US Visa Processing Time: The time it takes to process a US visa application depends largely on the particular type of visa that you are trying to get. While the temporary visa for non-immigrants may take up to a few weeks or even months to process, on the other hand, the immigrant visa can take up to years to process and get approval.
Giving a definite answer to “how long a US visa application takes to get reviewed” is not quite as easy. This is because; the US government considers each applicant on a case-by-case basis, in the exact order that they have been received.
Depending on your situation, it might take a few weeks for you to get response when you apply for a tourist visa, while it may take months for someone else who applied for the same visa, simply because of such a person’s current situation at the time of application.
How Long Does it Take to Get a US Visa?
The US visa application processing time very much depends on the type of visa you apply for. Ordinarily, it takes within 3 to 5 weeks for a US visa application to undergo processing. After processing, you may or may not get a positive reply on your application, and your documents will be delivered back to you by the consulate. The main delivery of the visa can usually take up to another two workdays.
By law, under Section 221(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, applicants that are refused can take around 60 days from the date of the visa interview to be processed. Meanwhile, in some severe cases, the process may take more than 6 months.
On the other hand, countries that are under the visa waiver program, applying via Electronic Travel Authorization System for a short term visit, can get a reply within 72 hours in their ESTA application.
US Visa Processing Time for Various Visa Types
Check out the times for processing the different types of US visas below:
|Visa Type||Processing Time||Description|
|E-1 Visa||2 – 4 weeks||The Visa processing time for E-1 depends on the caseload of the US Embassy or USCIS if you applied from within the US. You will be notified on whether or not you have been awarded the visa after the processing period is over.|
|E-2 Visa||4 – 6 weeks||This type takes around 2 weeks if you are an employee.
However, with the workload of the US Embassy, the processing time varies. So in case you do not get a response within those time frames, it doesn’t mean that your application is denied.
|E-3 Visa||2 months||Knowing that the Embassy might have a bigger workload, the processing time might take longer.|
|F-1 Visa||Immediately after the interview||For the F-1 Visa, the processing time is always much shorter than other types of visas. Usually, for this type of visa, the processing actually happens before your interview. The interview is actually the final step for the US Embassy to decide whether or not to grant you an F-1 visa.
You will get the response on this visa immediately after the interview, in most cases. The interviewer may congratulate you for getting the visa, or provide you with document letting you know the reason for denial, at the end of the interview. However, there are cases where the response and processing of the F-1 visa takes a few days. You just have to be patient if that happens.
|F-2 Visa||Few days – 2 weeks||You might get a response from your interviewer immediately after the interview, after your F-2 visa interview. But it is usually more common that the waiting period will be just a few days or weeks.
The US Embassy will take their time to look over your documents and responses. Particularly, they will focus on you and the F-1 visa holder’s financial situation, in order to determine if you can actually cover the cost of your expenses while in the US.
|J-1 Visa||1 – 4 months||For this type, the Waiver Review Division will go through your case and make recommendations. They will then send their recommendations to the USCIS, who will then make the final decision on if whether or not you will be allowed to stay in the country.|
|Q-1 Visa||15 days – 3 months||You will be contacted after the processing time, to be informed whether you have been granted the visa or not.|
|M-1 Visa||Minimum of 4 weeks||The processing time for this type of visa is actually quite short. In some cases, immediately after the interview, the interviewer either congratulates you, or state reasons why you are being denied the visa. This is because the visa processing happens before your interview.|
|B-1 Visa||Within 2 months||This B-1 type of visa has no exact processing time. It depends on the factors being taken into consideration by the US Embassy, and also, their workload at the time.|
|B-2 Visa||Within 2 months||The processing times for these visas, both tourist and US visitor, differs from country to country.|
|H-1B Visa||3 – 6 months||The US Embassy in different countries or cities has their various visas processing time, so it is best for you to contact them for any details. You can also visit the US state department or USCIS for approximate processing times.|
|H-1B1 Visa||4 – 6 months||For the H-1B1 visa, the processing time also depends on seasonal fluctuations. So for more accurate info. You should contact the US Embassy where you applied.|
|H-2A Visa||Varies||This type of visa is seasonal, so the processing time for it varies, as sometimes it takes longer to process. It is however recommended that the US Employer should file USCIS petition at least 60 days, but no more than 120 days before they need the foreign worker(s). The US government usually prioritizes the H-2A visas, due to the fact that agricultural work is seasonal, so they hasten up the process.|
|H-3 Visa||4 – 6 weeks||For this visa type, you will have to make sure that the institution sends in their petition at least 6 months before the training program starts. Then you gather your documents and proceed with the application after that. It might take between one to three months for them to get back to you with the final decision, depending on the demand at your local US Embassy.|
|H-4 Visa||Varies||It might take as long as it takes to process the H-4 visa type, depending on the workload in the US Embassy at the time.
For instance, if your spouse is applying for the H-2A visa and you apply together, your visas will both take the same time to process. But if you apply separately though, the processing time will depend on the US Embassy.
|L-1 Visa||3 to 4 months||Processing of blanket petitions are usually faster than that of individual ones. There is also the option of obtaining premium processing at an additional cost, for employers, in order to speed up the processing time for L-1A. The response period for this faster option is usually 1 – 3 weeks.|
|L-2 Visa||15 days – 1 month||This might get to take longer, depending on the US Embassy’s workload and other factors.|
|R-1 Visa||8 – 9 months||Getting approval for the R-1 visa takes quite some time. It takes the USCIS around 6 months to respond after an employer sends in the petition. This is due to the fact that the USCIS may have to visit the premises of the organization.
In a case whereby the USCIS has visited the organization before, then the option of premium processing is available at an extra fee of $1,225. Using the premium processing, it take just about 2 weeks to get your response. Without the premium processing, after the USCIS approves the petition, it may take another 2 – 3 months for your visa to be processed.
|P-1 Visa||3 – 6 months||This type of visa usually takes long to process. But the option for premium processing is also available in this case. If you choose to go with the premium processing option, then you will have to pay an additional $1,225 fee and you will get response for your visa within 15 days. Your premium fee payment is reimbursed to you if the US institutions do not notify you for your visa within 15 days.|
|I Visa||Within 10 days|
|O Visa||2 – 3 months||For those that do not want to wait this long to get response, then the premium processing option is also available here too, at an additional cost of $1,225. Using the premium processing option means that your visa processing will just take 15 days, and you will know your application status much sooner.|
|C Visa||5 working days||The processing time for this type of visa is generally faster than others, since it is just for a very short duration of time.|
|T Visa||Varies||The processing time for this varies from person to person based on the evidence that you give. There is no specific time given by USCIS that an applicant will have to wait for their visa to be processed.|
|U Visa||12 – 18 months||The processing time for the U visa may become longer since, for instance; you may be required to send in additional evidence to USCIS. The processing time widely varies though.|
How do I get back my Passport after Processing?
During the whole period of US Visa processing time, your passport will remain at the US Embassy/Consulate where you applied. You cannot go to collect your passport in person. A courier service will deliver it to you instead.
Keep in mind that in cases of emergency, the State Department does grant expedited interview appointments and processing. Therefore, it is very important for you to contact the US Embassy or Consulate if you have an emergency.
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