRPs and look at our website to see if you are qualified.

The available interview schedule is late for my intended date of travel. Is it possible to get an earlier appointment?
Early interviews are occsaionally granted in limited cases and pressing circumstances –  see the Early Appointments webpage for more information.

Can I use my valid tourist visa to take a short course of study in the United States or do I need to apply for another visa?

Check out our post here!

Interview Process

Why are the visa interviews so short. The interviewer hardly looked at my supporting documents?

In a typical 8-hour day, a consular officer may need to interview 150 applicants or more. We want to make sure that as many qualified applicants can visit as possibe. Also, the application form, if completed thoroughly, contains most of the information needed to adjudicate the visa. Additional documents are examined only if the consular officer needs  further clarification.

If I present a letter of guarantee of return from my U.S. sponsor, will I get a visa?
A letter of guarantee is insufficient to fully establish an applicant’s qualifications for a visa, or to establish the applicant’s social, family, and economic ties to the Philippines.  U.S. law requires that each applicant qualify for a visa based upon his or her own circumstances.

I am a U.S. citizen, can I accompany my relatives/friends to their nonimmigrant visa interview?

Only nonimmigrant visa applicants and parents of minor (unmarried 17 years old and below) applicants are allowed in the interviewing area. American citizens and US Lawful Permanent Residents are not allowed to accompany nonimmigrant visa applicants to the interviewing area.

My parents are not fluent in English. Can I accompany them to the interview and act as interpreter?

See our post on interpreters!

 

Eligibility

How do you decide whether or not to issue a nonimmigrant visa?

With few exceptions, nonimmigrant visa applications are evaluated under Section 214(b) of the United States Immigration and Nationality Act, which states, in part, that every applicant for a nonimmigrant visa ”. . .shall be presumed to be an immigrant until (s)he establishes to the satisfaction of the consular officer, at the time of application for a visa, . . .that (s)he is entitled to nonimmigrant status. . . .”   This statutory presumption of immigration may be overcome by demonstrating sufficiently strong familial, social, professional and economic ties to a country outside the United States that would compel return after a temporary stay in the United States.

 If refused, how soon can I apply again?

If you were refused under Section 221(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, you need to submit more information. You do not need to make another appointment or pay another application fee. You have one year to comply with the requirement of the 221(g) letter.

If you were refused under Section 214(b) or any other section, you may reapply as soon as you can pay the application fee and schedule an appointment through the call center or the online appointment system. While on a second interview you will meet with a different officer, please be aware that you must still demonstrate strong ties to your country.  In most cases, it is better to wait until your personal circumstances have changed significantly before reapplying. Quick reapplications based largely on the hope of finding a consul more inclined to issue may result in a second refusal.

Can I still qualify for a tourist visa if I have a pending immigrant petition?
Having an immigrant petition on file is not grounds for an automatic refusal for a non-immigrant visa. The consular officer reviewing your nonimmigrant visa application will require strong evidence that you are not intending to immigrate at this time and that you are returning to the Philippines after your planned and temporary visit to the United States.

Can the fiancee or spouse of a U.S. citizen apply for a non-immigrant visa?

A foreign national engaged or married to a U.S. citizen must prove that s/he is not an intending immigrant. This is usually difficult to do, as the fact that an individual is engaged to a U.S. citizen is usually considered evidence of intent to immigrate. The consular officer reviewing the nonimmigrant visa application will require strong evidence that he/she is not intending to immigrate at this time and that he/she is returning to the Philippines after his/her planned and temporary visit to the United States.

 

Issuance and Validity

What is the validity of my visa and how long can I stay in the United States?

A nonimmigrant visa is valid for use before its expiration date provided that it is in good condition and has not been tampered with or altered in any way.  The validity of the visa is the period where a traveler can enter the United States.

The consular officer issues the visa, but the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officer at the U.S. port of entry determines how long you can stay. USCIS generally grants permission for the amount of time needed for purpose of the visit. If you want to stay longer, submit a request for extension to the USCIS. Without an extension, you may become ineligible to visit the U.S. in the future.

How can I ask the status of my application?

Have a look at our post on checking your status online. You can also check your status by calling (02)301-2104. The Nonimmigrant Visas helpline is available from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, Manila time.  Applicants can also send an email to ConsManilaNIV@state.gov.  When you inquire, please provide your full name, passport number, and date of birth.

Other Questions

I want to know why my employees’ visa applications were denied.  Can I speak to the consular officer about their cases?

Under United States law, visa records are confidential.  The Nonimmigrant Visa Unit will only respond to visa inquiries from the applicant or from the applicant’s legal representative with a signed Form G-28 (Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Representative). The Form G-28 should be signed by the applicants and sent to the Nonimmigrant Visa Unit at ConsManilaNIV@state.gov .  In cases of minor applicants, inquiries should come from one or both parents.

Should I buy my plane ticket before getting a visa?
We do not recommend purchasing tickets before qualifying for a visa.  If your travel depends requires a U.S. visa, you should make no irrevocable travel plans until your visa is approved and your passport returned to you.

42 thoughts on “Non-Immigrant Visa FAQ

  1. Hi! I and my husband are working and residing in another country and will go for short vacation in our home country. Can I apply for the tourist visa from our home country? But we’ll have to return back to where we are presently working after a month. When should we book for an appointment?

    • Hi MRSN. Any person who is legally present in a country may apply for his/her visa in that country. However, applicants are generally advised to apply in their country of nationality or residence. It is generally easiest to demonstrate your strong ties abroad in the country where you permanently reside.
      Applicants are advised to book their appointment 3 months before the intended date of travel. You may check the available slots in our Online Appointment System or thru our call center. The soonest you check, the more possibility that you will get a slot appropriate to your situation.We hope you will be able to set your appointment on your preferred date

  2. Hello ! I just wanted to know how I can apply as a tourist visa in US ? What are the requirements needed ? Pano Kung yung long time friend ko ang mag sponsor sa akin para maka visit sa US , ano mga documents need Nya isend for me to be able to get US VISITING VISA .
    Ok LNG po ba kht wala me work dito sa pinas , pero may sarili me public vehicle na source of income ko .
    May bank account ako pero hnd kalakihan savings ko .
    Thanks a lot .

    • HI Mary Grace. Hindi mahalaga ang mga dokumento na ipapadala ng iyong sponsor. Ang pagbabasehan pa rin ng Consular Officer ay ang iyong mga rason para bumalik ng Pilipinas, gaya ng stable na trabaho, pamilya, mga pag-aari at iba pa.

      Visa applications are adjudicated based on individual merits, consistent with criteria specified in the Immigration and Nationality Act, as amended, and the Federal regulations issued pursuant to it. Consular officers are required to deny visas to applicants who cannot qualify under the law and to issue visas to those applicants who do qualify. Consular officers cannot issue visas based on the assurances of family members, friends or interested third parties, on the reputation or integrity of the party recommending the applicant, or on the ability of a sponsor to provide financial support. Rather, the decision simply reflects the visa applicant’s inability to qualify for a visa at the time of application. So For more information, please check our blog posts:

      Interview and Supporting Documents: What you Say and Not what you Show Matters
      Documentation (NIV)

  3. My dad passed away and I want my mom to come and stay with me for sometime in USA. She is around 70 and could not stand for longer time due to medical reasons and also could not handle interview paperwork on her own. Need a wheelchair. I am us citizen but want to accompany my mom to interview and help her move and also with paperwork, she can give the interview on her own. Can I accompany her for these reasons? Pls. Help or how can I seek permission to accompany her. Thx.

  4. Non Immigrant visa.
    Myself, spouse and three daughter applied for non immigrant visa in year 2009, at which time visa validity was for 5 years, and is due to expire in July 2014.
    We are Pakistani nationals, however stay in Qatar holding residence permit.
    How do we renew non immigrant visa for USA ?

    • Hi Bhimji Imtiaz. If you hold legal status in Qatar, you can apply for new visas there. However, applicants are generally advised to apply in their country of nationality or residence. It is generally easiest to demonstrate your strong ties abroad in the country where you permanently reside. For the NIV application process you need to comply with the requirements provided at the Nonimmigrant Visas website .

  5. How soon do i need to travel to the US after my visa is issued?
    For example: Can i apply for a visa in May, and travel only in December?

    Thanks.

    • Hi Meenakshi. Your nonimmigrant visa is valid for use before its expiration date provided that it is in good condition and has not been tampered with or altered in any way. However, please be aware that a visa may only be used to apply for entry to the United States. Visa holders are subject to inspection at the port of entry by United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers who have the sole authority to allow or deny anyone admission.

      If your purpose is to visit/ travel to the US temporarily, you may opt to apply for a tourist (B1/B2) visa. The application procedures and requirements are provided in the Nonimmigrant Visa website. You will be assessed by the Consular Officer based on your social, familial, professional, economic ties to a country outside the United States that would compel return after your temporary stay in the US.

      To know more about Demonstrating Ties, you may read on our blog post 214(b) Refusals.

  6. My wife and I plan to visit the US in December. if i am granted a visa in May, will it still be valid for entry into the US in December?

    Thanks.
    Regards

    • Hi Cedric. Your nonimmigrant visa is valid for use before its expiration date provided that it is in good condition and has not been tampered with or altered in any way. However, please be aware that a visa may only be used to apply for entry to the United States. Visa holders are subject to inspection at the port of entry by United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers who have the sole authority to allow or deny anyone admission. Thank you.

      For more information about visa, please check our blog post “Understanding Your Visa (NIV)

    • Hi Elsa. Your can apply for a visitor visa if you want to visit your husband in the United States. To apply for the nonimmigrant visitor (B1/B2) visa, you need to comply with the requirements provided at the Nonimmigrant Visas website. Your eligibility for the visa will be determined by a consular officer at the time of interview. To qualify for the visa, you should be able to demonstrate sufficiently strong familial, social, professional and economic ties to a country outside the United States that would compel return after your temporary stay in the United States. If qualified for the visa, the consular officer would also determine the validity of your visa. Please click here to read our blog post about visa validity.Thank you.

  7. Hi,
    Im planning to visit my childre aged ,,23,19,16 yrs old qll girls i missed them so much,,been 8yrs that i never seen them,,i want to surprise visit them in US ,,do i need an invitation letter as this is a surprise visit for them,,i have enough documents to show that i am returning to my home country,,,i only want to see them misss them so much,,,can i apply tourist visa even no invitation letter from them,,thank u

  8. Hi,

    Im planning to visit my children aged 23,19,16 all girls ,,its been 8 yrs that i havent seen them ,,i want to surprise visit them ,,do i need invitation letter from them ,,but they dont know im planning to see them,,,i have enough docmunets to show,,do i need invitation letter from my children ,,,pls reply thank u

  9. dear sir,madam i want to visit my friends in the USA, specially the child that i took care since birth when she was still here, they left philippines around 2009 and that time she was 4 yrs old then, and now she was turning 9 yrs old this yr. i really wan to see her and i want to visit her. kindly advise on want kind of visa should my case will fall?. please help me. btw i am 40yrs old.

    • HI Teodora. If you intend to have a temporary visit in the US,you may apply for a B1/B2 visa. To apply for the nonimmigrant visitor (B1/B2) visa, you need to comply with the requirements provided at the Nonimmigrant Visas website . Your eligibility for the visa will be determined by a consular officer at the time of interview.
      To qualify for the visa, you should be able to demonstrate sufficiently strong familial, social, professional and economic ties to a country outside the United States that would compel return after her temporary stay in the United States.

  10. Hi, i would like to ask because i have applied for a non-immigrant visa three times but i was denied three times too. I need to know if the status of the father of my three bilological kids and my three kids as permanent resident of the United States of America is a ground for my disqualification for such visa. The reason for my application for a non-immigrant visa is for me to spend summer vacation with my kids in US as they are currently studying in the Philippines and they go to the US for summer break.Thanks

    • Hi Pamela, the status of the father of your children is not a ground for disqualification for a US visa. In general, nonimmigrant visa applications will be evaluated under Section 214(b) of the United States Immigration and Nationality Act, which states, in part, that every applicant for a nonimmigrant visa ”. . .shall be presumed to be an immigrant until (s)he establishes to the satisfaction of the consular officer, at the time of application for a visa, . . .that (s)he is entitled to nonimmigrant status. . . .” This statutory presumption of immigration may be overcome by demonstrating sufficiently strong familial, social, professional and economic ties to a country outside the United States that would compel return after a temporary stay in the United States.

  11. Hi my case status was ready May 23 2014 but when I checked it, it says check after 2business days , but now it’s already May 29 2014 and I’m sure it passed 2 business days but it just pop up and say the same thing. What should i do its already been a week.

    • Hi Bettina. Your case went under administrative processing hence the additional business days processing time. By now, you should have received your passport with visa.

  12. Hi! I am a US tourist visa holder and have recently applied for a tourist visa for both of my 70 years old parents due interview next month. I have filled out the portion in the application that I will be financing their trip for both of them and is wondering now if I should have to be present during their interview to better support my documents and capability to sponsor them. Is it necessary or is it something like my documents will speak on my behalf? Thank you very much!

  13. Good day! I just want to ask what things can I do for me to successfully apply for a tourist visa in the United States? By the way I was issued an H4 visa last 2011 but unfortunately it expired by then as I’ve turned the ahe of 21. My mom works in the US and Im planning to visit her. Also she is the one who will be responsible to shoulder my expenses while in the US. Any suggestions that would greatly help me. Thank you in advance! :)

    • Hi Raymund. Every applicant must qualify on his/her own merits. To qualify for the visa, you should be able to demonstrate sufficiently strong familial, social, professional and economic ties to a country outside the United States that would compel return after your temporary stay in the United States. Ties are various aspects of one’s life that bind one to his/her country of residence, like one’s profession, employment, social and family relationships, and properties. All of these factors are considered in the process, and U.S. Immigration Law requires that the visa application be refused if these strong ties are not apparent.
      For more information, please see our blog posts:

      Documentation
      Interview and Supporting Documents: What you Say and Not what you Show Matters (NIV)

  14. Hi. I just want to ask about whether i would still need a US visa if ill just accompany a sick patient going back to LA? The situation would be as soon as the ambulance in LA would arrive to pick up my patient in the airplane id be on my way back to the Philippines. If possible, i wont be even getting out from the plane.

    • Hi, Henry. You would need a nonimmigrant transit (C-1) visa even if you would only be staying in the airport. To apply for a transit visa, please comply with the requirements provided in our website. Thank you.

  15. Hi! I’m a single, self-employed female in my 20s. Traveling to the US is one of my short term goals so I would like to apply for one for future travel. How far in advanced can I apply for a VISA? If issued a VISA, how long would it be valid for? Thank you!

    • Hi Cacai. To apply, you need to comply with the requirements provided at the Nonimmigrant Visas website. To qualify for the visitor visa, you should be able to demonstrate sufficiently strong familial, social, professional and economic ties to a country outside the United States that would compel departure after your temporary stay in the United States. You may wish to read our blog post about visitor visas here.
      Visa applicants are advised to plan their travel accordingly. Apply early to avoid problems securing an interview appointment. The typical wait time to receive an interview appointment is not more than two weeks. However, we are aware that there are unforeseen or emergency cases that would need expedited appointments and visa processing.
      The consular officer issues the visa, but the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officer at the U.S. port of entry determines how long you can stay. USCIS generally grants permission for the amount of time needed for purpose of the visit. Thank you.

  16. Have a good day to you Madam/Sir
    I would like to ask, My daughter’s father his american citizen but we are not married. He wants our daughter will visit him so that she can meet the family in states. My daughter is 9months old only. If its possible that I can file also for my visa together with my daughter? We are residing here in Philippines… Thank you so much!

    • Hi Rozie. You are welcome to apply for a visa if you intend to travel to the U.S. The type of visa you would need to apply for would depend on your purpose of travel. Please visit our website for information on U.S visas. If the purpose of your trip is only to visit the U.S. temporarily then you can apply for a nonimmigrant visa. Thank you.

  17. My mother and sister just got their tourist visa interview last July 14. Unfortunately they didn’t got approved. Their purpose for applying was to attend my upcoming wedding this Oct 12 here in Virginia. My mother was suppose to give me a way since my father passed away in 2008 and my sister to be my maid of honor and intended to stay for 2 weeks. I don’t have any immediate family here in the US and it is very important to me that at least my mother and sister will be here on this special day that I’ve been waiting in my entire life. Although me and my husband already got married last Christmas by his uncle who is a minister of their church in their house witnessed by 10 people to comply to the 90 day condition of my K1 visa, we still wanted to have a church/ formal wedding in front of family and friends.
    Since the consular officer told my mother and sister that they can re apply anytime, I wonder what my family or me and my husband can do to help them get a better chance of getting their Tourist Visa approved?

    • Hi Karen. They may legally reapply and speak to a different officer at any time. However, please be aware that all officers must make their decisions based on the same U.S. immigration law. Rest assured that all visa applications are given full consideration at the time of the interview.

      Also, every applicant must qualify on his/her own merits. To qualify for the visa, they should be able to demonstrate sufficiently strong familial, social, professional and economic ties to a country outside the United States that would compel return after your temporary stay in the United States. Ties are various aspects of one’s life that bind one to his/her country of residence, like one’s profession, employment, social and family relationships, and properties. All of these factors are considered in the process, and U.S. Immigration Law requires that the visa application be refused if these strong ties are not apparent. Thank you.

  18. Hi, can a friend of mine invite me to US on b1/b2 visa irrespective of their race, religion? Or is it that only a family member can send invitations to a member within their respective family on visitor visa?

    • Hi Shabeen. Visa applications are adjudicated based on individual merits, consistent with criteria specified in the Immigration and Nationality Act, as amended, and the Federal regulations issued pursuant to it. Consular officers are required to deny visas to applicants who cannot qualify under the law and to issue visas to those applicants who do qualify. Consular officers cannot issue visas based on the assurances of family members, friends or interested third parties, on the reputation or integrity of the party recommending the applicant, or on the ability of a sponsor to provide financial support. Rather, the decision simply reflects the visa applicant’s inability to qualify for a visa at the time of application. Thank you.

  19. Hello po..ask ko lang po if may chance po ba ako makakuha ng tourist visa..my boyfriend is a us citizen..gusto po ng boyfriend ko at ng mother nya na e sponsoran ako..okey lang po ba yun kahit wala akong trabaho and hindi ako nkapag college… Maraming salamat po

    • Belle, an applicant’s eligibility for a nonimmigrant visa will be determined by a consular officer at the time of interview. To qualify for the visa, you should be able to demonstrate sufficiently strong familial, social, professional and economic ties to a country outside the United States that would compel departure after a temporary stay in the United States. Ties are various aspects of one’s life that bind one to his/her country of residence, like one’s profession, employment, social and family relationships, and properties. More information about nonimmigrant visas is provided in our website: http://manila.usembassy.gov/niv-application.html.

  20. Dear Sir/Ma’am,
    I have received my B1/B2 visa good for 10 yrs however my name is listed on the passport as (Surname-BLANK + Given name-XXXXX YYYYY) however on the visa its listed as (Surname-YYYYY+ Given name-XXXXX ). I wanted to reach out to you if you had any issues entering into US with your visa. I would be traveling to US this month and want to ensure that I don’t run into any issues there. Any info you would be able to provide would be greatly appreciated. Best Regards

    • Hi Didar. You can send an email to the Nonimmigrant Visa Unit at ConsManilaNIV@state.gov to inquire about your visa. Or call the NIV helpline (02)301-2104, anytime from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. In general, if there is an error on the visa, the passport with visa should be sent back to the Nonimmigrant Visa Unit via 2GO courier. Please include a letter that clearly states the error. The Nonimmigrant Visa Unit will determine the legitimacy of all visa correction requests.Thank you.

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