Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

On this page:


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 New Zealand’s Consular District can I apply for a nonimmigrant visa in Auckland?
  6. Do all nonimmigrant visa applicants have to come to the Consulate for an interview?
  7. 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?
  8. My passport has expired, but the U.S. visa in it is still valid. Do I need to apply for a new visa?
  9. I have dual citizenship. Which passport should I use to travel to the United States?
  10. How can I extend my visa?
  11. Must I submit my visa application form electronically?
  12. What is "administrative processing?"
  13. How do I read and understand my visa?
  14. My visa will expire while I am in the United States. Is there a problem with that?
  15. What will happen when I enter the U. S.
  16. I did not turn in my I-94 when I left the United States. What should I do?
  17. Are applicants with criminal records eligible to travel to the US?
  18. I have questions on submitting my DS-160 and printing the confirmation page. Where can I go for more information?
  19. I changed my name. Is my U.S. visa with my old name still valid?

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 country-specific agreements provide exemptions).

back to top


 

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 machine-readable 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 United States to determine if you are eligible for the VWP.

back to top


 

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 a debit card or any of the following credit cards: Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover. 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.

back to top


 

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). ESTA registration usually only takes a few minutes to complete, authorization often arrives in seconds, and it is valid for two years.

back to top


 

Q.5 If I am a third-country national living in New Zealand’s Consular District can I apply for a nonimmigrant visa in Auckland?

Applicants are generally advised to apply in their country of nationality or residence. Any person who is legally present in New Zealand, Samoa, Cook Islands, Niue, or Pitcairn Islands may apply for a visa in New Zealand. 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.

back to top


 

Q.6 Do all nonimmigrant visa applicants have to come to the 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)

back to top


 

Q.7 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.

back to top


 

Q.8 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 changed due to marriage, you can travel to the United States with both passports as well as your marriage certificate.

back to top


 

Q.9 I have dual citizenship. Which passport should I use to travel to the United States?

If one of your nationalities is not U.S., you can apply using whichever nationality you prefer, but you must disclose all nationalities to the Consulate on your application form. U.S. citizens, even dual citizens/nationals, must enter and depart the United States using a U.S. passport.

back to top


 

Q.10 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.

back to top


 

Q.11 Must I submit my visa application form electronically?

Yes, you must complete the DS-160 and bring a printed copy of the the DS-160 confirmation page with you when you go for your interview at the U.S. Consulate.

back to top


 

Q.12 What is "administrative processing?"

Some visa applications require further administrative processing, which takes additional time after your interview with a consular officer. You are advised of this possibility when they apply. Most administrative processing is resolved within 60 days of the visa interview. This web page on the Consular Affairs website has more information about administrative processing.

back to top


 

Q.13 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. 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.

back to top


 

Q.14 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.

back to top


 

Q.15 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 www.cbp.gov/I94. You can review information about admission on the CBP Website.

back to top


 

Q.16 I did not turn in my I-94 when I left the United States. What should I do?

If you returned home with your Form I-94 (white) or Form I-94W (green) Departure Record in your passport, it is possible that your departure was not recorded properly. Do not give your I-94 or I-94W to the U.S. Consulate or any other office.

If you departed by a commercial air or sea carrier (airlines or cruise ships), your departure from the U.S. can be independently verified, and it is not necessary to take any further action, although holding on to your outbound (from the U.S.) boarding pass can help facilitate your reentry next time you come back to the United States.

If you departed by land, private vessel or private plane, visit the Customs and Border Protection website for further instructions.

back to top


 

Q.17 Are applicants with criminal records eligible to travel to the US?

Convictions for certain crimes may make you ineligible to travel to the U.S., but the only way to know for certain is to apply for a visa. Please apply at least three months in advance. Only a consular officer can determine your visa eligibility. Please note that New Zealand’s Clean Slate Act does not apply to U.S. visa law. If you have a criminal record and attempt to travel without a visa, you may be refused entry into the United States.

Bring to your visa interview your Criminal History Report. The administration of criminal records is the responsibility of the New Zealand Ministry of Justice. You should use the "Priv/F1 - Request by Individual" form found on the Ministry of Justice website and follow the instructions listed there. Be sure to tick the box for your full record of convictions.

If you have had any minor traffic offenses which did not result in an arrest or conviction, you may use the VWP, provided you are otherwise qualified. If the traffic offense occurred while you were in the United States and you have an outstanding fine against you or you did not attend your court hearing, it is possible there may be a warrant out for your arrest. You should resolve these issues before traveling by contacting the court where you were to appear.

When applying for a U.S. visa, the applicant must indicate whether there has been any instance of being stopped for driving while intoxicated, whether or not a conviction resulted. If detention resulted, bring proof of the outcome of such detention (conviction).

back to top


 

Q.18 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, http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/english/forms/ds-160--online-nonimmigrant-visa-application/frequently-asked-questions.html.

back to top


 

Q.19 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.

back to top


 

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?

The United States is an open society. Unlike many other countries, the United States does not impose internal controls on most visitors, such as registration with local authorities. Our immigration law requires consular officers to view every visa applicant as an intending immigrant until the applicant proves otherwise. In order to enjoy the privilege of unencumbered travel in the United States, you have a responsibility to prove you are going to return abroad before a visitor or student visa is issued.

back to top


 

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...

Our consular officers have a difficult job. They must decide in a very short time if someone is qualified to receive a temporary visa. Most cases are decided after a brief interview and review of whatever evidence of ties 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 respectively. Failure to do so will result in a refusal of a visa under INA 214(b). The most frequent basis for such a refusal concerns the requirement that the prospective visitor or student possess a residence abroad he/she has no intention of abandoning. Applicants prove the existence of such residence by demonstrating that they have ties abroad that would compel them to leave the U.S. at the end of the temporary stay. The law places this burden of proof on the applicant.

back to top


 

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 office 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.

U.S. 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. 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 examined individually and is accorded every consideration under the law.

back to top


 

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 review carefully their situation and realistically evaluate their ties. They may write down on paper what qualifying ties they think they have which may not have been evaluated at the time of their interview with the consular officer. Also, if they have been refused, they should review what documents were submitted for the consul to consider. 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.

back to top


 

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. The question at issue in such denials, whether an applicant possesses the required residence abroad, is a factual one. Therefore, it falls exclusively within the authority of consular officers at our Foreign Service posts to resolve. An applicant can influence the post to change a prior visa denial only through the presentation of 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.

back to top


 

FAQ - Business/Tourist Visa

  1. How long can I stay in the United States on a tourist or business visa?
  2. My visitor visa (B-1/B-2) expires after my intended date of arrival in the United States. 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 currently hold a valid B-1/B-2 visa, which is in my maiden name, in my old passport. I wish to transfer this visa to my new passport, which is in my married name. What is the procedure?
  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/her?

Q.1 How long can I stay in the United States 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.

back to top


 

Q.2 My visitor visa (B-1/B-2) expires after my intended date of arrival in the United States. 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.

back to top


 

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.

back to top


 

Q.4 I currently hold a valid B-1/B-2 visa, which is in my maiden name, in my old passport. I wish to transfer this visa to my new passport, which is in my married name. What is the procedure?

U.S. visas cannot be transferred from one passport to another. You can travel to the United States with both passports as well as your marriage certificate, or you can apply for a new visa.

back to top


 

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.

back to top


 

Q.6 My child is studying in the United States. Can I go live with him/her?

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

back to top


 

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?

Q.1 What is a petition?

Before applying for a temporary worker visa at the U.S. Embassy, 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 Form I-797 is no longer required for your interview. However, to verify your petition's approval the Consulate will need your I-129 petition receipt number. Please bring this to your interview.

back to top


 

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 their visa appointment.

back to top


 

Q.3 Is there an age limit for applying for a temporary work visa?

No.

back to top


 

Q.4 Can my U.S.-based relative sponsor me for a work visa?

No. Only your employer can sponsor you.

back to top


 

Q.5 When can I enter the United States?

You may not enter the United States until 10 days prior to your employment start date, as noted on your Form I-797 or on your offer of employment letter.

back to top


 

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. On individual L, H-1B and H-2B petitions, the U.S. petitioner pays the Fraud Prevention and Detection fee to USCIS when the petition is filed.

back to top


 

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. I received my visa, when should I travel?
  4. Can a person on a visitor visa change his/her status to student while in the United States if he/she gains admission to a school and gets a Form I-20?
  5. What if I receive an I-20 to a different school?
  6. 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?
  7. Can an F-1 student work in the United States?
  8. What is the SEVIS system and how does it affect me?

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 nine digits, on the upper right side directly above the barcode.

back to top


 

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. To ensure you get an early and timely date you may apply at anytime. However, a student visa may be issued no more than 120 days prior to the start date mentioned on your I-20.

back to top


 

Q.3 I received my visa, when should I travel?

You may only enter the United States within 30 days of the beginning of the course of study stated on your I-20, regardless of when your visa was issued.

back to top


 

Q.4 Can a person on a visitor visa change his/her status to student while in the United States if he/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, if your nonimmigrant status remains valid, if 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.

back to top


 

Q.5 What if I receive an I-20 to a different school?

If you received an I-20 after scheduling your appointment, then you can inform the U.S. consular officer of the new I-20 at the time of the interview.

back to top


 

Q.6 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.

back to top


 

Q.7 Can an F-1 student work in the United States?

Full-time students on F 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.

back to top


 

Q.8 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. The SEVIS website has more details.

back to top


 

FAQ - Exchange Visitor Visa

  1. I received my visa, when should I travel?
  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?

Q.1 I received my visa, when should I travel?

Exchange visitors may only enter the United States within 30 days of the beginning of the program, as stated on your Form DS-2019, regardless of when your visa was issued.

back to top


 

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.

back to top


 

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.

back to top


 

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.

back to top


 

FAQ - Transit/Ship 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?

If you seek layover privileges for purposes other than transiting through the United States, such as to visit friends or for sightseeing, then you must qualify for and obtain the type of visa required for that purpose, such as a B-2 visa.

back to top


 

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.

back to top


 

FAQ - Track My Passport

  1. Why only one passport per envelope? Why no family discounts?
  2. How will I get my passport back after the interview?
  3. What do I need to show to pick up the passport at the courier location?
  4. What happens to my passport if I'm not at home when the courier arrives?
  5. Does my passport have to be delivered to my house?
  6. What do I need to show to the courier when they deliver my passport?
  7. What types of ID are acceptable as proof-of-identity?
  8. Can someone besides me pick up or receive delivery of my passport?
  9. Do I have to pay any fees for courier services?
  10. When will I receive my passport after visa is processed?
  11. How and where can I check my passport status?
  12. What if I need my passport back for urgent travel?
  13. What do I need to do to receive my passport back for travelling to another country?

Q.1 Why only one passport per envelope? Why no family discounts?

There is no additional charge for the courier to return your passport to you. All costs are included in your visa application fee. The courier's security and safety rules require separate tracking of every passport.

back to top


 

Q.2 How will I get my passport back after the interview?

You must pick up your passport at the courier location you selected at the time you scheduled your interview. If you want to change this location you may do so at any time before 11.59 p.m. on the day of your interview at the U.S Embassy or Consulate. If you are planning urgent travel, the courier location closest to the location of your interview may result in a faster pick-up time. The cost of the courier service is included in the visa application fee.

back to top


 

Q.3 What do I need to show to pick up the passport at the courier location?

In order to ensure that your passport and visa are not given to an unauthorized person, you must present a government-issued photo ID for identification when you collect your passport. You must also sign for all documents handed over to you by the courier.

back to top


 

Q.4 What happens to my passport if I'm not at home when the courier arrives?

The courier will attempt to deliver your passport only at the address you selected or provided when you scheduled your interview. If the courier is unable to deliver, for example, because no one is home, the courier will leave a notice indicating the attempted delivery. If you receive a notice like this, contact Courier Post immediately. If your passport is not delivered to you within 7 business days, it will be returned to the Consulate. If your address is incorrect and/or incomplete and your passport cannot be delivered, it will also be returned to the Consulate. If this happens, contact the call center for assistance.

back to top


 

Q.5 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. If your passport is delivered to someone other than yourself, the recipient must present a government-issued photo ID for identification in order to accept delivery of your passport.

back to top


 

Q.6 What do I need to show to the courier when they deliver my passport?

In order to ensure that your passport and visa are not given to an unauthorized person, you must present a government-issued photo ID for identification when you collect your passport. You must also sign for all documents handed over to you by the courier.

back to top


 

Q.7 What types of ID are acceptable as proof-of-identity?

You must present an original government-issued photo ID.

back to top


 

Q.8 Can someone besides me pick up or receive delivery of my passport?

Yes. However, your representative - even in case of family members - must present the following in order to collect your passport:

If a representative is collecting your passport from the document collection office on your behalf - even in case of family members - the representative must present:

  • Their own original government-issued photo ID for identification
  • A photocopy of your government-issued photo ID
  • A letter of authority, signed by you, authorizing your representative to collect your passport. The letter of authority must contain the following information:
    • Your representative's full name as shown on their government-issued photo ID
    • Your name

If the applicant is under the age of 16, the following documents are required:

  • An original, signed letter of authority from either of the applicant's parents
  • A clear photocopy of the government-issued photo ID belonging to the parent who signed the applicant's letter of authority
  • The representative's original government-issued photo ID
    Note: In case of a group/family, a single letter of authority with the required information for each of the applicants will be accepted.

back to top


 

Q.9 Do I have to pay any fees for courier services?

No. The cost of courier services is included in your visa application or immigrant visa fee.

back to top


 

Q.10 When will I receive my passport after visa is processed?

Although visa processing time is typically at least five to seven business days, processing time for specific cases may vary due to an individual's circumstances and other special requirements, and may take longer. Your passport/document will be delivered to the document delivery address or you may pick up the passport from the location that you have provided/selected at the time of appointment scheduling.

back to top


 

Q.11 How and where can I check my passport status?

In order to track the status of your passport’s courier delivery please go to this page or send an email with your passport number in the Subject line to passportstatus@ustraveldocs.com or contact the Visa Information Service. When your passport/document is ready, you will receive an auto-notification by email to inform you that your passport/document is ready for pick-up. Please ensure that the email address indicated in your online profile is accurate. Courier Post is the document delivery vendor.

However, if you have received a 221(g) leaflet at the time you had your interview, you may check the status of your visa application on: https://nz.usembassy.gov/visas/tourism-visitor/case-status/. Once you are on this page, click on the “Click on this link (PDF 357kb)” link, and then press the Control and the “F” key and enter your Batch No (without any spaces) to find your record (the Batch ID is found on the 221(g) leaflet handed to the applicant at the visa interview).

back to top


 

Q.12 What if I need my passport back for urgent travel?

If you are planning urgent travel to the United States, you will need to contact our helpline informing that you have urgent need for your passport and request for an update of your visa application. You will have to wait for the response from the Embassy/Consulate. When your passport/document is returned to you, it will be delivered to the document delivery address or you may pick up the passport from the location that you have provided/selected at the time of appointment scheduling.

Please be advised that visa processing cannot be expedited. We understand this delay may affect your ability to initiate travel plans to the United States. However, our procedures are based on regulatory requirements.

An applicant is advised not pay for travel arrangements such as airfare without having a U.S. visa in your possession. The Embassy/Consulate bears no responsibility if you do so. The Embassy/Consulate is unable to guarantee the issuance of a visa before any fixed travel date.

back to top


 

Q.13 What do I need to do to receive my passport back for travelling to another country?

If you want to receive your passport back, you will need to contact our helpline with a request for temporary return of your passport. If the temporary return of your passport is approved by the Embassy/Consulate, you may receive an email advising that the return of your passport has been approved. When your passport/document is returned to you, it will be delivered to the document delivery address or you may pick up the passport/document from the location that you have provided/selected at the time of appointment scheduling.

back to top


 

FAQ - Immigrant Visas

  1. What is the difference between a "fiance(e) visa" and a visa for your spouse?
  2. How long does each type of visa take to process?
  3. My attorney says I should file for the K-3 visa because I can move to the U.S. right away. How can I do this?
  4. My fiance(e) is petitioning for me but what about my children - can they go to the U.S. with me?
  5. Can I enter the U.S. on my fiance(e) visa, depart the U.S. and then re-enter on the fiance(e) visa?
  6. My lawyer in the U.S. has told me to apply for a tourist visa, and then apply for immigration or adjust my status after I arrive in the U.S. Can I do that?
  7. Can I enter the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program while I'm waiting for my visa interview?
  8. How long will it be before I'll be given an immigrant visa interview date?
  9. Do my children need to attend the visa interview?
  10. I need to change my visa appointment date. What do I do?
  11. How soon can I travel once the visa is issued?
  12. What if I don't use the visa within six months? Can it be extended?
  13. Can a third country national (not a permanent resident of New Zealand) apply for an immigrant visa in New Zealand?
  14. I have a family-based petition pending. I've changed my address. What should I do?
  15. I don't want to have the inoculations/vaccinations. Does that mean I can't have a visa?
  16. I don't understand the I-864. Where can I get help?
  17. I haven't been required to file tax returns in the U.S. Can't I use my New Zealand tax returns?
  18. I don't understand the concept of 'domicile'. Where can I get help?
  19. I need a joint sponsor. What are a joint sponsor's responsibilities?
  20. Can my relatives petition for me to immigrate to the U.S.?
  21. Can my U.S. citizen child petition for me to immigrate to the U.S.?
  22. How else can I immigrate to the U.S. to join my U.S. citizen child?
  23. We have been advised that USCIS has approved the I-130 immediate relative petition. What happens next?
  24. I am a U.S. permanent resident. I have been, or will be, out of the U.S. for more than 12 months. How can I extend my Green Card?
  25. I have lost my Green Card and need to return to the U.S. very soon. What do I do?

Q.1 What is the difference between a "fiance(e) visa" and a visa for your spouse?

An American citizen files a petition (I-129F) for a fiance(e) visa if the couple plans to marry in the U.S. This visa will allow you to enter the U.S. for 90 days to marry there and apply for legal permanent residence after your marriage. An American citizen files an I-130 petition for a visa for their spouse if the couple is already married, the spouse currently resides outside of the U.S., and wishes to immigrate to the U.S. Lawful permanent residents (green card holders) may file immigrant visa petitions (but not fiance(e) petitions) for their spouses too.

back to top


 

Q.2 How long does each type of visa take to process?

The I-130 must be filed with USCIS in the United States, and adjudication may take many months. The cases are then processed at the National Visa Center, and finally an appointment will be scheduled for the alien to apply for the actual immigrant visa at the Post abroad having jurisdiction over your place of residence. The whole process could take betewen nine and 18 months.

back to top


 

Q.3 My attorney says I should file for the K-3 visa because I can move to the U.S. right away. How can I do this?

Your U.S. citizen spouse must file the I-129F Petition to qualify you for a K-3 visa. This a two step process, requiring the U.S. citizen spouse to file an I-130 and then an I-129F once he receives the Receipt I-797 for the I-130 filing. However, the I-129F (K3 Petition) will still take several months to adjudicate, and be forwarded to the overseas Consular Post via the National Visa Center. This a two step process, requiring the U.S. citizen spouse to file an I-130 and then Form I-129F. For further instructions, please see the I-129F form.

back to top


 

Q.4 My fiance(e) is petitioning for me but what about my children - can they go to the U.S. with me?

Any unmarried children under the age of 21 can apply for a "derivative" fiance(e) visa with you. The children must be under 21 years of age and unmarried at the time of their entry into the U.S. on such a visa.

back to top


 

Q.5 Can I enter the U.S. on my fiance(e) visa, depart the U.S. and then re-enter on the fiance(e) visa?

The fiance(e) visa is a one-entry visa. You are required to marry within 90 days of your arrival and to apply immediately thereafter to U.S.C.I.S. for an adjustment of status using Form I-485. You should not depart the U.S. until after you have adjusted your status and have been granted lawful permanent resident status. If you leave the U S before completing the adjustment of status, you will have difficulty in re-entering the U.S. and may have to remain abroad until you qualify for an Immediate Relative Visa, by your spouse filing an I-130 Petition for you.

back to top


 

Q.6 My lawyer in the U.S. has told me to apply for a tourist visa, and then apply for immigration or adjust my status after I arrive in the U.S. Can I do that?

No. If you are intending to move permanently to the U.S. you do not qualify for a nonimmigrant (tourist) visa. Also, many categories of immigrant visas involve long waiting periods before the visa can be issued. It is not possible to spend this period in the U.S.

If you intend to remain permanently in the U.S., attempting to enter on a nonimmigrant visa or under the visa waiver program is not advisable and could result in your involuntary return to New Zealand. In order to be granted admission on a nonimmigrant visa or under the visa waiver program, you must prove that you have a residence outside the U.S. to which you intend to return. It is always at the discretion of the Immigration Inspector, CBP/DHS at the port of entry whether to admit a traveler.

back to top


 

Q.7 Can I enter the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program while I'm waiting for my visa interview?

You can travel to the U.S. on the Visa Waiver Program, however, the maximum period of admission under the VWP is 90 days, and this period cannot be extended. No one can be guaranteed, prior to their arrival at a U.S. port-of-entry, whether or not they would be granted permission to enter the U.S. Please bear in mind that in order to be admitted, you must still demonstrate that you have a residence outside the U.S. to which you intend to return, if even for a short time.

back to top


 

Q.8 How long will it be before I'll be given an immigrant visa interview date?

To be scheduled for the final fiance(e) or immigrant visa interview, the consulate must have received the applicant's approved I-129F (fiance(e) petition), I-130 (family-based petition) or I-140 (employment based petition) from the National Visa Center (NVC), completed biographic data (forms DS-260/261 Part 1) and the checklists (>orm DSL-1076 for fiance(e) visa applicants and form DS-2001 for immigrant visa applicants).

As soon as the Consulate receives the DS-2001 or DSL-1076 signed to indicate the person is ready for the interview we will mail you an appointment letter, and in the case of immigrants, the medical instructions will included in that letter.

back to top


 

Q.9 Do my children need to attend the visa interview?

Yes, unless your children are already U.S. citizens. Children, regardless of age, who are applying for immigrant or derivative fiance(e) visas, must attend the interview.

back to top


 

Q.10 I need to change my visa appointment date. What do I do?

Should you need to change your appointment date, please call the Consulate directly on the phone number listed on your appointment letter. We will endeavor to reschedule an appointment for you.

back to top


 

Q.11 How soon can I travel once the visa is issued?

In most cases the immigrant and fiance(e) visas are valid only for 6 months. Therefore, you must enter the U.S. with your visa within 6 months of its issuance. In some cases, visas can be limited to expire before the 6-month period. In this instance, you are required to enter the U.S. before the expiry date of your visa.

back to top


 

Q.12 What if I don't use the visa within six months? Can it be extended?

Immigrant and fiance(e) visas cannot be extended. If the visa is not used within its period of validity, you must return it to this office for cancellation, along with a note explaining the reasons why the visa was not used. Upon return of the visa and explanation, we will inform you as to the requirements needed to have a new visa issued. Usually at least the visa fee is required to be paid, and you may need a new New Zealand Police clearance, and possibly a new medical examination.

back to top


 

Q.13 Can a third country national (not a permanent resident of New Zealand) apply for an immigrant visa in New Zealand?

In some cases. First, that person must show that they have permission from the New Zealand Immigration Service to remain in New Zealand for 6 months or longer i.e. NOT just on a tourist visa. Depending on the immigrant visa category involved, it is possible that we would accept that person's immigrant visa application. In general, however, the person must have some ties to New Zealand; that is, some reason for being here beyond applying for the visa. Alien applicant needs to provide Consulate General with evidence of visa status in New Zealand, also case number, name and date and place of birth and current N.Z. address and phone number. The Consulate can then request the case file from another post or directly from the National Visa Center.

back to top


 

Q.14 I have a family-based petition pending. I've changed my address. What should I do?

If your file is currently with us, you should email us at AucklandIV@state.gov, giving the details of any changes to your application, including your new mailing address, your full name, date & place of birth, current address, and your case number. If your file is not at the Consulate in Auckland you or the petitioning relative will need to contact the National Visa Center to advise them of the change of address.

back to top


 

Q.15 I don't want to have the inoculations/vaccinations. Does that mean I can't have a visa?

Should you not wish to receive any of the required vaccinations, you will be found ineligible to receive an immigrant visa. You may apply for a waiver of that ineligibility, but must establish that compliance with the vaccination requirements would be contrary to your religious beliefs or moral convictions. To qualify for a waiver you must show that:

  • You are opposed to vaccinations in any form;
  • The objection is based on religious beliefs or moral convictions (whether or not as a member of a recognized religion); and
  • The religious belief or moral conviction (whether or not as part of a recognized religion) is sincere.

Applications for vaccination waivers must be sent to our regional U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service office for their consideration. These waiver applications can take several months to process and there is NO guarantee a waiver will be granted.

back to top


 

Q.16 I don't understand the I-864. Where can I get help?

Please contact the U.S. Visa Information Service on 0900 87 847 with any questions you might have in regard to the I-864 Affidavit of Support.

back to top


 

Q.17 I haven't been required to file tax returns in the U.S. Can't I use my New Zealand tax returns?

U.S. Immigration laws and regulations require that the petitioning relative or joint sponsor submit the most recent U.S. Federal Income Tax returns - not foreign tax returns. IRS requires Americans and lawful permanent residents who are working abroad to file a return even if most or all of their overseas income is excluded from U.S. taxes. For information on filing U.S. federal tax returns and declaring foreign income check the IRS website's Frequently Asked Questions.

back to top


 

Q.18 I don't understand the concept of 'domicile'. Where can I get help?

Domicile is a complex issue and must be determined on a case by case basis. To qualify as a sponsor, a petitioner who is residing abroad must have a principal residence in the U.S. and intend to maintain that residence for the foreseeable future. Lawful permanent resident (LPR) sponsors must show they are maintaining their LPR status.

Many U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents reside outside the United States on a temporary basis, usually for work or family considerations. "Temporary" may cover an extended period of residence abroad.

The sponsor living abroad must establish the following in order to be considered domiciled in the United States:

  • He/she left the United States for a limited and not indefinite period of time;
  • He/she intended to maintain a domicile in the United States, and;
  • He/she has evidence of continued ties to the United States.

An American citizen or LPR spouse or dependent who has maintained a residence in the U.S. and/or whose spouse/parent works in one of the categories listed below would also qualify as a sponsor. Please see the I-864 information page for further information.

back to top


 

Q.19 I need a joint sponsor. What are a joint sponsor's responsibilities?

The joint sponsor's responsibilities are the same as that of a petitioning relative. The affidavit of support is a legally binding agreement to provide financial support to the person(s) immigrating to the U.S.

back to top


 

Q.20 Can my relatives petition for me to immigrate to the U.S.?

For family sponsorship, only immediate relatives can file a petition on your behalf.Immediate relatives who may petition for a relative are U.S. citizen parents, adult U.S. citizen children, U.S. citizen brothers and sisters, and spouses.

back to top


 

Q.21 Can my U.S. citizen child petition for me to immigrate to the U.S.?

Petitioning children must have reached the age of 21 to be eligible to file a petition. Therefore, a U.S. citizen child must be 21 years or over to file for a parent.

back to top


 

Q.22 How else can I immigrate to the U.S. to join my U.S. citizen child?

You must qualify for an immigrant visa in your own right. There are only three ways in which to qualify:

  • through family sponsorship
  • employment and/or investment
  • the Diversity Visa Lottery program

back to top


 

Q.23 We have been advised that USCIS has approved the I-130 immediate relative petition. What happens next?

The Petition will be forwarded to the National Visa Center (NVC) for processing. NVC will contact you with further instructions on how to pursue your immigrant visa application.

Immigrants to the United States guides you through the process including the documents you will require in support of the immigrant visa application. Learn more about the National Visa Center (NVC) and processing at the NVC.

back to top


 

Q.24 I am a U.S. permanent resident. I have been, or will be, out of the U.S. for more than 12 months. How can I extend my Green Card?

Unfortunately, it is not possible to extend the 12-month limit. You must return to the U.S. within 12 months of your last U.S. departure. If you don't, you will be deemed to have abandoned your U.S. resident status. It is possible to apply to have your residency reinstated, though this process is costly and requires showing that the absence was due to compelling reasons beyond your control. Statistically, very few cases succeed. For more information, please email us at AucklandIV@state.gov.

back to top


 

Q.25 I have lost my Green Card and need to return to the U.S. very soon. What do I do?

If you have not been out of the U.S. for 12 months or longer, please contact us at AucklandIV@state.gov to obtain a boarding foils application form.

back to top


 

FAQ - Application Profile

  1. How do I reset my password?
  2. What should I do if I move to another country after I have registered my profile on www.ustraveldocs.com and did not apply yet for my visa, or if I want to submit a new visa application in another country than my previous application?

Q.1 How do I reset my password?

Click the Forgot Your Password? link at the bottom of no-reply@ustraveldocs.com. Some email applications have rules which filter unknown senders into a spam or junk mail folder. If you have not received your email notification, please look for the message in your junk and spam email folders.

back to top


 

Q.2 What should I do if I move to another country after I have registered my profile on www.ustraveldocs.com and did not apply yet for my visa, or if I want to submit a new visa application in another country than my previous application?

You do not need to create another profile if it is also serviced by CGI. You can simply contact us through the Contact Us section on this website http://ustraveldocs.com/nz/nz-main-contactus.asp and share your passport number, UID or email address so we can retrieve and update your profile with the new country where you plan to apply for your US 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.

back to top