Our FAQ list is mean to guide individuals looking for simple answers to questions regarding US visas and immigration and is no way intended to suggest the type of services we offer, unless noted.
Do I require a visa to visit the United States?
Individuals who are not eligible to enter the US via the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), or who are not exempt from the visa requirement, or individuals who have been denied an ESTA, will require a US Visa. Travellers requiring visas are those who are transiting through the USA to another destination.
What is a visa waiver?
A visa waiver allows individuals of certain countries (i.e. 38 countries as of 2016) to travel to the United States, without a visa, for up to 90 days. A visa waiver can be used for tourism, business, transit or medical purposes yet can not be used to partake in paid employment with a US company.
Can I work in the USA on a B-1 Business Visa, B-2 Tourist Visa or Visa waiver?
No. If your intention is to go to the USA to work for a company, yourself or find work, you will need to apply for a work visa such as the H-1 or H-2 visas.
The B-1 and B-2 are for persons travelling to the USA for a period of 6 months or less to conduct business on behalf of their company/company they work for in terms of business meetings, negotiations or contracts. The visa waiver (ESTA) allows for travel to the United States for up to 90 days for tourism, business, transit or medical treatment purposes.
What type of visa will I need for working?
There are a number of visa types for working in the United States and depend on the purpose of your travel.
Are return tickets required with a valid visa?
No. If you have a valid visa you are not required to be in possession of a round-trip or onward ticket.
However, at the passport control border, an official may ask you about your travel/ stay plans, so having your return ticket may be helpful, but not essential.
I have a US visa on an expired passport
You can a valid US visa if you traveling to the US for the same purpose as when the visa was issued as well as carry a valid passport of the same nationality. If the passport is damaged or clipped, and thus, damaged the US visa, the US visa will no longer be valid and cannot be used for US travel.
How long can I stay on a US Visa?
The permitted duration of your stay depends on the type of non-immigrant visa you have obtained. Typically, non-immigrant visas can be issued anywhere between 3 months to 10 years.
What is the difference between a F-1 and J-1 visa?
A F-1 visa is student visa that is needed if you are wanting to study in the USA at a college, school or university.
A J-1 visa is a visa for an exchange student, who will only temporarily be staying in the USA.
If you are going to study a short course (i.e a cooking class, or a class that is only a few days, weeks), you can travel to the USA on a tourist visa.
Can I work on a F-1 student visa?
A F-1 student can accept work of up to 20 hours per week from on-campus employment during the school term.
During the vacation period, a F-1 student can work full-time provided the student is going to continue with schooling after the vacation period is finished.
How long can I remain in the United States at the end of the study program?
If you have a J-1 visa, you may remain in the United States for up to 30 days at the end of the program.
If you have a F-1 visa, you may remain for a period of 60 days after completion before leaving the USA.
My visa application has been refused. Why can I not get my money back?
When you applying for your visa, the application form states that the fee payable is an application fee, not for a successful visa. Everyone who applies for a USA visa is required to pay this fee which covers the cost of adjudicating your application.
The application form also states that the fee is non-refundable as in order for your visa application to be successful, it must be reviewed. This is what the fee is for.
If your application was refused under Section 214(b) and you choose to reapply for a visa, you will be required to pay the application fee again.
Why was my ESTA refused? I was honest on the form about having a criminal record.
An ESTA (on the Visa waiver program) is for a person who is from an eligible VWP country wishing to travel to the USA for a short period on holiday/business
As this type of application does not do extensive background checks, it is only approved for individuals with no prior history of criminal records or a history of being previously denied entry to the USA, or a previous refused visa.
If your ESTA was refused, this does not mean you cannot visit the USA. It is recommended that you apply for a full non-immigration visa, where you can explain your situation to an embassy official in a conducted interview.
Why is a police certificate required for an immigrant visa application?
The term police certificate means a statement which will advise the consular officer whether or not any criminal convictions are held in your name.
Can we apply for the fiancé(e) visa while my fiancé(e) is in the United States?
No. He or she is required to enter the USA on the fiancé(e) visa. Therefore, the applicant for a fiancé(e) visa must apply for the fiancé(e) at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate outside the USA.
My fiancé(e) and I will not marry within 90 days of our arrival. Can he/she still apply for a fiancé(e) visa?
No. If the marriage is not going to be taking place within the 90 days period of the fiancé(e) visa applicant's arrival into the USA, it will not be possible to process an application for a fiancé(e) visa.
An immigrant visa will be required. The Visa Waiver Program or a non-immigrant visitor/work visa is not appropriate.
Can I extend my US citizenship to my spouse?
A US citizen cannot by association transmit citizenship to a spouse. If an individual's spouse seeks to relocate to the US, an immigrant visa will be required. After three years of residency in the US, a Lawful Permanent Resident who is married to an American citizen may apply to become a naturalized US citizen.
Can I expedite the processing of my fiancé(e) visa?
We know it takes time to process any visa and unfortunately it is in the control of the US embassy processing the applications and varies case-by-case. However, in general, a fiancé(e) visa application may be slightly quicker than an application for an immigrant visa, as immigrant visa petitions are taking longer to be processed and approved by the USCIS in the United States.
Can my partner or common-law spouse who is a US citizen sponsor me for immigration?
The immigration law of the United States unfortunately does not recognize common-law marriages. Thus, American citizens cannot submit petitions for immigrant visas on behalf of a common-law marriage partner.
Can the application for a fiancé(e) visa be submitted while the fiancé(e) is in the US?
No, this is not possible. The fiancé(e) visa applicant must apply for the fiancé(e) visa at a US Embassy or Consulate outside the United States.
Do Children need to attend a visa interview?
Applicants who are registered for immigration as the spouse, parent, child (i.e. under 21 years of age) of a US citizen must attend an interview at a US Embassy. However, applicants under the age of 14 who are intending to obtain status from an immigrant, fiancé(e) or Kii petitioner, who are applying for the visa at the same time as the parent are not required to be present at a US Embassy for an interview.
How soon will I get my immigrant visa?
Typically, visa processing takes anywhere between 7 to 10 business days. Your documents will be returned to you via the method you selected during the application process.
What do I do if my application is refused"
From the date of refusal, applicants will be granted 12 months to gather and provide the missing documents to reapply for and enter the USA on the immigrant visa. If you cannot provide sufficient documentation, you will need to reapply for an immigrant visa paying all required fees.
How is an individual eligible to be a US citizen?
An individual can become a US citizen by either birth or the process of naturalization.
How does one become a naturalized US citizen?
Individuals who have not obtained US Citizenship at birth nor acquired US citizenship after birth may be eligible for US citizenship via naturalization.
When do I start my permanent residency?
Permanent Residency commences on the date the permanent residency status was granted to you. This is shown as the date on your Permanent Resident Card (i.e. Alien Registration Card or “Green Card”).
How can I submit my naturalization application?
You will need to send your completed application form (Form N-400) to the relevant USCIS Lockbox Facility that oversees the area where you are submitting your application.
How much is the application fee, and how do I pay?
The fees for the naturalization application processing are shown on the Form N-400. Any and all payment must be sent with the application and paid with a check or money order made out to: the Department of Homeland Security.
What is the processing time to become naturalized?
The processing time of a citizenship application varies. Currently, our clients are seeing an average processing time of around 4-6 months after submission of the Form N-400.