Nonimmigrant Visa Processing

Non-Immigrant Visa Processing in London

Applications for Non-Immigrant Visas

Who may apply for a non-immigrant (temporary) visa at the U.S. Embassy in London?

Anyone who is physically present in the UK may submit an application for a non-immigrant visa. An applicant physically present in the U.S. may not apply for a visa at the U.S. Embassy in London.

How to apply for a non-immigrant visa in London?

Scheduling Non-Immigrant visa interviews:

Most non-immigrant visa applicants are required to appear in person for a prearranged interview with a consular officer at the U.S. Embassy, London.

Interviews are by appointment only and are scheduled by calling the Embassy’s Operated Assisted Visa Information Service from within the United Kingdom on 09042 450 100, Monday through Friday, between 8:00 am and 9:00 pm GMT and Saturday, from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm GMT. Calls from BT landlines are charged at £1.20/minute and this rate may vary if called from a mobile.

Callers from within the United States can ring 1-866-382-3589 for information or to schedule an appointment for a non-immigrant visa interview. Callers will be charged a fixed rate of $16.00, payable by credit card only (VISA, MasterCard or American Express). When calling this number to schedule the appointment, keep on hand your credit card details as well as the personal details of the applicant(s).

Emergency and expedited appointments are available for applicants with an urgent need to travel to the U.S. Visas granted at emergency appointments will generally be processed within 48 hours. Emergency appointments cannot be rescheduled or cancelled. If the applicant is unable to attend, a normal appointment will then need to be scheduled by the applicant.

A few appointments are reserved each day for British L-1 and H-1 applicants. Priority appointments will be considered on a space-available basis where the start date on the applicant’s Form I-797 Notice of Action has passed. Priority appointments cannot be guaranteed and will not result in expedited processing of the visa application following the interview. There may also be some priority appointments available for British F-1, J-1 and M-1 applicants, depending on the start date of the applicant’s training or course of study. As noted above, priority appointments are not guaranteed and there is no expedited visa processing.

With the exception of emergency appointments, all normal appointments can be cancelled or rescheduled by calling the Operated Assisted Visa Information Service prior to the day of the interview. The visa application (MRV) fee is valid for one year if rescheduling the appointment is required.

Non-Immigrant Visa Interview

Applicants should be aware that they have been assigned a scheduled appointment arrival time at the Embassy and that there will most likely be other people present with the same arrival time. Applicants should expect to be at the Embassy between 2 and 4 hours on the date of the interview and should be aware that the Embassy will refuse admission to people who arrive more than half an hour late for their appointment.

Applicants may not bring luggage, large bags or other items that must be searched and x-rayed, as screening such items slows the entry of all applicants. A list of Left Luggage Storage facilities near the Embassy may be found, along with other useful information, on our Resource Links page. In addition, mobile phones, PDAs, cameras and any other electronic devices, including iPods/iPads and remote entry automobile key “fobs” are prohibited inside the Embassy. There is a snack shop which sells drinks, sandwiches and other refreshments in the waiting room at the Embassy.

Due to restriction of space, attorneys are not permitted to accompany their client(s) to the Embassy or be present during the interview.

All U.S. Embassies and Consulates are now required to collect a complete set of fingerprints from people applying for all visas. Applicants with cuts or blisters on any of their fingers will be required to reschedule and return when quality fingerprints can be taken.

Temporary Visa Documents and Fees

An online non-immigrant visa application form DS-160 can be found using this link (http://ceac.state.gov/genniv/).This form must be completed and submitted online prior to the interview and the confirmation sheet from the submission of the DS-160 must be submitted at the time of the interview. The information provided on this online form is used by Consular Officers when processing the visa application along with information elicited from the personal interview.

On the basis of the interview and documentation submitted, the consular office will make a determination regarding the applicant’s eligibility for a non-immigrant visa. When completing Form DS160, it is advisable to save it often as many people experience loss of information if the system times out. Please note that the DS-160 has replaced the forms DS-156, DS-157 and the DS-158.

All applicants must bring the following documents with them to their non-immigrant visa interview:

  • Appointment letter;
  • MRV fee receipt;
  • DS-160 submission confirmation page; and
  • Any documents required in support of your visa application.

Family or married couples applying for visas at the same time may schedule one appointment per family or couple. All others must schedule individual appointments. Children under the age of 14 years are not required to attend the interview and the parents of the child may submit the child’s application and passport at the time of the parents’ interview.

Passports submitted for routine visa applications will normally be returned to the applicant(s) by the Embassy’s appointed courier service approximately 5 to 7 business working days from the date of the consular interview. If additional administrative processing is required, applicants will be given a letter indicating this fact at the time of their non-immigrant visa interview or will receive a letter by post shortly after their interview. Additional administrative processing can take up to 90 days or longer and there is no way to expedite this processing.

All passports will be returned to applicants by DX-Secure, a private courier agency contracted with by the U.S. Embassy. Envelopes for the return of passports are available for purchase in the Visa Branch waiting room. Applicants will be required to purchase an envelope after their interview for a fee of £14.50 (approximately $23.00), payable in cash only. Each envelope can hold up to 5 passports.

At the time of purchase, the applicant will be given a unique Tracking ID number with which to track the progress of their passport(s). DX-Secure provides next workday delivery for most of the UK. Applicants who, at the time of their interview, are asked to provide additional documents before their visas can be processed are required to use DX-Secure for the delivery of those documents to the U.S. Embassy. Delivery can be arranged by calling DX-Secure on 08709 501 760. A link to additional information regarding DX-Secure may be found on our Resource Links page.

Every visa applicant is required to pay a non-immigrant visa application fee (see below) before submitting an application

  • Petition based applicants (H, L, O, P, Q, R) $140
  • E1, E2, E3 visa applications $390
  • All other non-immigrant visas $140

Payment must be made by credit or debit card when the appointment is scheduled (VISA, MasterCard or American Express only; VISA electronic debit cards are not accepted). In addition to having a credit or debit card available when making the appointment, applicants should also have the passport number(s) of each person requiring an appointment and an e-mail address to provide the operator. Confirmation of the appointment and the receipt for the application fee will be sent by e-mail.

Applicants for J-1, F-1 and M-1 visas are also required to pay to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in the United States a fee of $180 (J-1) or $200 (F-1 and M-1) to defray the cost of enrollment in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). Proof of payment must be brought to the applicant’s visa interview.

Some applicants may also be required to pay a visa issuance fee (based on reciprocal fees charged to U.S. citizens for similar services by the applicant’s government) before a visa will be issued. If an issuance fee is required, the applicant will be advised and payment must be made to the Embassy cashier in cash (sterling or dollar equivalent) or with one of the following credit cards: VISA, MasterCard, Discover, Diner’s Club or American Express.

All applicants over age 14 must provide a complete set of fingerprints at the time of their non-immigrant visa interview. Applicants with cuts or blisters on any or their fingers will be required to reschedule and return when quality fingerprints can be taken.

Non-Immigrant Visa Application by Courier

The following applicants are not required to attend a non-immigrant visa interview and may apply for a visa by mail:

  • Applicants under the age of 14.
  • Certain applicants for official and diplomatic visas who are physically present in the UK and are eligible to receive a visa.
  • An applicant granted a waiver of personal appearance in the national interest or because of unusual circumstances, including but not limited to an emergency or unusual hardship, as determined by a consular officer.
  • Applicants aged 80 and over, if they are a UK or EU passport holder or have Indefinite Leave To Remain in the United Kingdom and are eligible to receive a visa. The ability to apply by mail does not apply to applicants over age 80 who have been refused a visa or have been denied entry into or removed from the U.S.
  • All applicants who were born in or hold a passport from North Korea, Cuba, Syria, Sudan, Iran or Libya are required to schedule an appointment for an interview. In some cases, a special advisory opinion may be required and such additional processing may take a minimum of 60 days or more.
  • All applicants who are eligible to apply by mail are required to use DX-Secure for the delivery of their documents to and from the U.S. Embassy. Delivery can be arranged by calling DX-Secure on 0871 562 6666. Applicants who apply without a personal interview l should expect a processing time of approximately 15 working days from the date of mailing to receipt of the passport(s). If additional processing is required, applicants should allow a minimum of 4 to 16 weeks for processing. Links to Form DS160, DX-Secure and photograph specifications may be found on our Resource Links page.

If an applicant is ineligible for a non-immigrant visa and requires a waiver of ineligibility, visa processing may take a minimum of 14 to 16 weeks. Applicants who have been arrested and/or convicted of a crime must also complete a personal data sheet, Form VCU1, and submit copies of court record(s) for all convictions.

Some non-immigrant visa applicants may be subject to additional special security screening procedures. Affected applicants will be advised of the need for additional processing when their applications are submitted and will be advised to expect delays. Additional screening procedures may take a minimum of 60 days or more.

Visa Reissuance Program

Certain applicants are eligible to apply for a new non-immigrant visa without having to attend an interview with a U.S. consular officer. If, when you last applied for an O or P visa, you provided a complete set of your fingerprints and you are applying to renew the same category of visa that is either still valid or has expired within the last 12 months, you may be eligible for a Visa Reissuance Program and exempt from appearing in person for an interview with a consular officer. Please note that a consular officer reserves the right to request that an applicant appear in person for an interview after reviewing his or her applicant.

Visa Waiver Program: Who is eligible?

In order to apply for admission under the Visa Waiver Program, nationals of the following countries must present an individual machine-readable, tamper-resistant passport at a U.S. port of entry: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. New passports issued by Visa Waiver Program countries on or after October 26, 2005 must include a digital photo; otherwise, the applicant will be required to obtain a visa for travel to the United States. If an individual is using a passport which was issued after October 26, 2006, the passport must be an e-Passport, which includes an integrated computer chip capable of storing biographic and biometric information and a digitized photograph.

Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA)

All international travellers seeking to enter the United States under the Visa Waiver Program are required to obtain travel authorization under ESTA before boarding an air or sea carrier. The application, which must be completed online, consists of basic biographical information and questions regarding eligibility. The application may be submitted any time prior to travel but DHS recommends that travellers complete the application at least 72 hours before departure. Travel authorization under ESTA will be valid for two years or until the individual’s passport expires, whichever date comes first. Links to additional information regarding ESTA and the ESTA application may be found on our Resource Links page.