Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

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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 Japan, can I apply for a nonimmigrant visa in Japan?
  6. May I apply for a U.S. visa when I’m just visiting Japan?
  7. Do all nonimmigrant visa applicants have to come to the Embassy or Consulate for an interview?
  8. 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?
  9. My passport has expired, but the U.S. visa in it is still valid. Do I need to apply for a new visa?
  10. I was born in the U.S. and have dual citizenship. Can I apply for a non-immigrant visa?
  11. How can I extend my visa?
  12. Must I submit my visa application form electronically?
  13. What is "administrative processing"?
  14. How do I read and understand my visa?
  15. My visa will expire while I am in the United States. Is there a problem with that?
  16. What will happen when I enter the United States?
  17. Does a visa guarantee that I can enter the United States?
  18. I did not turn in my I-94 when I left the United States. What should I do?
  19. My non-U.S. passport has been lost or stolen with a valid U.S. visa. What should I do?
  20. What should I do if I discover a misprint on my U.S. visa?
  21. I have questions on submitting my DS-160 and printing the confirmation page. Where can I go for more information?
  22. What information do I need to provide about social media, while filling the DS 160 form?
  23. What if I am traveling to Guam or the Northern Mariana Islands?
  24. What is a Machine-Readable passport? A biometric passport or an e-passport?
  25. My non-U.S. passport has been lost or stolen with a valid U.S. visa. What should I do?
  26. Does a five-year visa mean that I can stay in the United States for five years?
  27. I was born in the United States when my parents were there on assignment. I came back to Japan when I was a child and have not lived there since. I am planning to study (or work) in the US. Do I need an visa? Am I an American citizen?
  28. Is my "indefinite" visa still valid?
  29. Why is the Embassy restricting what I can bring to the Embassy?
  30. If I cannot store my belongings at the Embassy, where can I store them?
  31. I’ve been turned away for my appointment because I brought prohibited items. Can I return after I store my items elsewhere?
  32. If I need to re-schedule my appointment, can I do so immediately?
  33. What if my visa documents don’t fit into the clear holder? Can’t I bring them in my briefcase?
  34. Would this rule be applied to the Travel Agent window?
  35. I would like to know if a back-pack to carry diapers and baby clothes/wears instead of diaper bag is also prohibited.
  36. Why are you collecting fingerprints for visa applications?
  37. How are the fingerprints taken?
  38. What happens if I refuse to be fingerprinted?
  39. I do not wish to have my fingerprints taken.
  40. My finger/hand (or part of my finger) is missing.
  41. My fingerprints have been eroded/ are not clear.
  42. I have a cut/blister on my finger.
  43. My child is under the age of 14. Is he/she required to attend the interview?
  44. I am (my parent is) over 79 years old. Am I (is he/she) required to attend the interview?

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 county-specific agreements provide exemptions).

Citizens of  Japan are exempt from the six-month rule and need only have a passport valid for their intended period of stay. If you are traveling visa free under the Visa Waiver Program, your passport needs to be valid for at least 90 days. If your passport is not valid for 90 days, you will be admitted into the United States until the date on which the passport expires.

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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 VWP-compliant 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 fee for ESTA registration. The fee can be paid online using any of the following credit cards: Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover (JCB or Diners Club only), and PayPal. 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.

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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). Citizens of participating Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries traveling to the United States are strongly encouraged to apply for ESTA at the time of booking their trip and no later than 72 hours prior to departure.

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

Applicants are generally advised to apply in their country of nationality or residence. Any person who is legally present in Japan may apply for a visa in Japan. 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 May I apply for a U.S. visa when I’m just visiting Japan?

Applicants for visas to the United States should generally apply at the American Embassy or Consulate with jurisdiction over their place of permanent residence. Non-immigrant visa applicants who are resident in Japan must demonstrate compelling social, economic, and professional ties to Japan in order to qualify for most visas to the US. Temporary visitors to Japan may apply for a visa, but it is more difficult to qualify for a visa outside the country of permanent residence.

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Q.7 Do all nonimmigrant visa applicants have to come to the Embassy or Consulate 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)
  • Applicants who qualify for renewing their visas via mail
  • Applicants 13 years of age or under on the date of their interview or 80 years of age or older on the date of their interview

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Q.8 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. Repeat travelers to the United States may qualify to renew their visas without appearing for an interview. This process allows qualifying applicants to submit their application via mail (except for those who apply at the U.S. Consulate in Naha).

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Q.9 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 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.10  I was born in the U.S. and have dual citizenship. Can I apply for a non-immigrant visa?

Travelers born in the United States and those who hold dual citizenship with the United States must enter and depart the United States on U.S. passports. A national of the United States shall not be issued a visa or other documentation as an alien for entry into the United States (9 FAM 301.3). For how to apply for a U.S. passport, please see U.S. Citizen Services page.

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Q.11 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.12 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 or Consulate.

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Q.13 What is "administrative processing"?

Some refused visa applications may require further administrative processing. When administrative processing is required, the consular officer will inform the applicant at the end of the interview. The duration of the administrative processing will vary based on the individual circumstances of each case. Except in cases of emergency travel (i.e., serious illnesses, injuries, or deaths in your immediate family), before making inquiries about status of administrative processing, applicants should wait at least 180 days from the date of interview or submission of supplemental documents, whichever is later. This web page on the Consular Affairs website has more information about administrative processing.

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Q.14 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 or Consulate) 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.15 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.16 What will happen when I enter the United States?

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, with some exceptions. 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. Learn more on the CBP Website. 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 https://cbp.gov/travel/international-visitors/i-94. You can review information about admission on the CBP Website.

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Q.17 Does a visa guarantee that I can enter the United States?

A valid visa permits you to apply for admission to the United States when you arrive at the airport (or other port of entry) in the United States. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at port of entry makes the final decision as to whether you may be admitted to the United States. It also decides how long you may stay in the United States.

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Q.18 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.19 My non-U.S. passport has been lost or stolen with a valid U.S. visa. What should I do?

If your passport containing a valid U.S. visa is lost or stolen, you are required to report the loss or theft to the Embassy. Click here to file a report on the U.S. Embassy’s web site. This will help protect you against identity theft and the illegal use of your identity.

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Q.20 What should I do if I discover a misprint on my U.S. visa?

If you notice a misprint on your visa, click here to notify the U.S. Embassy. The Consular Section will determine the legitimacy of the correction request and provide you instructions by email on what to do next.

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Q.21 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, https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/visa-information-resources/forms/ds-160-online-nonimmigrant-visa-application/ds-160-faqs.html.

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Q.22 What information do I need to provide about social media, while filling the DS 160 form?

On May 31 2019, the Department of State updated its immigrant and non-immigrant visa application forms to request additional information, including social media identifiers, from most U.S. visa applicants worldwide. For more details please click here.

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Q.23 What if I am traveling to Guam or the Northern Mariana Islands?

Citizens of Australia, Brunei, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Nauru, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan and the United Kingdom do not need a visa or ESTA to visit both Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands because of the Guam-CNMI Visa Waiver Program, though they must complete Form I-736 prior to travel. Chinese citizens also do not need a visa if they complete Form I-736 for temporary admission into the Northern Mariana Islands. For more information on the Guam-CNMI Visa Waiver Program, click here.

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Q.24 What is a Machine-Readable passport? A biometric passport or an e-passport?

Readable passport has two lines of text at the bottom of the personal information page, along with the bearer’s digital photo instead of one that is glued on.  A biometric passport or an e-passport contains an electronic chip that can be read by special equipment to confirm the data printed on the passport and has the international symbols for an e-passport on the passport cover.

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Q.25 I have a visa, do I also need a return ticket?

If you hold a visa of any classification, including a B-1/B-2 visa, you are not required to hold a return ticket; you may enter the United States on a one way ticket. All travelers should carry with them for presentation to U.S. officials, if required, evidence of funds sufficient for their visit and, with the exception of H and L visa holders, evidence that they have a residence abroad to which they intend returning at the end of their stay.

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Q.26 Does a five-year visa mean that I can stay in the United States for five years?

No. A visa only allows you to present yourself at a United States border or port of entry for inspection. The Immigrations Officer determines the amount of time you can stay in the United States once you have been granted entry. A five-year, multiple-entry visa means that you are allowed to travel to the United States as many times as you like during the five-year validity period, staying no longer than the time indicated by the Immigrations Officer.

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Q.27 I was born in the United States when my parents were there on assignment. I came back to Japan when I was a child and have not lived there since. I am planning to study (or work) in the US. Do I need an visa? Am I an American citizen?

Since you were born in the US, you may be an American citizen. Before applying for your non-immigrant visa, please visit the American Citizen Services office of the Embassy to verify your citizenship. If you are a U.S. citizen, you do not need a visa and must enter the United States with a U.S. passport. For a list of documents you will need to prepare, click here.

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Q.28 Is my "indefinite" visa still valid?

Indefinite visas are no longer valid for travel to the United States.  Bearers of indefinite visas who wish to travel to the United States should apply for a new visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

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Q.29 Why is the Embassy restricting what I can bring to the Embassy?

Mission Japan historically, 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 Tokyo 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  time. No electronics, with the exception of 1 phone, are allowed in the Embassy, and screening and checking multiple phones, iPads, computers and the like also takes  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 visa interview, will be worth it. Please plan now for our “Phone Only” screening process on the day of your visa interview.

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Q.30 If I cannot store my belongings at the Embassy, where can I store them?

Metro stations and train stations have coin operated lockers. In addition, there are similar facilities throughout Tokyo. 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.31 I’ve been turned away for my appointment because I brought prohibited items. Can I return after I store my items elsewhere?

Yes, applicants with  appointments must return by the time they are instructed on the day of their interview, otherwise they will need to make a new appointment for another day.

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Q.32 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.33 What if my visa documents don’t fit into the clear holder? Can’t I bring them in my briefcase?

No. You can use more than one clear holder, bound together, for your visa documents.

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Q.34 Would this rule be applied for Travel Agent window?

We understand that travel agents must bring in large amounts of visa cases. The screening is for visa applicants only. Travel agents are not visa applicants.

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Q.35 I would like to know if the back-pack to carry diapers and baby clothes/wears instead of diaper bag is also prohibited.

A big back-pack is prohibited, but if you place the diapers in a small bag (less than 10”x10”), it will be allowed.

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Q.36 Why are you collecting fingerprints for visa applications?

The U.S. Government is committed to securing its borders while continuing to facilitate legitimate travel. The U.S. Congress mandated that visas to international visitors  include a so-called biometric identifier. The U.S. government decided that photographs and electronically scanned fingerprints were the most effective and least intrusive biometric identifiers.

The use of biometrics assists immigration inspectors in verifying the identity of an international traveler. Biometrics collected at U.S. embassies and consulates abroad are checked at the ports of entry to verify that the person travelling with the visa is the same person who was issued the visa.

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Q.37 How are the fingerprints taken?

On your visa interview day, your ten fingers are electronically scanned and captured by computer. No ink is used, and the process takes only seconds.

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Q.38 What happens if I refuse to be fingerprinted?

If you visit the Embassy or Consulate for an interview and refused to have your fingerprints taken, your application will be refused on the basis that it is incomplete. If you later decide to have your fingerprints taken, then your application would be considered without prejudice.

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Q.39 I do not wish to have my fingerprints taken.

It is a requirement of U.S. law that visa applicants aged 14 to 79 have their fingerprints taken. Finger scans are already being taken at all the visa interviewing embassies and consulates around the world and the process has proved to be safe, easy, and fast. Fingerprint scanning does not add significant time to the visa interview. The inclusion of biometric data in travel records will make it easier to replace a lost or stolen travel document by providing confirmation of your identity.

If you do not wish to comply with this requirement, your application will be refused on the basis that it is incomplete.

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Q.40 My finger/hand (or part of my finger) is missing.

You are still required to attend the visa interview. The consular officer will discuss this matter with you during your interview.

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Q.41 My fingerprints have been eroded/ are not clear.

You are still required to attend the visa interview. If the consular officer is unsuccessful in capturing your fingerprints, you will be provided with additional instructions.

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Q.42I have cut/blister on my finger.

You are still required to attend the visa interview.  If the consular officer is unsuccessful in capturing your fingerprints, you will be provided with additional instructions.

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Q.43 My child is under the age of 14. Is he/she required to attend the interview?

If you are applying for a nonimmigrant visa and your child is under 14 years old he/she does not have to attend the interview or be fingerprinted. Even if your child will not attend the interview, please make an appointment for him/her.  You may submit an application on their behalf when you come in for your own interview. If the child is the only one applying and he/she is under 14 years old, you may mail in the visa application.

See Visas for Children and Elderly.

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Q.44 I am (my parent is) over 79 years old. Am I (is he/she) required to attend the interview?

Persons over 79 years of age are not required to attend the visa interview or be fingerprinted. The application may be mailed-in. If you are no longer able to use ESTA or your ESTA is denied, you will be required to attend an interview regardless of age.

See Visas for Children and Elderly.

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FAQ - COVID19 Testing

  1. Is the Department of State going to start requiring proof of a COVID-19 vaccination or test for visa applicants?
  2. Given the CDC has begun requiring negative tests to enter the United States, will foreign nationals with a negative test or vaccine be able to get a visa/enter the United States even if they would normally be restricted by one of the Presidential Proclamations? If a foreign national obtains a National Interest Exception, will they be exempt from the negative testing requirement?
  3. There are reports of foreign nationals traveling to Florida to receive vaccines. Is that permitted under the law?
  4. What will happen to U.S. citizens or foreign nationals who present forged or otherwise illegitimate negative COVID test results in order to try to enter the United States?
  5. Will travelers be able to request CDC waivers (exemptions) from the testing requirement for emergency or humanitarian reasons at Embassies and Consulates?
  6. If I'm vaccinated, do I have to present a negative COVID test to fly to the United States? Why?

Q.1 Is the Department of State going to start requiring proof of a COVID-19 vaccination or test for visa applicants?

We have no changes to visa requirements to announce at this time. Information regarding required vaccinations for immigrant visa applicants may be found on this website.

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Q.2 Given the CDC has begun requiring negative tests to enter the United States, will foreign nationals with a negative test or vaccine be able to get a visa/enter the United States even if they would normally be restricted by one of the Presidential Proclamations? If a foreign national obtains a National Interest Exception, will they be exempt from the negative testing requirement?

All Presidential Proclamations restricting travel due to COVID-19 remain in place, and continue to apply to subject potential travelers regardless of their test results or vaccination status. Travelers holding a National Interest Exception also remain subject to all applicable pre-departure testing requirements. For more information regarding testing requirements, we refer you to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Q.3 There are reports of foreign nationals traveling to Florida to receive vaccines. Is that permitted under the law?

Seeking medical treatment in the United States is a permissible purpose of travel for individuals holding a valid visitor visa; you may find more information here. For questions regarding entering the United States under the Visa Waiver Program, we refer you to the Department of Homeland Security.

For questions regarding individuals' eligibility to receive the vaccine in the United States as part of a priority group, we refer you to local health authorities. 

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Q.4 What will happen to U.S. citizens or foreign nationals who present forged or otherwise illegitimate negative COVID test results in order to try to enter the United States?

Per the CDC’s order, travelers must present a verifiable, documented test result to their airline in order to travel. Individuals found to have provided forged or otherwise illegitimate test results may be denied boarding and/or entry into the United States. We refer you to CDC, DHS, and DOT for information on implementation.

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Q.5 Will travelers be able to request CDC waivers (exemptions) from the testing requirement for emergency or humanitarian reasons at Embassies and Consulates?

Waivers to the testing requirement may be granted by the CDC on an extremely limited case-by-case basis when extraordinary emergency travel, such as emergency medical evacuation, must occur to preserve someone’s health or safety, and testing cannot be completed before travel. Individuals who believe they meet the criteria will find information on how to request an emergency waiver on the website of the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. There are no waivers available through this process for individuals who test positive for COVID-19.

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Q.6 If I'm vaccinated, do I have to present a negative COVID test to fly to the United States? Why?

All passengers age two and older are subject to the order, even those who have received a COVID-19 vaccine. For questions regarding the testing requirements, we refer you to the CDC, which has information on Requirement for Proof of Negative COVID-19 Test or Recovery from COVID-19 for All Air Passengers Arriving in the United States and Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19 Vaccination.

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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?
  5. The officer didn’t give me time to explain.
  6. The officer didn’t look at my documents.
  7. I am a legal resident of Japan. Why don’t I qualify?
  8. I was told my J-1 training program looks like work. What does this mean?
  9. I want my money back.
  10. I had a U.S. visa in the past, and I didn’t overstay while in the United States. Why won’t you issue me a new one?
  11. I may not have been born in Japan, but I’m in Japan now. Why can’t you issue me a visa here?
  12. Why didn’t they tell me when I called or emailed that I would not get a visa?
  13. When can I reapply for a visa?

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...

Consular officers must decide in a short time if someone is qualified to receive a temporary visa. Most cases are decided after a brief interview and review of the evidence 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. Failure to do so will result in a refusal of a visa under INA 214(b). The most frequent basis for this refusal is the requirement that the applicant have a residence abroad that he/she has no intention of abandoning. Applicants can prove their residence abroad by demonstrating ties abroad that would compel them to leave the U.S. at the end of their 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 officer 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.

During the visa interview, consular officers 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 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 carefully review their situation and realistically evaluate their ties. 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. Therefore, it falls exclusively within the authority of consular officers at our Foreign Service posts to resolve whether an applicant possesses a residence abroad. An applicant can only reapply and present 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.


Q.5 The officer didn’t give me time to explain.

The visa officer who refused your visa is well trained. In a very short time, a consular officer has looked at several aspects of your case: your situation in Japan, your stated intent for going to the United States, your previous travel history, your financial situation, etc. Based on the unique circumstances of your case, the consular officer asked you the questions he/she deemed necessary. The visa officer weighed your answers to those questions with the specific facts of your case. The high volume of applications we receive demands that the consular officer examine your case only as far as necessary for him/her to determine whether you overcame the legal presumption of intending immigration to the United States.


Q.6The officer didn’t look at my documents.

Nonimmigrant visa decisions are based on the totality of the applicant's circumstances, including the interview, application forms, and any other information available to the consular officer.  While documents can be a part of that, they alone will never establish applicants’ intentions. Depending on the specifics of your case, the consular officer may or may not have needed to examine your documents closely to make a decision about your intent. f the consular officer made a decision in your case without a detailed scrutiny of your documents, it was because other circumstances of your case were clear. If your visa was refused, it is highly unlikely that any document you could provide would significantly alter the visa officer’s decision about your intent.


Q.7 I am a legal resident of Japan.  Why don’t I qualify?

Many recent legal residents of Japan cannot demonstrate sufficiently strong ties here to qualify for a non-immigrant visa to the United States.  In general, you must be able to show that you have settled in Japan and have made it your permanent home. In reviewing your application, the consular officer considered many aspects such as: How long have you been at your current address? How long have you been at your current job? Are you, or are your children enrolled in school? What commitments do you have here that would compel you to return? What social ties do you have in Japan? Often it is a question of time, and the best way to qualify for a visa is to reside in Japan for a longer period of time and to build further social and economic ties.


Q.8 I was told my J-1 training program looks like work.  What does this mean?

While a J-1 training program may contain a small portion of productive work, the primary focus of the program must be training and skill development. The trainee may not replace or augment the regular staff by filling a position that could otherwise be held by a regular employee. The consular officer has reviewed your training plan and determined that your purpose of travel better fits into the category of a temporary work visa.


Q.9I want my money back.

The money that you paid is a non-refundable application fee. Everyone who applies for a U.S. visa is subject to this fee. The application instruction form states clearly that this fee is non-refundable and will not be returned if you fail to establish that you qualify for a U.S. visa.  If you plan to reapply for a visa here or elsewhere, you will be required to pay an application fee every time you apply.


Q.10 I had a U.S. visa in the past, and I didn’t overstay while in the United States.  Why won’t you issue me a new one?

While you may not have overstayed on a previous visa, and may not have broken the law or illegally resided in the U.S., you may have violated the spirit of your visa. A nonimmigrant visa is intended for someone to travel to the U.S. for specific purposes, but is not intended to accommodate transfer of your permanent residence to the U.S. Your past activity may indicate to the consular officer that you have been using or intend to use a nonimmigrant visa to reside in the United States indefinitely. Such activity is not appropriate to the type of visa you were using or intend to use.


Q.11 I may not have been born in Japan, but I’m in Japan now. Why can’t you issue me a visa here?

A U.S. visa officer in your own country is better qualified to look at your case and to make a determination about your residence abroad and your intent to return to your foreign residence. Even though your application has been refused in Japan, you may be able to qualify for a visa in your home country. Consular officials in Japan may not h have enough context about your country to make an informed decision.


Q.12 Why didn’t they tell me when I called or emailed that I would not get a visa?

Every application for a visa is based on its own merits. By telephone or e-mail, it is only possible to give general information regarding the visa application process and to suggest the types of documents that might help you to demonstrate your eligibility for a U.S. visa. The visa application instructions clearly state that there is no guarantee that you will receive a U.S. visa if you choose to apply.


Q.13 When can I reapply for a visa?

You may reapply for a visa any time you wish. You will be required to pay a new application fee. You should only reapply if your circumstances (professional, economic, and/or ties) have changed since your last application, or if you have additional, critical information to present that will clarify your circumstances. It is quite possible that even after reapplication, you still may not qualify for a visa. Please understand that the visa application fee will not be refunded in such cases.

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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 changed my name. Is my U.S. visa with my old name still valid?
  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?
  7. What activities are covered by the B-1 visa?
  8. Can I enter the United States on a B-1 visa or visa free under the visa waiver program to set up an office?
  9. What activities are covered by the B-2 visitor visa?
  10. My B-1/B-2 visa states that it is indefinite. Is it still valid?
  11. I renewed my passport, and a valid U.S. visa is in my old passport. Can you transfer a valid visa in my old passport to the new passport, or do I need to apply for a new visa?
  12. Do I need a return ticket in order to travel with a B-1/B-2 visa?
  13. Is there a limit on the number of times I may travel to the United States on a B-2 visa in any given period?

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?

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

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Q.7 What activities are covered by the B-1 Business visa?

The holder of a B-1 visa, or a person travelling for business without a visa under the Visa Waiver Program, may undertake any one of the following activities:

 

  • Attend business or professional conferences or conventions
  • Consult with business associates
  • Negotiate contracts
  • Purchase goods or materials
  • Appear as a witness in court trials
  • Undertake independent research

Travelers entering the U.S. under the B-1 classification may not perform productive work or accept paid or unpaid employment.

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Q.8 Can I enter the United States on a B-1 visa or visa free under the visa waiver program to set up an office?

The holder of a B-1 visa, or a person who has entered the United States without a visa under the Visa Waiver Program, may survey potential sites in connection with a business venture and/or to lease premises. The holder of a B-1 visa may not remain in the U.S. to manage a business. If the individual is to remain in the United States, the appropriate work visa (H, L, or E) is required.

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Q.9 What activities are covered by the B-2 visitor visa?

The holder of a B-2 visa or a person travelling for pleasure without a visa under the Visa Waiver Program, may undertake any one of the following activities:

  • Visit friend/relatives
  • Undergo medical treatment
  • Participate in conventions, conferences or convocations of fraternal or social organizations

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Q.10 My B-1/B-2 visa states that it is indefinite. Is it still valid?

In 1995, the U.S. Department of State announced that all indefinite visas would expire on the tenth anniversary of their issuance date. If your B-1/B-2 visa was issued more than ten years ago, it is no longer valid. You will be required to apply for a new visa, or travel visa free under the Visa Waiver Program, if eligible.

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Q.11 I renewed my passport, and have a valid U.S. visa is in my old passport. Can you transfer a valid visa in my old passport to the new passport, or do I need to apply for a new visa?

The U.S. Embassy does not transfer a valid visa in an expired passport to a new passport. A visa is valid until the date of expiration printed on it, even if the passport it is in has expired. You should therefore carry both the old passport containing the visa along with your new passport when you enter the U.S. If you wish to have your visa in your new passport, you must apply for a new visa.

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Q.12 Do I need a return ticket in order to travel with a B-1/B-2 visa?

You are not required to have a return flight at the time of entry to the U.S., but you should carry evidence that you have a reason to depart the U.S. at the end of your stay and return to your residence abroad. You should also carry proof that you have sufficient funds to support yourself while in the United States.

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Q.13 Is there a limit on the number of times I may travel to the United States on a B-2 visa in any given period?

There is no limit on how many visits a person may make to the U.S. in any given period. However, a visitor who spends prolonged periods in the United States may have difficulty convincing the immigration inspector that he/she is not an intending immigrant. It is important that you carry evidence of a residence abroad to which you intend to return at the end of your stay. Individuals who are unable to convince immigration officials that they are bona fide visitors may be denied entry into the U.S.

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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?
  7. I wish to work in the United States, what type of visa do I need?
  8. Who can apply for an H-1 visa?
  9. I am applying for an H-1/H-2/H-3 visa. Can I enter the United States before I begin my employment?
  10. How do I know when the employment is authorized to begin?
  11. I am being transferred to a subsidiary in the U.S. My company wishes to establish an office in the United States. What do I need to do?
  12. Can I enter the United States on a B-1 visa or visa free under the Visa Waiver Program to set up an office?
  13. I have an H-1/H-2/H-3 visa. How long can I / my dependents remain in the United States after the employment contract terminates?
  14. I am the legal guardian of a child and am applying for an H/L/O/P visa. Is the child eligible for a derivative visa?
  15. Can my stepchild apply for a derivative H/L/O/P visa?
  16. I have an O/P visa and my spouse/child has an O-3/P-3 visa. How long can we remain in the United States?
  17. We are a choir that has been invited to perform in the United States. What type of visa do we need?
  18. We are a professional theater group performing at an international festival in the U.S. What type of visa do we need?
  19. We are musicians who are recording in the United States, what type of visa do we need?
  20. I have a Q visa. How long can I remain in the United States?
  21. Can my spouse/common-law spouse/children/other family members travel with me to the U.S. if I am issued a work visa?
  22. Can my spouse/common-law spouse/children/other family members travel with me to the U.S. if I am issued a Q visa?
  23. Can I apply for a work visa while in the United States?
  24. My spouse is applying for an H-4 visa. Can he/she work?
  25. My spouse is applying for an L-2 visa. can he/she work?
  26. Can my spouse apply for employment authorization before travelling to the U.S.?
  27. My son/daughter is applying for an L-2 visa. can he/she work?

Q.1 What is a petition?

Before applying for a temporary worker visa at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate, 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 Embassy or Consulate will need your I-129 petition receipt number to verify your petition's approval. The receipt number is printed on either your approved I-129 petition or your I-797 Petition Approval Notice.

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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 applying for a visa.

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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?

The U.S. Embassy/Consulate may process your H, L, O, P or Q visa application up to 90 days prior to the beginning of employment status as noted on your I-797. You may use the visa no sooner than 10 days before your employment start date, as noted on your Form I-797 or Form I-129S.

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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 at the time of his/her visa interview at the U.S. Embassy/Consulate. For individual L1 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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Q.7 I wish to work in the United States, what type of visa do I need?

Work visas are issued for specific positions and require prearranged employment. U.S. law does not contain any provision for informal working holidays.

If you are being transferred by a current employer to a subsidiary company in the U.S., then you will need an intra company transferee (L-1) visa. L-1 visa-holders must work for an international company and hold a managerial, executive, or specialist level position. Transferees must move to the same level position within the United States company. An L-1 visa is also appropriate if the employee is coming to the United States to establish an office. The employment must be approved in advance by the office of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on the basis of a Form I-129 petition filed by the U.S company. In the case of a petition to open an office, the petitioner should be from the international company. Any questions you may have concerning this process should be addressed to the USCIS office in the area where you plan to work.

You will require an exchange visitor (J-1) visa if you are being sponsored by an educational institution, a nonprofit organization, a summer program for students such as BUNAC or Camp America, an au pair program, or are going to work in the U.S as a medical intern or resident at a hospital. The J-1 visa is required by anyone taking up prearranged employment, training or research in the United States under an officially approved program sponsored by an educational or other nonprofit institution. A J-1 visa is also appropriate for participants in summer employment programs, such as Camp America and BUNAC, intern programs for university students and au pair programs. The sponsor of the program will send the visa applicant the form DS-2019. An exchange visitor visa cannot be processed without this form. The first step in applying for the visa is to contact the sponsor to find out whether or not the form is available.

A temporary work (H) visa is required by anyone who is going to the United States to perform a prearranged professional or highly skilled job, or employment which is temporary or seasonal in nature and for which there is a shortage of U.S. workers. The employment must be approved in advance by the office of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on the basis of a petition, form I-129, filed by the U.S employer. Any questions you may have concerning this process should be addressed to the USCIS office in the area where you plan to work.

Click here for more information of about working visas.

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Q.8 Who can apply for an H-1 visa?

An H-1 visa is required by anyone coming to the United States to perform services in a prearranged professional job. To qualify, the alien requires a bachelors or higher degree (or equivalent) in the specific specialty for which employment authorization is being sought. It is the responsibility of the office of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to determine whether the employment constitutes a specialty occupation and whether the alien is qualified to perform the services.

The employment must be approved in advance by the USCIS in the United States on the basis of a Form I-129 petition, filed by the United States employer. Before filing the Form I-129 petition, the employer must file a labor condition application with the Department of Labor concerning the terms and conditions of the contract of employment. More information on H-1 petitions.

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Q.9 I am applying for an H-1/H-2/H-3 visa.  Can I enter the United States before I begin my employment?

You may enter the United States up to 10 days before the employment is authorized to begin as indicated on the notice of action, form I-797A/B.

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Q.10 How do I know when the employment is authorized to begin?

The validity period of the petition is reflected on the Notice of Action, form I-797, which is sent to the petitioner.

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Q.11 I am. being transferred to a subsidiary in the U.S.  My company wishes to establish an office in the United States. What do I need to do?

An intra company transferee (L-1) visa is required by an employee of an international company who is  coming to the United States to establish a parent, branch, affiliate or subsidiary in the United States. To qualify, the alien must be at the executive or managerial level, or have specialized knowledge and demonstrate that the company has secured sufficient physical premises to house the new office. The U.S. company is required to file a Form I-129 petition, with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services Center (USCIS) office in the area of intended employment. The petitioner must be the international company. Contact the appropriate USCIS office with questions about this process.

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Q.12 Can I enter the US on a B-1 visa or visa free under the Visa Waiver Program to setup an office?

The holder of a B-1 visa, or a person who has entered the United States in B-1 visa status under the Visa Waiver Program, may survey potential sites in connection with a business venture and/or to lease premises. The holder of a B-1 visa may not remain in the U.S. to manage a business. An appropriate work visa (H, L, or E visa) is required.

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Q.13 I have a H-1/H-2/H-3 visa.  How long can I / my dependents remain in the United States after the employment contract terminates?

You may remain in the United States  up to ten days after your petition end date.

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Q.14 I am the legal guardian of a child and am applying for an H/L/O/P visa.  Is the child eligible for a derivative visa?

No. Only a biological child, step child, or adopted child under the age of 21 is eligible to derive status from a nonimmigrant visa petition filed on behalf of a parent.

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Q.15 Can my stepchild apply for a derivative H/L/O/P visa?

If the marriage creating the relationship of stepparent and child occurred before the child’s eighteenth birthday, he/she may apply for a derivative visa. When applying for the visa you should include a copy of your marriage certificate establishing the stepparent/child relationship.

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Q.16 I have an O/P visa and my spouse/child has an O-3/P-3 visa.   How long can we remain in the United States?

You may remain in the United States for the validity period of the petition plus ten days after the end of the petition.

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Q.17 We are a choir that has been invited to perform in the United States.  What type of visa do we need?

If you are all amateurs and will perform in a social and/or charitable context, you will need B-2 visas, or (if eligible) you may travel visa free under the Visa Waiver Program. However, if you will be performing to a paying audience, you need P visas. If you are professional musicians, or the group includes a mixture of professional and amateur musicians, you will need P visas.

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Q.18 We are a professional theater group performing at an international festival in the United States.  What type of visa do we need?

You will need  O or P visas unless you are participating in a cultural program sponsored by your home country, or in a contest with no compensation other than cash prizes, merchandise, or expenses.

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Q.19 We are musicians recording in the United States.  What type of visa do we need?

A B-1 visa, or visa free travel is appropriate if you will utilize recording facilities for recording purposes only; the recording will be distributed and sold only outside the United States; and, there will be no public performances.

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Q.20 I have a Q visa.  How long can I stay in the United States?

You may remain in the United States for the validity period of your petition, as long as the total period of stay in the U.S. does not exceed 15 months.

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Q.21 Can my spouse/common-law spouse/children/other family members travel with me to the US if I'm issued a work visa?

The spouse and children under the age of 21 of the beneficiary of an H/L/O/P visa may apply for derivative status. U.S. visa law does not recognize common-law marriages. A common-law spouse may not apply for a derivative visa, and will be required to apply for a visitor visa or work visa if seeking employment.

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Q.22 Can my spouse/common-law spouse/children/other family members travel with me to the US if I'm issued a Q visa?

There is no derivative status for the spouse and children of the holder of a Q Visa. If they or your common-law spouse or other family member wish to accompany you to the U.S., they will be required to qualify for a visa in their own right. School age children require student F-1 visas.

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Q.23 Can I apply for a work visa while in the United States?

If you are travelling to the United States with the intention of taking up employment you must be in possession of the correct work visa. You cannot travel to the U.S visa free under the Visa Waiver Program and apply for an adjustment of status.

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Q.24 My spouse is applying for an H-4 visa.  Can he/she work?

The holder of an H-4 visa is not eligible to work on a derivative visa. If your spouse wishes to work while in the United States, he/she must qualify for a work visa in his/her own right.

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Q.25 My spouse is applying for an L-2 visa.  Can he/she work?

As a result of a recent change in the law, spouses of L-1 visa holders may seek employment authorization on derivative L-2 visas. Further information is available from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services after your arrival in the United States.

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Q.26 Can my spouse apply for employment authorization before travelling to the United States?

Only the office of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in the United States can grant employment authorization. The USCIS office in your area of intended residence in the United States will be able to give you instructions. . You should contact them for further information after your arrival in the United States.

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Q.27 My son/daughter is applying for an L-2 visa.  Can he/she work?

The recent change in the law allowing spouses of L-1 visa holders to seek employment authorization on derivative L-2 visas does not apply to children of the L-1 holder.

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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. How long before my program starts ca I travel to the United States? 
  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?
  5. 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?
  6. Can an F-1 student work in the United States?
  7. What is the SEVIS system and how does it affect me?
  8. How can I find a school in the United States?
  9. What does the “Full Course of Study” for undergraduate study mean?
  10. Should I wait for my I-20 to arrive before scheduling my interview appointment?
  11. I have not received my I-20 yet. What should I do?
  12. How long can I stay in the U.S. with an F/M visa?
  13. I have changed schools. Do I need to get a new visa?
  14. If I am in the U.S. studying and my visa has expired do I need to leave the country?
  15. Can my family members work on F-2 / M-2 derivative visas in the United States?
  16. Can I study at a public school in the United States?
  17. Can parents get a visa to live in the U.S. and care for their child who has an F-1 visa?

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.

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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. Student (F and M) visas for new students can be issued up to 120 days in advance of the start date for a course of study.

NOTE: You should have your I-20 with you at your appointment. It is important that you schedule your appointment well in advance. Please select a date on which you expect to have your I-20. If your program starting date is a month or less away, you may come to your appointment without your I-20 and mail it directly to the U.S. Embassy/Consulate as soon as it arrives.

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Q.3 How long before my program starts can I travel to the United States?

According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, student visa holders may enter the U.S. no earlier than 30 days before the start date listed on their I-20. This 30-day limit does not apply to returning students with a valid I-20; they may travel to the U.S. at any time.

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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, your nonimmigrant status remains valid,  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 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.6 Can an F-1 student work in the United States?

Full-time students on F-1 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.

M-1 visa holders may only engage in employment which is a required part of their practical training and the employment has been approved in advance by the office of USCIS.

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Q.7 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.  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.8 How can I find a school in the United States?

EducationUSA is a good source of information on finding schools in the United States.

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Q.9 What does the “Full Course of Study” for undergraduate study mean?

“Full Course of Study” for undergraduate study means: Study at a college or university, certified by a school official to consist of at least 12 semester or quarter hours of instruction per academic term in those institutions using standard semester, trimester, or quarter hour systems, where all undergraduate students who are enrolled for a minimum of 12 semester or quarter hours are charged full-time tuition or are considered full-time for other administrative purposes, or its equivalent (as determined by the district director in the school approval process), except when the student needs a lesser course load to complete the course of study during the current term.

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Q.10 Should I wait for my I-20 to arrive before scheduling my interview appointment?

You should have your I-20 with you at your appointment. It is important, however, that you schedule your appointment well in advance. Please select a date in which you expect to have your I-20. See here for more information.

Please note, however, that if your program starting date is a month or less away, you may come to your appointment without your I-20and mail it directly to the U.S. Embassy/Consulate as soon as it arrives.

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Q.11 I have not received my I-20 yet. What should I do?

Please contact your school directly. If the school does not have the forms, it should contact the local office of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

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Q.12 How long can I stay in the U.S. with an F/M visa?

F visa holders may remain in the US for up to 60 days after the end date listed on their I-20. M visa holders may remain in the U.S. either for one year or the time indicated on the I-20 plus 30 days, whichever is less.

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Q.13 I have changed schools. Do I need to get a new visa?

If you change schools before you make your first trip to the US as a student, you will need to get a new visa. However, if you are changing schools after you have started your studies in the US, you do not need to get a new visa. Current student visa holders who are outside the United States should consult with their "designated school officials.” More information is available on the SEVP website under Do Students Returning from Temporary Absences Need New Visas?

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Q.14 If I am in the U.S. studying and my visa has expired do I need to leave the country?

You may remain in the U.S. as long as you are in full-time student status. On your next trip outside the U.S., you will need to obtain a valid student visa in order to reenter the United States.

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Q.15 Can my family members work on F-2 / M-2 derivative visas in the United States?

No. Family members may not work on derivative F-2 and M-2 visas; they may, however, engage in study that is a vocational or recreational in nature, only as a part-time student.

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Q.16 Can I study at a public school in the United States?

According to section 214(l) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), students cannot attend public elementary school (grades K through 8, approximately ages 5 to 14) or publicly funded adult education programs such as foreign language classes on an F-1 visa. It is possible to attend public high school (grades 9 through 12, approximately ages 14 to 18) for a maximum of 12 months on an F-1 visa, but proof must be shown that payment has been made for the full, unsubsidized cost of the education before a visa can be processed.

Students attending private elementary and secondary schools are not affected by this ruling

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Q.17 Can parents get a visa to live in the U.S. and care for their child who has an F-1 visa?

No, there is no visa which will allow a parent to do this.

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FAQ - Exchange Visitor Visa

  1. I received my visa. How long before my program starts can I travel to the U.S.?
  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?
  5. Should I wait for my DS-2019 to arrive before scheduling my interview appointment?
  6. I have not received my DS-2019 yet. What should I do?
  7. I plan to have language training before my J1 program starts. Do I need a different visa?
  8. How long can I stay in the U.S. with a J visa?
  9. I am currently an exchange visitor. Do I need a visa to re-enter the U.S.?
  10. If my visa expires while in the U.S., do I need to leave the country?
  11. Can I work on a J-1 visa while I am in the U.S.?
  12. Can my family members work on a derivative J-2 visa while we are in the U.S.?

Q.1 I received my visa. How long before my program starts can I travel to the U.S.?

According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, exchange visitor visa holders may enter the U.S. no earlier than 30 days before the commencement date on the DS-2019. This 30-day limit does not apply to those returning to continue an ongoing program; they may enter the U.S. at any time.

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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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Q.5 Should I wait for my DS-2019 to arrive before scheduling my interview appointment?

Although you will need your DS-2019 for your interview, it is important to schedule your appointment well in advance. Please select a date in which you expect to have your DS-2019.

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Q.6 I have not received my DS-2019 yet. What should I do?

Contact your program sponsor directly. If your program sponsor does not have the forms, they should contact the Office of Education in Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State.

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Q.7 I plan to have language training before my J1 program starts. Do I need a different visa?

You will probably need a student visa for the language school you are planning to attend.

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Q.8 How long can I stay in the U.S. with a J visa?

J visa holders may remain in the U.S. for up to 30 days after the ending date listed on the DS-2019.

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Q.9 I am currently an exchange visitor. Do I need a visa to re-enter the U.S.?

If you are making a short trip outside of the U.S., your visa has not expired, and you are still participating in the same program listed on your J visa, there is no need to obtain another visa.

If your visa has expired or you are changing programs, you will need to apply for a new visa.

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Q.10 I If my visa expires while in the U.S., do I need to leave the country?

You may remain in the U.S. as long as you are on full-time exchange visitor status. On your next trip outside the U.S., you will need to obtain a valid exchange visitor visa to re-enter the U.S.

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Q.11 Can I work on a J-1 visa while I am in the U.S.?

Exchange visitors are not permitted to work outside of their program.

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Q.12 Can my family members work on a derivative J-2 visa while we are in the U.S.?

Family members are not permitted to work on derivative J-2 visas unless permission has been obtained in advance from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Study at academic institutions is possible.

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FAQ - Transit/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?

A C-1 visa is for transiting through the U.S. only. If you seek layover privileges for any other purpose, like visiting friends or sightseeing, then you will need 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 - Treaty Trader and Treaty Investor Visas

  1. How long will it take to review a company’s registration request?
  2. Can I send E visa company registration documents without an individual application?
  3. I am in the U.S. Can I send my E visa application to Japan?
  4. Can my family members work or study in the United States?
  5. My U.S. company (employer) has changed. Do I have to apply for a new E visa?
  6. Is it necessary for family members to apply for derivative E visas with the principal applicant?
  7. How do I pay the E visa application fee for a new company registration?

 

Q.1 How long will it take to review a company’s registration request?

Processing time for the review of properly filed treaty trader/investor registration applications can take several weeks. Incomplete applications may be subject to processing delays, so please review the listed requirements carefully before submitting your application.  After your company is reviewed,  you will need to schedule an interview appointment. 

See here (under Track My Passport Q2)  for more information about visa processing times.

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Q.2 Can I send E visa company registration documents without an individual application?

No. Company registration applications must be accompanied by an individual application.

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Q.3 I am in the U.S. Can I send my E visa application to Japan?

If you are in process of registering your company, you may submit your company registration documents electronically from the United States. However, you will be required to appear personally for an interview in Japan to apply for your visa.

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Q.4 Can my family members work in the U.S.?

Family members may work on derivative E visas only if they obtain permission in advance from United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Study at academic institutions is permitted on a derivative E visa and does not require USCIS authorization.

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Q.5 My U.S. company (employer) has been changed.  Do I have to apply for a new E visa?

If you remain in the United States, you may register a change of employer with USCIS. If you leave the United States and intend to re-enter to the United States to start working for the new company, you will need a new E visa.


Q.6 Is it necessary for family members to apply for derivative E visas with the principal applicant?

No. Family members can apply for the visas at a later date if they wish. They may not, however, apply for their visas before the principal applicant.

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Q.7 How do I pay the E visa application fee for a new company registration?

In order to register your company, you must submit an application for an individual employee’s E Visa.  Please see our Application Procedures for Company Registration for detailed instructions.

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FAQ - Track My Passport

  1. How will I get my passport back after the interview?
  2. When will I receive my passport after my visa is processed?
  3. How and where can I check my passport status?
  4. Why only one passport per envelope? Why no family discounts?
  5. What do I need to bring when I pick up my passport at the courier location?
  6. What happens to my passport if I'm not at home when the courier arrives?
  7. Does my passport have to be delivered to my house?
  8. What do I need to show to the courier when they deliver my passport?
  9. Can someone besides me pick up or receive delivery of my passport?
  10. Do I have to pay any fees for courier services?
  11. What do I do if the Embassy/Consulate has my passport and I need it for urgent international travel?
  12. Can I opt for the home/office delivery service after scheduling appointment or after attending visa interview?
  13. Can I get a refund if my application is refused?

Q.1 How will I get my passport back after the interview?

We will return your passport according to the method you selected. Read about the options here.

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Q.2 When will I receive my passport after my visa is processed078 ?

Provided the visa is approved at the time of the visa interview, most applicants receive their visas within about fifteen days of their interview. However, we do not guarantee that every case will be processed in that time frame. A longer processing time may be required in the following situations: (1) cases where the applicant has failed to submit all the required elements of an application; (2) cases where the consular officer requires additional information from the applicant; and (3) cases requiring additional administrative processing.

We recommend prospective travelers submit their applications well in advance. Applicants should refrain from contacting the Embassy Consular Section merely to inquire about the status of their application until the full processing time has expired. We also strongly recommend that applicants not purchase airplane tickets or make nonrefundable travel arrangements until they have actually received their visa; visa applicants should never assume their application will be automatically approved.

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Q.3 How and where can I check my passport status?

You can check the status of your application at any time online on this page. Read more about tracking your passport’s delivery here.

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Q.4 Why only one passport per envelope? Why no family discounts?

Each application is adjudicated and processed individually,  and safety regulations require that each passport be tracked separately.

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Q.5 What do I need to bring when I pick up my passport at the courier location?

You must present your original (not a photocopy) valid government-issued photo ID. Please also bring a printed copy of your appointment / interview waiver confirmation letter. Read more about picking up your passport here.

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Q.6 What happens to my passport if I'm not at home when the courier arrives?

If no one is home to receive the package, you’ll receive an undeliverable notice with instructions for how to reschedule the delivery, or pick up the package at the post office. Your package will be kept at the post office for 7 days.

Read more about picking up your passport here.

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Q.7 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.

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Q.8 What do I need to show to the courier when they deliver my passport?

You must present a government-issued photo ID for identification when you receive your passport. You must also sign for all documents handed over to you by the courier.

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Q.9 Can someone besides me pick up or receive delivery of my passport?

Yes. Read more about third-party pickup procedures here.

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Q.10 Do I have to pay any fees for courier services?

Yes, if you select Home/Office Delivery, a fee applies. Please click here for more information. If you pick up your passport  at the CGI Federal Delivery Service Center in Tokyo, there is no fee. 

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Q.11 What do I do if the Embassy/Consulate has my passport and I need it for urgent international travel?

Please contact our helpline to ask for your passport. Please explain where you submitted your passport (Consulate name or Embassy) and the reason you need it back. We will contact you by email or phone within three business days.

The Embassy/Consulate cannot guarantee that your passport will be delivered to you by your preferred date, so DO NOT make final travel plans until you receive your passport. The Embassy or Consulate bears no responsibility for disrupted travel plans. Note: business days are Monday through Friday except American and Japanese holidays.

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Q.12 Can I opt for the home/office delivery service after scheduling my appointment or after attending my visa interview?

You may opt for this service until 11:59 p.m. on the day of your visa interview appointment. You can find the detailed information here.

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Q.13 Can I get a refund for the delivery fee if my application is refused?

Yes. Please see the detailed information here.

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FAQ - DS-160 Application and Profile

  1. How do I reset my password?
  2. Do I have to create a new profile or a new visa application if I moved to another country?
  3. How do I pay the application fee?
  4. If I am not required to make an appointment for my visa interview, do I still have to pay the application fee? How do I pay?
  5. I paid the visa application fee and made an appointment, but I want to change my appointment. Do I have to pay again?
  6. Can I pay the application and issuance fee together?
  7. If I pay a fee to apply for a visa, why do I have to pay an additional fee?
  8. Why are only certain nationalities required to pay an issuance fee?
  9. How much does issuance fee cost?
  10. How do I pay the issuance fee?
  11. I am having problems accessing the DS-160.
  12. What documents do I need to have with me while I complete the DS-160?
  13. Can my answers be in my native language?
  14. Are all fields on the DS-160 mandatory?
  15. Which address should be entered in the “Mailing Address” box when a travel agent applies on behalf of an applicant?
  16. I do not have a National Identification Number. How should I answer this question?
  17. What do I enter for U.S. Social Security Number and/or U.S. Taxpayer ID Number?
  18. What is "Telecode"?
  19. What is the Passport Book Number?
  20. Where can I find my visa number to answer the question “Have you ever been issued a U.S. visa”?
  21. My previous visa number has only 6 digits. The system requires that I enter 8 digits. What should I do?
  22. I have traveled to the U.S. more than 10 times. Should I enter all the information?
  23. I previously traveled to Guam/Saipan. Should I answer “Yes” to the question “Have you ever been in the U.S.?”
  24. What if I only transited the U.S. and stayed for a couple of hours in the airport? Should I answer “Yes” to the question “Have you ever been in the U.S.?”
  25. I cannot remember the date on which my last visa was issued, and the system will not allow me to leave this section blank.
  26. I am traveling to the U.S. for sightseeing. I don’t have any contact information in the U.S. What should I do?
  27. I am applying for a C-1 visa. Whose contact information in the U.S. should I enter?
  28. Which salary should I enter - Japan or the U.S.?
  29. Am I required to provide information about all the educational institutions I have attended?
  30. What is the E-visa company registration number?
  31. I cannot enter a negative number for income in the “Finance and Trade Information” section. Can I enter zero?
  32. How do I sign the DS-160 form?
  33. Can I sign for my children?
  34. Every time I try to submit the application form, different codes appear. Does that mean that the application number changes each time?
  35. I could not print the confirmation page due to computer problems. How can I reprint it?
  36. What if the confirmation page was not printed completely?
  37. Should the confirmation page be printed in color?
  38. I understand that I can upload a photo with my application. How do I get a digital photo that will successfully upload to my application?
  39. The confirmation page has an "X" in the box where the photo should be. What does that mean?
  40. How can I save my application? Can I stop in the middle of the application and return to it later?
  41. How do I save my DS-160 application to my computer hard drive or a disk?
  42. I apply for U.S. visas often. Can I reuse the DS-160?
  43. What if I lose my internet connection, the application “times out,” or I receive an error? Will my application be lost?
  44. Why did the edits I made from the review page "edit" link not save?
  45. The U.S. Embassy or Consulate where I went for my visa interview denied my application because my DS-160 contained errors or was incomplete. What does this mean and what do I need to do next?
  46. How far in advance of my interview do I need to submit a DS-160 form online?
  47. After I made an interview appointment, I found an error on my DS-160 form. I corrected the error by resubmitting the DS-160 application, should I make a new appointment?
  48. Do I bring my entire application with me to the interview, or do I just bring the confirmation page?
  49. I submitted my online DS-160 application, but lost my confirmation page. Can I print a new one?
  50. I am traveling with my family or as part of a group. Can I create a family or group application?
  51. If I use the option on the "Thank You" page to create a family or group application, can I modify the data that is automatically populated by the system?
  52. Can a third party complete the form on the applicant’s behalf?

Q.1 How do I reset my password?

Click the Forgot Your Password? link at the bottom of this page. Enter your email address in the Username field and click Submit. The email address 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, so please be sure to check your junk and spam folders if you do not receive the email in a timely manner.

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Q.2 Do I have to create a new profile or a new visa application if I moved to another country?

You do not need to create another profile if it is also serviced by CGI. You can simply contact us and share your passport number, user ID or email address so we can retrieve and update your profile with the new country where you plan to apply for your U.S. 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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Q.3 How do I pay the application fee?

For information on payment of non-immigrant visa application fees, please see Pay My Visa Fee.

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Q.4 If I am not required to make an appointment for my visa interview, do I still have to pay the application fee? How do I pay?

Even if you are not required to interview in person, you still must pay the application fee, with the exception of certain visa categories.  Please click here for payment instructions. For payment options, please see Pay My Visa Fee.

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Q.5 I paid the visa application fee and made an appointment, but I want to change my appointment. Do I have to pay again?

It is possible to change an interview appointment up to six times from your profile. After six rescheduling attempts, you will be required to pay another visa application fee. Please plan accordingly.

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Q.6 Can I pay the application and issuance fee together?

No. The application fee is paid by all visa applicants before submitting the application. The issuance fee is only for certain nationalities, and is paid at the Embassy or Consulate at the time of the interview.

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Q.7 If I pay a fee to apply for a visa, why do I have to pay an additional fee?

All visa applicants are required to pay the application fee. Some nationalities are also required to pay an issuance fee.

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Q.8 Why are only certain nationalities required to pay an issuance fee?

The issuance fee is based on reciprocity and reflects the fees charged by your government for a similar service to a U.S. citizen.

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Q.9 How much does issuance fee cost?

Please see Reciprocity by Country in order to find out if you need to pay an issuance fee and how much it will be. It is based on the nationality of the passport you currently hold and the category of visa you are applying for. For instance, if you were born in Japan but hold another country’s passport and are applying for a B1/B2 visa, you will have to pay the B1/B2 issuance fee for that country.

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Q.10 How do I pay the issuance fee?

Payment of the issuance fee is by cash (U.S. dollars or Japanese Yen) or credit card. Please also be prepared to pay with cash if the credit card verification system is temporarily unavailable. We accept Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Diners Club, JCB or Discover. Credit card payments are billed in U.S. dollars. You will be advised further at the time of your visa interview.

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Q.11 I am having problems accessing the DS-160.

Please make sure your computer meets the following requirements:

  1. 128-bit encryption support
  2. JavaScript must be enabled
  3. Transport Layer Security (TLS) must be enabled
  4. This website is best supported by Internet Explorer 11 or higher and Google Chrome 58 or higher. Safari is not supported.

Please note that you may experience errors if your browser does not meet the specification listed above.

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Q.12 What documents do I need to have with me while I complete the DS-160?

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

  • Passport
  • Travel itinerary, if you have already made travel arrangements.
  • Dates of your last five visits or trips to the United States, if you have previously travelled to the United States. You may also be asked for your international travel history for the past five years.
  • Résumé or Curriculum Vitae – You may be required to provide information about your current and previous education and work history.
  • Other Information – Some applicants will be asked to provide additional information when completing the DS-160. See below for guidance:
    • Students and Exchange Visitors (F, J, and M): You will be asked to provide your SEVIS ID, which is printed on your I-20A, I-20B, I-20MN, or DS-2019. You will also be asked to provide the address of the school/program at which you intend to study. This information should also be on your I-20 or DS-2019 form
    • Petition-based Temporary Workers (H-1B, H-2, H-3, CW1, L, O, P, Q, R, E2C): You should have a copy of your I-797 available when completing your DS-160
    • Other Temporary Workers: You will be asked for information about your employer, including the employer’s address.

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Q.13 Can my answers be in my native language?

No. All application questions (with limited exemptions) must be in English, using English characters only. Applications that are submitted in any language other than English may be denied, and you may be required to submit a new application.

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Q.14 Are all fields on the DS-160 mandatory?

Most fields on the DS-160 are mandatory, as indicated on the form. You may leave fields marked “Optional” blank. Some fields may also give you the option to select “Does Not Apply.”  All other fields must be completed. The application will not allow you to submit a form with any mandatory fields left blank. In this instance, an error message will be displayed, and you will be required to complete the field before continuing with the application. If you do not answer questions that apply, your form may also be rejected.

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Q.15 Which address should be entered in the "Mailing Address" box when a travel agent applies on behalf of an applicant?

Please enter the address where the applicant wishes to have their visa delivered.

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Q.16 I do not have a National Identification Number. How should I answer this question?

If you are a citizen of a country that does not issue national identification numbers, select “Does not apply.”

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Q.17 What do I enter for U.S. Social Security Number and/or U.S. Taxpayer ID Number?

Applicants who have worked in the United States will have Social Security numbers or taxpayer identification numbers. If you do not have a Social Security number or a taxpayer identification number, select “Does not apply.”

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Q.18 What is "Telecode"?

Telecodes are four-digit numbers that represent characters in some non-Roman alphabet names. Japanese names do not have telecodes. For Japanese nationals, please answer “No” for the question “Do you have a telecode that represents your name?”

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Q.19 What is the Passport Book Number?

For Japanese passports: if the passport is an e-passport, there is no Passport Book Number, so please click “Does not apply.”

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Q.20 Where can I find my visa number to answer the question “Have you ever been issued a U.S. visa”?

The visa number is printed in red ink on the lower right portion of your visa.

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Q.21 My previous visa number has only 6 digits. The system requires that I enter 8 digits. What should I do?

You may prefix two zeros (00) to the 6-digit visa number.

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Q.22 I have traveled to the U.S. more than 10 times. Should I enter all the information?

No. You are only required to enter the five most recent trips to the U.S.

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Q.23 I previously traveled to Guam/Saipan. Should I answer “Yes” to the question “Have you ever been in the U.S.?”

Yes. Previous U.S. travel also includes travel to Guam, Saipan and the other CNMI islands.

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Q.24 24 What if I only transited the U.S. and stayed for a couple of hours in the airport? Should I answer “Yes” to the question “Have you ever been in the U.S.?”

Yes, trips involving transit via the U.S must also be included.

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Q.25 I cannot remember the date on which my last visa was issued, and the system will not allow me to leave this section blank.

You must enter a date to the best of your knowledge.

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Q.26 I am traveling to the U.S. for sightseeing. I don’t have any contact information in the U.S. What should I do?

You may enter the hotel information where you will stay in the U.S.

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Q.27 I am applying for a C-1 visa. Whose contact information in the U.S. should I enter?

You can enter the name of the city or airport name through which you will transit.

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Q.28 Which salary should I enter - Japan or the U.S.?

Please enter your monthly income in local currency based on your current employment. If you are working in Japan, enter in Japanese yen. If you are currently working in the U.S., enter in U.S. dollars. If you apply for a temporary work visa, you are required to enter your monthly U.S. salary in U.S dollars under the “Temporary Work Visa information” field.

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Q.29 Am I required to provide information about all the educational institutions I have attended?

Please provide information on all educational institutions you have attended, except for elementary schools.

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Q.30 What is the E-visa company registration number?

Currently, there is no E-visa company registration number, so you can check “Does not apply.”

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Q.31 I cannot enter a negative number for income in the “Finance and Trade Information” section. Can I enter zero?

Yes, you may enter 0 (zero) as the system does not allow negative numbers to be entered.

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Q.32 32 How do I sign the DS-160 form?

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

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

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

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

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Q.33 Can I sign for my children?

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

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Q.34 Every time I try to submit the application form, different codes appear. Does that mean that the application number changes each time?

The system asks you to enter different codes every time for system security reasons. It has nothing to do with your application number.

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Q.35 I could not print the confirmation page due to computer problems. How can I reprint it?

You can retrieve or recover your partially completed DS-160 from the database by entering the application ID and providing three pieces of information: 1) the first five letters of your surname, 2) your year of birth, and 3) the answer to the security question you selected when you created the application. Then you can go back to the last page of your completed DS-160 and print your confirmation page.

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Q.36 What if the confirmation page was not printed completely?

You can reprint your confirmation page by clicking on the “Retrieve An Application” button on the “Getting Started” page. You will be asked to provide identification information. The system will then display your confirmation page. You may bring the partially printed confirmation page to your interview as long as the barcode is displayed.

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Q.37 Should the confirmation page be printed in color?

No. Both color and black and white print are acceptable.

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Q.38 I understand that I can upload a photo with my application. How do I get a digital photo that will successfully upload to my application?

Please click here for detailed guidance on photo requirements.

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Q.39 The confirmation page has an "X" in the box where the photo should be. What does that mean?

That means that the photo upload failed. If the confirmation page includes a photo image, then the photo upload function has succeeded. Please note that the U.S. Embassy and Consulates in Japan require every non-immigrant visa applicant to submit a printed photograph along with the online DS-160 confirmation page, regardless of whether the photo has been successfully uploaded or not. See the print photo format guidance here for instructions. Please attach the print photo to your confirmation page using a clip. Do NOT staple the photo to the confirmation page.

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Q.40 How can I save my application? Can I stop in the middle of the application and return to it later?

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

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Q.41 How do I save my DS-160 application to my computer hard drive or a disk?

Saving to a hard drive or disk will allow you to access your application after 30 days. To permanently save your application to your computer hard drive or a disk, select the “Save” button. Then, click the “Save Application to File” button on the File Download window. Identify a place on your computer to save the application, browse to that location, and click the “Save” button on the “Save As” window. The system will download your application to the specified location. Once the download is complete, you can click “Close” to return to the live application on our website.

Note:  Applications saved to the hard drive of a public or shared computer or memory device could likely be accessed by anyone else who uses the computer or device after you.

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Q.42 I apply for U.S. visas often. Can I reuse the DS-160?

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

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Q.43 What if I lose my internet connection, the application “times out,” or I receive an error? Will my application be lost?

All information is automatically saved when each page is completed, so your application will not be lost. You will need to enter the application ID number and answer other questions as prompted to retrieve your application. You will be able to edit previous pages, if needed.

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Q.44 Why did the edits I made from the review page "edit" link not save?

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

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Q.45 The U.S. Embassy or Consulate where I went for my visa interview denied my application because my DS-160 contained errors or was incomplete. What does this mean and what do I need to do next?

The Embassy or Consulate can reopen your DS-160. You can correct your DS-160 by following these steps:

  1. Go to to https://ceac.state.gov/genniv/, select a location, enter the CAPTCHA code, and click "RETRIEVE AN APPLICATION".
  2. Enter the information asked for and click the “RETRIEVE APPLICATION” button at the bottom of the page and correct your application.
  3. Submit the corrected DS-160 and follow the instructions in the letter you received from the consular official at your interview.

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Q.46 How far in advance of my interview do I need to submit a DS-160 form online?

You may submit your application any time before the visa interview, but please note that you will need the barcode number from your DS-160 confirmation page(PDF 390KB) in order to make a visa interview appointment and pay the visa application fee. Corrections to your application can be accepted no later than 2 business days before your interview.

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Q.47 After I made an interview appointment, I found an error on my DS-160 form. I corrected the error by resubmitting the DS-160 application, should I make a new appointment?

If you made a new DS-160 after scheduling an appointment, please log in to your profile and update your DS-160 confirmation number on the “Update Profile” page at least two business days prior to your visa interview appointment.  If you updated your DS-160 confirmation number in your profile two business days prior to your interview appointment, you are not required to make a new appointment.  Please bring the confirmation page, with the latest application ID number, to the interview at the Embassy / Consulate.  Note that your visa application will be processed based on this DS-160 confirmation number.  Failure to provide the correct number may result in rejection of your visa application and / or cancellation of your visa interview appointment.

If you made a new DS-160 within two business days to your interview appointment, please contact  visa customer service.

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Q.48 Do I bring my entire application with me to the interview, or do I just bring the confirmation page?

Your confirmation page is all that is needed to retrieve your application data. You must bring the confirmation page with you during all phases of the application process. Without the confirmation page, it may not be possible to access your application and process your visa case.

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Q.49 I submitted my online DS-160 application but lost my confirmation page. Can I print a new one?

Yes. Go to the Consular Electronic Application Center website, and select the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you submitted your application, and click the “Retrieve An Application” button. On the next page, “Retrieve a DS-160 Application,” provide your application ID number and other information as requested. From here, your confirmation page will be displayed and you will be able to print or email it.

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Q.50 I am traveling with my family or as part of a group. Can I create a family or group application?

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

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Q.51 If I use the option on the "Thank You" page to create a family or group application, can I modify the data that is automatically populated by the system?

Yes. If one of the dependents has a different surname or nationality, for example, the applicant can alter that data on the application before submitting. Please double check the data you’ve entered before submitting.

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Q.52 Can a third party complete the form on the applicant’s behalf?

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

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

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FAQ - K Visas

  1. My American citizen fiancé(e) is sponsoring me for immigration, does it matter where we get married?
  2. My fiancé(e) and I will not marry within 90 days of our arrival. Can he/she still apply for a fiancé(e) visa?
  3. Can we apply for the fiancé(e) visa while my fiancé(e) is in the United States?
  4. Can my fiancé(e) work in the Untied States. before my fiancé(e) gets a green card?
  5. My fiancé(e) is still married. Can we apply for a fiancé(e) visa?
  6. We only wish to travel to the United States for our wedding. We will return to Japan after marriage. Do we still need a fiancé(e) visa?
  7. Can I enter on a fiancé(e) visa, marry and then leave the United States for our honeymoon?
  8. Can I travel to the United States while my application for a fiancé(e) visa is being processed?
  9. I am a U.S. citizen, do I need to attend the fiancé(e) visa interview?
  10. After the final interview, how long does he/she need to wait for the visa?
  11. Can I apply for a fiancé(e) visa in Osaka?

Q.1 My American citizen fiancé(e) is sponsoring me for immigration, does it matter where we get married?

If you wish to marry in the U. S. and live there after marriage, you need a fiancé(e) visa. If you wish to marry outside the United States and travel to the United States to take up residence, you will require an immigrant visa.

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Q.2 My fiancé(e) and I will not marry within 90 days of our arrival. Can he/she still apply for a fiancé(e) visa?

If the marriage will not take place within 90 days of the fiancé(e) visa applicant's arrival in the United States, it will not be possible to process an application for a fiancé(e) visa. Visa free travel under the Visa Waiver Program or a nonimmigrant visitor or work visa is not appropriate.

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Q.3 Can we apply for the fiancé(e) visa while my fiancé(e) is in the United States?

An applicant for a fiancé(e) visa must apply for the visa at a U.S. Embassy/Consulate outside the United States as he/she is required to enter the United States on the fiancé(e) visa.

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Q.4 Can my fiancé(e) work in the Untied States. before my fiancé(e) gets a green card?

USCIS may grant permission for the alien fiancé(e) to take up employment in the United States before obtaining the US permanent resident status. To obtain employment authorization your fiancé(e) will need to file Form I-765 with the USCIS Service Center which covers his/her place of residence in the United States after his/her arrival there. Questions concerning employment should be directed to USCIS.

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Q.5 My fiancé(e) is still married. Can we apply for a fiancé(e) visa?

The fiancé(e) visa petition cannot be filed until you are both legally free to marry. You will be required to wait until your fiancé(e)'s divorce is finalized.

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Q.6 We only wish to travel to the United States for our wedding. We will return to Japan after marriage. Do we still need a fiancé(e) visa?

A person travelling to the United States to marry a U.S. citizen with the intention of returning to his/her place of permanent residence abroad may apply for a visitor (B-2) visa, or if eligible, travel visa free under the Visa Waiver Program. Evidence of a residence abroad to which the B-2 visa holder or visa free traveler intends to return should be carried for presentation to an immigration inspector at the port of entry.

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Q.7 Can I enter on a fiancé(e) visa, marry and then leave the United States for our honeymoon?

Regarding marriage, you should contact USCIS for further information. If you leave the U.S. without first obtaining permission to re-enter the country, you will be required to apply for an immigrant visa in order to return. This could delay your return by several months.

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Q.8 Can I travel to the United States while my application for a fiancé(e) visa is being processed?

If you intend taking up permanent residence in the United States, you are required to wait until the fiancé(e) visa is issued. You cannot reside in the United States on a tourist visa or visa free under the Visa Waiver Program while waiting the issuance of a fiancé(e) visa. If you wish to make a temporary visit after which you will return to your permanent residence outside the United States, you may travel on a tourist (B-2) visa, or visa free under the Visa Waiver Program, if eligible.

If applying for a B-2 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 fiancé(e) visa application is not necessarily conclusive evidence of intent to abandon a Japanese residence, it is a factor considered by consular officers reviewing a visa application. If you are unable to convince the consular officer reviewing the application that you do not intend to abandon your current residence, you will not be issued a visa.

When travelling to the United States either with a visa or visa free 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.9 I am a U.S. citizen, do I need to attend the fiancé(e) visa interview?

No. Please make sure to give all your documents to your fiancé(e), so that he/she can present them along with other required documents at the final interview.

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Q.10 After the final interview, how long does he/she need to wait for the visa?

Processing and mailing time takes approximately one week, so please allow enough time before your intended date of departure. Your passport and the visa packet will be mailed to your mailing address registered in your profile, please be sure that the address is correctly entered. This includes members and dependents of the U.S. military, who must use their base's local address if no other local address is available.

Some cases may require additional processing. We recommend you do not make final travel plans until you have received your passport and visa.

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Q.11 Can I apply for a fiancé(e) visa in Osaka?

No. You can apply for a fiancé(e) visa only in Tokyo or Naha.

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