The processing time for a US visa application depends a lot on the type of visa you are trying to get. While the temporary nonimmigrant visas might take you up to a few weeks, or months at most, the immigrant visas can take years to get approved.
It is not easy to give a definitive answer how long an application takes to get reviewed, since the US government considers each applicant on a case-by-case basis, in the order that they are received. It can take a few weeks for an applicant that applies for i.e. a tourist visa, while it may take months for another to get a response for the same visa, because of his / her situation.
How Long Does it Take to Get a US Visa?
In general, successful applications take 3 to 5 weeks at most to get processed, before the applicant can get a positive reply on his or her application, and the passport is handed for delivery. The delivery can take up to two other workdays.
Applications refused under Section 221(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) pending additional processing, can take around 60 days from the date of the visa interview to be processed. In some certain cases, the processing might take more than 6 months.
Applicants who are required to apply for a waiver of ineligibility in order to get the visa, should keep in might that they will have to wait for 6 to 8 months from the date of their interview to get a reply.
Whereas, countries under the visa waiver program, applying through Electronic Travel Authorization System for short term visas, can get a reply in their ESTA application within 24 hours.
US Department of State Online Estimator
The US Department of State has offered online help for temporary visitors through a site which estimates the time one has to wait for an appointment. The applicant just needs to select the city where the embassy is located, where he or she will be applying is located, and then the tool will calculate how many days one has to wait for an appointment if the applicant is applying for one of the below mentioned types of visas:
- Treaty trader and investor visas
- Visitor Visas
- Student/Exchange Visitor Visas
- All Other Nonimmigrant Visas
U.S Visa Processing Times
In this article we will go through a list of the US visa types, and the time each can take to get processed
The E-1 visa processing time depends on the caseload of the US Embassy or USCIS if you applied from within the US. However, a general estimated processing time is between two and four weeks from the time you file your application. After the processing period is over, you will be notified about whether you have been given the visa or you were denied.
If you are a company applying for the E-2 visa registration, the processing time is 4 to 6 weeks, while if you are an employee, if takes around 2 weeks.
The processing time varies, however, with the workload of the U.S Embassy, so if you do not receive an answer within those time frames, it does not mean that your visa application was denied.
The time it takes for the Embassy to respond to your case if you have applied for an E-3 visa, is around 2 months. However, this might take longer as the Embassy might have a bigger workload.
The F-1 visa processing time is much shorter than other visas. The processing of this type of visa actually happens before your interview. The interview is the last step for the US Embassy to assess whether they should give you an F-1 visa or not.
In most cases, you will get the response on this visa immediately after the interview. At the end of the visa interview, the interviewer might congratulate you for getting the visa, or will provide you with a document letting you know the reason for denial. There are, however, cases where the response and processing of the F-1 visa takes a few days, so you should be patient if that happens.
After your F-2 interview, you might get a response immediately from your interviewer on whether you got the visa or you were denied. However, it is more common that the wait will be a few days or weeks.
This is because the US Embassy will take their time to look over your documents and responses. They will particularly focus on you and the F-1 visa holder’s financial situation to determine whether you can cover your expenses while in the US.
Processing times depend on the basis you are waiving and can vary from 1 to 4 months. The Waiver Review Division will go through your case and make a recommendation. They will send the recommendation to USCIS, which will then make the final decision on whether you will be allowed to stay or not.
The processing time for the Q-1 visa can range from 15 days to 3 months. After the processing time, they will contact you to inform you whether you have been approved the visa or not.
The processing time for the M-1 visa is quite short. The processing happens before your visa interview. There are cases when you get a response immediately after your visa interview ends, with the interviewer either congratulating you or stating the reasons for the rejection of your visa application. However, most of the time you should expect a processing time of a minimum of four weeks.
The processing times for the B-1 visas is not exact. It can take a couple of weeks or a few months for your visa to be processed. This depends on the workload of the US Embassy and other factors that they take into consideration.
Processing times for B-2 tourist visas and US visitor visas in general differ from country to country. Typically, your visa can be processed for a few weeks up to a few months.
The H-1 Visa processing time depends on the country you are from as well as the bulk of applications that the US Embassy has gotten in that period.
The H-1B visa processing time generally takes three to six months. However, US Embassies in different countries/cities have various processing times, so it is best to contact them for any details, or visit the US State Department or USCIS for approximate processing times.
Since the H-1B1 visa is not available for premium processing, it takes more time than the H-1B. Processing time in general takes 4 to 6 months. The time also depends on seasonal fluctuations, so for more accurate information, you should contact the US Embassy where you applied.
Processing times vary for H-2A visas since it is seasonal and sometimes it might take longer. However, it is recommended for US employers to file USCIS petitions at least 60 days, but no more than 120 days before they need the foreign workers. The U.S government takes priority in H-2A visas so they expedite the process due to the fact that agricultural work is seasonal.
You will have to make sure that the institution petitions on your behalf at least 6 months before the training program starts. It will take approximately four to six weeks for USCIS to process the petition. After that, you will have to gather your documents and proceed with the application. Depending on the demand at your local US Embassy, it might take one to three months for them to get back to you with a final decision on whether you will get the H-3 visa or not.
H-4 Visa Processing Time
Since your H-4 status is dependent on the status of the H type visa holder so your spouse or parent, it might take as long as it takes to process their visa. If, for example, your spouse is applying for an H-2A visa and you apply together, your visa will take the same time to process as your spouse’s. If you are applying separately though, the time it takes to process the H-4 visa will be up to the US Embassy and the workload that they have.
H-4 EAD Processing Time
The processing time for an H-4 EAD is different, case-by-case. If your H-1B spouse has already filed and has an approved Form I-140, the processing time is much faster. If the H-1B spouse is on an AC21 status, then the process might take longer since USCIS will ask for additional documents.
In general, when you file for an H-4 EAD, you can expect to wait for around 3 months or 90 days before you get any kind of response. Unfortunately, the H-4 EAD process does not have the option of paying for premium processing, so all applications take similar times to be processed.
From the time of your application, you might have to wait an additional 3 to 4 months to get a response on whether you got the visa or not. Blanket petitions are also processed faster than individual ones.In addition, employers have the option of obtaining premium processing for the additional fees, which will speed up the L-1A processing time and you’ll get a response within 1 to 3 weeks.
The L-1B visa processing time is similar to the other L-1 visa category. This means that after your employer files the petition and you apply, it will take approximately 3 to 4 months for USCIS and the U.S Embassy to get back to you with a response. If the employer applies to an individual petition, the processing time will be slightly longer than if the employer applied for the blanket petition. In addition, since premium processing is available for the L-1B visa, the employer can pay the fee for it and have the visa processed for only 1 to 3 weeks.
L-2 visas take from 15 days to 1 month to be processed; however, depending on the Embassy’s workload and other factors, it might take longer.
It takes some time to get the R-1 visa approved. After the employer sends in the petition, it takes around 6 months for USCIS to respond, due to the fact that they might have to visit the premises of the organization. If USCIS has visited the organization before and approved them, then premium processing is available for an extra $1,225 fee. With premium processing, you will get a response on your visa in about 2 weeks. If you do not have premium processing, after USCIS approves the petition, it might take another 2 to 3 months for the visa to process. So in total, the R-1 visa processing time could be 8 to 9 months without premium processing.
The P-1 visa has a processing time of between 3 to 6 months. It is a long wait, but the US institutions offer the opportunity to pay for premium processing. If you choose to have premium processing of your visa, you must pay an additional $1,225 and you will get the response for your visa within 15 days. If the US institutions do not notify you of your visa status within 15 days, your money is reimbursed.
Generally, the I visa is processed within 10 days after your application.
The O-1A processing time is between two to three months. If you want to have your visa processed faster, there is the possibility of premium processing for an extra fee of $1,225, with which you can get a response for your visa within 15 days.
O-1B visa can take two to three months to get reviewed. If you do not want to wait this long to get your response, then there is a way to speed up the process. For an additional $1,225, premium processing is available for the O-1B visa. Premium processing means that your visa will be processed within 15 days and you will know the answer much sooner.
A standard time for the O group of visas is 2 to 3 months of processing time. If you want your visa processed faster, you can choose to pay for premium processing which costs $1,225. The premium processing means that you will get a response on whether you get the visa or not in 2 weeks.
The usual processing times for the O group of visas is two to three months. After the processing time, you will be notified whether you were given the visa or not.
U.S Transit Visa
Since the transit visa is for a short duration of time, its processing time is generally faster than for other visas. From the time you submit your application, expect to wait for a minimum of 5 working days to receive a response on your visa status.
The processing time for the T visa varies. USCIS does not give an estimate or a time that applicants will have to wait for their visa to be processed after applying. This means that the processing time varies from person to person and is made based on the evidence that they give.
The U visa takes quite some time to process. On average, it will take from one to one and a half years for the U visa to be processed and approved. The processing times may vary widely though, since, for example, if you are required to send in additional evidence to USCIS, processing times may become longer.
How do I get my Passport Back?
The passport of the applicant will remain at the US embassy / consulate that he / she has applied at, during the whole period of visa processing. The applicant cannot collect his or her passport in person. Instead, it will be delivered by the courier service.
The applicant receives an email with a tracking number, as soon as the application is completed. The applicant can track his / her passport by signing into their account.
Keep in mind that the State Department does grant expedited interview appointments and processing if you have an emergency situation. It’s important that you contact the US Embassy or Consulate in your country if you have an emergency.