Is your U.S. visa about to expire or nearing its expiration date? It’s time to renew! Visa applications can be stress-inducing, as there are plenty of rules and red tape involved. To help you navigate the entire process, we prepared this visa renewal guide which will walk you through in step-by-step detail.
Keep in mind: There are approximately 185 different types of U.S. visas, each with its own set of restrictions and requirements. This article is meant to serve a general reference covering the basics of renewing most visas. We recommend contacting your nearest U.S. embassy or consulate for the most up-to-date information or if you have any special inquiries about your visa.
What Is a U.S. Visa and What Is It For?
A nonimmigrant visa is a type of immigration document granted by the United States government. All international nonimmigrant tourists (excluding Canadians) must have either a visa card or visa stamp in their passports to enter the country. Visas can only be obtained at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad; they are not granted within the United States given that they act as an entry document.
People visit the United States for a variety of reasons, be it for work, holiday, or another purpose. As a visa applicant, you must establish that you meet all requirements to receive the category of visa for which you are applying.
Visas are classified alphanumerically, which distinguish the different categories. A person traveling to study in the United States, for example, may be granted an F-1 or J-1 student visa, whereas someone coming for vacation may be granted a B-2 visa, often known as a tourist visa. A consular officer will determine whether you are eligible to receive a visa, and if so, which category is appropriate.
Visa Renewal Requirements
The process and requirements for renewing a U.S. visa are strikingly similar to the process of obtaining it in the first place. The documentation you’ll need to present are:
A valid passport
Any expired passports with previous visas that you hold
Two recent photographs
Visa application payment confirmation
Completed DS-160 form
Steps to Renew Your U.S. Visa
You may begin the process of renewing your U.S. visa one year to the day before it expires. This procedure can be broken down into seven steps, which are listed below:Keep in mind: Because these requirements depend on your home country, we recommend you contact your embassy or consulate to inquire about your eligibility for an interview waiver.
1. Confirm that your visa is eligible for renewal
In certain scenarios, your visa may not qualify to be renewed. The first step is to determine whether you and/or your current documents match the following renewal eligibility standards:
You haven’t already been denied a visa
Your current visa must be valid and must grant you permission to enter the U.S. more than once
Meet all specific requirements for the type of visa for which you need to apply
2. Complete Form DS-160
When you initially applied for your visa, you completed the DS-160 form. To renew your visa, you’ll need to repeat this exact procedure. To do so, visit this website, choose the location where you’ll be applying for the visa via the drop-down menu, enter the captcha code that appears, and click "start an application.”
3. Check to see if you qualify for an interview waiver
You might also recall going to an interview when applying for your current visa. In some cases, you must be re-interviewed to renew it, although the United States Interview Waiver Program (IWP) allows some applicants to extend their visas without having to do so.
The following requirements must be met in order to qualify:
Already had your fingerprints recorded during the first interview
Apply for the same category of visa
Current visa has less than one year remaining on it, or expired less than one year ago
Current visa doesn’t contain the words "Authorization Received" or "Waiver Granted”
Not be a citizen of a country that requires payment of reciprocity fees
Not be applying for visa renewal due to theft or loss
4. Pay the processing fee
You must pay the processing fee for your new visa once you’ve submitted form DS-160 and confirm if you’ll have to attend an interview. The price varies based on the type of visa, but the most frequent B-1 (short-term employment) and B-2 (tourist) visas cost $160 for adults and $15 for children under the age of 15. The information required to make the payment will be provided by the office where you submit your application.
5. Send the supporting documents
Once you’ve paid the fee, it’s time to either mail in or personally deliver your documents to the embassy or consulate you’ve selected to process your application. The following is a list of the documents you will need to submit:
Your passport, which must be valid for at least six months after your tentative date of entry into the U.S.
Any old passports and expired visas you’ve been issued
Two recent photographs that meet the requirements set forth by the Immigration Service
Form DS-160 completion confirmation printout
Proof of visa fee payment
Other documents, depending on the type of visa for which you’re applying
6. Attend the interview (if required)
If you didn’t qualify for the IWP, the embassy or consulate where you’re applying will assign you an interview date and time. Plan to arrive at least half an hour early and don’t stress! This procedure will be similar to the one you’re familiar with from the first time you applied.
7. Await the consulate's decision
After completing the previous steps, your work is done! Now all you have to do is wait for the embassy or consulate to make a decision on the issuance of your visa. If your visa is successfully renewed, you’ll receive all documentation by mail. The length of time you’ll have to wait depends on the specific office handling your case, but it’s typically no more than ten business days.
The United States Awaits! Are You Ready?
We trust that this guide has been helpful and hope that the U.S. visa renewal process is hassle-free. Your new visa will allow you to enter and leave the country easily and legally. Remember, it’s important you remain informed about visa procedures so you can avoid any potential problems or roadblocks.
If you have any questions about this topic or any of the others we cover in this blog, you can contact our team of experts through our chat. It’s our pleasure to help you find the answers you’re looking for.
When it comes to visa matters, SABEResPODER!