Renew My Visa

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Overview

The U.S. visa application process is similar whether you are applying for the first time or renewing your visa although certain renewal applicants may qualify for waiver of the in-person interview. Even if your passport expires, as long as your U.S. visa is valid you can travel to the United States with your old passport containing a valid visa and your new, valid passport.

Applicants who meet the qualifications for visa renewal detailed below can forward their visa application documentation through Correos de Costa Rica (Drop Box).

All visa applicants must be physically present in Costa Rica even if an interview is not required and regardless of the applicant’s age or if the application is a renewal.

Qualifications

Effective March 11, 2021, the United States Department of State has expanded the field of individuals eligible for visa renewal to those who have had a valid visa expire within the last 48 months. The previous requirement was to have had a valid visa expire within 24 months.

Accordingly, the Consular Section of the United States Embassy in Costa Rica may find you eligible for a visa renewal without scheduling a physical appointment at the Consulate if you meet the following criteria:

  • You wish to renew a B1, B2, B1/B2, C1, C1/D, I, O-1 or P-1 U.S. visa that is currently valid or has expired within the last 48 months.
  • You are a citizen or legal resident of Costa Rica
  • You have never resided unlawfully in the United States or otherwise violated U.S. laws.

You are not eligible for a visa renewal appointment if you meet any of the following criteria:

    • You have never had a U.S. visa.
    • Your last U.S. visa expired more than 48 months ago.
    • Your last valid visa was canceled or revoked.
    • Your previous visa was limited to a single entry or to a period of validity that was less than ten years.
    • You did not provide fingerprints during your previous visa application.
    • You wish to apply for a visa in a different visa class than your previous visa. For example, you had a B1/B2 visa, but now you wish to apply for a F-1 student visa. ​​
    • You do not hold a valid Costa Rican passport or residency card.
    • You are applying for more than one visa at the same time. For example, you are applying for both F and B1/B2 visas.
    • You lost your previous passport that had a valid or expired U.S. visa, or it was stolen. ​​

Visa Renewal Process through Drop Box

The approximate processing time for visa renewal applications through drop box is fourteen weeks.

1. Complete the Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application (DS-160) form and print the confirmation page.

2. Pay the visa application fee here.

3. Use the online appointment system https://ustraveldocs.com/cr/index.html to register (Create Account), click on New Application/Schedule Appointment and enter the information requested. If you meet the visa renewal qualifications, print the Appointment Confirmation Letter and take it to the branch of Correos de Costa Rica on the date indicated on the confirmation letter. You will also have to attach the following documentation:

  • Current, valid passport. ​​
  • If the applicant's current or previous visa was issued in another passport, include that passport as well. ​​
  • DS-160 electronic application form confirmation. ​​
  • Current 5cmx5cm photograph taken within the last six months on a white background with no glasses. For information on photo requirements, please visit: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/visa-information-resources/photos.html ​​
  • Visa fee receipt. ​​
  • If the applicant is not a citizen of Costa Rica, include a copy of the applicant’s Costa Rican residency card.
  • For O-1 and P-1 visa applications, copy of your form I-797 petition approval notice. For C1/D visa applications, copy of the work contract.

​​4. The documentation for the application will be forwarded through Correos de Costa Rica to the U.S. Embassy. Applications with missing items will not be accepted.

Please note that consular officers always have the prerogative to require applicants to appear for interview. If the applicant requires an interview, the passport will be returned through Correos de Costa Rica with instructions to schedule an appointment.

​If you need assistance with your visa application or want to learn more about obtaining a visa to travel to the U.S., please contact our customer service at: Callers in Costa Rica: Call 4000-1976, Callers in the United States 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Central Time Monday through Friday: (703) 745-5475.  To reach a customer service representative via email, please write to support-costarica@ustraveldocs.com. ​

Interview Waiver for F, M, J (academic) visas

The Department of State (the Department) has waived, through December 31, 2022, the in-person interview requirement for F, M, and J visa applicants qualifying as secondary and university students, professors, research scholars, short-term scholars, or specialists (“academic J visa applicants”) who were previously issued any class of visa, subject to certain conditions.  

The Department has also waived the in-person interview requirement for first-time F, M, and academic J visa applicants who are citizens or nationals of Visa Waiver Program (VWP) participating countries, subject to the same limitations described above. 

The Department has also exempted from the requirement for collecting fingerprints, through the end of 2021, first-time F, M, and academic J visa applicants who are citizens or nationals of VWP participating countries who qualify for this proposed interview waiver.  

The Department authorized waiving the visa interview requirement for nationals of all countries, except for the People’s Republic of China and Nigeria. 

F, M, and academics J visa applicants that may benefit from the waiver are: 

  • Applicants who were previously issued any class of visa and who have never been refused a visa, unless such refusal was overcome or a waiver of ineligibility has been obtained. For example, if an applicant was previously refused under INA section 214(b) but subsequently issued a visa, they would be considered having overcome the prior 214(b) refusal.
  • First-time and returning student applicants who are citizens or nationals of VWP participating countries and who have no derogatory or potentially derogatory information and no prior ESTA denials.

 Interviews cannot be waived:

  • If an applicant was previously refused, unless such refusal was overcome or a waiver of ineligibility has been obtained.  As noted above, applicants previously refused under INA section 214(b) and subsequently issued a visa at a later interview would be considered as having overcome their prior refusal; 
  • If an applicant was previously denied ESTA as part of the VWP;
  • If there is any indication the applicant may be ineligible or potentially ineligible for a visa based upon derogatory information the officer has at post that the officer cannot resolve without an interview, including if the applicant is associated with an adverse lookout in the Consular Lookout and Support System that you cannot rule out;
  • If the applicant is not a national or resident of the country in which s/he is applying;
  • If the applicant is a national of a country designated by the Secretary of State as a state sponsor of terrorism; 
  • If a student IW applicant has a SEVIS hit, follow guidance at 9 FAM 303.3.  If you are not able to overcome the hit using the available records, you must interview the applicant to resolve the hit and the applicant does not qualify for interview waiver.  Document the decision as detailed in the existing guidance; or
  • If the adjudicating consular officer otherwise believes the applicant should be interviewed, for any reason.

The interview waiver process is not available for J visas for Summer Work & Travel, Au Pair and language training.

Drop box for F, M and J(academic) interview waiver: 

1. Complete the Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application (DS-160) form and print the confirmation page. 

2. Pay the visa application fee here.

3. Use the online appointment system https://ustraveldocs.com/cr/index.html to register (Create Account), click on New Application/Schedule Appointment and enter the information requested. If you meet the F,M J (academic) qualifications, print the Appointment Confirmation Letter and take it to the branch of Correos de Costa Rica on the date indicated on the confirmation letter. You will also have to attach the following documentation:

    • Current, valid passport. ​​
    • If the applicant's current or previous visa was issued in another passport, include that passport as well. ​​
    • DS-160 electronic application form confirmation. ​​
    • Current 5cmx5cm photograph taken within the last six months on a white background with no glasses. For information on photo requirements, please visit: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/visa-information-resources/photos.html ​​
    • Visa fee receipt. ​​
    • If the applicant is not a citizen of Costa Rica, include a copy of the applicant’s Costa Rican residency card.
    • Form I-20 or DS-2019 (please make sure that the form is signed by the applicant is the appropriate space).
    • Receipt of SEVIS fee payment (if applicable). Please see www.fmjfee.com for more information.

4. The documentation for the application will be forwarded through Correos de Costa Rica to the U.S. Embassy. Applications with missing items will not be accepted.

5. If your visa is approved and you are a F visa applicant (with Costa Rican nationality), you will be required to pay the $68 F reciprocity fee at the Consular Section’s cashier. The F reciprocity fee cannot be paid in advance. If your F visa is approved, you will be contacted by the Consulate through e-mail with the instructions on how to pay the reciprocity fee.

Please note that consular officers always have the prerogative to require applicants to appear for interview. If the applicant requires an interview, the passport will be returned through Correos de Costa Rica with instructions to schedule an appointment. Additionally, applicants who do not meet the criteria to forward the documentation as interview waiver will be refused. The Consular Section will provide the instructions to the applicant to proceed with the regular appointment scheduling.

​If you need assistance with your visa application or want to learn more about obtaining a visa to travel to the U.S., please contact our customer service at: Callers in Costa Rica: Call 4000-1976, Callers in the United States 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Central Time Monday through Friday: (703) 745-5475.  To reach a customer service representative via email, please write to support-costarica@ustraveldocs.com. ​