How Long Can I stay?
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) has automated the admission form (Form I-94) at air and sea ports of entry. The paper form will no longer be provided to a traveler upon arrival, except in limited circumstances. The traveler will be provided with a CBP admission stamp on their travel document. If a traveler needs a copy of their I-94 (record of admission) for verification of alien registration, immigration status or employment authorization, it can be obtained from www.cbp.gov/I94. CBP will provide each traveler with an admission stamp that is annotated with the date of admission, class of admission and admitted until date. The expiration date on the I-94 is the actual date that your status in the US expires. The electronic arrival/departure record can be obtained at www.cbp.gov/I94.
Expiration of your passport
As you may know, United Sates Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) is authorized to admit a foreign national into the U.S. only through the duration of his or her passport validity, rather than the duration of the visa or approval notice, even if the passport expires during the individual's otherwise authorized period of stay in the U.S. Again, check the date on your admission stamp. You will begin to accrue "unlawful presence" from the date of expiration written on your admission stamp.
Please carefully review your admission stamp upon each entry to the U.S. to ensure that you are admitted for the expected period. Please also check the admission stamps for all family members. Please alert the CBP officer immediately or contact our office immediately if there is an error or you are not admitted for the full validity of your expected length of stay.
What Can happen at the consulate?
In most cases the visa application will be straightforward and the visa will be issued in 2 days to 1 week depending on the consulate’s workload and current processing time.
In some cases there will be issues or problems including:
Some consulates are very busy and you may have to wait 3 – 4 months for an appointment even if you’re just applying for a visitors visa. It is usually possible to ask for an expedited appointment for medical, employment or other reasonable cause.
Electronic Database not updated
Rather than relying on looking at your original approval notice, consular officers will check a database known as “PIMS” (petition information management system). Unfortunately it is not unusual for a case to be missing from the database. In that case the consular officer will contact a Consular Center in Kentucky, US and may need to wait 48 hours or longer for the Kentucky Consular Center to update the electronic database. Even if your visa is approved, this PIMS process will delay the issuance of your visa for 2 days or longer.
The officer at your interview may have further questions or ask for more documents. He may not find the information clear or detailed enough or he may have concerns about fraud. You will need to obtain the information and documents and return these to the consulate. This will add delay to the processing of your case.
If the consulate needs to investigate some issue in your case this will add delay to the processing time for your application.
Security checks are conducted by FBI in Washington D.C. As a separate agency in another place is conducting the security checks, the consulate has no control over that process. Security checks usually delay processing by 6 – 12 weeks. In rare cases security checks can take upto 12 months.
Visa validity is less than you expected
This can happen for a number of reasons: • Reciprocity (please go to http://travel.state.gov/visa/fees/fees_3272.html and select your nationality to find out if your visa will be limited) • Consulate has certain policies towards a certain type of visa or nationality due to some incident • Officer decides to limit the visa based on his concerns at the interview
Single entry visa is issued
A visa can be issued as single entry or multiple entry depending on a number of factors.
Third country consulate does not process
You can apply for a visa in any third country US consulate that will accept applications from third country nationals. There is usually a small risk that the consular officer will not feel that he is familiar with the documents and will ask you to apply for the visa in your home country. The officer may feel that the consulate in your home country is better able to address the autheniticity of your documents or case.
Denial due to Intent
A common reason for denial is based on an officer’s assessment of the visa applicant’s “nonimmigrant intent”. If the officer concludes that you do not have an intent to stay temporarily in the US and that you will not leave the US at the end of your stay, the officer can deny your case. The only visas that do not require “nonimmigrant intent” are the H-1B and L categories. The O and E visas are hybrid visas but usually do not require “nonimmigrant intent”.
Some general advice In our experience the most critical part of the process is to be well prepared for the interview. If you don’t know where you’re going in the US, what you’re doing, who you’re meeting, and for how long, the officer will certainly be concerned. In difficult cases please contact us for an interview preparation session. Also be prepared to show recent pay statements or a letter from your employer if you have been absent from work for some time or have changed employer.
Let us know if you have further questions or need more advice as far in advance of the interview as possible.