Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

On this page:


FAQ - General Visa Information

  1. How long does my passport have to be valid in order to apply for a U. S. visa?
  2. Do I qualify for the Visa Waiver Program?
  3. What is the fee for ESTA and who has to pay it?
  4. If I travel to the United States without ESTA, what happens?
  5. If I am a third-country national living in the Philippines, can I apply for a nonimmigrant visa in the Philippines?
  6. Do all nonimmigrant visa applicants have to come to the Embassy for an interview?
  7. 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?
  8. My passport has expired, but the U.S. visa in it is still valid. Do I need to apply for a new visa?
  9. I have dual citizenship. Which passport should I use to travel to the United States?
  10. How can I extend my visa?
  11. Must I submit my visa application form electronically?
  12. What is "administrative processing?"
  13. How do I read and understand my visa?
  14. My visa will expire while I am in the United States. Is there a problem with that?
  15. What will happen when I enter the U.S.?
  16. I did not turn in my I-94 when I left the United States. What should I do?
  17. I have questions on submitting my DS-160 and printing the confirmation page. Where can I go for more information?
  18. I changed my name. Is my U.S. visa with my old name still valid?
  19. Should I buy my plane ticket before getting a visa?

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).

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Q.2 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.3 What is the fee for ESTA and who has to pay it?

ESTA registration is required for all travelers to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program. There is a US $14.00 fee for ESTA registration. The fee can be paid online using a debit card or any of the following credit cards: Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover. Third parties (travel agents, family members, etc.) can pay your ESTA fee for you if you do not have the correct type of credit card. If the ESTA registration is denied, the fee is only US $4.00.

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Q.4 If I travel to the United States without ESTA, what happens?

Visa Waiver Program travelers who have not obtained approval through ESTA should expect to be denied boarding on any air carrier bound for the United States. If you are allowed to board, you can expect to encounter significant delays and possible denial of admission at the U.S. port of entry (i.e., arrival airport). ESTA registration usually only takes a few minutes to complete, authorization often arrives in seconds, and it is valid for two years.

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Q.5 If I am a third-country national living in the Philippines, can I apply for a nonimmigrant visa in the Philippines?

Applicants are generally advised to apply in their country of nationality or residence. Any person who is legally present in the Philippines may apply for a visa in the Philippines. 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.6 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)

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Q.7 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.8 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, (unless the name change was due to marriage). Your nationality, as indicated in the new passport, must be the same as that shown in the passport bearing the visa.

If your name changed due to marriage, you can travel to the United States with both passports as well as your marriage certificate.

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Q.9 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.10 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.11 Must I submit my visa application form electronically?

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

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Q.12 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.13 How do I read and understand my visa?

As soon as you receive your visa, check to make sure all your personal information printed on the visa is correct. If any of the information on your visa does not match the information in your passport or is otherwise incorrect, please contact the issuing authority (i.e. the U.S. Embassy) immediately.

The expiration date of your visa is the last day you may use the visa to enter the U.S. It does not indicate how long you may stay in the U.S. 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.14 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.

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Q.15 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 traveling 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 traveler 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, travelers received a paper I-94 (record of admission) with this information. This process is now automated. The traveler 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. If a traveler 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. The Department of State's Consular Affairs website has more information about duration of stay.

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Q.16 I did not turn in my I-94 when I left the United States. What should I do?

This process is being automated but if you received a paper I-94 and you returned home with your Form I-94 (white) or Form I-94W (green) Departure Record in your passport, it is possible that your departure was not recorded properly. Do not give your I-94 or I-94W to the U.S. Embassy or any other office.

If you departed by a commercial air or sea carrier (airlines or cruise ships), your departure from the U.S. can be independently verified, and it is not necessary to take any further action, although holding on to your outbound (from the U.S.) boarding pass can help facilitate your reentry next time you come back to the United States.

If you departed by land, private vessel or private plane, visit the Customs and Border Protection web site for further instructions.

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Q.17 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.18 I changed my name. Is my US 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.19 Should I buy my plane ticket before getting a visa?

We do not require or recommend purchasing tickets before applying for a visa. Travelers should not make any final arrangements and payments unless they have a visa in hand. Committing funds to a trip does not in any way compel a consular officer to issue an applicant a visa if s/he is not qualified.

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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/her?

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 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?

U.S. visas cannot be transferred from one passport to another. You can travel to the United States with both passports as well as your marriage certificate, or you can apply for a new visa.

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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: The Form I-797 is no longer required for your interview. However, to verify your petition's approval the Embassy will need your I-129 petition receipt number. Please bring this 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 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.

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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/her status to student while in the United States if he/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 nine digits, on the upper righthand 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.

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

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/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. 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 - Retrieve My Passport/Visa and 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. Does my passport have to be delivered to my house?
  6. What do I need to show to the courier when they deliver my passport?
  7. What types of ID are acceptable as proof-of-identity?
  8. Can someone besides me pick up or receive delivery of my passport?
  9. Do I have to pay any fees for courier services ?
  10. Can someone besides me pick up or receive delivery of my passport?
  11. When will I receive my passport after visa is processed?
  12. How and where can I check my passport status?
  13. What if I need my passport back for urgent travel?

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 must pick up your passport at the courier location you selected at the time you scheduled your interview. If you want to change this location you may do so until midnight of the day before 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 courier immediately. If your passport is not delivered to you within 10 business days, it will be returned to the Embassy. If this happens, contact our call center for assistance.

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Q.5 Does my passport have to be delivered to my house?

No. Your passport can be delivered to your office or to a member of your family. If your passport is delivered to someone other than yourself, the recipient must present a government-issued photo ID for identification in order to accept delivery of your passport.

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Q.6 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.7 What types of ID are acceptable as proof-of-identity?

Acceptable IDs for Philippine citizens

  • a valid Philippine Identity Card
  • a valid Philippine driver's license

Acceptable IDs for third-country nationals (people residing in the Philippines who are not citizens of the Philippines)

  • a copy of your passport
  • a valid Philippine driver's license
  • a PR card
  • a new photo Work Permit, "S" Pass or Dependent Card

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Q.8 Can someone besides me pick up or receive delivery of 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
    • your fee receipt number (immigrant visa applicants must include their receipt number on the letter)

If the applicant is under the age of 16, the following documents are required from the representative:

  • a clear photocopy of the applicant's visa fee payment receipt
  • 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

Please 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.9 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.10 Can someone besides me pick up or receive delivery of 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
    • your fee receipt number (immigrant visa applicants must include their receipt number on the letter)

If the applicant is under the age of 16, the following documents are required from the representative:

  • a clear photocopy of the applicant's visa fee payment receipt
  • 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

Please 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. 11 When will I receive my passport after visa is processed?

Although visa processing time is typically three 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.12 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 Visa Information Service. 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.13 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 Visa Information Service. 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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FAQ - Application Profile


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.

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 http://ustraveldocs.com/ph/ph-main-contactus.asp 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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FAQ - Immigrant Visas

  1. What is the difference between an immigrant and nonimmigrant visa?
  2. What may delay a decision on my application?
  3. What else may delay a decision on my application?
  4. Will the same consular officer talk to me if I have to return to the Embassy?
  5. Can I request an earlier interview appointment? Or if I did not come for my scheduled interview, can I request a new interview appointment?
  6. Can the children of an immigrant visa applicant be included in a single petition?
  7. Can my child, who is nearing 21 years old, be issued a visa before he turns 21?
  8. What happens if a petition is filed by a Lawful Permanent Resident (F2A or F2B) and the petitioner becomes a U.S. citizen before the applicant is called for an interview?
  9. I immigrated to the United States as the adopted child of a petitioner. Now that I am a United States citizen, can I petition for my natural parent(s)?
  10. We have raised a child who is neither our biological or legally adopted child. Can he/she be included as a derivative on our immigrant visa application?
  11. I was petitioned by a relative several years ago, but my petitioner has moved back to the Philippines. Can I still immigrate to the United States?
  12. Can a child born outside the United States to Lawful Permanent Residents enter the United States?
  13. The Lawful Permanent Resident parents left the child abroad with family members and returned to the United States. Now, they wish to bring the child to the U.S. What must they do?
  14. I was a Lawful Permanent Resident ("Green Card" holder) who left the United States for several years. Can I still return to the United States using my Green Card?
  15. How can I enter the Diversity Visa or green card lottery?
  16. Can a U.S. citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident file a petition at any foreign service post for a relative?
  17. Can I still qualify for a tourist visa if I have a pending immigrant petition?
  18. Why are you changing the fees at this time?
  19. Did the Department of State give this much thought?
  20. What will the increase in fees pay for?
  21. Why have some fees increased more than others?
  22. Have some fees decreased?
  23. When do the new IV processing fees go into effect?
  24. What if I already paid all IV fees applicable to my case?
  25. What if I receive a bill from NVC after the new IV fees go into effect on, but it is dated prior to that date?
  26. Are there any exceptions?

Q.1 What is the difference between an immigrant and nonimmigrant visa?

An immigrant visa is issued to a qualified person who has an approved petition based on a family or work relationship and who wishes to live in the U.S. permanently. A nonimmigrant visa is issued to a person who is traveling to the U.S. for a specific purpose (vacation, studies, medical treatment, business, temporary work) and who will depart the U.S. after completion of that purpose.

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Q.2 What may delay a decision on my application?

During the visa interview, the consular officer determines if additional documents are required to help establish your eligibility for visa issuance. Secondary documents are not statutorily required. However, applicants should submit secondary documents to help establish their qualifications. When you are asked to provide additional information or supporting documents, your application is generally refused under Section 221(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. A consular sheet is given to you after the interview indicating the additional documentation you should present.

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Q.3 What else may delay a decision on my application?

The U.S. Embassy may ask the Philippine government agency in charge of civil records or other official agencies to confirm or verify information about an applicant. An unterminated marriage to a person other than the petitioner, for instance, would disqualify an applicant with a spouse or a fiancé(e) petition. The U.S Embassy may also conduct investigations to determine the qualifications of applicants to be eligible for visa issuance.

When these extra steps are taken, visa issuance may be delayed. Applicants are advised not to finalize their travel arrangements until they have been issued visas.

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Q.4 Will the same consular officer talk to me if I have to return to the U.S. Embassy?

There is no assurance that you will be seen by the same consular officer. All officers have access to the same information about your case and should review your application based on the same requirements.

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Q.5 Can I request an earlier interview appointment? Or if I did not come for my scheduled interview, can I request a new interview appointment?

If an applicant wishes to advance the visa interview appointment, he/she should write to the U.S. Embassy to request an earlier appointment or contact the Visa Information and Appointment Service for assistance. Requests for earlier appointments are granted only if there are available slots.

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Q.6 Can the children of an immigrant visa applicant be included in a single petition?

Children of US citizens are considered Immediate Relatives (IR) and must have individual petitions filed for them. Petitions for immediate relatives may be filed simultaneously at USCIS. Children of applicants with family-based petitions (F category) may derive immigration benefits from the same petition provided that they are single and under 21. Such children are called derivatives for purposes of immigration. Only biological or legally-adopted children are entitled to derivative status. A non-orphan adopted child must have been legally adopted before the age of 16 and must have been in the physical and legal custody of the adoptive parent for at least two years. A child born after a petition was filed and approved may be registered or added on to the petition as a derivative. The principal applicant needs to submit the child's birth certificate printed on NSO paper either to the NVC or to the U.S. Embassy and pay the corresponding visa processing fee for each additional derivative.

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Q.7 Can my child, who is nearing 21 years old, be issued a visa before he turns 21?

If visa numbers are available for you (or your visa case becomes current for processing) and your child is aging out (or turning 21), we are prepared to expedite the processing of the application. However, it is still the applicant's responsibility to complete the application requirements in a timely manner. U.S. immigration law requires that visa applications be strictly processed according to priority date because of the limited number of visas available worldwide. This means the U.S. Embassy will not process visa applications with priority dates that are not current. If your case is current for processing, you may proceed to St. Luke's Medical Center Extension Clinic to pick up your appointment letter. If you believe ageing out will affect your case, you may contact the Embassy by fax at (632) 301-2591 or by mail at:

From within the Philippines
Operations Unit
Immigrant Visa Branch
United States Embassy
1201 Roxas Blvd.
Ermita, Metro Manila 1000

From outside the Philippines
Operations Unit
Immigrant Visa Branch
PSC 500, Box 26, FPO
AP, 96515-1000
USA

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Q.8 What happens if a petition is filed by a Lawful Permanent Resident (F2A or F2B) and the petitioner becomes a U.S. citizen before the applicant is called for an interview?

When the petitioner naturalizes, the F2A petition (spouse or minor child of a permanent resident) is automatically converted to an IR-1 (spouse of a US Citizen) or IR-2 (child of a US Citizen) petition. These visa categories are not subject to the visa quota system and will therefore always have visas available for the beneficiaries' use if they qualify for visa issuance. However, because there are no derivative beneficiaries allowed with IR petitions, children who are derivative applicants on a parent's F2A application must each have a separate IR-2 petition filed for them if the petitioner becomes a U.S. citizen. F2A petitioners who naturalize should make sure to file new IR-2 petitions for their children (if they did not originally file separate petitions for them). For F2B applicants (unmarried son/daughter of a permanent resident), their F2B petitions are automatically converted to the F1 category retaining the original priority date when their petitioners naturalize. Because of unique circumstances, the waiting period for the F1 category is longer than the F2B category in the Philippines. However, under Section 6 of the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA), the applicant (not the petitioner) can request exemption from the automatic conversion of the visa category from F2B to F1 by submitting to the Department of Homeland Security/U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (DHS/USCIS) a written statement that he/she elects to have such conversion revoked. The applicant may send the written request for retention of his/her F2B category to the DHS/USCIS office in Manila by fax at 301-2208 (Attn: Field Office Director) or by mail:

DHS/USCIS
U.S. Embassy
1201 Roxas Blvd.
Ermita, Metro Manila 0930

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Q.9 I immigrated to the United States as the adopted child of a petitioner. Now that I am a United States citizen, can I petition for my natural parent(s)?

No. Once your are issued an immigrant visa as an adopted child, your biological parents can no longer benefit from a petition that you file.

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Q.10 We have raised a child who is neither our biological or legally adopted child. Can he/she be included as a derivative on our immigrant visa application?

No. A child may only become your derivative if that child is either born to you or meets the definition of an adopted child under the Immigration and Nationality Act. If you attempt to bring in a child who does not meet any of these definitions, you risk being denied an immigrant visa and being barred permanently from entering the United States. See Adopted Children for more information on adopting in the Philippines.

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Q.11 I was petitioned by a relative several years ago, but my petitioner has moved back to the Philippines. Can I still immigrate to the United States?

U.S. immigration law requires that petitioners be domiciled or reside in the United States. The purpose of family-sponsored immigrant visas is to reunite family members. For more information on this issue, please see the section on What is the U.S. Domicile Requirement For Petitioners?

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Q.12 Can a child born outside the United States to Lawful Permanent Residents enter the United States?

A child born abroad to parents who are U.S. Lawful Permanent Residents may enter the United States without a visa, provided the child is accompanied by a parent, upon that parent's first return to the United States within two years of the child's birth. The parent must provide reliable documentation showing the parent-child relationship.

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Q.13 The Lawful Permanent Resident parents left the child abroad with family members and returned to the United States. Now, they wish to bring the child to the U.S. What must they do?

The child must have an immigrant visa to enter the United States. The Lawful Permanent Resident parent(s) must file an F2A (minor child) or F2B (unmarried child over 21 years old) preference petition with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. For the Philippines this can involve a wait of several years.

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Q.14 I was a Lawful Permanent Resident ("Green Card" holder) who left the United States for several years. Can I still return to the United States using my Green Card?

As a Lawful Permanent Resident you may remain outside the United States for only one (1) year unless you receive a re-entry permit from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) before your departure from the United States. Otherwise, you are considered to have forfeited your status and must either be re-petitioned or apply for a Returning Resident Visa. The returning resident visa is granted only when circumstances beyond your control prevented you from returning to your U.S. domicile within the required period of time.

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Q.15 How can I enter the Diversity Visa or green card lottery?

The Philippines is not included in the diversity immigrant program because Filipinos receive large numbers of visas through regular immigration categories.

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Q.16 Can a U.S. citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident file a petition at any foreign service post for a relative?

Authority to accept a petition rests solely with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Petitions must be filed in the petitioner's place of residence. If the petitioner resides in the United States, the petitioner must file at the USCIS office that has jurisdiction over his place of residence. If the petitioner resides abroad, he should contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where he currently resides or the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office, if one exists, at the Foreign Service post for information.

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Q.17 Can I still qualify for a tourist visa if I have a pending immigrant petition?

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

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Q.18 Why are you changing the fees at this time?

To ensure that the Department of State recovers the true costs of consular services through user fees, as required by law. The changes to our fee schedule reflect more accurately the true expenditure of doing business. This way, services of direct benefit to individuals, organizations, or groups are paid for by the users rather than by taxpayers in general.

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Q.19 Did the Department of State give this much thought?

The Department of State reviewed its current consular fees based on a cost of service study completed in June 2009. This study, involving two years of research, was the most detailed, comprehensive study of consular fees that the Department of State has completed.

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Q.20 What will the increase in fees pay for?

The changes in consular fees would cover actual operating expenses for the 301 consular posts abroad, 23 domestic passport agencies, and other centers that provide consular services to both U.S and foreign citizens. As is the case in all U.S. government user charges, consular fees allow us to recover the costs of services from which a specific user - whether a U.S. or foreign citizen - derives a special benefit beyond those that accrue to the general public. Services of direct benefit to individuals, organizations, or groups are paid for by the users rather than by taxpayers in general.

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Q.21 Why have some fees increased more than others?

The cost of service study completed in June 2009 is the most detailed and exhaustive study the Department of State has ever conducted. It gives us greater clarity into our actual costs and allows us to differentiate between specific services within an activity category. As a result, and because it is equitable, we are establishing tiered fees for some service categories, (such as nonimmigrant visa application fees and immigrant visa processing fees). We will charge more for those cases that require extensive processing and less for more straight-forward cases, better reflecting the cost of providing these services.

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Q.22 Have some fees decreased?

Yes. The fee for determining returning resident status of a U.S. lawful permanent resident has decreased from $400 to $380 because improvements in automated systems have made it easier to provide that service. The hourly rate for consular time, which is applied to services that are not provided often enough to develop a reliable estimate of the average time involved (such as supervising telephone depositions), has been reduced based on the findings of the cost of service study. The application processing fees for two categories of immigrant visas are also lower than the previous flat fee (see items 32(a) and 32(c) of the proposed Schedule of Fees).

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Q.23 When do the new IV processing fees go into effect?

The new fees will take effect on July 13, 2010. IV applicants must start paying the new processing fees as of that date. Applicants who receive bills from the National Visa Center (NVC) that are dated after July 13 must pay the new processing fees.

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Q.24 What if I already paid all IV fees applicable to my case?

Fees paid at posts and to NVC prior to the publication of the final rule are considered paid in full at the current rate, and these applicants will not be required to pay additional fees to cover the difference between the current and new fees. Applicants already billed by NVC prior to the publication of the final rule will only pay the fees billed, regardless of whether they pay before or after the new fees are implemented.

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Q.25 What if I receive a bill from NVC after the new IV fees go into effect on, but it is dated prior to that date?

Fees billed by NVC prior to July 13, 2010, will be honored at the previous rate at which they were originally billed. These applicants will not be billed at a later date for additional fees to cover the difference between the current and new fee rates, regardless of when they pay.

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Q.26 Are there any exceptions?

Yes. If applicants paid their visa application processing fees before March 2005, they would be required to pay the security surcharge.

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FAQ - K Visas

  1. How does one apply for a K-1 visa?
  2. What are the documents a K-1 applicant needs to submit?
  3. Can an applicant request an earlier visa appointment?
  4. How much time is given to complete the K-1 visa application?
  5. Does the K-1 visa grant an immigrant status and entitle the Filipino fiancé(e) to a green card?
  6. What should the Filipino fiancé(e) do upon entry into the United States?
  7. Can the K-1 visa be used to travel in and out of the United States?
  8. What are the main reasons a K-1 visa is denied?
  9. Can family members of the Filipino fiancé(e) be included in the petition?
  10. Can the Filipino fiancé(e) work in the U.S. with a K-1 visa?
  11. What fees are involved in obtaining a K visa?
  12. What if the fiancé(e) must delay their arrival in the U.S.?
  13. Where can I find additional information?

Q.1 How does one apply for a K-1 visa?

A Filipino fiancé(e) needs an approved I-129F petition to apply for a K-1 visa. Only a U.S. citizen may file a fiancé(e) petition. This is done at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office that has jurisdiction over the place where the U.S. citizen resides.

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Q.2 What are the documents a K-1 applicant needs to submit?

A fiancé(e) is considered an intending immigrant and therefore must present documents similar to those required for an immigrant visa applicant. These include a valid Philippine passport; a copy of the applicant's birth certificate issued by the National Statistics Office (NSO) and printed on NSO security paper; legal documents proving the termination of a previous marriage (if applicable); NBI clearance; police certificates from all foreign countries where the applicant lived for at least six (6) months starting at the age of 16; evidence of the relationship with the petitioner; evidence of financial support; a medical examination completed by St. Luke's Medical Center Extension Clinic and visa photographs. Evidence must be presented that the couple met in person within the past two years before the petition was filed.

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Q.3 Can an applicant request an earlier visa appointment?

If an applicant wishes to advance the visa interview appointment, he/she should write to the U.S. Embassy to request an earlier appointment or contact the Visa Information and Appointment Service for assistance. Requests for earlier appointments are granted only if there are available slots.

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Q.4 How much time is given to complete the K-1 visa application?

A K-1 petition is valid for six (6) months from the date of its approval. But this may be revalidated by a consular officer provided that both parties are still legally free to marry. It is recommended to gather all the necessary documents for the visa interview appointment as soon as possible.

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Q.5 Does the K-1 visa grant an immigrant status and entitle the Filipino fiancé(e) to a green card?

No, it does not. The K-1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa, which allows the holder to stay in the United States on a temporary basis. After the marriage takes place, the alien spouse must contact the USCIS to obtain conditional permanent residence status. The Filipino spouse may apply for removal of the conditional status and become a lawful permanent resident after two years of marriage to the U.S. citizen spouse.

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Q.6 What should the Filipino fiancé(e) do upon entry into the United States?

The Filipino fiancé(e) has 90 days from admission into the United States to marry his/her petitioner. The K-1 visa does not allow the bearer to marry anyone other than the petitioner. After the marriage, the couple must contact USCIS to register for conditional permanent resident status for the Filipino spouse. Contact USCIS in the United States for further information regarding the K-1 visa bearer's status while in the United States. For further information, please click here.

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Q.7 Can the K-1 visa be used to travel in and out of the United States?

No. The K-1 visa is a single-entry visa, which means that the K-1 bearer who leaves the United States without changing marital and immigration status will not be able to re-enter the country on the same visa. A new petition and visa would be required.

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Q.8 What are the main reasons a K-1 visa is denied?

K-1 applications are subject to the same review standards as immigrant visa applications. The main reasons for visa refusal are: lacking documentation; need to review or verify evidence; lack of a petitionable relationship; misrepresentation of the facts; medical concerns; criminal grounds and potential public charge. A common basis for refusal is a prior marriage for the beneficiary or the petitioner that has not been legally terminated. There is no divorce in the Philippines. A consular officer will only accept a death certificate or a court ruling of annulment or of presumptive death as evidence that a Filipino marriage has been terminated. A US Citizen may terminate a Filipino marriage through a U.S. divorce.

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Q.9 Can family members of the Filipino fiancé(e) be included in the petition?

Only the unmarried, minor children (below 21 years old) of the Filipino fiancé(e) can be included in the K-1 petition. They are eligible to apply for a K-2 visa. If they are unable to depart with their Filipino parent, children who are named in the petition have one (1) year (from the time the K-1 visa is issued) to be issued K-2 visas. They must apply for visas in a timely manner to allow visa issuance within the required time. Otherwise, the children will no longer be able to derive any immigration benefit from their parent's K-1 visa and new immigrant visa petitions need to be filed on their behalf.

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Q.10 Can the Filipino fiancé(e) work in the U.S. with a K-1 visa?

Yes. When the fiancé(e) enters the United States he/she will be eligible to apply for a work permit with USCIS.

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Q.11 What fees are involved in obtaining a K visa?

There is a $265 non-refundable application/processing fee for each K visa applicant. This fee is payable in U.S. dollars or its current peso equivalent. The required medical examination costs are U.S. U.S. $213.35 for adults (15 years and older) and U.S. $185.35 for children (under 15 years of age). For more information about paying visa application fees, please click here.

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Q.12 What if the fiancé(e) must delay their arrival in the U.S.?

The K-1 visa is valid for a maximum of six (6) months. If the visa bearer is unable to leave for the United States immediately and the visa expires, a new one may be issued upon written request to the U.S. Embassy and the payment of another application fee of U.S. $265.

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Q.13 Where can I find additional information?

For general visa information about K-1, K-2, K-3, K-4 or IR-1 visas, visit this web page. You can find further information here:

  • The U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs website.
  • The U.S. Department of State's National Visa Center (NVC) website. You can call the NVC in the United States at (603) 334-0700. The NVC handles petitions before they are sent to the U.S. Embassy in Manila.

 

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