Frequently asked questions about visas.
My name in the visa does not show a transliterated German "Umlaut". Do I need to have the visa corrected?
No. Umlaute” in German names are not transliterated. The letter “ä” will be shown as “a”, not “ae”, the letter “ö” as “o” etc.
I have a visa - Can I travel?
How do I determine which visa category I should apply for? Can the U.S. Consular Section tell me which visa I should apply for?
Information on visa categories is provided on our visa directory page. Visa processing begins when the application is received on the appointment day. We are unable to make any related decisions before an application is received. We are also not authorized to speculate about the result of a visa application an applicant is preparing.
Performers, Entertainers and Athletes
Information on O- and P visas for performers, entertainers and athletes is available on our visa directory page. If you are not sure whether you need an O or P visa, send us a short description of the planned activities.
I was told that my visa application needs additional administrative processing. What does that mean and how long will it take?
Under current U.S. law and regulations certain applicants require additional administrative processing before a visa can be issued. The amount of time required to carry out this additional administrative processing varies. It can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to several months or longer. We are unable to expedite this process.
My child has a “Kinderreisepass” and needs a visa urgently, can you help me?
While we can process urgent visa applications, we encourage all travelers, children and babies included, to obtain an E-passport. An expedited E-passport can be obtained more quickly (within 72 hours) and at less cost than a U.S. visa. Please contact your local passport office immediately about this option. Should you choose to apply for a visa for your child, you can drop off or mail in his or her application and all the required documents if the child is under 14 years of age. If the child is 14 or older, an appointment and a personal appearance are necessary. However, you should be aware of the fact that it takes 2-3 days for the visa application to be processed and the visa to be issued, and then it will be mailed to you via the German postal system. We cannot guarantee any specific date when the visa will be ready.
How far in advance can I apply for the visa?
We recommend applying as early as possible as most visa categories can be applied for at any time. F-visas, however, can only be issued within 120 days of the program start date.
When will my visa be ready?
Processing of applications normally takes 3 days (not including delivery time) from the date they are received. Longer processing time may also be required in the following situations: (1) in cases where the applicant has failed to submit all the required elements of an application; (2) in cases where the Consular Section requires additional information from the applicant; and (3) in cases where the Consular Section has to conduct additional administrative processing.
We recommend prospective travelers submit their applications well in advance. Applicants should refrain from calling the Embassy Consular Section merely to inquire about the status of their application until the full processing time has expired. We also strongly recommend that applicants not purchase airplane tickets or make nonrefundable travel arrangements until they have actually received their visa; visa applicants should never assume their application will be automatically approved.
Does a visa guarantee that I can enter the United States?
No. A valid visa permits you to apply for admission to the United States when you arrive at the airport (or other port of entry) in the United States. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) makes the final decision as to whether you may be admitted to the United States.
My visa is valid for 10 years; does that mean I can stay in the United States for 10 years?
No. DHS will decide at the airport on how long you may stay in the United States during any one visit. The visa’s validity period represents the time period during which you may apply for admission to the United States as a visitor for business or pleasure. Information on “What the Visa Expiration Date Means” and “Length of Stay” is available at the State Department’s travel website.
How long is my visa valid?
My passport is not valid for six (6) months, can I travel?
The requirement that a passport be valid for longer than six months of the holder’s departure from the United States is waived in the case of a German passport holder. Therefore, your passport need only be valid for the period of time you will remain in the United States. If you are traveling visa free under the Visa Waiver Program and your passport is not valid for 90 days, you will be admitted into the United States until the date on which your passport expires. If you do not have a German passport, please check the web pages of the U.S. Embassy in the country that issued your passport for information on visa validity.
My passport has expired or will expire soon. Do I need a new visa?
Unless cancelled by the USCIS or a Consular Officer, a visa is valid until its expiration date, unless it has been damaged. Therefore, if you have a valid U.S. visa in an expired passport, you may present it, along with a new valid passport, to the immigration officer at the Port of Entry.
Conditions: Present the original expired passport, along with a new valid passport, to the immigration officer at the Port of Entry. Both of the passports must be the same nationality, the bearer’s name must be identical in both passports, and the page bearing the visa must not have been removed from the old passport. If the name has changed, you must apply for a new visa.
I changed my name. Is my U.S. visa with my old name still valid?
If your name has legally changed through marriage, divorce, or a court ordered name change, you will need to obtain a new passport. Once you have a new passport, the Department of State recommends that you apply for a new U.S. visa to make it easier for you to travel to and from the United States.
I have an “indefinite visa” (Burroughs Visa) in my old passport. Is it still valid?
No. Indefinite visas are no longer valid, even for one trip. No indefinite visas were issued after April 1, 1994, and any still in circulation were deemed expired on the 10th anniversary of their issuance. All Burroughs visas automatically became void after March 31, 2004.
I am not a German citizen. Can I apply for a U.S. visa in Germany?
Yes. Non-German citizens who are physically present in Germany are welcome to apply for their visas at one of our consular posts in Berlin, Munich or Frankfurt. We recommend that appointment are made as early as possible. Please note that applicants for visas should generally apply at the American Embassy or Consulate with jurisdiction over their place of permanent residence. Although visa applicants may apply at any U.S. consular office abroad, it may be more difficult to qualify for the visa outside your country of permanent residence. If the visa is approved, it will be mailed to an an address in Germany that is specified at the time of the appointment.
I am a German citizen. Can I apply for a U.S. visa in a country other than Germany?
Yes. German citizens who are not physically present in Germany are welcome to apply for their visas at one of the consular posts in the country they are staying in. We recommend that appointments be made as early as possible. Please note that applicants for visas should generally apply at the American Embassy or Consulate with jurisdiction over their place of permanent residence. Although visa applicants may apply at any U.S. consular office abroad, it may be more difficult to qualify for the visa outside your country of permanent residence. If the visa is approved, it will be mailed to an address in the country where the visa has been applied for.
Can I renew or extend a visa?
No. You need to apply for a new visa and provide all documents required for an initial visa application.
I have a valid visa. Do I also need a return ticket?
No. If you hold a visa of any classification, including a B-1/B-2 visa, you are not required to hold a return ticket; you may enter the United States on a one-way ticket.
I have a holiday home in the United States; how long can I remain there?
If you travel to the United States visa free under the Visa Waiver Program, you may remain for up to 90 days. This period cannot be extended. If you travel to the United States on a visitor (B-2) visa, the period of time you will be allowed will be determined by the at the port of entry by the U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP). Initially they can grant a stay of six months which can be extended for a further six months at their discretion. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has sole jurisdiction over such matters.
I just returned from the United States and discovered that I did not turn in my I-94 departure record (usually a green form stapled inside the passport) before departure, what should I do?
If you departed by a commercial air or sea carrier (airlines or cruise ships), your departure from the U.S. can be independently verified, and it is not necessary to take any further action, although holding on to your outbound (from the U.S.) boarding pass – if you still have it – can help expedite your re-entry next time you come back to the United States. If you failed to turn in your I-94 Departure Record, please follow the instructions at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website.
Is there a possibility that I may need to pay an additional fee in the visa is issued?
Yes. The United States charges visa issuance (reciprocity) fees to citizens of certain countries in addition to the application fee. This fee, if applicable, must be paid before a visa can be issued. The fee must be paid in cash (US$ or Euro) at the Consular Section. The reason for this is that those countries charge U.S. citizens additional fees. To determine whether your nationality is subject to an issuance (reciprocity) fee, please check the chart at the State Department’s travel website. There are no additional fees for German passport holders.
What can I do if my visa application is declined?
Applicants are informed of the reason why a visa cannot be issued. There is no appeal system under U.S. immigration law as the decision. The fact that an applicant was unable to establish eligibility for a non-immigrant visa at a specific time does not preclude him or her from subsequently re-applying and qualifying for a visa by showing a change in circumstances.
I applied for a visa but my application was refused. Can I get my money back?
No. The application fee is for the processing costs and is therefore not refundable.