Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

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FAQ - General Visa Information

  • Visa Application
  1. How long does my passport have to be valid in order to apply for a U. S. visa?
  2. If I am a third-country national living in the Republic of Korea can I apply for a nonimmigrant visa in Seoul?
  3. Do all nonimmigrant visa applicants have to come to the Embassy for an interview?
  4. 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?
  5. My passport has expired, but the U.S. visa in it is still valid. Do I need to apply for a new visa?
  6. How can I extend my visa?
  7. Must I submit my visa application form electronically?
  8. What is "administrative processing?"
  9. How do I read and understand my visa?
  10. I have questions on submitting my DS-160 and printing the confirmation page. Where can I go for more information?
  11. I have been informed by the U.S. Embassy or my lawyer that I need a waiver to obtain a U.S. visa.  When should I apply for the visa?
  12. Do all the questions on the application form have to be answered?  What if I cannot remember my parents’ birthdates?  Can someone fill out the form for me?
  13. The application form asks if I have been arrested.  How do I know?  Does it mean I won’t get a U.S. visa if I’ve been arrested?
  14. Why is the Embassy restricting what I can bring to the Embassy?
  15. If I cannot store my belongings at the Embassy, where can I store them?
  16. I’ve been turned away for my morning appointment because I brought prohibited items.  Can I return after I store my items elsewhere?
  17. If I need to re-schedule my appointment, can I do so immediately?
  • Others
  1. Do I qualify for the Visa Waiver Program?
  2. What is the fee for ESTA and who has to pay it?
  3. If I travel to the United States without ESTA, what happens?
  4. I have dual citizenship. Which passport should I use to travel to the United States?
  5. My visa will expire while I am in the United States. Is there a problem with that?
  6. What will happen when I enter the U.S.?
  7. I did not turn in my I-94 when I left the United States. What should I do?
  8. I lost my passport that contained a valid U.S. visa. What can I do?

Q.1 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). . The country-specific agreement with Korea provides an exemption.

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Q.2 If I am a third-country national living in the Republic of Korea can I apply for a nonimmigrant visa in Seoul?

Applicants are generally advised to apply in their country of nationality or residence. Any person who is legally present in South Korea may apply for a visa in Seoul. 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.

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Q.3 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 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 with parents holding a valid nonimmigrant visa in the same visa category. If the child under the age of 14 is applying for an F-1, M-1 or J-1 visa, he/she must appear for an interview, even though fingerprints are not required.

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Q.4 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?

Each nonimmigrant visa application is a separate process. You must apply in the normal manner, even if you had a visa before and even if your current nonimmigrant visa is still valid.

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Q.5 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 still valid you can travel to the United States with your two passports (old and new), as long as the visa is valid, not damaged, and is the appropriate type of visa required for your principal purpose of travel. (Example: tourist visa, when your principal purpose of travel is tourism). Also, the name and other personal data should be the same in both passports. Your nationality, as indicated in the new passport, must be the same as that shown in the passport bearing the visa.

If your name has legally changed through marriage, divorce, or a court ordered name change, you will need to obtain a new passport.  Once you have a new passport, the Department of State recommends that you apply for a new U.S. visa to make it easier for you to travel to and from the United States.

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Q.6 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.

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Q.7 Must I submit my visa application form electronically?

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

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Q.8 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.

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Q.9 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 us 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.

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Q.10 I have questions on submitting my DS-160 and printing the confirmation page. Where can I go for more information?

Our call center is unable to provide assistance on the application form. Any inquiries on completing the DS-160 can be addressed on the following website, http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/english/forms/ds-160--online-nonimmigrant-visa-application/frequently-asked-questions.html.

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Q.11 I have been informed by the U.S. Embassy or my lawyer that I need a waiver to obtain a U.S. visa.  When should I apply for the visa?

Obtaining waivers for U.S. visa ineligibilities can take up to six months.  Plan ahead and apply as early as possible.  Requests for expedited processing of waiver applications are approved only in the most exceptional of circumstances.  You may keep your passport while the waiver request is being considered.  The U.S. Embassy will inform you immediately when a decision has been made.

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Q.12 I Do all the questions on the application form have to be answered?  What if I cannot remember my parents’ birthdates?  Can someone fill out the form for me?  

All questions have to be completely (and truthfully) answered, including names and dates of birth of your parents. If there are unanswered questions, the application will be returned to you on your interview date and you will have to re-schedule your interview appointment.   If someone assisted you in filling out the application form, make sure you indicate who helped when answering the relevant question on the application.  Read the completed form carefully:  you are responsible for all the responses even if someone assisted you.

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Q.13 The application form asks if I have been arrested.  How do I know?  Does it mean I won’t get a U.S. visa if I’ve been arrested?

If you’ve ever been stopped by the police and fingerprinted by law enforcement officials in South Korea, the U.S, or elsewhere, answer “yes” to the question regarding any previous arrests.  Bring to the visa interview any court or other documents indicating what happened.  Not every arrest or conviction means you are ineligible for a U.S visa, but the U.S. Embassy has to see the official documents to make a determination.  Don’t hide the arrest or conviction:  doing so will increase the likelihood of your visa application being denied.

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Q.14 Why is the Embassy restricting what I can bring to the Embassy?

Mission Korea is preparing for the annual summer busy season in visas.  Historically, we do more visas in June, July, and August than any other months of the year. We have over 300 people a day coming to the Embassy in Seoul for visa appointments.  We do not want our customers standing in the sun for a long time.  All customers have to go through a security screening process, and X-raying large bags, briefcases, backpacks and the like takes too much time.  No electronics are allowed in the Embassy, and screening and checking multiple phones, iPads, computers and the like also takes too much time.  To keep you from a long wait outside, and to speed up your time at the Embassy, we are no longer storing any of these items while you have your visa interview.  We recognize this will cause inconvenience as you will need to store them at your own expense if you forget and bring them to the interview.  But we believe the overall increase in the speed and efficiency of our screening, and the shorter time you will be at the Embassy for your visa interview or American Citizen Services (ACS), will be worth it.  Please plan now for our “One Cellphone Only” screening process on the day of your visa interview or ACS service.

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Q.15 If I cannot store my belongings at the Embassy, where can I store them?

Metro stations and train stations have coin operated lockers.  Please note that for security reasons, you cannot leave baggage or belongings of any kind on the sidewalk or in public areas adjacent to the Embassy.

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Q.16 I’ve been turned away for my morning appointment because I brought prohibited items.  Can I return after I store my items elsewhere?

Yes, applicants with morning appointments must return by 11:00 a.m. on the day of their interview, otherwise they will need to make a new appointment for another day.  Applicants with afternoon appointments must return to the Embassy by 3:00 p.m., otherwise they will need to make a new appointment for another day.

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Q.17 If I need to re-schedule my appointment, can I do so immediately?

Generally, your profile will not be unlocked until the following day.  Once your profile is unlocked, you will be able to make a new appointment.

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Q.18 Do I qualify for the Visa Waiver Program?

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.

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Q.19 What is the fee for ESTA and who has to pay it?

ESTA Authorization is required for all travelers to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program. There is a US$14 fee for ESTA Authorization. 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 Authorization is denied, the fee is only US$4.

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Q.20 If I travel to the United States without ESTA approval, 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.

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Q.21 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

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Q.22 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.

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Q.23 What will happen when I enter the U.S.?

Your airline should give you a blank Customs Declaration form 6059B. Only one Customs Declaration is required for a family travelling together.

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 traveller may stay. At the port of entry, upon granting entry to the United States, the Customs and Border Protection officer will determine the length of stay permitted. Previously, travellers received a paper I-94 (record of admission) with this information. This process is now automated, with some exceptions. The traveller will be provided with a CBP admission stamp on their travel document that shows the date of admission, class of admission, and admitted-until date. Learn more on the CBP Website. If a traveller needs a copy of their I-94 for verification of alien registration, immigration status or employment authorization, it can be obtained from www.cbp.gov/I94. You can review information about admission on the CBP Website.

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Q.24 I did not turn in my I-94 when I left the United States. What should I do?

Previously, foreign travelers granted entry by CBP officials received a paper Form I-94 (Arrival/Departure Record). This process is now automated, with some exceptions. If you received a paper Form I-94 or I-94W and failed to turn in your paper Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Record to the commercial airline or CBP when you departed the U.S., see the CBP Website for instructions. Do not send your paper Form I-94 or I-94W to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate General.

If you received an admissions stamp in your passport instead of a paper Form I-94 when granted entry, the I-94 record was created electronically, and a paper copy was not provided to you. CBP will record your departure from the U.S. electronically. Learn more on the CBP Website.

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Q.25 I lost my passport that contained a valid U.S. visa. What can I do?

You must report the loss of your passport and visa to the U.S. Embassy Seoul, Fraud Prevention Unit at: seoulfpu@state.gov with your full name, date of birth, place of birth, and contact number in Korea. Specifically state whether the visa was lost or stolen. Please report the loss of the visa to the nearest police station and obtain a police report because you may need it for your future visa application.

If you have already reported your visa lost/stolen to the U.S. Embassy, and then you later find your lost/stolen passport containing a U.S. visa, please note that the visas is no longer valid. You must apply for a new visa at the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

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FAQ - Visa Refusals

  1. What is Section 214(b)?
  2. How can an applicant prove "strong ties?"
  3. Is a denial under Section 214(B) permanent?
  4. Who can influence the consular officer to reverse a decision?

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

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Q.1 What Is Section 214(b)?

Section 214(b) is part of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). It states:

Every alien shall be presumed to be an immigrant until he establishes to the satisfaction of the consular officer, at the time of application for admission, that he is entitled to a nonimmigrant status...

Our consular officers have a difficult job. They must decide in a very short time if someone is qualified to receive a temporary visa. Most cases are decided after a brief interview and review of whatever evidence of ties an applicant presents. To qualify for a visitor or student visa, an applicant must meet the requirements of sections 101(a)(15)(B) or (F) of the INA respectively. Failure to do so will result in a refusal of a visa under INA 214(b). The most frequent basis for such a refusal concerns the requirement that the prospective visitor or student possess a residence abroad he/she has no intention of abandoning. Applicants prove the existence of such residence by demonstrating that they have ties abroad that would compel them to leave the U.S. at the end of the temporary stay. The law places this burden of proof on the applicant.

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Q.2 How can an applicant prove "strong ties?"

Strong ties differ from country to country, city to city, and individual to individual. Some examples of ties can be a job, a house, a family, a bank account. "Ties" are the various aspects of your life that bind you to your country of residence: your possessions, employment, social and family relationships.

Imagine your own ties in the country where you live. Would a consular office of another country consider that you have a residence there that you do not intend to abandon? It is likely that the answer would be "yes" if you have a job, a family, if you own or rent a house or apartment, or if you have other commitments that would require you to return to your country at the conclusion of a visit abroad. Each person's situation is different.

U.S. consular officers are aware of this diversity. During the visa interview they look at each application individually and consider professional, social, cultural and other factors. In cases of younger applicants who may not have had an opportunity to form many ties, consular officers may look at the applicants specific intentions, family situations, and long-range plans and prospects within his or her country of residence. Each case is examined individually and is accorded every consideration under the law.

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Q.3 Is a denial under Section 214(B) permanent?

No. The consular officer will reconsider a case if an applicant can show further convincing evidence of ties outside the United States. Unfortunately, some applicants will not qualify for a nonimmigrant visa, regardless of how many times they reapply, until their personal, professional, and financial circumstances change considerably.

An applicant refused under Section 214(b) should review carefully their situation and realistically evaluate their ties. They may write down on paper what qualifying ties they think they have which may not have been evaluated at the time of their interview with the consular officer. Also, if they have been refused, they should review what documents were submitted for the consul to consider. Applicants refused visas under section 214(b) may reapply for a visa. When they do, they will have to show further evidence of their ties or how their circumstances have changed since the time of the original application. It may help to answer the following questions before reapplying: (1) Did I explain my situation accurately? (2) Did the consular officer overlook something? (3) Is there any additional information I can present to establish my residence and strong ties abroad?

Applicants should also bear in mind that they will be charged a nonrefundable application fee each time they apply for a visa, regardless of whether a visa is issued.

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Q.4 Who can influence the consular officer to reverse a decision?

Immigration law delegates the responsibility for issuance or refusal of visas to consular officers overseas. They have the final say on all visa cases. By regulation, the U.S. Department of State has authority to review consular decisions, but this authority is limited to the interpretation of law, as contrasted to determinations of facts. The question at issue in such denials, whether an applicant possesses the required residence abroad, is a factual one. Therefore, it falls exclusively within the authority of consular officers at our Foreign Service posts to resolve. An applicant can influence the post to change a prior visa denial only through the presentation of new convincing evidence of strong ties.

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

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FAQ - Business/Tourist Visa

  1. How long can I stay in the U.S. on a tourist or business visa?
  2. My visitor visa (B-1/B-2) expires after my intended date of arrival in the U.S. Do I need to get a new visa before departure?
  3. My U.S. visa will expire in the next 6 months. Do I need to apply for a new visa after my current visa expires or can I apply in advance?
  4. I currently hold a valid B-1/B-2 visa, which is in my maiden name, in my old passport. I wish to transfer this visa to my new passport, which is in my married name. What is the procedure?
  5. My current U.S. visa was issued to me when I was working in my previous job. Now I have changed to a new job at a new company and my new employer wants me to attend a conference in the United States, scheduled for next month. Can I use the same visa or do I have to apply for a new visa?
  6. My child is studying in the United States. Can I go live with him?

Q.1 How long can I stay in the U.S. on a tourist or business visa?

A U.S. nonimmigrant visa grants you permission to travel to a Port of Entry (airport/seaport) in the United States. When you arrive at your destination Port of Entry, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer who processes your entry will determine the length of time that you may remain in the country. You may travel to the Port of Entry during the validity of your nonimmigrant visa up to and including the last day the visa is valid. The visa duration does not determine the length of time that you may legally remain in the United States; only the Customs and Border Protection officer can decide this upon your arrival in the United States.

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

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

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Q.3 My U.S. visa will expire in the next 6 months. Do I need to apply for a new visa after my current visa expires or can I apply in advance?

You do not have to wait until your current visa expires. You can apply for a new visa even if your current visa is valid.

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Q.4 I changed my name. Is my U.S. visa with my old name still valid?

If your name has legally changed through marriage, divorce, or a court ordered name change, you will need to obtain a new passport.  Once you have a new passport, the Department of State recommends that you apply for a new U.S. visa to make it easier for you to travel to and from the United States.

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Q.5 My current U.S. visa was issued to me when I was working in my previous job. Now I have changed to a new job at a new company and my new employer wants me to attend a conference in the United States, scheduled for next month. Can I use the same visa or do I have to apply for a new visa?

You can travel to the United States on the same visa as long as your visa is valid for business or pleasure.

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Q.6 My child is studying in the United States. Can I go live with him/her?

While you can use your own B-1/B-2 visa (or travel under the Visa Waiver Program, if eligible) to visit your child, you may not live with your child unless you have your own immigrant, work, or student visa.

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FAQ - Work Visa

  1. What is a petition?
  2. Can I get a visa to do casual work?
  3. Is there an age limit for applying for a temporary work visa?
  4. Can my U.S.-based relative sponsor me for a work visa?
  5. When can I enter the United States?
  6. Who pays the Fraud Prevention and Detection fee and when do they pay it?

Q.1 What is a petition?

Before applying for a temporary worker visa at the U.S. Embassy, you must have an approved Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, from USCIS. This petition must be submitted by your prospective employer no earlier than 6 months prior to your proposed employment start date. Your employer should file the petition as soon as possible within the 6-month period to allow adequate time for processing. Once approved, your employer will be sent Form I-797, Notice of Action. For more information, visit the USCIS Temporary Workers webpage.

Note: To verify your petition's approval the Embassy will need your I-129 petition receipt number, along with your approved Form I-797. Please bring both of these to your interview.

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Q.2 Can I get a visa to do casual work?

No. There is no visa that covers casual work. All applicants who plan to work in the United States must have an approved petition prior to their visa appointment.

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Q.3 Is there an age limit for applying for a temporary work visa?

No.

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Q.4 Can my U.S.-based relative sponsor me for a work visa?

No. Only your employer can sponsor you.

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Q.5 When can I enter the United States?

You may not enter the United States until 10 days prior to your initial employment start date, as noted on your Form I-797 or on your offer of employment letter.

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Q.6 Who pays the Fraud Prevention and Detection fee and when do they pay it?

An applicant for an L-1 visa traveling on a blanket petition must pay the Fraud Prevention and Detection fee. On individual L, H-1B and H-2B petitions, the U.S. petitioner pays the Fraud Prevention and Detection fee to USCIS when the petition is filed. The principal applicant of a blanket L petition may pay a Fraud Prevention and Detection fee at the U.S. Embassy on the day of your visa interview.

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FAQ - Student Visa

  1. What is an I-20 and how do I get it?
  2. How early should I apply for my student visa?
  3. I received my visa, when should I travel?
  4. Can a person on a visitor visa change his or her status to student while in the United States if he or she gains admission to a school and gets a Form I-20?
  5. What if I receive an I-20 to a different school?
  6. I was working as an H-1B and have now been admitted to a university as an F-1. Do I need to return to my country to apply for a student visa?
  7. Can an F-1 student work in the United States?
  8. What is the SEVIS system and how does it affect me?

Q.1 What is an I-20 and how do I get it?

The Form I-20 is an official U.S. Government form, issued by a certified school, which a prospective nonimmigrant student must have in order to get an F-1 or M-1 visa. Form I-20 acts as proof-of-acceptance and contains the information necessary to pay the SEVIS I-901 fee, apply for a visa or change visa status, and be admitted into the United States. The Form I-20 has the student's SEVIS identification number, which starts with the letter N and is followed by ten digits, on the upper right side directly above the barcode.

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Q.2 How early should I apply for my student visa?

You are encouraged to apply for your nonimmigrant student visa as soon as you have your I-20. To ensure you get an early and timely date you may apply at anytime. However, a student visa may be issued no more than 120 days prior to the start date mentioned on your I-20.  You may refer to either the “start of classes” or the “program start date” on your I-20, whichever is earlier. 

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Q.3 I received my visa, when should I travel?

For your initial entry, you may only enter the United States within 30 days of the beginning of the course of study stated on your I-20, regardless of when your visa was issued.

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Q.4 Can a person on a visitor visa change his/her status to student while in the United States if he or she gains admission to a school and gets a Form I-20?

Yes. In general, you may apply to change your nonimmigrant visa status if you were lawfully admitted to the United States with a nonimmigrant visa, if your nonimmigrant status remains valid, if you have not violated the conditions of your status, and you have not committed any actions that would make you ineligible. For more details, please visit the USCIS website.

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Q.5 What if I receive an I-20 to a different school?

If you received an I-20 after scheduling your appointment, then you can inform the U.S. consular officer of the new I-20 at the time of the interview.

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Q.6 I was working as an H-1B and have now been admitted to a university as an F-1. Do I need to return to my country to apply for a student visa?

No. Once you are in the United States, you do not need to apply for a new visa because the visa is only for entry into the United States. Check with USCIS to determine if you need to adjust status. If you leave the country, however, you'll need to apply for the student visa in order to re-enter the United States.

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Q.7 Can an F-1 student work in the United States?

Full-time students on F visas may seek on-campus employment not to exceed 20 hours per week. After the first year in student status, an applicant may apply for employment off campus with authorization from USCIS. Please contact your student advisor for further information.

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Q.8 What is the SEVIS system and how does it affect me?

The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) program requires schools and exchange programs to verify the enrollment status of all new and continuing foreign students and exchange visitors. Student visa applicants are required to pay a SEVIS fee before a visa can be issued. The SEVIS website has more details.

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FAQ - Exchange Visitor Visa

  1. I received my visa, when should I travel?
  2. What is the SEVIS system and how does it affect me?
  3. What is the "two-year rule?"
  4. Can the two-year rule be waived?

Q.1 I received my visa, when should I travel?

Exchange visitors may only enter the United States within 30 days of the beginning of the program, as stated on your Form DS-2019, regardless of when your visa was issued.

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Q.2 What is the SEVIS system and how does it affect me?

The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) program requires schools and exchange programs to verify the enrollment status of all new and continuing foreign students and exchange visitors. Exchange visitor visa applicants are required to pay a SEVIS fee before a visa can be issued. Applicants are required to provide the SEVIS I-901 fee receipt as proof of payment. The SEVIS website has more details.

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Q.3 What is the "two-year rule?"

The "two-year rule" is the common term used for a section of U.S. immigration law which requires many exchange visitors to return to their home countries and be physically present there for at least two years after the conclusion of their exchange visit before they can return to the U.S. under certain types of visas, specifically H-1, L-1, K-1 and immigrant visas. It is important to note that only a preliminary finding of whether the two-year rule applies to you is made on your DS-2019 when your J-1 visa is issued. The final decision will be made only if you later choose to apply for an H-1, L-1, K-1, or immigrant visa.

J-1 visa holders subject to the two-year rule are not permitted to remain in the United States and apply for an adjustment/change of status to a prohibited nonimmigrant status (for example, from a J-1 visa to an H-1 visa) or to apply for legal permanent resident status (Green Card) without first returning home for two years or obtaining an approved waiver. Whether you are subject to the two-year rule is determined by a number of factors, including your source of funding and your country's "Skills List." It is not determined by the amount of time you spend in the United States.

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Q.4 Can the two-year rule be waived?

Possibly. Only the Department of State's Visa Office can grant waivers of the two-year rule. The Visa Office is also the final authority on whether you are subject to the rule, regardless of what is annotated in your passport. If you are subject to the two-year rule, you may be able to obtain a waiver. Even if you are subject to the two-year rule, you may still qualify for a tourist visa or any other nonimmigrant visa except those noted above.

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FAQ - Transit/Ship Crew Visa

  1. I plan to stop in the United States for a day and take a flight to another country on the next day. Do I need to apply for C-1 visa or a B-1/B-2 visa?

Q.1 I plan to stop in the United States for a day and take a flight to another country on the next day. Do I need to apply for C-1 visa or a B-1/B-2 visa?

If you seek layover privileges for purposes other than transiting through the United States, such as to visit friends or for sightseeing, then you must qualify for and obtain the type of visa required for that purpose, such as a B-2 visa.

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FAQ - Religious Worker Visa

  1. I am applying for a religious worker visa, but do not have an approved petition. I have been to the United States previously with an R-1 visa and was not required to have the petition. Can I apply for an R-1 visa without the petition since I had an R-1 visa in the past?

Q.1 I am applying for a religious worker visa, but do not have an approved petition. I have been to the United States previously with an R-1 visa and was not required to have the petition. Can I apply for an R-1 visa without the petition since I had an R-1 visa in the past?

The requirement for an approved petition went into effect November 28, 2008. All applicants applying for an R-1 nonimmigrant visa are required to have an approved petition from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). For more information, please visit the USCIS website.

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FAQ - Track My Passport

  1. Why only one passport per envelope? Why no family discounts?
  2. How will I get my passport back after the interview?
  3. What do I need to show to pick up the passport at the courier location?
  4. What happens to my passport if I'm not at home when the courier arrives?
  5. What do I need to show to the courier when I receive my passport?
  6. What types of ID are acceptable as proof-of-identity?
  7. Can someone besides me receive my passport?
  8. Do I have to pay any fees for courier services?
  9. When will I receive my passport after visa is processed?
  10. How and where can I check my passport status?
  11. What if I need my passport back for urgent travel?
  12. What do I need to do to receive my passport back for travelling to another country?

Q.1 Why only one passport per envelope? Why no family discounts?

There is no additional charge for the courier to return your passport to you. All costs are included in your visa application fee. The courier's security and safety rules require separate tracking of every passport.

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Q.2 How will I get my passport back after the interview?

You will receive your passport at the location you selected at the time you scheduled your interview. If you want to change this location you may do so until 11:59 pm on the day of your appointment. If you are planning urgent travel, the courier location closest to the location of your interview may result in a faster pick-up time. The cost of the courier service is included in the visa application fee.

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Q.3 What do I need to show to pick up the passport at the courier location?

In order to ensure that your passport and visa are not given to an unauthorized person, you must present a government-issued photo ID for identification when you collect your passport. You must also sign for all documents handed over to you by the courier.

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Q.4 What happens to my passport if I'm not at home when the courier arrives?

The courier will attempt to deliver your passport only at the address you selected or provided when you scheduled your interview. If the courier is unable to deliver, for example, because no one is home, the courier will leave a notice indicating the attempted delivery. If you receive a notice like this, contact the Ilyang Logis immediately. If your passport is not delivered to you within 10 business days, it will be returned to the Embassy. If this happens, contact the call center for assistance.

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Q.5 What do I need to show to the courier when they deliver my passport?

In order to ensure that your passport and visa are not given to an unauthorized person, you must present a government-issued photo ID for identification when you collect your passport. You must also sign for all documents handed over to you by the courier.

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Q.6 What types of ID are acceptable as proof-of-identity?

You must present an original government-issued photo ID.

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Q.7 Can someone besides me receive my passport?

Yes. However, your representative - even in case of family members - must present the following in order to collect your passport:

  • Their own original government-issued photo ID for identification
  • A photocopy of your government-issued photo ID
  • A letter of authority, signed by you, authorizing your representative to collect your passport. The letter of authority must contain the following information:
    • Your representative's full name as shown on their government-issued photo ID
    • Your name

 

If the applicant is under the age of 17, the following documents are required:

  • An original, signed letter of authority from either of the applicant's parents
  • A clear photocopy of the government-issued photo ID belonging to the parent who signed the applicant's letter of authority
  • The representative's original government-issued photo ID
    Note: In case of a group/family, a single letter of authority with the required information for each of the applicants will be accepted.

 

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Q.8 Do I have to pay any fees for courier services?

No. The cost of courier services is included in your visa application or immigrant visa fee.

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Q.9 When will I receive my passport after visa is processed?

Although visa processing time is typically three to five working days, processing time for specific cases may vary due to individual circumstances and other special requirements. You may pick up the passport from the location you chose at the time of appointment scheduling.

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Q.10 How and where can I check my passport status?

You can check the status of your application at any time online on this page. In order to track the status of your passport’s courier delivery, please go to this page or send an email with your passport number in the Subject line to passportstatus@ustraveldocs.com or contact the our helpline. If you chose to retrieve your passport from a pick-up location, you will receive an auto-notification by email to inform you that your passport is ready for pick-up. Please ensure that the email address indicated in your online profile is accurate.

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Q.11 What if I need my passport back for urgent travel?

If you are planning urgent travel to the United States, the fastest way to retrieve your passport is to select Gangbuk branch office of Ilyang Logis in Seoul as a pickup location. The cost of the courier service is included in the visa application fee.

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Q.12 What do I need to do to receive my passport back for travelling to another country ?

If you want to receive your passport back, you will need to contact our helpline with a request for temporary return of your passport. If the temporary return of your passport is approved, you will receive an email with instructions on how to collect your passport.

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FAQ – Immigrant Visas

  1. How can I change my visa appointment date?
  2. Can I travel to the United States while my application for an immigrant or fiancé(e) visa is being processed?
  3. I have been notified of the interview date by NVC. What are the next steps for me to prepare for the immigrant visa interview?
  4. How do I update my address?
  5. How do I transfer my IV file to/from Seoul?
  6. Does my child need to attend the immigrant visa interview?
  7. Can I be waived vaccination or X-ray due to medical condition?
  8. Do all family members have to be issued a visa at the same time?
  9. Can my spouse and/or children join me in the United States at a later time?
  10. Is an immigrant visa a green card?
  11. How do I apply for a reinstatement or extension of an IV application?
  12. How do I cancel my petition?
  13. Who is eligible for the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA)?
  14. Where can I find more information about the affidavit of support?
  15. Will I be eligible to work when I arrive in the United States on an immigrant visa?
  16. How do I get a Social Security number?
  17. How do I become an American citizen?
  18. Will I owe customs duty on my household effects when I move to the U.S.?
  19. Can I take my pet to the United States?
  20. How much money can I bring into the United States?
  21. Can I submit a photocopy of the form I-864?
  22. What if I can't travel before the visa's expiration date?

Q.1 How can I change my visa appointment date?

If your case was processed in Seoul USCIS field office, first request for a cancellation of your current visa appointment to the Global Support Strategy (GSS) either by emailing support-korea@ustraveldocs.com or by contacting our Visa Service Desk call center by calling 02-6009-9170/1600-8884 (in South Korea), or at 1-703-520-2234 (in the U.S.).To make a new appointment, please visit www.ustraveldocs.com/kr and use the account to log in and make an online appointment.  If you need assistance on making an online appointment, please contact our Visa Service Desk call center.
If your case was processed through NVC, please cancel your appointment and submit a visa request by clicking here. Within 10 weeks after you submit your appointment request, you will be notified if you are eligible to schedule an interview appointment. After being notified, you can schedule your appointment either online at http://www.ustraveldocs.com/kr or through the Global Support Strategy (GSS) call center at 02-6009-9170/1600-8884 (in South Korea), or at 1-703-520-2234 (in the U.S.)

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Q.2 Can I travel to the United States while my application for an immigrant or fiancé(e) visa is being processed?

If you intend taking up permanent residence in the United States, you are required to wait until the immigrant or fiancé(e) visa is issued. You cannot reside in the United States on a tourist visa or under the Visa Waiver Program while waiting for the issuance of an immigrant or fiancé(e) visa. However, if you wish to make a temporary visit at the end of which you will return to your permanent residence outside the United States, you may travel on a tourist (B-2) visa, or without a visa under the Visa Waiver Program, if qualified.

If applying for a B-2 non-immigrant visa, you are required to furnish evidence of your residence outside the United States to which you intend to return at the end of your temporary stay. Although a pending immigrant or fiancé(e) visa application is not necessarily conclusive evidence of intent to abandon a foreign residence, it is a factor considered by consular officers reviewing a non-immigrant visa application. If you are unable to convince the consular officer reviewing the application that you do not intend to abandon your residence, you will not be issued a non-immigrant visa.

When traveling to the United States either with a visa or under the Visa Waiver Program, you should be sure to carry with you for presentation to an immigration inspector evidence of your residence outside the United States. If the immigration inspector is not convinced that you are a bona fide visitor for pleasure, you will be denied entry into the United States.

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Q.3 I have been notified of the interview date by NVC. What are the next steps for me to prepare for the immigrant visa interview?

After NVC collects all fees and documentation, they will notify the applicant that an interview has been scheduled. Once you receive such notice, please follow the steps below:

  • Review the information sent by the NVC to determine the date, time, and location of the applicant’s immigrant visa interview.
  • Prepare for the Medical Examination. For the medical requirements, please click here.
  • Ensure that all necessary original documents will be available at the time of the interview. For list of documents required, please click here.
  • Please go to http://www.ustraveldocs.com/kr to register your address in Korea for document delivery online.

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Q.4 How do I update my address?

If your case is at the National Visa Center (NVC), please send notification of your updated address to: National Visa Center. NVC contact information can be found at http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/english/immigrate/nvc/nvc-contact-information.html. When contacting the NVC, be sure to always include your full name, date and place of birth, case number or USCIS receipt number, and your new mailing address, telephone number, and email address.

If your case is in Seoul, email to support-korea@ustraveldocs.com include your full name, date and place of birth, case number, your new mailing address, telephone number, and email address.

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Q.5 How do I transfer my IV file to/from Seoul?

To transfer a visa case from one U.S. Embassy to another, the IV applicant must send a request by submitting a DS-3098 (Request for Transfer of Visa) form by mail or e-mail, along with a justification for the request, to the intended receiving embassy. The intended receiving embassy then decides whether or not to accept the file. If the receiving embassy accepts the case, it will request the sending embassy to transfer it. The receiving embassy should accept the case if the applicant is a citizen of that country or is currently living in that country.

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Q.6 Does my child need to attend the immigrant visa interview?

All applicants registered for immigration as the spouse, parent, or child under the age of 21 of a U.S. citizen are required to appear at the Embassy in person for a formal visa interview with a U.S. consular officer.

Dependent child under the age of 14 of a principal immigrant or fiancé (K visa) applicant does not need to attend the visa interview.

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Q.7 Can I be waived vaccincation or X-ray due to medical condition?

The CDC and the Department accept that in many cases it might not be medically appropriate to administer a dose of a particular vaccine.  So if the panel physician determines that the vaccine is medically inappropriate, you may be waived from some specific vaccinations.  We suggest you consult with our panel physician regarding your vaccination.  Our list of panel physician can be found at http://www.ustraveldocs.com/kr/kr-iv-medicalexams.asp#physicians
CDC requires women who are pregnant to have a medical examination in connection with the a chest x-ray examination.  Pregnant women will have to provide the panel physician with consent to conduct the chest x-ray.  For the health of the applicant and her unborn child, CDC instructs panel physicians and laboratories to provide abdominal and pelvic protection with double layer, wrap-around lead shields when they receive the chest radiographs.

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Q.8 Do all family members have to be issued a visa at the same time?

No. The principal applicant may apply for a visa solely or with some family members. As long as the principal applicant is issued a visa, dependents may apply for a visa at a later time when they are ready to immigrate to the United States. Dependents may not precede the principal applicant to the United States.

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Q.9 Can my spouse and/or children join me in the United States at a later time?

Yes, if a principal applicant has been issued an IV in Seoul. If a principal applicant has been issued an IV in Seoul, following-to-join family members can schedule an appointment for a visa interview by internet at http://www.ustraveldocs.com/kr

If the principal alien adjusted status in the United States, please file form I-181 or I-824 with USCIS for following-to-join family members.

Since January 1, 2008, USCIS sends these forms to the National Visa Center (NVC) which will process all of the follow-to-join cases through the document review process, which involves the collection of IV fees and forms. The NVC will collect the applicant’s IV fees, forms, and civil documents, send the appointment packet, and schedule the immigrant visa interview.

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Q10. Is an immigrant visa a green card?

No. The alien must land in the United States within the valid period of the Immigrant Visa in order to apply for a “Green card”/Legal Permanent Resident (LPR) card.

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Q11. How do I apply for a reinstatement or extension of an IV application?

Section 203(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, as amended (INA) requires that your application and any petition for you be canceled if you do not apply for your immigrant visa within one year of being advised to do so. U.S. Embassy sends a first termination notice to your address of record if Embassy does not hear from you in one year. To keep your case active, simply reply to that notice in writing, and include your full name, date and place of birth, case number, your new mailing address, telephone number, an e-mail address and a short statement that you want your case validity to be extended.

You may also extend your case validity before receiving a notice from this office. If the one year validity date is approaching, please contact U.S. Embassy by e-mail at support-korea@ustraveldocs.com with your full name, date of birth, case number and a short statement requesting extension of your case validity. Your case validity will be extended for one year from the date you contact U.S. Embassy.

If you receive a second termination notice, you must show that your failure to pursue your IV application was due to reasons beyond your control to reinstate your case. If you have received the second notification from the National Visa Center (NVC), write to:

National Visa Center
31 Rochester Avenue, Suite 200
Portsmouth NH 03801-2915
Email: NVCINQUIRY@state.gov

 

If your petition is located in Seoul, write to:

U.S. Embassy Seoul, CONS/IV
188 Sejong-daero, Jongno-gu
Seoul Korea 03141

 

or

U.S. Embassy Seoul, CONS/IV
Seoul Place Washington, DC
20521-9600

Please keep copies of all correspondence.

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Q12. How do I cancel my petition?

In order to cancel a visa petition, a signed and dated request must be made by the petitioner in all immigrant visa cases (family-based immigrant visa cases, Fiancé (K) visa cases and employment-based immigrant visa cases).

This written request to cancel the visa petition must be sent to either:

The National Visa Center, if the petition is on file at the NVC:

National Visa Center
31 Rochester Avenue, Suite 200
Portsmouth NH 03801-2915
Email: NVCINQUIRY@state.gov

 

The U.S. Embassy in Seoul, if the petition is in Seoul:

U.S. Embassy Seoul, CONS/IV
188 Sejong-daero, Jongno-gu
Seoul Korea 03141

 

or

U.S. Embassy Seoul, CONS/IV
Seoul Place Washington, DC
20521-9600

 

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Q13. Who is eligible for the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA)?

A child must be unmarried and under the age of 21, as defined in U.S. immigration law. A child beneficiary of an immigrant petition who will apply for an immigrant visa is considered to have aged out when the beneficiary no longer qualifies for an immigrant visa based on having reached age 21. The Child Status Protection Act (CSPA) changed the law, to allow many beneficiaries to still qualify as children for immigrant visa purposes even after reaching age 21. The CSPA may apply to any immigrant visa application in cases in which:

  • The immigrant petition was approved on or after 8/6/2002.
  • If the immigrant petition was approved before 8/6/2002:
    • The alien aged out on or after 8/6/2002; or
    • If the alien aged out before 8/6/2002, the alien was refused a visa under 221(g) between 8/6/2001 and 8/5/2002.

For immigrant visa preference (family or employment-based) applications, the calculated alien's age using the age formula below is under 21.

For IR-2 immigrant visa applications, age is determined using the age of the child on the date the immigrant petition was filed.

Worksheet for Calculating Age

1 Alien's Date of Birth: DD-MMM-YYYY
2 Date Immigrant Petition Filed
(For employment based visa, the relevant date is a petition filing date, not a priority date):
DD-MMM-YYYY
3 Date Immigrant Petition Approved: DD-MMM-YYYY
4 Length of Time Immigrant Petition Pending (#3 minus #2): DD-MMM-YYYY
5 Date Immigrant Petition Became Current: DD-MMM-YYYY
6 Date Visa Became Available (Later of #3 or #5): DD-MMM-YYYY
7 Age of Alien on Date Visa Became Available (#6 minus #1): DD-MMM-YYYY
8 Age for CSPA purpose: Age at time Visa Became Available Minus Length of Time Petition Pending (#7 minus #4): CSPA applies only DD-MMM-YYYY

In immigrant visa preference cases, the alien must submit a completed immigrant visa application form DS-260/261 within one year of a visa becoming available.

If the principal applicant (PA) adjusted to Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) status in the United States, the PA must have filed an I-824 for the child within one year of an immigrant visa becoming available.

"A Visa Becoming Available" means that a priority date is current for family preference cases and a petition is approved for employment preference cases.

Please note that if the alien's age is not over 21 and the priority date has not been reached yet, please do not pay the immigrant visa (IV) fee to the National Visa Center until the priority date is current. According to the NVC, if aliens pay their IV fee after they turn 21, they are eligible for a refund through NVC by writing to:

National Visa Center
31 Rochester Avenue, Suite 200
Portsmouth NH 03801-2915
Email: NVCINQUIRY@state.gov

 

However, an IV fee paid to the NVC when the alien is under 21 is not refundable. Please pay the IV fee at the Embassy for this applicant when the priority date for this applicant is current and the eligibility for CSPA is determined.

For further questions, please refer to the USCIS website on the CSPA.

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Q14. Where can I find more information about the affidavit of support?

Please click here for more information.

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Q15. Will I be eligible to work when I arrive in the United States on an immigrant visa?

When you enter the United States on an immigrant visa you will require no further authorization from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in order to work.

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Q16. How do I get a Social Security number?

By law, each immigrant admitted to the United States must obtain a Social Security number. Social Security numbers are required to work in the United States, to open a bank account, to pay taxes, and for many other purposes. If you requested a Social Security card as part of your visa application DS-260 and you are age 18 or older when you arrive in the United States, your information will be shared with the Social Security Administration (SSA) to issue you an SSN card. Therefore, you do not need to fill out a special application or go to a Social Security office to get an SSN. Call the SSA if you do not receive your Social Security card after three weeks or if you change your mailing address after arrival in the United States. In the United States, you may call the telephone number listed for the Social Security office in the local telephone directory under “United States Government” or Social Security’s toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213. You can also find the nearest Social Security office on the Internet at http://www.socialsecurity.gov.

Those who cannot or do not apply for their SSN cards on their visa application must visit their local Social Security office to apply once they have a permanent address in the United States. Applicants must bring their passport with their Machine Readable Immigrant Visa or Form I-551 if they have it; and their birth certificate and a birth certificate for each member of their family applying for a Social Security number.

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Q17. How do I become an American citizen?

An immigrant can become an American citizen by naturalization by living in the United States for a specified period, usually five years (three years if married to a citizen) and passing a naturalization examination. However, there is no requirement that an immigrant become a citizen and s/he is free to live in the United States as long as s/he wishes regardless of his citizenship, so long as s/he abides by the laws of the land, which are applicable to citizens and aliens alike.

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Q18. Will I owe customs duty on my household effects when I move to the U.S.?

Household effects owned by immigrants for one year or more, as well as personal effects intended for their own use and not containing any prohibited items, such as firearms and drugs, are admitted free of duty. Only very limited quantities of tobacco, spirits and wines can be taken into the United States duty free.

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Q19. Can I take my pet to the United States?

A health certificate is required to bring a dog or cat into the United States. Such a certificate is usually required by the airlines, and the airlines should be contacted concerning any time limitations or other details. Please see the following websites for information about importing pets into the United States: http://www.cdc.gov/animalimportation/BringingAnimalToUs.html.

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Q20. How much money can I bring into the United States?

There is no limit to the amount of money which may be taken into or out of the United States. However, any amount in excess of $10,000 in currency, traveler’s checks or negotiable instruments must be declared to United States Customs at the time of arrival into or departure from the United States.

The amount of money which may be taken out of Korea is under the jurisdiction of the Korean Government. Further information is available from any bank in Korea.

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Q21. Can I submit a photocopy of the form I-864?

Yes. We accept the photocopies and scanned version of I-864s and other associated documents. You can learn more about the Affidavit of Support  on usvisas.state.gov.

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Q22. What if I can't travel before the visa's expiration date?

If your visa has expired, please submit the expired visa and the yellow visa packet to window #305 at the Embassy on any Wednesday between 8:30-10:00am. Also, please submit a statement on why you were not able to travel to the United States before the expiration date.  Once the visa is issued, your visa cannot be extended.  To receive a new visa, you will have to pay a new IV fee and provide additional documents including a new medical examination, new photos, and updated documents.  When you come in and return your visa and the visa packet, we will inform you of any further requirements for your new visa issuance.

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FAQ - Application Profile

  1. How do I reset my password?
  2. What should I do if I move to another country after I have registered my profile on www.ustraveldocs.com and did not apply yet for my visa, or if I want to submit a new visa application in another country than my previous application?

Q.1 How do I reset my password?

Click the Forgot Your Password? link at the bottom of this web page. Enter your email address in the Username field and click Submit. The email address you type must match the email address you used when you began your visa application. A new password will be sent to your email address.

Note: The email with your new password will come from no-reply@ustraveldocs.com. Some email applications have rules which filter unknown senders into a spam or junk mail folder. If you have not received your email notification, please look for the message in your junk and spam email folders.

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Q.2 What should I do if I move to another country after I have registered my profile on www.ustraveldocs.com and did not apply yet for my visa, or if I want to submit a new visa application in another country than my previous application?

You do not need to create another profile if it is also serviced by CGI. You can simply contact us through the Contact Us section on this website and share your passport number, UID or email address so we can retrieve and update your profile with the new country where you plan to apply for your US Visa. If you are applying in a country that is not covered by CGI, you will be invited to create a new profile. As a reminder, MRV fee receipts paid in one country are non-transferable to the other country.

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