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General Frequently Asked Questions
  • What is the difference between a nonimmigrant visa and an immigrant visa?

    What is the difference between a nonimmigrant visa and an immigrant visa?

    • A nonimmigrant visa is a visa for a temporary stay – for example for tourism, for study, or for work depending on the type of visa.  You cannot stay in the United States permanently on a nonimmigrant visa.  Please review our non-immigrant visa page for information on the many types of nonimmigrant visas.  An immigrant visa is a visa to live and work in the United States for as long as you want.  Please see our immigrant visa page for more information on immigrant visas.

  • How long am I allowed to stay in the United States on my nonimmigrant visa?

    How long am I allowed to stay in the United States on my nonimmigrant visa?

    • An immigration officer from U.S. Customs and Border Protection of the Department of Homeland Security makes the decision as to whether or not to admit you into the United States and how long you may stay.  For a tourist or business visa (B1/B2) normally you will be admitted for a specific period of time (typically, up to six months).  You must leave the U.S. before your period expires.  If you do not leave on time or if you work in the U.S. without permission from the Department of Homeland Security during your stay, you may be arrested and removed from the United States, and you may be ineligible to receive a visa in the future.

  • What do the expiration date of my visa and number of entries mean?

    What do the expiration date of my visa and number of entries mean?

    • If you get a ten year visa, this does not mean you can go to the U.S for ten years in one visit, but that you can take several trips during those 10 years. In other words, the expiration date means that you can use your visa up until that date. The number of entries is how many times you may use your visa to travel to the U.S.  In general, tourist visas for Colombian citizens are valid for 10 years and are for multiple entries into the U.S. This does not mean you can go to the U.S for 10 years in one visit. Sometimes your visa is issued for a limited amount of time and for a limited number of entries. This means you can only use your visa until that expiration date.

  • My visa is going to expire while I am in the United States. Is that a problem?

    My visa is going to expire while I am in the United States. Is that a problem?

    • No.  At the port of entry, the immigration inspector from U.S. Customs and Border Protection of the Department of Homeland Security admitted you until a certain date or for “duration of status”.  You are permitted to remain in the United States until that date or until you studies or other activity for which you were admitted is completed, even if your visa expires in the interim.
  • Is there a specific amount of money that I must have in the bank in order to qualify for a nonimmigrant visa?

    Is there a specific amount of money that I must have in the bank in order to qualify for a nonimmigrant visa?

    • No. There is no requirement that you have a certain amount of money in your bank account.

  • How long do I have to wait to receive a nonimmigrant visa appointment?

    How long do I have to wait to receive a nonimmigrant visa appointment?

  • I want to travel to the United States for medical treatment. What do I need to do?

    I want to travel to the United States for medical treatment. What do I need to do?

    • If you are seeking medical treatment in the U.S., the consular officer may ask for further documents at your visa interview, which may include:

      • Medical diagnosis from a local physician, explaining the nature of the ailment and the reason you need treatment in the U.S.
      • Letter from a physician or medical facility in the U.S., stating they are willing to treat your specific ailment and detailing the projected length and cost of treatment (including doctors’ fees, hospitalization fees, and all medical-related expenses).
      • Proof that your transportation, medical, and living expenses in the U.S. will be paid. This may be in the form of bank or other statements of income/savings or certified copies of income tax returns (either yours or the person or organization paying for your treatment).

  • My old passport has expired. My valid U.S. visa is still in the old passport. Do I need to apply for a new visa for my new passport?

    My old passport has expired. My valid U.S. visa is still in the old passport. Do I need to apply for a new visa for my new passport?

    • No.  Your U.S. visa is still valid. Simply travel with both passports.  When you apply for admission at a U.S. port of entry, an immigration inspector from U.S. Customs and Border Protection of the Department of Homeland Security will inspect the visa in your old passport and, if he or she decides to admit you to the United States, generally will place an admission stamp in your new passport with the annotation "VIOPP" (Visa In Other Passport). Do not attempt to remove your visa from your old passport and glue it into your new passport. If you do that, your visa will be automatically invalid.

      In order to help us conserve our human resources, we ask that you not apply for a new visa until your old one is about to expire.  At that time the Nonimmigrant Visa Unit will place a new visa in your valid passport (assuming, of course, that you qualify for the new visa).

  • Am I allowed to have more than one kind of nonimmigrant visa simultaneously?

    Am I allowed to have more than one kind of nonimmigrant visa simultaneously?

    • Yes.
  • How do I apply for a humanitarian visa?

    How do I apply for a humanitarian visa?

    • There is no such thing as a humanitarian visa. Consular officers are often faced with difficult decisions on cases with a humanitarian component; however, most nonimmigrant visa applicants must overcome the intending immigrant presumption of Section 214(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, regardless of how compelling their case may be from a humanitarian standpoint.

  • I do not live in Colombia. Am I allowed to apply for a nonimmigrant visa at the U.S. Embassy in Bogota anyway?

    I do not live in Colombia. Am I allowed to apply for a nonimmigrant visa at the U.S. Embassy in Bogota anyway?

    • Yes.

  • Can my domestic employee apply for a visa to work for me while I am in the United States?

    Can my domestic employee apply for a visa to work for me while I am in the United States?

    • Yes. Domestic employees of nonimmigrants may qualify for a B-1 visa, which allows them to work temporarily in the United States for a specific employer.  Please see our domestic employee (B-1) visa page.
  • Why was my visa application refused?

    Why was my visa application refused?

    • U.S. consular officers are only allowed to issue nonimmigrant visas to those applicants who qualify under the law.  A visa can be refused for a variety of reasons. For example, your visa application could be denied if you fail to convince the consular officer that you will return to Colombia after your trip to the United States, have a criminal record, if you lie during your visa interview, or if you have lived in the United States illegally. There are many other possible reasons that a visa application can be refused. Please see Travel.State.gov for a discussion of ineligibilities (that is, reasons your visa may be refused). A consular officer normally will inform the applicant in writing of the basis of the refusal.
  • What is Section 214(b)?

    What is Section 214(b)?

    • The majority of nonimmigrant visa refusals are made under Section 214(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Section 214(b), which applies to all B-1/B-2 applicants (as well as to applicants for most other nonimmigrant visa classifications), presumes that an applicant is an intending immigrant (generally, that he or she plans to stay permanently in the United States or plans to work illegally) and places the burden on the applicant to convince the consular officer of the contrary. If the applicant fails to convince the consular officer, the law requires the consular officer to deny the visa.

      Applicants overcome the intending immigrant presumption of Section 214(b) by showing that their overall circumstances, including social, family, economic and other ties to Colombia, will compel them to leave the United States at the end of a temporary visit.  "Ties" are the various aspects of life that bind the applicant to Colombia, such as his or her family relationships, employment and possessions.  Because each applicant's situation is different, there is no single factor that demonstrates compelling ties to Colombia. A visa denial under Section 214(b) is not permanent. Visa seekers may reapply for a visa at any time by following the instructions in the How to Apply for a Visa page. However, we recommend that they do so only if they believe that they will be able to show that they are eligible for the visa based on the guidance provided above.  That is, we recommend against reapplying unless the applicant's family, professional or economic situation has changed sufficiently to warrant a change in the consular officer's decision.

  • What is Section 221(g)?

    What is Section 221(g)?

    • Section 221(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act is also a common basis for visa refusals. A refusal under Section 221(g) means that the applicant failed to provide some or that administrative processing is required.  When an applicant is refused under Section 221(g), the consular officer gives him or her a letter that explains what, if anything, the applicant needs to do. An applicant may check the status of the application online by following the instructions on the Visa Application Status page.

  • I just applied for a visa, and the consular officer told me that the decision would be delayed because of “administrative processing.” What do you mean by “administrative processing”?

    I just applied for a visa, and the consular officer told me that the decision would be delayed because of “administrative processing.” What do you mean by “administrative processing”?

    • Administrative processing is a term that U.S. consular officers worldwide use when further study is required in a particular visa case. While we are not able to provide further details in such cases, there is normally no cause for concern on your part. We assure you that this process is completely normal and that we will inform you of the decision on your visa as soon as possible. Most administrative processing is resolved within 90 days of the visa interview. You may check the status of your application online by following the instructions on the Visa Application Status page.

  • May I appeal a visa refusal?

    May I appeal a visa refusal?

    • There is no formal appeal or reconsideration process for visa refusals. Generally, the only option for a refused visa applicant who still wants a visa is to re-apply from scratch by following the procedures on our How to Apply for a Visa page.
  • How long after being refused a visa do I have to wait to re-apply?

    How long after being refused a visa do I have to wait to re-apply?

    • You may re-apply at any time. But, you must start from the beginning of the process each time you apply (i.e., schedule a new appointment, pay the non-refundable application fee again and be re-interviewed by a consular officer). Please read our How to Apply for a Visa page.
  • Why didn’t the consular officer look at my documents during the visa interview?

    Why didn’t the consular officer look at my documents during the visa interview?

    • As we mentioned in our Points to Keep in Mind page, the personal interview with the consular officer (if one is required) and the information that the applicant provides in writing on the application forms are critical elements of the visa process. A consular officer often will determine an applicant's visa eligibility based on information provided orally during the interview and on the application forms, without referring to the supporting documents.
  • Should I get a lawyer to help me with my case?

    Should I get a lawyer to help me with my case?

    • The decision as to whether or not to hire a lawyer or other representative is your decision.  We cannot tell you whether or not to obtain representation, nor can we recommend any specific lawyers. A lawyer is not permitted to accompany you to your visa interview.
  • I was arrested in the past. What should I do?

    I was arrested in the past. What should I do?

    • If you have ever been arrested for any reason, at any time and in any country, you must tell the consular officer during your nonimmigrant visa interview. A question in Form DS-160 asks you whether you have ever been arrested.  You must answer this and all other questions truthfully, and you must explain the details of your arrest.

      Bring to your visa interview all documentation concerning any and all arrests, even if the charges were dropped or you were acquitted, pardoned or given amnesty.  In addition, you must provide a copy of the statute under which you were arrested and a translation of the statute into English. The consular officer will review the evidence and make a decision as to whether or not you are eligible for a visa.

  • What is a waiver and how do I get one?

    What is a waiver and how do I get one?

    • A waiver is a special authorization granted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CPB) of the Department of Homeland Security to put aside certain ineligibilities temporarily and allow a visa to be issued. Some frequently seen grounds of refusals at the Nonimmigrant Visa Unit that require waivers are Sections 212(a)(6)(C)(i) (misrepresentation) and 212(a)(9)(B) (unlawful presence) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

      The consular officer will inform you if you are potentially eligible for a waiver, and you will then let the consular officer know whether you are interested in pursuing a waiver.  If so, the consular officer and/or the U.S. Department of State in Washington will recommend for or against the waiver, using the criteria in 9 FAM 40.301. (PDF 91 KB) CBP, which retains sole authority to approve or deny waivers, will make a decision concerning your case. If CBP grants the waiver, the consular officer will inform you promptly.  Please remember that the Nonimmigrant Visa Unit cannot control how long a waiver decision may take. A CPB office in the United States makes the decision. There is no entitlement to a waiver; waivers are always discretionary.

  • WHY DO YOU HAVE TO TAKE MY FINGERPRINTS, AND HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?

    WHY DO YOU HAVE TO TAKE MY FINGERPRINTS, AND HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?

    • A strict background check has long been required for all visa applicants. As part of this check, we take electronic fingerprints of most of our applicants on the day of their ASC appointment. There is no additional charge for fingerprints.
  • What should I do if Form I-94 form is still in my passport when I return to Colombia from the United States?

    What should I do if Form I-94 form is still in my passport when I return to Colombia from the United States?

  • I am often referred to secondary immigration inspection at the U.S. port of entry, or I am delayed when attempting to boarding aircraft in the United States. How do I report these problems?

    I am often referred to secondary immigration inspection at the U.S. port of entry, or I am delayed when attempting to boarding aircraft in the United States. How do I report these problems?

  • I have feedback to share concerning the nonimmigrant visa process. How do I submit my comments to your office?

    I have feedback to share concerning the nonimmigrant visa process. How do I submit my comments to your office?

    • The Nonimmigrant Visa Unit welcomes your comments, complaints, compliments and suggestions concerning any and all aspects of the nonimmigrant visa process.  Simply send us an e-mail at NIVBogota@state.gov with your feedback.
  • WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I REQUIRE DEPARTURE VERIFICATION?

    WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I REQUIRE DEPARTURE VERIFICATION?

  • MY VISA WAS APPROVED, WHAT DO I DO NOW?

    MY VISA WAS APPROVED, WHAT DO I DO NOW?

    • In about 10 to 14 days, you can pick-up your passport in the DHL office that you selected before your interview.
  • I LIVE IN THE UNITED STATES AND I WANT TO HELP MY RELATIVES GET A VISA TO VISIT ME. WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP THEM?

    I LIVE IN THE UNITED STATES AND I WANT TO HELP MY RELATIVES GET A VISA TO VISIT ME. WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP THEM?

    • Individual applicants must qualify for the visa based on their own qualifications. Unless a citizen or resident of the United States is supporting a petition-based work visa application, or an immigrant visa petition, we recommend that you do not try and assist.
  • THE VALIDITY PERIOD OF MY VISA DOES NOT COVER MY INTENDED STAY IN THE UNITED STAES, WHAT DO I DO?

    THE VALIDITY PERIOD OF MY VISA DOES NOT COVER MY INTENDED STAY IN THE UNITED STAES, WHAT DO I DO?

    • The validity period of a visa relates only to the period of time in which the holder may travel to the United States and apply for admission.  It does not determine the length of stay. This is a matter for U.S. Customs and Border Protection at the port of entry.
  • I am having a lot of trouble filling out the DS-160 application form, where can I find clear instructions?

    I am having a lot of trouble filling out the DS-160 application form, where can I find clear instructions?

  • I just got my visa, but there is an error in my date of birth, what should I do?

    I just got my visa, but there is an error in my date of birth, what should I do?

    • Immediately upon receipt of your visa, be sure to check the information on the visa to ensure your name, date of birth, gender, and other biographic information is correct.

      If you find any errors, you may bring your passport to the “Special Window” at the Embassy, Monday through Friday at 1:00 pm (except official holidays) for correction at no additional charge.

  • Do I need to wait until my visa is about to expire before I apply for a new visa?

    Do I need to wait until my visa is about to expire before I apply for a new visa?

    • No. You may apply for a new visa at any time, whether or not you have a current visa, or your visa has expired. It is recommended that you apply at least a few months prior to the current expiration date of your current visa or the date of your anticipated travel in the event your case requires extra administrative processing.

  • I didn’t receive form I-94 when arrived to the U.S. Where can I get it?

    I didn’t receive form I-94 when arrived to the U.S. Where can I get it?

    • U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has migrated Form I-94 to an automated system.  In most cases, CBP will no longer process the paper form upon arrival. Instead, travelers will be provided with a CBP admission stamp in their travel document. If you have further questions regarding this new system, please consult the Department of Homeland Security website: www.cbp.gov/I94.

  • How to Apply for Multiple Visas at the same time?

    How to Apply for Multiple Visas at the same time?

    •  

      After completing and printing the DS160 online nonimmigrant visa application form, paying the fee, and scheduling an interview appointment for the first visa, in order to apply for a second visa in a different visa category, an applicant should fill out and print a second DS160 for the second visa.
      Applicants do not need to pay or schedule an appointment for the second visa.  Instead, payment for that second visa application will be made directly at the U.S. Embassy with cash or credit card on the day of the interview.
      IMPORTANT – All applicants should have a  completed DS160 confirmation sheet for each visa category he/she is applying for.
      After completing and printing the DS160 online nonimmigrant visa application form, paying the fee, and scheduling an interview appointment for the first visa, in order to apply for a second visa in a different visa category, an applicant should fill out and print a second DS160 for the second visa.Applicants do not need to pay or schedule an appointment for the second visa.

      Instead, payment for that second visa application will be made directly at the U.S. Embassy with cash or credit card on the day of the interview.IMPORTANT – All applicants should have a  completed DS160 confirmation sheet for each visa category he/she is applying for.

       

  • I have not received a reply to an earlier e-mail, what should I do?

    I have not received a reply to an earlier e-mail, what should I do?

    • Any time you write to our public e-mail addresses, you should receive an automated reply that contains detailed information designed to address most questions.  In many cases, that auto-reply will be the only response you receive. 

      If you did not receive an auto-reply, feel free to e-mail your inquiry to us again. 

      NOTE: In some cases security measures in our system block/filter messages and/or attachments that are too large or may be suspected of containing malicious code, including: 
       
      • emoticons (.png files), which may be imbedded in the signature block of web-based emails,
      • any PNG graphics, banners, movies or similar items, either imbedded or in attachments,
      • video or audio attachments (such as .wma files),
      • attachments larger than 5MB.

      Please make sure that your e-mail does not include any of these items before you resend it.

       

  • If I’m renewing my visa, will I have to make two appointments?

    If I’m renewing my visa, will I have to make two appointments?

    • If you are renewing a B1/B2 (business/tourist) visa that was issued after January 1, 2008, you may be eligible to simply submit the required documents to the embassy via courier.  Please read all questions carefully and follow the instructions when making your appointment to see if you qualify for courier-only service.  To make an appointment please go to http://colombia.usvisa-info.com.
  • How do I schedule an appointment for a group of people?

    How do I schedule an appointment for a group of people?

    • Anyone may schedule a group of up to 25 people through our online scheduling system. Please click the “add applicant” button from the applicant screen to add more applicants to a group. We encourage applicants applying together to use this group function.  Using it will ensure that everyone in your group has appointments on the same day at both the ASC and the Consular Section. 
      For non-family groups only: After you have scheduled your appointment please send an email to NIVBogota@state.gov stating the size of your groups, your appointment date at the Embassy and your purpose of travel.
      If you are scheduling an interview for more than 10 people please let the Consular Section know in advance. First, schedule appointments for all of your group members in the scheduling system (https://ais.usvisa-info.com/en-co/).

      Then send an email to NIVBogota@state.gov with the names of your group members, your purpose of travel, your dates of travel and your desired interview times. We will work with you to provide interviews for the entire group at convenient times in advance of your travel dates.

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