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The US Embassy in London and the Consulate General in Belfast are transitioning to a new visa information and appointment booking system, which includes a free online appointment booking service for nonimmigrant visa applicants. This new system is being implemented worldwide.
Nonimmigrant visa applicants can pay the MRV application fee and schedule a nonimmigrant visa appointment online, or contact the (new) Call Center. This service is provided through a link from the US Embassy London’s website, or directly at a separate web address http://ais.usvisa-info.com. These two websites, and the Call Center, are the only official sources of general visa information from the US Embassy and the only authorized methods to schedule a personal visa interview.
MRV Fee: The fee is $160. The MRV fee can only be paid by debit card and is paid online after the applicant has completed the DS-160 but before he or she schedules the appointment.
The visa interview may take only a few minutes and is not something that you should be overly worried about, as long as you meet the three criteria you will need to demonstrate to visa officers:
Although the interview is not a document review, you may wish to take documentation to support these criteria, such as a letter of acceptance for your university or study abroad programme and the same funding documentation you submitted to receive your I-20 or DS-2019 (photocopies or printouts of online bank statements are OK).
See the checklist below for suggested items to take to the appointment. You may wish to make copies of all printed documents for safekeeping. If there are any supporting documents you think you should bring but aren't sure about, such as additional university letters, it is better to take them with you to the appointment in case they are useful to reference during your interview.
At the interview, be prepared to:
As visa applicants are assumed to be intending to immigrate to the US and overstay their visas, you will therefore need to prove to the immigration officer that you do not intend to overstay your visa. You will be asked to demonstrate your significant personal, cultural or professional ties to the UK, the country to which you would presumably return after your studies.
For example, you may be able to demonstrate this by having family in the UK, owning property, having a UK degree to return to (for short-term study abroad students), etc. However, please note that these do not always guarantee a visa. For this reason, some international students choose to complete their visa interview in their home country where they have more ties and where immigration officers will be trained in evaluating ties to that country. See the US Embassy's webpage for non UK-residents as you decide where to apply for your visa.
You will go through security procedures similar to those at an airport on arrival. As you are not allowed to bring electronics (including phones, laptops and iPods etc.), travel light and take something to read. See the checklist below for suggested items to take to the appointment.
Once inside the Embassy, you will wait until your number is called for an initial processing. You will submit your visa application (DS-160), passport and photo, as well as have your fingerprints taken. If your DS-160 is not completed correctly, you will be sent home and have to reschedule your appointment. Additionally, if you have a cut or blister on any of your fingers of thumbs, your application will not be processed.
Following the initial processing, you will wait until your number is called again for your actual visa interview. Although the interview itself may only take a few minutes, you may be at the embassy for a few hours in total. It is a good idea to bring something to read while you wait.
You will leave your passport with the US Embassy. Expect to receive your visa and passport within an average of 5-7 working days. Average waiting times are available online and updated regularly. While expedited service is not offered, should the need arise the Embassy can schedule an emergency appointment.
Note: This page is meant to be a general guide to the visa application process. Local US Embassies are the official source of information on visas, and any information provided to you by the US Embassy supersedes information on this webpage.
For more information on visas visit the US State Department website. They have sections on
F Visas and J Visas. You may also want to review the information provided by the US Embassy in London. Additionally, talk with your US university or visa sponsor for further information. If you are not a UK citizen, we encourage you to also read the US Embassy London's webpage on visas for non-residents.