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FAQs on Nonimmigrant Visas
 

How do I make an interview appointment?

We contract with a private company, CGI Group, Inc. to help us process visa applications.  You can make an appointment, and obtain other information on the application process, at their website, www.ustraveldocs.com/my.

Does everyone have to come to the embassy for an interview and fingerscanning?

No.  There are exceptions to the interview and fingerscanning requirement.  The following do not normally have to appear in person:

  • Malaysian citizens 13 and under or 80 and older.
  • Applicants for A-1, A-2 (travelers on official government business), C-2, C-3 (government officials in transit) or G-1, G-2, G-3, G-4 (government officials traveling in connection with an international organization, or employees of an international organization).

I have a nonimmigrant visa that will expire soon and I would like to renew it.  Do I need go through the whole visa application process again?

Yes, you will have to go through the whole visa application process each time you want to apply for a visa, even if your visa is still valid.  

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. Your nationality, as indicated in the new passport, must be the same as that shown in the passport bearing the visa.

I have an old U.S. visa with indefinite validity.  Is it still valid?

No.  Until 1994 U.S. visas were ink stamps placed in the passport.  These visas were often issued with indefinite validity.  With the introduction of the machine readable visa, the current adhesive foil placed in the passport, the maximum validity for a U.S. visa issued anywhere in the world was limited to ten years, and it was determined that the same validity would apply to the old visas.  So on April 1, 2004, all old indefinite validity visas became void.  If you still have one of these visas you must apply for a new visa before traveling to the U.S.

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

U.S. citizens, even dual citizens/nationals, must enter and depart the United States using a U.S. passport.

What should I bring to my interview?

Everyone should bring:

  • The DS-160 Confirmation Sheet, printed after completing the DS-160 on-line.  (You do not have to print the entire DS-160.) The form may be accessed through this website www.ustraveldocs.com/my or at https://ceac.state.gov/genniv/.
  • A passport valid for travel to the United States.  The passport should be valid through the duration of your planned trip.
  • A photo should be uploaded when completing the DS-160 application form, but we also ask that you bring a copy of the photo with you to the interview.  Photos can be color or black and white, and should be 5 cm x 5 cm (2 by 2 inch), with a white background.  The applicant's face must occupy at least 50 percent of the photo, should be facing the camera, and the applicant's ears must be visible.  Photos may be no more than six months old and the image may not be retouched or altered in any way.
  • Receipt in the applicant's name showing payment of the appropriate application fee.  Fees may be paid at any branch of Standard Chartered Bank.  (There are exceptions to the fee requirement.  See "Fees" elsewhere on this website.)

Visitors for tourism or business should bring:

  • Evidence of ties outside the U.S., sufficient to convince the interviewing officer that the applicant will not stay or work illegally in the U.S.  (See  "How can an applicant prove ties?" below.) 

Students should bring:

  • The original Form I-20 or I-20M, which they should receive from the school in the U.S.
  • Receipt for payment of the SEVIS fee.  (See "Fees" elsewhere on this website.)
  • Proof of cash available to pay for the first year of studies in the U.S., and a source of funds for succeeding years.
  • Evidence of ties outside the U.S., sufficient to convince the interviewing officer that the applicant will not stay or work illegally in the U.S.  (See  "How can an applicant prove ties?" below.) 

Exchange Visitors should bring:

  • The original Form DS-2019, which they should receive from the exchange program.
  • Receipt for payment of the SEVIS fee.  (See "Fees" elsewhere on this website.)
  • Evidence of ties outside the U.S., sufficient to convince the interviewing officer that the applicant will not stay or work illegally in the U.S.  (See  "How can an applicant prove ties?" below.) 

Domestic servants accompanying diplomats and officials or international organization travelers (A and G visa holders) must bring:

  • A contract between the applicant and employer specifying:
    • That the applicant will be paid at least the minimum or prevailing wage.
    • That the applicant cannot be required to remain at the place of employment after hours without compensation.
    • Any deductions from wages for room and board.
    • That the applicant work only for the employer.
    • Frequency and form of payment, work duties, weekly work hours, holidays, sick days, and vacation days.
    • That the employer will pay for travel from the applicant's place of residence to the U.S. at the onset of employment, and from the U.S. to the place of residence upon termination of employment.
    • That the employer agrees to abide by all federal, state and local laws.
    • That the employer will not withhold the applicant's passport, contract or personal property.
  • Unless the employer has a rank of minister or higher, proof of his/her ability to pay the required wage.  (All G-4 employees must prove their ability to pay.)
  • Further information on servants of diplomats and foreign officials can be found here.  Further information on servants of international organization travelers can be found here.

Domestic servants accompanying other nonimmigrants or American citizens must bring:

  • A contract between the applicant and employer specifying:  
    • That the applicant will be paid at least the minimum or prevailing wage.
    • That the applicant will receive all other benefits normally provided to domestic employees in the area of employment.
    • That the applicant will receive free room and board.
    • That the applicant work only for the employer.
    • That the employer will pay for travel from the applicant's place of residence to the U.S. at the onset of employment, and from the U.S. to the place of residence upon termination of employment.
    • That the employer and the applicant will both provide at least two weeks' notice of termination of employment.
  • Proof of employment as a domestic servant.
  • Proof of the employer's ability to pay the required wage and benefits.
  • Evidence of ties outside the U.S., sufficient to convince the interviewing officer that the applicant will not stay or work illegally in the U.S.  (See  "How can an applicant prove ties?" below.) 

Diplomats, officials and international organization travelers must bring:

  • If traveling on behalf of their government, a diplomatic note from the foreign ministry or embassy.
  • If employed by an international organization, either (1) a request from the chief of the UN's Transportation Section, in the case of employees of the UN or its subsidiary organizations, or (2) a request from the international organization or its local representative, in the case of employees of international organizations not under the UN umbrella.

Temporary workers (H, L, O, P, Q, R categories) must bring:

  • Form I-797 Notice of Approval from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
  • If possible, a copy of the petition filed for them by the employer.
  • Evidence of ties outside the U.S., sufficient to convince the interviewing officer that the applicant will not stay or work illegally in the U.S.  (See  "How can an applicant prove ties?" below.)  (Not required for H-1, L, O-1 or R categories.)

Why would you refuse a visa?

The overwhelming majority of those applying receive their visas quickly and with minimal inconvenience.  But, like every country, the U.S. denies visas to certain individuals whose entry might be harmful.  (See "Ineligibilities" elsewhere on this website.) 

The most common reason someone may be refused a visa is for failure to show he or she will not stay or work illegally in the U.S.  Under the law, applicants in most visa categories must prove that they have a residence abroad they do not intend to abandon.  A residence abroad does not mean simply an address.  It means social, economic or family ties that would cause a reasonable person in the applicant's situation to return after a temporary stay abroad.  Under the law, an applicant has the burden of proving his or her qualifications, including the intent to depart.

How can an applicant prove ties?

"Ties" are the various aspects of an individual's life that bind him or her to a particular place, such as a job, family or property.  Because each applicant's situation is unique, it is difficult to say specifically what evidence of ties is likely to be convincing.  Following are some suggestions. 

  • Letters from employers, giving time in the job, salary, and stating that vacation is being given for the period of the trip.
  • Bank statements or bank books.  While an applicant needs to show he has enough money to make the trip, an individual does not need to be rich to get a visa.  It is more useful to show the consular officer a steady banking history, with regular deposits and withdrawals, than a letter stating simply that the applicant has lots of money in the bank.
  • Self-employed applicants should try to show that their business is successful and provides a reasonable living.  Business registrations are not very useful.  Better are contracts, invoices, bills of lading, accountant's reports, tax returns and bank records showing regular, steady business activity. 
  • Individuals going to the U.S. for short-term training connected to their employment should be able to explain the training and how it will help them in their jobs.  If they do not speak English, the organization providing the training should explain how it is prepared to deal with the language problem.
  • Businessmen should be prepared to explain the purpose of the trip in detail, who they plan to visit and how their trip will benefit their business.  Faxes or letters from US contacts can help. 

A "guarantee" from a relative, employer or friend cannot substitute for evidence of ties.  Regardless of who is sponsoring a trip, the consular officer must look at the applicant's own situation and decide whether he or she meets the requirements of the law. 

What if an applicant has already been refused?

It is important to realize that a refusal does not mean that we think the applicant is a bad person or a liar.  It simply means that he did not meet the criteria set by law to receive a visa.

A refused applicant can re-apply as many times as he likes.  But reapplying without significantly stronger evidence or proof of a significant change in the applicant's circumstances is not likely to change the result.  As a matter of policy, we try to have the case reviewed by an officer who hasn't seen it before, in order to assure that it gets a fresh look and is adjudicated fairly.

Further information on visa refusals is available here.

What is "administrative processing?

Some visa applications require further administrative processing, which takes additional time after the visa applicant's interview by a Consular Officer.  Applicants are advised of this requirement during their interview.  Most administrative processing is resolved within a few weeks, but timing will vary depending on individual circumstances, and we cannot predict in advance how long a particular case may take.  Visa applicants are reminded to apply early for their visa, well in advance of the anticipated travel date.

How do I read and understand my visa?

As soon as you receive your visa, check to make sure all 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 us right away.  If the mistake was our fault, we will fix it quickly and without charge.

Other than the personal data, the most important fields on the visa are the class and the expiration date.  The class indicates the purpose of your trip.  (See "Types of Nonimmigrant Visas" elsewhere on this website.)  You cannot use a visa intended for one purpose to travel for another purpose. 

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.  (That is determined by the immigration inspector when you arrive in the U.S.  See "What will happen when I enter the U.S.?", below.)  Your visa may expire while you are in the U.S.  As long as the duration of stay permitted, which will be stamped in your passport when you arrive, has not expired, you should not have any problem.

Further information on interpreting your visa can be found here.

What will happen when I enter the U.S.?

Your airline should give you a blank Form I-94 (or I-94W in the case of visa waiver travelers) and a Customs Declaration form 6059B.  Each traveler must complete the I-94; only one Customs Declaration form is required for a family traveling together.

When you go through Immigration, an inspector will take fingerscans, to match to the fingerscans you gave when applying for a visa, and take a digital photo.  The inspector may ask a few questions about your trip to make sure you are eligible for admission.  In the vast majority of cases the process takes about a minute, your passport is stamped and you proceed to baggage claim and Customs.  More complete information is available on the website of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Take a minute to look at the stamp in your passport.  It will tell you how long you are permitted to stay.  Tourists are typically allowed up to six months.  Some travelers, such as students, are admitted for the duration of their studies.  But should you need to stay longer than allowed, you must file an application to extend your stay with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services before your legal stay expires.  Should you overstay your visa you may be deported and find yourself ineligible for a visa in the future.

Some travelers are also subject to special registration procedures when they enter or leave the U.S.  You will be told whether these procedures apply to you by the immigration inspector when you arrive.  You can also find information on the special registration program here.

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 authorized by the immigration inspector when you arrived, which will be noted in your passport and on the I-94 card, even if your visa expires during that time. 

I did not turn in my I-94 when I left the United States, what should I do?

The I-94 or I-94W form you filled out when you arrived in the U.S. will normally be stapled to your passport.  You should not remove it.  Airline personnel should remove it when you check in for your flight out of the U.S.  If that doesn't happen, and you arrive home with the form still in your passport, you should return it to the Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection, at the following address:

DHS - CBP ACS INC.
1084 South Laurel Road
London, KY 40744
USA

My passport with my visa was stolen, what should I do?

If your passport with a U.S. visa is lost or stolen while you are in the U.S., see here for steps you'll need to take.  If you are outside the U.S., e-mail us at klconsular@state.gov to tell us what happened.  Include your full name as written in your passport.  Unfortunately, to obtain a replacement visa you will have to begin the application process anew.

My question wasn't answered here.  Where can I get further information?

Many questions can be answered by our visa processing contractor, either through their website, or contact them at:

Phone:   03-2788 5000 (within Malaysia)
             (214) 571-1600 (within the U.S. - 7pm to 7am EST)
E-Mail:   support-malaysia@ustraveldocs.com
Internet Chat: http://www.ustraveldocs.com/my/my-main-chat.html 

Agents are available Monday - Friday from 8:00am to 8:00pm Malaysia time, except for Malaysian and U.S. holidays.

If you cannot obtain a satisfactory answer from the contractor, you can e-mail the Embassy at KLConsular@state.gov.

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