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Frequently Asked Questions (old)

Visa FAQs

  • What is the difference between an immigrant visa and a non-immigrant visa?

    What is the difference between an immigrant visa and a non-immigrant visa?

    • An immigrant visa entitles its holder to apply for permanent residency upon entering the United States.  Immigrant visas for Mexico are primarily processed at the U.S. Consulate General Ciudad Juarez; a small quantity is processed at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City. Nonimmigrant visas are processed at U.S. Consulate General Nuevo Laredo.   A nonimmigrant visa is generally for short-term travel to the United States. Some nonimmigrant visa categories allow the holder to live or work in the United States for a specified amount of time and purpose. Please explore the nonimmigrant visa categories commonly processed at U.S. Consulate General Nuevo Laredo.
  • How can I find out if my current visa is still valid?

    How can I find out if my current visa is still valid?

    • "Indefinite" visas are no longer valid.  Visas that are not "indefinite" have an expiration date clearly marked on the visa. After that date, the visa is no longer valid and a new application should be made.
  • How will I receive the visa once it is approved?

    How will I receive the visa once it is approved?

    • You will receive your visa through DHL.  You will make arrangements with DHL before your visa interview on the pickup of your visa.
  • How long will it take for me to receive my visa?

    How long will it take for me to receive my visa?

    • It depends on the type of visa.  For a Border Crossing Identification Card, the average time from the interview to receipt of the visa is 3 weeks.  For all other visa types, the average wait time is 3-5 days.
  • Can you expedite my visa?

    Can you expedite my visa?

    • The Consulate General processes all visas as quickly as possible.  In rare cases when an applicant has an urgent need to travel the applicant may receive an expedited appointment and may be eligible to pick up his or her visa at the Consulate General instead of waiting for delivery.  An urgent need to travel usually entails pressing medical considerations.
  • Will the visa interview be in Spanish or English?

    Will the visa interview be in Spanish or English?

    • All consular officers at U.S. Consulate General Nuevo Laredo speak Spanish and the majority of interviews are conducted in Spanish.  A consular officer may choose to conduct the interview in English if the visa type merits it (certain student and work visas) or if the applicant requests the interview be conducted in English.
  • What do I do if my visa was lost or stolen?

    What do I do if my visa was lost or stolen?

    • You must make a new appointment and obtain a police report from the local authorities.  Please submit a copy of the police report to the U.S. Consulate General Nuevo Laredo before your visa interview.
  • What is the penalty for having lost a visa?

    What is the penalty for having lost a visa?

    • There is no penalty, however you will have to apply for a new visa, fill out a visa application form, and pay the application fee.  The fact a prior visa was lost or stolen is not considered a negative factor during a visa interview.
  • What do I do if my visa has an error or incorrect information when I receive it?

    What do I do if my visa has an error or incorrect information when I receive it?

    • A visa that contains incorrect information is not valid.  Please contact us immediately so the visa can be replaced.  If you contact us within one year of the issuance of the visa, we may be able to correct the error at no additional charge.  When you fill out the DS-160 visa application form, make sure to carefully proofread and verify that all information is correct (especially your name and date of birth).  Errors on your DS-160 could result in the officer requiring you to return home to correct the DS-160 (significantly delaying visa issuance) or could result in errors in your visa.
  • Can I renew my visa before it expires or do I have to wait until after its expiration date?

    Can I renew my visa before it expires or do I have to wait until after its expiration date?

    • You may apply for a new visa before your previous visa expires.  In fact, you may renew a visa that still has several years of validity.  Please note your previous visa will be collected and cancelled as part of the process.
  • May I obtain a visa for my U.S. citizen child or for myself if I am a U.S. citizen?

    May I obtain a visa for my U.S. citizen child or for myself if I am a U.S. citizen?

    • No.  Immigration law does not permit the issuance of visas to American Citizens.  If you believe that your child is an American Citizen, please visit our American Citizen Services Section.
  • My passport is expired, but my visa is still valid. May I enter the U.S. with my expired passport?

    My passport is expired, but my visa is still valid. May I enter the U.S. with my expired passport?

    • If you have a Border Crossing Identification Card (“BCC”) or a Lincoln Foil (“BCV”) you may enter the U.S. at a U.S.-Mexico land border even though your passport has expired.  You may not enter the U.S. at any other port of entry (including airports, seaports, and U.S.-Canada land entries) with an expired passport.  You may not apply for an I-94 or pass through U.S. immigration checkpoints (approximately 25 miles north of the border in Texas) with an expired passport.  In the event your visa is a foil in an expired passport, you must obtain a new passport and travel with both the new passport and the old one that contains your visa.
  • Do I have to leave my passport at the Consulate if my visa is approved?

    Do I have to leave my passport at the Consulate if my visa is approved?

    • It depends on the type of visa for which you have applied.  .  If you are approved for a Border Crossing Identification Card (“BCC”), your passport will be returned to you at the end of the interview.  For all other visa types, the Consulate will retain your passport for visa printing, returning it via the messenger service you purchased.
  • What is the difference between a “B-1/B-2” visa, a “BCC” visa, and a “BCV” visa?

    What is the difference between a “B-1/B-2” visa, a “BCC” visa, and a “BCV” visa?

    • A “B-1/B-2” visa allows the visa holder to travel to the United States for business or pleasure.  Mexican nationals applying at one of the U.S. Consulates along the U.S.-Mexico border (including U.S. Consulate General Nuevo Laredo) can apply for a Border Crossing Identification Card (“BCC”) in lieu of a “B-1/B-2”.

      A  ”BCC” ( commonly known as a “laser visa”) is a combination visa and biometric identification card.  In rare cases a “BCC” may not be suitable for an individual applying for a visa for business and/or tourism and instead the applicant will be issued a printed visa in his or her passport known as a Lincoln Foil (“BCV”).  A holder of a “B-1/B-2” visa must always have a valid (not expired) passport as well as a valid visa to enter the U.S.

      The holder of a “BCC” or a “BCV” may enter the U.S. through a U.S.-Mexico land border even if the holder’s passport is expired.  The “BCC” or “BCV” visa holder may not apply for an I-94 or pass through a U.S. immigration checkpoint (approximately 25 miles north of the border in Texas) without a valid passport.  The holder of a “BCC” or “BCV” may not enter through other ports of entry (airports, sea ports, U.S.-Canada land entries) without a valid passport. 
  • Can I receive both a “BCC” and a “BCV”?

    Can I receive both a “BCC” and a “BCV”?

    • Many applicants would like to be issued a Lincoln Foil “BCV” visa in their passport while they wait for their Border Crossing Identification Card “BCC” visa to arrive.   Unfortunately, policy does not permit us to issue more than one B-1/B-2 class visa to the same applicant at the same time.  There are no exceptions to this rule
  • Why wasn’t I issued a “mica” or Border Crossing Identification Card like I was in the past?

    Why wasn’t I issued a “mica” or Border Crossing Identification Card like I was in the past?

    • There are cases where a “BCC” might not be appropriate.  Rest assured the “B-1/B-2” or “BCV” you were issued in place of a “BCC” will allow you to apply for entry to the U.S. as would a “BCC”.
  • Can family members, friends, or my attorney accompany me to my visa interview?

    Can family members, friends, or my attorney accompany me to my visa interview?

    • Due to space restrictions, only visa applicants are permitted in the Consulate General. Exceptions are made in the case of minor children, the elderly, and disabled applicants. Under no circumstances are applicants’ attorneys or other representatives allowed into the Consulate General. Family members should not wait for applicants in the street or sidewalk in front of the Consulate General.
  • I live in the U.S. and I want to help my relatives get a visa to visit me. What can I do to help them?

    I live in the U.S. and I want to help my relatives get a visa to visit me. What can I do to help them?

    • Individual applicants must qualify for the visa based on their own qualifications. Consular officials will not be influenced by documentation from the relatives of applicants.
  • What do I do if I can’t make my scheduled appointment?

    What do I do if I can’t make my scheduled appointment?

    • For general information, for the status of your visa case, or to make or change an appointment you may contact our call center.
  • Why do you have to take my fingerprints?

    Why do you have to take my fingerprints?

    • A strict background check is required for all visa applicants. As part of this check, we routinely take electronic fingerprints of all of our applicants.  Applicants age 6 and under and applicants age 81 and over are generally exempt from our fingerprint requirement (although in rare cases the consular officer may request to take fingerprints despite the exemption).
  • I have heard about people getting an “interview waiver” appointment. What is this?

    I have heard about people getting an “interview waiver” appointment. What is this?

    • Individuals who are renewing a full-validity visa that did not expire more than one year ago may be eligible to renew their visa without submitting fingerprints or having an interview.  When you apply for a visa, you will automatically receive consideration for this program if you are eligible.
  • I was arrested in the past. What should I do?

    I was arrested in the past. What should I do?

    • If you have ever been arrested for any reason, at any time, in any country, you must state the arrest on your DS-160 visa application and inform the consular officer during your visa interview.  Please bring documentation of all arrests to your interview, even if the charges were subsequently dropped or you were acquitted, pardoned, or obtained amnesty.  The consular officer will review the evidence and make a decision as to whether you are eligible for a visa.   

      Your arrest may constitute a visa ineligibility.  If you are honest and forthcoming about prior arrests you may qualify to apply for a waiver.  If the consular officer suspects you are not completely forthcoming about prior arrests during your visa interview, you will be most likely be denied a visa under section 214(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act and you will not qualify to apply for a waiver.  Hiding prior arrests during a visa interview can result in a permanent visa ineligibility.
  • I have violated U.S. immigration laws in the past. What should I do?

    I have violated U.S. immigration laws in the past. What should I do?

    • If you have ever violated U.S. immigration laws (whether or not you were caught), you must state the violations on your DS-160 visa application and tell the consular officer during your visa interview.  The consular officer will review the evidence and make a decision as to whether you are eligible for a visa.  Your prior immigration violation may constitute a visa ineligibility.  If you are honest and forthcoming about prior immigration violations, you may qualify to apply for a waiver.  If the consular officer suspects you are not being completely forthcoming about any prior immigration violations during your visa interview, you will most likely be denied a visa under section 214(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act and you will not qualify to apply for a waiver.  Hiding prior immigration violations during a visa interview can result in a permanent ineligibility to receive a visa.
  • What is an immigration violation?

    What is an immigration violation?

    • An immigration violation is any act that violates U.S. immigration laws.  It includes, but is not limited to, being the subject of a removal or deportation hearing, obtaining a visa through misrepresentation or fraud, being present in the U.S. without a visa, overstaying the amount of time granted by an immigration official, and assisting another individual to violate immigration laws.
  • I was issued a visa, but the border officials did not allow me to enter. Why?

    I was issued a visa, but the border officials did not allow me to enter. Why?

    • There are two main governmental departments responsible for applying U.S. immigration laws: the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).  When you apply for a visa, you do so through the U.S. Department of State.  The visa you receive allows you to apply for entry at a U.S. port of entry, such as the international bridge to Laredo, TX.  These ports of entry are staffed by DHS employees.  DHS has the responsibility for determining whether or not an individual is permitted to enter the U.S.  An apt analogy is this: the U.S. Department of State gives you permission to knock on the door but DHS decides whether to open it.  It is therefore possible for an individual to receive a visa from a U.S. Department of State facility and then be denied entry into the U.S. by DHS.  It is also possible for DHS to state an applicant has a one year ban on re-entry, but for the same individual to be told by the U.S. Department of State that he is ineligible for a visa even after one year has passed.
  • My visa was refused. Why?

    My visa was refused. Why?

    • In the event your visa is refused, the consular officer will give you a letter explaining the reason(s) for the refusal.  For more information on visa refusals, please visit the U.S. State Department website.
  • I was refused a visa under section 221(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. What does this mean?

    I was refused a visa under section 221(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. What does this mean?

    • It means work on your case has been temporarily suspended pending administrative processing and/or further information.  No final decision has been made. If there is any informatfion you can provide to assist the consular officer in coming to a decision, the officer will inform you.  Often no further information is necessary and the applicant can simply wait for the results of the process.  Although all cases are processed as quickly as possible, please be aware some cases may remain suspended under 221(g) for months before a final decision is made.  We regret the inconvenience this may cause and ask for your patience.
  • What does “administrative processing” mean?

    What does “administrative processing” mean?

    • It refers to an internal review that is necessary to arrive at a final decision in your case.  The process can require several weeks or months, depending on visa workload.  Please rest assured such reviews are routine and your visa will be processed as soon as possible.
  • I was refused a visa under section 214(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. What does this mean?

    I was refused a visa under section 214(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. What does this mean?

    • 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...

      In other words, it is the responsibility of the applicant to prove to the consular officer he intends to use his non-immigrant visa properly and does not intend to immigrate to the U.S.  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 respectively.  Failure to do so will result in a refusal of the visa under INA 214(b).

  • What constitutes “strong ties”?

    What constitutes “strong ties”?

    • Strong ties differ from country to country, individual to individual. Some examples of ties can be a job, a house, a family, or 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.  Each person's situation is different.  Our consular officers are aware of this diversity. During the visa interview they look at each application individually and consider professional, social, cultural, and other factors.  Minor’s ties are assessed in light of the parents’ or legal guardians’ ties.  Each case is examined individually and is accorded every consideration under the law.  The consular officer will begin the visa interview with the assumption the applicant has weak ties – it is the responsibility of the applicant to convince the consular officer during the course of the interview that he or she has “strong ties”.
  • Is a denial under section 214(b) permanent?

    Is a denial under section 214(b) permanent?

    • No. An applicant denied under 214(b) is free to apply again.  Where
      possible, a different consular officer will review his case to ensure
      objectivity in the process.  If an applicant can demonstrate convincing evidence of ties, he or she may qualify for the visa.
  • I was told I have an “ineligibility”. What does that mean?

    I was told I have an “ineligibility”. What does that mean?

    • The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) lists specific scenarios in which an applicant would be ineligible to receive a visa.  The ineligibilities are generally based on past behavior of the applicant and relate to such things as prior immigration violations and criminal records.  If you have an ineligibility, the reason for it will be explained to you during your visa interview.  Some ineligibilities expire when the applicant reaches 90 years of age.  Others have specific time frames (e.g. 5 years or 10 years).  Some ineligibilities may be waived, others may not.  All of this will be explained to you at the time of your interview if you are found to be ineligible for a visa under one of the sections of the law.
  • What is a waiver and how do I apply for one?

    What is a waiver and how do I apply for one?

    • Some applicants with ineligibilities may be allowed to apply for a waiver if they otherwise qualify for a visa. If you are eligible to apply for a waiver, the consular officer will inform you during your visa interview and will give you detailed instructions at that time.  A waiver is a special authorization from the United States Attorney General through the United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) that “temporarily pardons” a visa ineligibility. If a waiver is granted, you can receive a visa despite the fact you have an ineligibility. Some visa ineligibilities are waiverable while others are not. If you qualify for waiver consideration, the consular officer will provide instructions on how to apply for a waiver.  The process for obtaining a waiver can only occur through a U.S. consular officer at the time of a visa interview.  Do not trust anyone offering assistance with the waiver process besides the consular officer handling your case.
  • I applied for a waiver but haven’t heard anything back. What can I do?

    I applied for a waiver but haven’t heard anything back. What can I do?

    • The decision to approve or deny a waiver is made by United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS). The process can take several weeks or months depending on workload and the complexity of your case.  Do not call the Consulate asking for the status of your waiver, as we will not be able to answer your question.
  • Why was I refused a visa when the consular officer did not review my documents?

    Why was I refused a visa when the consular officer did not review my documents?

    • The review of documents is at the discretion of the consular officer.  On many occasions, consular officers may not ask to review documents, especially when the information contained in the documents can be provided by the DS-160 visa application and the oral interview.  Documents alone do not determine an applicant’s qualifications for a visa.  The decision depends on the specific situation of the applicant, which can usually be determined without looking at documents.  Applicants should, however, bring all documents that help to substantiate their ties to the applicant’s country of residence in the event the consular officer needs to review them.  If the consular officer made a decision in your case without reviewing your documents, it is because the determining factors in your case were already clear.  If your case was refused, it is unlikely any documentation you could have provided would have significantly changed the decision of the officer.
  • Why was I refused when I was just renewing my visa?

    Why was I refused when I was just renewing my visa?

    • Each visa application is evaluated as a new case; in other words, the applicant must demonstrate strong ties to his or her country of residence each time the applicant applies for a visa.
  • Why was I refused a visa when I have a good reason to travel?

    Why was I refused a visa when I have a good reason to travel?

    • The reason for your travel itself is not what qualifies an applicant for a visa.  Each applicant needs to demonstrate that he or she qualifies for the visa based on his or her own merits.  The reason for travel is only one factor of many that the consular officer will consider when reviewing the case.
  • Why was my spouse/child/parent issued a visa and I was not?

    Why was my spouse/child/parent issued a visa and I was not?

    • Each adult visa applicant is considered on his own merits.  For adult applicants, the consular officer cannot issue a visa based solely on a visa issued to another family member.  The fact an applicant’s family members may have visas is only one factor out of many that the consular officer might consider when reviewing the case.
  • I was refused a visa. How long do I need to wait before applying again?

    I was refused a visa. How long do I need to wait before applying again?

    • An applicant has the right to apply for a visa as many times as he
      likes.  There is no mandatory wait time after a refusal before an
      applicant can re-apply.  If an applicant can show further convincing
      evidence of ties outside the United States, he or she may qualify for
      the visa.
  • Where can I obtain more information about visa denials?

    Where can I obtain more information about visa denials?

    • The State Department's Visa Office offers information about immigration law and visa denials at "Visa Denials".
  • What do I need to wear for the photo?

    What do I need to wear for the photo?

    • All applicants are photographed before their visa interview.  Please do not wear earrings, hats, glasses or head coverings for the photo.  A photograph for minors under the age of 7 may be submitted if the parents or legal guardians choose to not bring them in to be photographed.
  • I qualify for the Visa Waiver Program because I have a European, Japanese, Australian, etc., passport. How do I comply with the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA)?

    I qualify for the Visa Waiver Program because I have a European, Japanese, Australian, etc., passport. How do I comply with the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA)?

    • The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has implemented the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA).  ESTA is a fully automated, electronic system for screening passengers before they begin travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program.
  • Where can I turn in my I-94 card that was given to me when I last entered the United States?

    Where can I turn in my I-94 card that was given to me when I last entered the United States?

    • If you left the United States with your Form I-94 still in your possession, your departure was not recorded properly. If you do not correct this record or if you cannot reasonably prove that you departed in a timely way when you next apply for admission to the United States, US immigration authorities may conclude you remained in the United States beyond your authorized stay.  If this happens, you may be returned immediately to your foreign point of origin.

      If you failed to turn in your I-94, please send it to:

      ACS Inc.
      1084 South Laurel Rd.
      London, Kentucky 40744
      USA

      Please visit the CBP website for more information.

  • How do I make an appointment for a visa?

    How do I make an appointment for a visa?

  • What is the DS-160?

    What is the DS-160?

    • The Department of State introduced a new online application for improved visa processing in 2009. The DS-160 application is free, must be filled out online, and does not require the use of intermediaries. The application offers several benefits to applicants.  First, the DS-160 is for use for all types of non-immigrant visa: the applicant does not have to worry about which application to use to apply for a particular type of visa.

      Second, the information provided by the applicant in the DS-160 is between the applicant and the consular officer, thus offering greater privacy.  If the application is filled out correctly, the process can be faster for everyone.  It is important to complete the application in full, accurately and with complete disclosure.  .  Please make sure to carefully proofread and verify that all information is correct.  Errors on your DS-160 can result in your interviewing officer requiring you to return home to correct the DS-160 (significantly delaying the issuance of your visa) and can result in errors in your visa.
  • Is there a Spanish translation of the DS-160?

    Is there a Spanish translation of the DS-160?

    • Yes. Most of the instructions and text displayed in the application have been translated. You may view the translation by positioning your mouse cursor over any group of text on the page.
  • Are all fields on the DS-160 mandatory?

    Are all fields on the DS-160 mandatory?

    • All fields on the DS-160 are mandatory.  Some fields may give you the option to select “Does Not Apply.” If that field does not apply to you, you may mark the box next to “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 displays 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 be rejected.
  • Can I save the DS-160 and come back later to finish it?

    Can I save the DS-160 and come back later to finish it?

    • You have the option to save your progress on the DS-160 as you fill it out.  We encourage you to do so and to schedule a few days to fill out the application.  This will allow you to return later and fill it out at your leisure.  You may also be asked by the consular officer during your interview to return home to correct errors on your DS-160.  It is very important you write down your application number and remember the answers to your security questions.  Without this information you will not be able to re-open and edit your application.
  • Should I hire someone to fill out my DS-160?

    Should I hire someone to fill out my DS-160?

    • You are allowed to hire someone to prepare your DS-160, however, we discourage you from doing so.  A preparer will charge you a service fee to fill out the form; if you fill it out yourself, it is free.  Our experience has shown that an application that has been filled out by an applicant better represents the applicant’s individual situation.  Remember, even if you hire someone to prepare your DS-160 application, you are ultimately responsible for the information on the form.  If a preparer fails to state critical information even though you requested he include it on the form, the consular officer may determine that you attempted to mislead him.  There are no approved preparers of DS-160s.  Beware of any person who claims to have been approved, certified, or otherwise states he has a special relationship with the Consulate General.
  • What is SEVIS?

    What is SEVIS?

    • The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) is designed to help the Department of Homeland Security and Department of State better monitor school and exchange programs. SEVIS is an Internet-based system that maintains accurate and current information on non-immigrant students (F and M visa), exchange visitors (J visa), and their dependents (F-2, M-2, and J-2).  SEVIS enables schools and program sponsors to transmit mandatory information and event notifications, via the Internet, to the Department of Homeland Security and Department of State (DOS) throughout a student or exchange
      visitor's stay in the United States.  Select SEVIS to go to the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Internet site and learn more.