If you want to visit the US – for business or for pleasure or both – and are not eligible for the Visa Waiver Program you must apply for a visa.

It is best to get the B-1/2 visa before booking your plane ticket.
Requirements and waiting times for visa issuance can vary depending on your home country and your nationality/citizenship.
Two private companies – CGI Stanley and CSRA – are licensed by the U.S. government to process Visa Applications. Both companies created Visa Websites especially for the countries and regions where they are operating.
To acces sites: ustraveldocs.com  or ais.usvisa-info.com
Do not underestimate the application process, every day many people are refused a visa.

1. Visit the US Embassy or Consulate website for your country or area.

  • The website will give specific instructions, e.g. how to pay for the visa.
    Check whether you must bring postage or a prepaid label to have your passport mailed back to you.

2. Submit the DS-160 Visa Application.

  • The Visa Application can only be submitted on-line at the Consular Electronic Application Centre (CEAC). You must complete Form DS-160 for a Non-Immigrant Visa (NIV).
    If family members travel with you, applications must be submitted by each of them. You can complete the form for a child 13 years of age or younger.

    When submitting your application you must upload your photo. Make sure it meets the requirements set by the US Department of State (DOS). If upload fails, you must bring to the interview two “real” passport type photos.

    Print and keep the Barcoded Confirmation Page that you will receive.

3. Pay the Visa Application Fee.

  • The MRV (Machine Readable Visa) fee is $ 160. Payment must be made in local currency. The fee is non-refundable.
    You need the MRV Receipt Number to schedule your Visa Interview. Print and keep the receipt.

    Depending on your nationality you can also be charged a Visa Issuance Fee if your visa is approved.

4. Sign up for the Visa Interview.

  • After submitting your application you must schedule an appointment for your interview.
    In most countries you first need to create an on-line profile in the USTravelDocs or the AisUSVisa-Info system.

5. Collect the needed documentation.

Please also read the Additional Information !

  • You must bring to the interview
  • your Passport
  • the DS-160 Confirmation Page
  • the MRV fee Payment Receipt
  • passport type photo(s)
  • additional documentation

If a child/children travel with you, check beforehand if they must have their own passport(s) to be issued a visa.

6. Schedule the Visa Interview.

  • In some countries you must first go to a Visa Application Centre (VAC) to have your fingerprints taken. In other countries fingerprinting is done during the Visa Interview (there can be a fee).

    The Visa Interview must be scheduled through the TravelDocs system.
    An appointment at a VAC must also be made through TravelDocs. Schedule fingerprinting at least one day before the date of the interview.
    In some countries you can make both appointments through a call-center.

    A child 13 or younger is usually exempt from appearing for the interview as well as fingerprinting.

7. Appear for the Visa Interview.

  • The Visa Interview is usually held at the nearest US Embassy or Consulate.
    During the interview a Consular Officer (CO) will ask you questions. Give short, clear answers. Do not go into details unless the officer asks you. Do not get into an argument – you will lose.

    The US sees every visitor as potentially an illegal immigrant. You must show that you have reasons for returning to your home country.
    Do not give the impression you will work or volunteer during your stay in the US. It is not allowed !

    It is possible that the CO decides that your application requires more scrutiny called “administrative processing”. This means the decision on visa issuance will take more time. Often additional documentation must be submitted.

    If you are refused a visa you are allowed to appeal. The CO can give you information.

Validity of a B-1/2 Visa.

  • A B-1/2 Visa can be valid from 3 months to 10 years, depending on your nationality/citizenship.
    The Period of Validity does not mean that you can stay in the US for that period of time. The visa only gives permission to request entry during that period.

    The number of entries can be limited. The number is then given in the visa. In case of unlimited entries the visa will show the letter M for Multiple Entries.

    Usually a combined B-1/2 Visa is issued. For some countries either a B-1 (business) or a B-2 (tourism) will be issued.

    In the U.S. you can request an extension of your stay for up to 6 months. You must file this request with USCIS at least 45 days before your original visit ends.
    You are allowed to change your status from B-1/2 to another non-immigrant category e.g. worker or student.

    A visa is a document that allows you to request admittance into a country. It does not guarantee entry will be allowed. Immigration Officers always have the last word.

List of US Embassy & Consulate Websites


Website Visa Processing Service CGI Stanley


Website Visa Processing Service CSRA


Direct Access to Form DS-160


DOS Requirements for Photos


Validity, Entries, Issuance Fee


Times at US Embassies/Consulates