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Nonimmigrant and tourist visas

Find out how to work in the U.S. or visit as a student or tourist. Learn how to renew your visa and what to do if your visa is lost.

How to apply for or renew a U.S. tourist visa

If you visit the U.S. for tourism or business, you may need a visitor visa, also known as a tourist visa. Learn how to get and renew this type of nonimmigrant visa.

How to check the status of your visa application

Find out how to check the status of your visa application online. And to avoid delays, learn how to update your address if you move while waiting for your visa to be approved.

What happens if your visa application is rejected

Find out what to do if your visa is denied, and learn if you are eligible for a waiver of grounds of inadmissibility.

Foreign visitors: what to do if your visa or passport is lost or stolen

If you are in the U.S. and your visa or passport was lost or stolen, learn how to report it and apply for a new one.

Get a student visa to study in the U.S.

To study in the U.S. as an international student, you must get a student visa. Learn about the types of student visas, how to apply, and if you can work while you study.

Nonimmigrant work visas

Learn about the different nonimmigrant temporary work visa categories and how to apply.

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Expedite Requests

ALERT:  If you are a healthcare worker or a childcare worker

If you are a healthcare worker or a childcare worker

  • Who has a pending Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, initial application, which has been pending for over 90 days; OR
  • Who has a pending Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, renewal  application and whose Employment Authorization Document (EAD) expires within 30 days or less, or has already expired:

Call the USCIS Contact Center at 800-375-5283 (TTY 800-767-1833) to request expedited processing based on your position as a healthcare worker or a childcare worker with an EAD application that meets the above criteria.

To determine whether you are a qualifying healthcare worker, see this  DHS advisory memorandum (“Healthcare/Public Health” section, pages 7-9) (PDF) .

To determine whether you are a qualifying childcare worker, see the  Standard Occupational Classification (SOC)  code 39-9011, which includes workers who “attend to children at schools, businesses, private households, and childcare institutions” and “perform a variety of tasks, such as dressing, feeding, bathing, and overseeing play.” (Note that this definition does not include preschool teachers or teaching assistants.)

Be prepared to provide evidence of your profession or current or immediate prospective employment as a healthcare worker or a childcare worker and current valid immigration status. If the evidence you provide is not sufficient, we may not accommodate your request for expedited processing of your Form I-765.

You may request that USCIS expedite the adjudication of an application, petition, request, appeal, or motion that is under USCIS jurisdiction.

We consider all expedite requests on a case-by-case basis and generally require documentation to support such requests. The decision to expedite is within the sole discretion of USCIS. Expediting your case generally means that we would adjudicate your benefit ahead of others, including those who may have filed earlier, so we carefully weigh the urgency and merit of each expedite request.

Relevant criteria or circumstances that may be considered in determining whether to grant an expedite request include, but are not limited to, the below:

  • Severe financial loss to a company or person, provided that the need for urgent action is not the result of the petitioner’s or applicant’s failure to timely file the benefit request or to timely respond to any requests for evidence;
  • Emergencies or urgent humanitarian situations;
  • Nonprofit organization (as designated by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)) whose request is in furtherance of the cultural or social interests of the United States;
  • Government interests, including cases identified by the government as urgent because they involve the public interest, public safety, national interest, or national security interests; and
  • Clear USCIS error.

Not every circumstance that fits under the criteria or examples above will result in expedited processing. See more information below on expedite criteria and circumstances. For USCIS’  expedite policy guidance , see Volume 1 of the USCIS Policy Manual.

Note:   The processes and requirements for requesting expedited adjudication are different for some application types and circumstances. Refer to the chart in the Specific Procedures section of this page for more information about expedite requests related to:

  • Appeals or motions
  • Refugee status
  • Petition for refugee/asylee relative
  • Humanitarian parole
  • T nonimmigrant status
  • U nonimmigrant status
  • Other benefit requests pending with offices outside the United States

A company can demonstrate that it would suffer a severe financial loss if it is at risk of failing, losing a critical contract, or required to lay off other employees.

Job loss may be sufficient to establish severe financial loss for a person, depending on the individual circumstances. The need to obtain employment authorization, standing alone, without evidence of other compelling factors, does not warrant expedited treatment.

Examples may include:

  • A medical office that may suffer severe financial loss if a gap in a doctor’s employment authorization would require the medical practice to lay off its medical assistants.
  • A person who would lose critical public benefits or services.

In the context of an expedite request, an emergency or urgent humanitarian situation is a pressing or critical circumstance related to human welfare. Human welfare means issues related to the well-being of a person or group. Examples include, but are not limited to, illness, disability, death of a family member or close friend, or extreme living conditions, such as those caused by natural catastrophes or armed conflict.

NOTE:  Certain benefit requests, such as asylum applications, refugee applications, and requests for humanitarian parole, by their nature involve urgent humanitarian situations. Therefore, filing a humanitarian-based benefit, standing alone, without evidence of other time-sensitive or compelling factors, generally may not warrant expedited treatment under this criterion.

Examples of emergencies or urgent humanitarian situations may include:

  • A vulnerable person whose safety may be otherwise compromised.
  • Healthcare workers who are needed during a pandemic.

Travel-Related Requests

USCIS considers expedited processing of an Application for Travel Document ( Form I-131 ) when there is a pressing or critical need for an applicant to travel outside the United States.

Expedited processing of a travel document may be warranted when there is an unexpected need to travel outside the United States for an unplanned event, such as for a funeral. Expedited processing of a travel document may also be warranted when there is a pressing or critical need to travel outside the United States for a planned event, but processing times prevent USCIS from issuing the travel document by the planned date of departure. When there is a request to expedite processing of a travel document for a planned event, we will consider whether the applicant timely filed  Form I-131 or timely responded to a request for evidence.

NOTE:  A benefit requestor’s desire to travel solely for vacation generally does not meet the definition of a pressing or critical need to travel.

We generally require documentation to support an expedite request. Examples of evidence that may support travel-related expedite requests are outlined in the following table.

Examples of a pressing or critical need to travel outside the United States may include:

  • A requestor who has a pressing or critical need to travel outside the United States to obtain medical treatment in a limited amount of time.
  • A requestor who has a pressing or critical need to travel outside the United States due to the death or grave illness of a family member or close friend.
  • A requestor who applied for a travel document 5 months ago when they learned of the event, but their case remains pending, and they must travel for a pressing or critical professional, academic, or personal commitment, which is now in 45 days.

A nonprofit organization seeking to expedite a beneficiary’s benefit request must demonstrate an urgent need to expedite the case based on the beneficiary’s specific role within the nonprofit in furthering cultural or social interests (as opposed to the organization’s role in furthering social or cultural interests).

  • A professional who is urgently needed for research related to a specific U.S. social interest.
  • A university professor urgently needed to participate in a specific and imminent cultural program.
  • A religious organization that urgently needs a beneficiary’s specific services and skill set to continue a vital social outreach program.

This includes cases identified as urgent by a federal, state, tribal, territorial, or local government of the United States because they involve public interest, public safety, national interest, or national security interests. The request must be made by a person who has authority to represent the agency or department, such as an official, manager, supervisor, or tribal leader, on the matter for which expedited treatment is being requested. The request must demonstrate that the interests are pressing and substantive.

Where a federal agency or department is able to state a federal government interest in accordance with these criteria, we generally defer to that federal agency or department’s assessment.

If the request relates to employment authorization, the request must demonstrate that the need for the applicant to be authorized to work is critical to the mission of the requesting agency or department, and goes beyond a general need to retain a particular worker or person.

  • A noncitizen victim or witness who is cooperating with a federal, state, or local agency and needs employment authorization because the respective agency is seeking back pay or reinstatement in court proceedings.
  • A noncitizen scientist whose contributions are needed by a government lab or grantee.

USCIS may consider an expedite request based on clear USCIS error when a requestor establishes an urgent need to correct the error.

An example may include:

  • An applicant who receives an Employment Authorization Document with incorrect information that prevents them from being able to work may request a replacement document on an expedited basis if we caused the error.

You generally may request we expedite your case after you receive a receipt notice. (The process to request an expedite is different in some circumstances. See the Specific Procedures section below.)

Before submitting an expedite request, you should:

  • Check current  case processing times to determine whether you need an expedite.
  • Check your  case status online . If there is an action on your case pending with you, such as submitting biometrics or evidence, you should complete these actions before submitting an expedite request.
  • Check whether  premium processing service is available. We will not consider expedite requests for petitions and applications where premium processing service is available, unless the petitioner is designated as a nonprofit organization by the IRS and filing for a beneficiary whose services are needed to further the cultural or social interests of the United States.

Please make only one expedite request to reduce duplicate efforts and help us use our resources for quicker processing. Multiple requests may delay USCIS’s ability to expedite processing.

Expedite Requests for Travel Documents

If you are requesting expedited processing of a  travel document , you generally need to apply for and obtain the document before you leave the United States. You should make your expedite request on your pending application at least 45 days before you plan to leave the United States. (If you must travel within the next 15 days, see the  Emergency Travel page.)

For most cases, you may request an expedite by contacting the  USCIS Contact Center or by asking Emma.  (You can access Emma by clicking on the Ask Emma icon on the top right of this page). You need to explain why you need expedited processing. You also generally need to provide your receipt number to the USCIS Contact Center so they can send your request to the office that has your application or petition. If you have a USCIS  online account and have access to secure messaging, you may select “expedite” as the reason for your inquiry and submit your request there.

You generally need to justify your expedite request with evidence. When communicating with the Contact Center, you will be asked about supporting documentation. You should be prepared to supply this to the office processing your case.

If you have a USCIS  online account , you should upload evidence through your online account to support your expedite request in addition to calling the USCIS Contact Center. If you send a secure message, we will ask you to confirm that you have uploaded evidence in your account. If we receive an expedite request without evidence to support it, we will send you instructions on how to submit the evidence.

Note: The processes and requirements to request expedited adjudication are different in some circumstances. Refer to the chart under Specific Procedures below for expedite requests related to:

  • Appeals/Motions

Some programs and circumstances have their own processes and requirements for requesting expedited adjudication and may have different expedite criteria. You should follow the specific procedures referenced below for requesting an expedite in the following circumstances:

We receive a large number of expedite requests. We generally send a response to expedite requests that are submitted through the Contact Center. However, to increase efficiency in processing expedite requests, we generally do not provide justification for expedite decisions.

A decision on an expedite request is not an approval or a denial of your underlying benefit request. The expedite decision simply determines whether we will take your benefit request out of order and try to issue a decision (approval or denial) faster than the normal processing time. We cannot make a decision on your benefit request until all processing requirements have been completed.

Some circumstances may prolong or inhibit our ability to expedite certain benefit requests. Examples include, but are not limited to, when:

  • The benefit requestor must perform a certain action or submit additional documentation or evidence related to their benefit request, such as attend a biometric services appointment, be interviewed, or complete any required   immigration medical examination ;
  • There is a required background check that remains pending with a third-party agency;
  • An application or petition requires an on-site inspection; or
  • An application or petition depends on the adjudication of a principal’s application or petition.

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Completing the DS-160

Important Notice:  Take care to answer all questions on the DS-160 accurately and completely; otherwise, you may have to correct your application and reschedule your visa interview appointment.

Electronically submitting your DS-160 online application is only the first step in the visa application process. Once you have electronically submitted your DS-160 online application, you must contact the embassy or consulate at which you wish to apply to confirm whether you need to be interviewed by a consular officer, and to schedule an interview. You can find a list of U.S. embassies and consulates  here , with links to their websites where you can find information about scheduling a visa interview appointment.  If the embassy or consulate at which you apply informs that you must have a visa interview, the visa application process cannot be completed until you appear for an interview with a consular officer.

Accessing the DS-160

Where can i find the ds-160.

Access the DS-160 here, by clicking:  Consular Electronic Application Center website .

You may wish to preview a sample DS-160 (10.1MB) before beginning.

I am having problems accessing the DS-160.

Use only Internet Explorer 11 or higher, Firefox, or Google Chrome 58 when completing your appplication. Safari and Microsoft Edge are not supported .

What documents do I need to have with me while I complete the DS-160?

You should have the following documents available while you complete your DS-160:

  • Travel itinerary , if you have already made travel arrangements.
  • Dates of your last five visits or trips to the United States , if you have previously travelled to the United States. You may also be asked for your international travel history for the past five years. 
  • Résumé or Curriculum Vitae  - You may be required to provide information about your current and previous education and work history. 
  • Other Information  - Some applicants, depending on the intended purpose of travel, will be asked to provide additional information when completing the DS-160.

Some applicants will need to have additional information and documents handy while completing the DS-160:

  • Students and Exchange Visitors (F, J, and M) : You will be asked to provide your SEVIS ID, which is printed on your  I-20 or DS-2019 , so you should have this form available when completing your DS-160. You also will be asked to provide the address of the school/program at which you intend to study. This information should also be on your I-20 or DS-2019 form. 
  • Petition-based Temporary Workers (H-1B, H-2, H-3, CW1, L, O, P, R, E2C):  You should have a copy of your  I-129  available when completing your DS-160. 
  • Other Temporary Workers:  You will be asked for information about your employer, including the employer’s address, while completing your DS-160.

Can my answers be in my native language?

No. All answers  must be in English, using English characters only,  except when you are asked to provide your full name in your native alphabet. Applications submitted in any language other than English will be denied, and you may be required to submit a new application.

While you must answer all questions in English, translations of questions are available in many languages from the drop-down menu in the right upper corner of the application. These translations should assist you in completing the form in English.

Are all questions on the DS-160 mandatory?

Most questions are mandatory and must be answered in the spaces provided. You may leave spaces blank when the questions are marked “optional.” You may answer a question with “Does Not Apply,” when that question does not apply to you; however, all other questions must be answered. The system  will not  allow you to submit an application with any mandatory questions left unanswered. If you do not complete a mandatory question, the system will display an error message and require you to answer the question before continuing with the application. If you do not answer questions that apply to your circumstances and/or purpose of travel, the system will not accept your application.

Are additional forms required?

No. The online DS-160 application replaced the DS-156, DS-157, DS-158, and DS-3032, which are no longer necessary.  NOTE : In addition to the DS-160, Treaty Trader/Treaty Investor visa applicants also must complete an additional form (see the Treaty Trader/Treaty Investor, E Visa Applicants  section below for more information). 

What happens to my DS-160 if I select a U.S. Embassy or Consulate where I will be applying for my visa, but end up making an interview appointment instead at another U.S. Embassy or Consulate?

The Embassy or Consulate at which you actually apply should be able to access your form using the barcode on your DS-160 confirmation page, which you must bring to the visa interview. For example, a business traveler intends to apply for his visa at the U.S. Embassy in City X, so he selects City X as the location where he will submit his application when he completes his DS-160. He then has an urgent reason to travel to City Y on business. Because there is a U.S. Consulate in City Y, he schedules an appointment for a visa interview there, using the barcode from his completed DS-160 application for appointment scheduling. The U.S. Consulate in City Y is able to accept his DS-160 even though it lists the U.S. Embassy in City X as the location where he originally intended to submit his application.

Completing Specific DS-160 Questions

How do i sign the ds-160 form.

You electronically sign your DS-160 by clicking the “Sign Application” button at the end of the form. Failure to sign may result in termination of the application. Your electronic signature certifies that you have read and understood the questions in the application and that your answers are true and correct to the best of your knowledge and belief. The submission of an application containing any false or misleading statements may result in the permanent refusal of a visa or denial of entry into the United States. All declarations made in the application are unsworn declarations made under penalty of perjury.

Unless you are exempted from appearing in person, your fingerprints will be electronically scanned on the day of your interview. By providing your fingerprints, you will again certify that that you have answered all questions on the DS-160 truthfully and to the best of your knowledge, and that you will tell the truth during your visa interview. You will be directed to read the following statement prior to having your fingerprints scanned:

“By submitting my fingerprint, I am certifying under penalty of perjury that I have read and understood the questions in my visa application and that all statements that appear in my visa application have been made by me and are true and complete to the best of my knowledge and belief.

Furthermore, I certify under penalty of perjury that I will tell the truth during my interview and that all statements made by me during my interview will be complete to the best of my ability.”

Can a third party complete the form on my behalf? Who is exempt from signing the form?

If an applicant is illiterate or unable to complete the application, the applicant must be assisted by a third party. The third party must be identified on the “Sign and Submit” page of the application. While the third party can assist the applicant in completing the application, he or she must instruct the applicant on how to endorse the application on his or her own behalf by clicking the “Sign Application” button.

If the applicant is under the age of 16 or physically incapable of completing an application, the applicant’s parents or guardian may complete and click the “Sign Application” button on his or her behalf. If the applicant has no parent or legal guardian, then the application may be completed by any person having legal custody of, or a legitimate interest in, the applicant.

The DS-160 contains terms that I am not familiar with. Are these terms explained?

Explanations of the following terms contained in the online DS-160 form are available to you as help topics while you complete the DS-160 and are also provided below. 

Help: Surnames

Enter all surnames (or family names) exactly as they are written in your passport. If only one name is written in your passport, enter that as your “Surname.”

Help: Given Names

If your passport does not include a first or given name, please enter 'FNU' (meaning “first name unknown”) in the space for “Given Names.”

Help: Other Names

Other names used include your maiden name, religious name, professional name, or any other name by which you are or have been known.

Make sure to enter the other names you have used in full.  Thus, if you have only used another surname, enter it along with your usual given name. If you have only used another given name, enter it along with your usual surname.

Help: Telecode

Telecodes are four-digit code numbers that represent characters in some non-Roman alphabet names.

Help: Date of Birth

Enter as shown in your passport.

Help: Place of Birth

Please choose the name currently used for the place where you were born.

Help: Phone

You must provide a primary phone number. The primary phone number should be the phone number at which you are most likely to be reached; this could be a land line or a cellular/mobile number. If you have an additional land line or a cellular/mobile number please list that as your secondary phone number. 

Help: Identification Numbers

Your National ID Number is a unique number that your government may have provided. For example, the U.S. Government gives unique numbers to people looking to work or who pay taxes.

Help: Other Nationality

Enter all nationalities you currently hold and all nationalities you have previously held (including United States, if applicable), regardless of whether you have formally and/or legally relinquished the nationality. If the country where you previously held nationality no longer exists, choose the name of the country that is currently used for that location. (For example, if you used to be a citizen of the former East Germany, choose “Germany.”)

Help:  Permanent Resident

Permanent resident means any individual who has been legally granted by a country/region permission to live and work without time limitation in that country/region.

Help: Passport/Travel Document Number

Enter the number of the passport or travel document you will use to travel to the United States. This passport/document must still be valid, and must identify you and your nationality.

Help: Passport Book Number

The Passport Book Number is commonly called the inventory control number. You may or may not have a Passport Book Number on your passport. If you do, the location of the Passport Book Number on your passport may vary depending on the country that issued your passport. Please contact your passport issuing authority if you are unable to determine whether or not your passport contains a Passport Book Number.

Help: Expiration Date

In most cases your passport or travel document must be valid for at least six months after your arrival in the United States.

Help: Application Receipt/Petition Number

If you are applying for a petition-based visa, your application receipt/petition number was given to you by the Department of Homeland Security’s U. S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) after you filed your petition application at a USCIS Service Center. The application receipt/petition number is 13 characters long and the first three characters are letters.

Help: Previous Employer

Please enter information regarding your previous two employers only. Applicants may choose to bring along a separate written list of  all  previous employers to the visa interview for reference.

Saving Your DS-160 and Returning to a Partially Completed DS-160

How can i save my application can i stop in the middle of the application and return to it later.

You can save your application or return to a partially completed application. When you begin a new DS-160, you will be issued a unique application identification (ID) number after selecting and answering a security question. Once you have your application ID number and have selected and answered a security question, you may exit the DS-160 application and return to it later.  You must have your application ID to return to your application .   To save your DS-160 to the Consular Electronic Application Center website, click the “Next” button at the bottom of each page you complete.  You have 30 days to return to a partially completed application . To access your application after 30 days, you must save it to your computer hard drive or a disk, as explained in the  FAQ  below.

How do I save my DS-160 application to my computer hard drive or a disk?

Saving to a hard drive or disk  will allow you to access your application after 30 days . To permanently save your application to your computer hard drive or a disk, select the “Save Application to File” button. Then, click the “Save” button on the File Download window. Identify a place on your computer to save the application, browse to that location, and click the “Save” button on the “Save As” window. The system will download your application to the specified location. Once the download is complete, you can click “Close” to return to the live application on our website.  Note:  Applications saved to the hard drive of a public or shared computer or memory device could likely be accessed by anyone else who uses the computer or device after you.

I apply for U.S. visas often. Can I reuse the DS-160?

Yes, you can use information from a previously submitted DS-160 to populate some fields on a new form. There are two ways that you can do this. First, if you plan to apply for a visa in the future, save your DS-160 to your hard drive or a disk using the instructions in the  FAQ  above. When you go to apply for your new visa you can then select “Option B-Upload a Previously Saved Application” on the Getting Started page. Alternately, if your previous visa application was submitted after November 1, 2010, you can select “Option C-Retrieve Application,” enter your previous visa application ID, and then hit “Create a New Application.” Your personal information will then populate the form. Be careful to check that all previously submitted information is current and accurate.

What if I lose my internet connection, the application “times out,” or I receive an error? Will my application be lost?

Why did the edits i made from the review page "edit" link not save.

In order for data changes made from the review page links to save, you must use the buttons at the bottom of each page to navigate, instead of the browser's back/forward buttons or the buttons along the side of the screen.

Uploading a Photo to Your DS-160

I understand that i can upload a photo with my application. how do i get a digital photo that will successfully upload to my application.

Please refer to the  Photograph Requirements  for detailed guidance.

The confirmation page has an "X" in the box where the photo should be. What does that mean?

That means that the photo upload failed. Therefore, you should submit one printed photograph meeting our requirements, along with the online DS-160 confirmation page, to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate at which you plan to apply for your visa.  Please contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you are applying for specific instructions on how to do this.  See the print photo format found in the  Photograph Requirements  for more information. If the confirmation page includes a photo image, then the photo upload function was successful and no separate print photograph is required.

Correcting Answers on a Submitted DS-160

The u.s. embassy or consulate where i went for my visa interview denied my application because my ds-160 contained errors or was incomplete. what does this mean and what do i need to do next.

DS-160 applications submitted before April 1, 2010  cannot be reopened, and therefore, you must complete and submit a new DS-160.

The Embassy or Consulate should reopen your DS-160 submitted after April 1, 2010 if your application is denied for this reason and ask you to correct it , as explained below:

  • DS-160 applications submitted on or after November 1, 2010: Enter your application ID  number and answer additional questions as prompted to access and correct your application. 
  • DS-160 applications submitted on or after April 1, 2010, but before November 1, 2010: Enter your barcode or confirmation number into the Application ID field  and answer additional questions as prompted to access and correct your application.

After I have corrected or completed my DS-160 application, do I need to schedule a new appointment or return to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate?

Ds-160 confirmation page, should i bring my entire application or just the confirmation page with me to the interview.

You are not required to bring your entire application. For your interview, you  are  required to bring your confirmation page with your application ID number on it so we can retrieve your DS-160. You must bring the confirmation page with you during all phases of the application process. Without the confirmation page, we may not be able to process your visa case.

I submitted my online DS-160 application, but lost my confirmation page. Can I print a new one?

Yes, you can reprint the confirmation page of an application that has already been submitted. In order to do so, go into the  Consular Electronic Application Center website  and select the Embassy or Consulate at which you are applying. Hit “Option C-Retrieve Application” on the Getting Started page and enter your application ID number. From there you will be able to view and print your confirmation page.

Family/Group Applications

I am traveling with my family or as part of a group. can i create a family or group application.

Yes. When you select “Email Confirmation” on your Confirmation Page, you will be directed to a “Thank You” page. On the “Thank You” page you will see an option to create a family or group application. When you select this option, certain information from your application, such as destination, will automatically be imported to and displayed on a new application. Please note that if you use this option you must create an individual application for each family member or for each individual within the group.

If I use the option on the "Thank You" page to create a family or group application, can I modify the data automatically populated by the system?

Yes. If one of the dependents has a different surname or nationality, for example, you can alter that data before submitting the application.

Treaty Trader/Treaty Investor, E Visa Applicants

I am applying for a treaty trader/treaty investor, e visa. do i need to fill out the ds-160 and the ds-156e.

It depends. If you are a Treaty Investor (E-2) applicant, you need only complete the DS-160. If you are a Treaty Trader (E-1) or an Executive/Manager/Essential Employee (E-1 or E-2), you must complete the DS-160, and you or your employer must complete the paper  DS-156E  form.

More Information

A-Z Index Latest News What is a U.S. Visa? Diversity Visa Program Visa Waiver Program Fraud Warning Find a U.S. Embassy or Consulate Straight Facts on U.S. Visas

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How To Improve The Odds Your Travel Visa Application Will Be Approved

C itizens of countries with powerful passports are quite privileged, with some never having to apply for a visa in their lifetime, much less worry about it being rejected. This is because some of the world's most powerful passports allow their holders to enter over 180 destinations visa-free.

With 195 countries in the world, those with powerful passports by no means allow free access to every country. There are cases where you will definitely need to apply for a visa. In some cases, "applying" for a visa is as simple as showing up at the airport and getting a stamp in your passport or paying a small fee when you pass through immigration.

In other cases, it can be a bit more complicated. If you are a U.S. citizen, you may need to apply for a visa for countries like India, Brazil, and Australia well in advance of your trip, and there is always a chance that your visa application may be rejected. However, we have some tips and tricks for you to follow that may improve the odds that your visa application will be approved.

Timing Is Everything When It Comes To Visas

Applying for a visa can give us travelers anxiety. You either need to wait to book flights, hotels, and excursions until after it's approved (which can take many weeks) or risk paying cancelation fees for everything if your visa is rejected. So, it should go without saying that you need to do your research in advance of deciding to go somewhere to determine if a visa is needed and, if it is, how long it takes to acquire said visa. Don't apply at the last minute and hope for the best.

Another aspect of your application timing you will need to check on is your passport expiration date. If your passport expires within six months of your travel dates, it's almost guaranteed that your visa application will be rejected, regardless of the country. This is a pretty universal rule and one you should follow regardless of whether you're applying for a visa. In fact, most countries will not allow you to enter if your passport is within six months of expiring.

You will also need to consider the duration of your tourist visa and ensure your travel plans start and end on the appropriate dates. You do not want to overstay your visa and risk fines, jail time, and deportation. You also will never be allowed back into the country if you're caught overstaying.

Use A Travel Visa Service Or Book Your Trip With A Travel Agency

When it comes to visas, sometimes it's better just to leave it to the professionals. For many countries with a strict, complicated, or lengthy visa application process, some companies offer travel visa expediting services to assist you with the process. For example, G3 is a popular visa expediting service that offers travelers the ability to apply for visas for a fee. The cost depends on your nationality and where you are applying for a visa but typically ranges in the hundreds of collars.

In other cases, like U.S. citizens traveling to Bhutan or Cuba, you can only apply for a visa as part of a tour package. For travel to these countries, it might be easier for you to book your trip with a tour group and apply for your visa with that agency or company. You might have to pay an additional service fee on top of the application fee, but taking the hassle of applying for a visa out of your hands will be worth it.

Read this next: Hotel Reservation Mistakes You Didn't Know You Were Making

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  • News & Reports

EB-3 Visa, Explained

Learn about the cost, wait time, and application process for the eb-3 visa, in this guide.

  • What Is the EB-3 Visa? 
  • EB-3 Visa Cost
  • EB-3 Visa Processing Time
  • EB-3 Eligibility and Requirements
  • How to Apply
  • Things to Consider
  • Related Information

What Is the EB-3 Visa?

The EB-3 visa is an employment-based immigrant visa category that allows foreign workers to live in the United States and obtain permanent residency.

Unsure about which immigration path is best for you? Answer a few simple questions to get started.

Below are the current filing fees for the EB-3 visa. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently announced it would be raising fees across most visa categories in late 2023, including for the EB-3 visa. To stay up to date on fee changes, check out Boundless’ fee guide .

EB-3 Visa Costs

For applicants applying from within the united states:.

  • Filing Fee: $700 (this fee is paid by the employer)
  • Immigrant Fee: $220
  • Filing Fee: $1140
  • Fee: $85 (required for applicants aged 14 to 79)

For applicants filing from outside the U.S.:

  • Filing Fee: $700 (this fee is paid by the employer sponsoring you)
  • Filing Fee: $345
  • Filing Fee: $120
  • Biometrics Fee:

Not sure which visa is right for you? Take our free assessment to get a customized plan.

The processing times for the EB-3 visa involve several stages, each with its own timeframe:

  • Form I-140 Processing Time: The average processing time for Form I-140 , the Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, currently averages 4 months , according to historic processing times data from USCIS. If you choose to use premium processing, you can expedite the I-140 petition, with a processing time of 15 calendar days.
  • Waiting for Visa Availability: Once the Form I-140 is approved, the applicant must wait for a visa number to become available . The wait time for visa availability varies based on the applicant’s country of origin and the demand for EB-3 visas from that country.
  • Form I-485 Processing Time ( Adjustment of Status ): If the applicant is already in the U.S. and eligible to adjust their status, the average processing time for Form I-485 for employment-based visa applications is 7.5 to 32.5 months . This timeframe can also be influenced by various factors.
  • Consular Processing: If the applicant is applying from outside the U.S. , their case will be transferred to the National Visa Center (NVC), which will forward the application to the nearest U.S. Embassy or consulate. The scheduling of an interview and the subsequent wait time at this stage will depend on the specific embassy or consulate and the applicant’s location.

Keep in mind that processing times may vary based on your specific situation and where you live.

Boundless’ easy questionnaire helps find the right visa for you. Get started today!

Understanding the EB-3 Visa

The EB-3 visa falls under the employment-based third preference category. It is designed for skilled workers, professionals, and other workers who possess the necessary qualifications and are seeking employment opportunities in the United States. The visa category is divided into three subcategories, each with its own specific requirements:

EB-3(A): Skilled Workers

Eb-3(b): professionals, eb-3(c): other workers, benefits of the eb-3 visa.

The EB-3 visa offers several advantages, including:

  • The opportunity to live and work permanently in the United States
  • The ability to bring eligible family members (spouse and unmarried children under 21) to the U.S.
  • The possibility of eventual U.S. citizenship
  • Flexibility in changing employers, with certain limitations

To qualify as a skilled worker under the EB-3(A) subcategory, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Have at least two years of job experience or training
  • Hold a job offer from a U.S. employer who can demonstrate the unavailability of qualified U.S. workers

To qualify as a professional under the EB-3(B) subcategory, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Possess a U.S. bachelor’s degree or its foreign equivalent
  • Hold a job offer from a U.S. employer that requires a bachelor’s degree or higher

To qualify as an other worker under the EB-3(C) subcategory, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Be capable of performing unskilled labor that requires less than two years of training or experience

Labor Certification

Before applying for the EB-3 visa, your employer must obtain a PERM labor certification from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). The labor certification process involves proving that there are no qualified U.S. workers available for the job you’re being offered.

Form I-140 Petition

Once the labor certification is approved, your employer can file Form I-140 with USCIS on your behalf. This form establishes your eligibility for the EB-3 visa and must be accompanied by the necessary supporting documentation.

Visa Application

After USCIS approves your Form I-140, you can proceed with the visa application process. If you’re residing outside the U.S., you’ll need to apply for an immigrant visa at a U.S. consulate or embassy in your home country. If you’re already in the U.S. on a different nonimmigrant visa, you can file Form I-485 to adjust your status to that of a permanent resident.

Visa Bulletin

The Visa Bulletin , published monthly by the U.S. Department of State, determines the availability of immigrant visa numbers for each preference category. The EB-3 visa category has a limited number of visas issued each fiscal year, so monitoring the Visa Bulletin is crucial to determine when you can proceed with your application.

Priority Date

When filing the Form I-140 petition, you’ll be assigned a priority date, which establishes your place in line for a visa number. Your priority date is important as the Visa Bulletin uses it to determine when you can proceed with your application. Retrogression or advancement of the priority date can significantly impact the timing of your visa processing.

Job Change and Portability

Under certain circumstances, you may be able to change employers after your I-140 is approved. The American Competitiveness in the Twenty-First Century Act (AC21) allows EB-3 visa holders to switch employers, provided they meet specific requirements.

No, the EB-3 visa requires a job offer from a U.S. employer. The employer must demonstrate the unavailability of qualified U.S. workers for the position.

While there is no fixed minimum salary requirement for the EB-3 visa, the employer must offer a wage that meets the prevailing wage for the occupation in the specific geographic area. The prevailing wage is determined by the U.S. Department of Labor.

The ability to change employers after obtaining the EB-3 visa depends on various factors. The American Competitiveness in the Twenty-First Century Act (AC21) allows EB-3 visa holders to change employers under certain circumstances, as long as they meet specific requirements.

Yes, your spouse and unmarried children under 21 years old may accompany you to the U.S. on the EB-3 visa. They can also apply for derivative visas, allowing them to live and work in the U.S. during your employment-based immigration process.

Yes, you can include your spouse and unmarried children under 21 years old in your initial EB-3 visa application. They will be considered derivative beneficiaries.

Yes, once you obtain the EB-3 visa and become a permanent resident, you can apply for green cards for your eligible family members through the appropriate process. This typically involves filing Form I-485 on behalf of each family member

Yes, the EB-3 visa category, like most other employment-based visa categories, has an annual limit on the number of visas that can be issued. This limit is determined by the U.S. government and varies based on factors such as visa demand and country of origin.

Premium processing, which guarantees expedited processing of certain forms, is available for the Form I-140 petition in the EB-3 visa category. However, premium processing is not available for the Form I-485 application or for consular processing.

Yes, you can apply for an EB-3 visa while in the U.S. on a valid nonimmigrant visa. If eligible, you can file Form I-485 to adjust your status to that of a permanent resident without leaving the U.S.

If you have a pending EB-3 visa application, traveling outside the U.S. may have implications for your application. It’s important to consult with an immigration attorney or review the specific rules and requirements to ensure that your travel plans align with the immigration process.

Immigration guideS

  • Everything You Need to Know About the EB-2 NIW
  • How to Apply for the EB-5 Investor Visa
  • An Overview of the Adjustment of Status Process
  • The Application Process for the EB-4 Visa
  • The Monthly Visa Bulletin
  • How to Apply a Work Permit
  • Cost and Timeline of the EB-2 Visa

Article Contents

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COMMENTS

  1. Visitor Visa

    Learn about the steps, fees, documents, and requirements for a visitor visa, which is a nonimmigrant visa for business, tourism, or combination of both purposes. Find out the visa application process, interview wait times, and visa issuance fees for different visa categories and nationalities.

  2. DS-160: Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application

    Learn how to complete and submit the DS-160 form for temporary travel to the U.S. or K (fiancé (e)) visas. Find out the requirements, steps, and FAQs for using the online application.

  3. How to apply for or renew a U.S. tourist visa

    Learn how to get or renew a visitor visa for tourism or business in the U.S. Find out if you need a visa, what documents you will need, and how to prepare for your interview. Check if your country participates in the U.S. Visa Waiver Program and apply online.

  4. Visas

    Learn about the different visa types and purposes for traveling to the United States, such as tourism, study, business, employment, and immigration. Find out how to apply for a visa, check the status of your application, and access useful links and resources.

  5. U.S. Visas

    Learn how to apply for a U.S. visa for different purposes of travel, such as tourism, business, study, or immigration. Find out what visa type is appropriate for you, how to check the visa wait time, and how to fill out the DS-160 form online.

  6. Visit the U.S. as a tourist

    Visa Waiver Program and ESTA application; Get or renew a tourist visa; Check the status of your visa application; Visa application rejected; COVID-19 international travel advisories; Entering the U.S. from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda; Form I-94 arrival-departure record; Extend your stay in the U.S. Visa or passport is lost or stolen

  7. Consular Electronic Application Center

    Welcome. Welcome to the Consular Electronic Application Center! On this website, you can apply for a U.S. Nonimmigrant Visa; apply to renew an A, G, or NATO Visa; apply for an Immigrant Visa; or check the status of your visa application. On this website, you can also pay certain fees associated with your Immigrant Visa application. Please note ...

  8. Official ESTA Application Website, U.S. Customs and Border Protection

    You are currently not in possession of a visitor's visa. ... You plan to travel to the United States for business or pleasure. ... The estimated average time to complete this application is 23 minutes. If you have any comments regarding this burden estimate you can write to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Office of Regulations and Rulings ...

  9. USTravelDocs

    How to apply for your nonimmigrant visa for travel to the United States. What documents, photos and information you need to apply for your visa. Schedule your interview at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate General. Find important information about U.S. Embassies and Consulates General. Choose your specific location by clicking below.

  10. Nonimmigrant and tourist visas

    Learn how to get a U.S. student or tourist visa and how to renew it. Learn about the types of nonimmigrant work visas and how to get one. ... Find out how to check the status of your visa application online. And to avoid delays, learn how to update your address if you move while waiting for your visa to be approved. ... Ask USA.gov a question ...

  11. How to apply for a U.S. Tourism or Visitor Visa (the B-2 visas)

    Learn the steps to apply for a visa for the B-2 class of the U.S. visa, which covers tourism and visitor activities. Find out the required documents, fees, processing times, and options for travel under the VWP and ESTA.

  12. Entering the U.S.

    Learn how to apply for a U.S. visa from the Embassy or one of the six consulates in Canada, depending on your purpose of travel and other factors. Find out the requirements, categories, and steps for immigrant and non-immigrant visas, as well as visa renewal by mail.

  13. Visas

    U.S. Travel Docs is our official visa service provider and the only private company that the U.S. embassy and consulates in Germany authorize to provide visa information and visa application services. U.S. Travel Docs Website: www.ustraveldocs.com. Email: [email protected].

  14. U.S. VISA NAVIGATOR

    When planning travel abroad a U.S. citizen may need a visa issued by the embassy or consulate of the country they wish to visit. Do You Already Know What Type of Visa You Need? For short-term visits to the United States (for tourism, business, education, and more), you can go directly to the online application (form DS-160). For immigrant visas ...

  15. U.S. Visa Services

    For nonimmigrant visas, you can go directly to the online application for the DS-160 ; or for immigrant visas, directly to the USCIS site for the relevant forms. If you are unsure, please use the Visa Wizard below to help you determine your visa type.

  16. Visas

    When booking your visa appointment, you must ensure that you, or your representative, submit a properly completed DS-160 form (online visa application). A properly completed DS-160 form contains the complete and correct information (including name, gender, visa class, date of birth, passport number, et cetera.) for the applicant who will appear ...

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  18. Visas

    For short-term visits to the United States (for tourism, business, education, and more), you can go directly to the online application (form DS-160). For immigrant visas, which are issued to foreign nationals who intend to live and work permanently in the United States, you can visit the U.S. citizenship and Immigration Services site for the ...

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    Refugee Travel Documents for Refugees Who Have Traveled Outside the United States: Submit requests directly to the address indicated for individuals currently outside the United States on the Direct Filing Addresses for Form I-131, Application for Travel Document page under the "refugee travel document applicants" section. Include a written ...

  20. DS-160: Frequently Asked Questions

    Once you have electronically submitted your DS-160 online application, you must contact the embassy or consulate at which you wish to apply to confirm whether you need to be interviewed by a consular officer, and to schedule an interview. You can find a list of U.S. embassies and consulates here, with links to their websites where you can find ...

  21. U.S. Visa Services

    Non-immigrant Visa to the United States for citizens and residents of Saudi Arabia are processed at the U.S. Embassy in Riyadh and at the Consulates in Jeddah and Dhahran. Please visit our Global Support Services (GSS) website for complete information on applying for a nonimmigrant U.S. visa, including a directory of nonimmigrant visa categories .

  22. How To Improve The Odds Your Travel Visa Application Will Be Approved

    If you're a U.S. citizen, you may need to apply for a visa for countries like India, Brazil, and Australia -- and your visa application may still be rejected.

  23. Message for U.S. Citizens: New Visa Requirement for U.S. Citizens

    The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) allows citizens of participating countries* to travel to the United States without a visa for stays of 90 days or less, when they meet all requirements. Are You Eligible? Travel & Tourism in the U.S. ... For questions about the e-visa and application procedures, visit the Brazilian government-authorized website, ...

  24. EB-3 Visa, Explained

    EB-3 Visa Processing Time. The processing times for the EB-3 visa involve several stages, each with its own timeframe: Form I-140 Processing Time: The average processing time for Form I-140, the Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, currently averages 4 months, according to historic processing times data from USCIS.If you choose to use premium processing, you can expedite the I-140 petition ...