Nonimmigrant Visa Frequently Asked Questions

What is a nonimmigrant visa?

A nonimmigrant visa is for short-term visitors to the United States.  You cannot stay in the United States permanently on a non-immigrant visa, and you generally cannot work.

A nonimmigrant visa is sometimes informally called a “tourist visa” but can be issued for reasons other than tourism, such as medical treatment, business, or study.

What visa category should I apply for?

The purpose of your intended travel primarily determines what visa category you should apply for or may be granted under U.S. immigration law.  The most common nonimmigrant visa categories processed in Havana are B-2 (tourism/medical treatment), B-1 (religious/business travel), and F (academic/language student).  For a more comprehensive nonimmigrant visa classification chart and detailed information, you should visit http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/english/general/all-visa-categories.html

What are the steps I need to follow to apply for a nonimmigrant visa?

To schedule a non-immigrant visa appointment, applicants must follow a simple three-step process:

  1. Complete a visa application (form DS-160) on-line;
  2. Pay visa application fees online or at any 7-Eleven or Family Dollar store in the United States;
  3. Schedule an appointment online or through the call center.

You will need the following information in order to schedule your appointment:

  • Your passport number
  • The receipt number from your Visa Fee receipt.
  • The ten (10) digit barcode number from your DS-160 confirmation page

Can I send my application for a nonimmigrant visa to the U.S. Embassy by regular mail or e-mail?  Can I pick up a printed application form and fill it out? 

No.  There is no way to apply for a nonimmigrant visa by sending your request by regular mail or e-mail nor are there any paper forms to fill out.  The only way to apply for a nonimmigrant visa is by filling out the online DS-160 application and bringing its confirmation page on the day of your interview.

I am disabled and using a wheelchair.  Will I have to wait long on the day of my interview?  Can someone accompany me inside the building?

We give disabled applicants priority and process them first.  We also allow someone to accompany them if necessary.

I want to apply for the B-2 five-year, multiple-entry visa.  What steps should I take to make sure the consular officer issues me the B2 multiple-entry visa?

Most applicants who qualify for a B-2 visa will be issued a full-validity, five-year, multiple-entry visa.  The consular officer has the discretion to issue a visa with limited validity.  If you apply for a B-2 visa, you are automatically considered for a full-validity, five-year visa.

How do I apply for the five-year, multiple-entry B-2 visa?

As all nonimmigrant visas, to schedule an appointment, applicants must follow a simple three-step process:

  1. Complete a visa application (form DS-160) online;
  2. Pay visa application fees onlineor at any 7-Eleven, Family Dollar or ACE Cash Express stores in the United States;
  3.  Schedule an appointment on the appointment system website http://www.ustraveldocs.com/cuor through the call center at (786) 408-5995.

Can applicants applying for other visa categories apply for a multiple entry B-2 visa as well?

Yes.  Applicants applying for a non-B visa may apply for the B-2 multiple-entry visa as well.  The applicant must submit a separate visa application for each visa category, but will only require one interview appointment.  Applicants must pay the appropriate fee for both visa categories before interviewing.

The consular officer will explain the terms of use for each visa.

What is a five-year, multiple-entry B-2 visa and what applicants are eligible for the multiple-entry visa?

It is a visa for tourism and family visit purposes which allows qualified holders to enter the U.S. multiple times using the same visa during a five-year period of validity.  B-2 visas are issued to people coming to the United States for family visits, tourism, medical treatment, or other personal travel.

Does the five-year, multiple-entry visa permit foreign travelers from Cuba to stay in the United States for as long as five-years? 

No.  The visa itself is valid for five years but the authorized length of stay will be determined at the port of entry by Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agents each time the visa holder enters the U.S. 

What about other visa categories like business travel visas (B1) or student and exchange visitor visas – are there plans to make these multiple entry?

No.  This change only applies to tourist and family visit travel – B-2 visas.  No changes are planned for the validity of any other visa categories.  For example, B-1 or the combination B-1/B-2 visas will continue to be issued as single-entry with six-month validity.

What brought about this change? 

The increased B-2 visa validity removes procedural and financial burdens on travelers who previously had to reapply in-person each time they wished to travel.  This change will help to further reduce the wait time for visa interviews at the U.S. Embassy in Havana, because adjudicating officers will spend less time renewing visas for travelers with verifiable travel histories.  It also allows officers to focus more attention on first-time applicants, previously refused applicants, and to conduct anti-fraud work.

How can I schedule an interview appointment?

Applicants or friends, family and associates can schedule an appointment or ask questions about the appointment scheduling process through the website http://www.ustraveldocs.com/cu. Applicants will also be able to schedule appointments by telephone at (786) 408-5995.

Visa application fees can be paid in cash at any Family Dollar, 7-Eleven or ACE Cash Express stores located in the United States.  Payment by debit card can also be made through the appointment system website http://www.ustraveldocs.com/cu.

When is the next available interview appointment? 

Due to the large number of nonimmigrant visa applicants that are currently being processed by our consular office, the wait times and processing times for nonimmigrant visa appointments have significantly decreased.  You may check the updated wait times at http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/english/general/wait-times.html/

What if there is a medical emergency or other urgent need to travel?

The U.S. Embassy accepts expedited appointment requests for applicants traveling for urgent medical treatment or for another emergency reason.  Before you apply for an expedited appointment, you must first schedule an appointment through the regular appointment scheduling procedure and also ensure that you have documentary evidence to prove the urgency.

 

My relative scheduled an interview appointment on my behalf but I forgot the date. Can you tell me when my interview will take place?

The U.S. Embassy does not offer this service. Please visit the appointment system website http://www.ustraveldocs.com/cu. to confirm your interview appointment date.

I missed my appointment. Can I reschedule it?

The number of times that an applicant may reschedule an appointment is limited. Please plan accordingly so that you are not required to pay another visa application fee.

Applicants can reschedule an appointment through the website www.ustraveldocs.com/cu. Applicants may also reschedule by telephone at (786) 408-5995.

Does a Cuban national with a foreign passport follow the same procedures to apply for a nonimmigrant visa to travel directly to the United States?

All Cuban nationals must follow the same procedures and are subject to the same processes.  Having a foreign passport does not expedite the issuance of a nonimmigrant visa for a Cuban national nor does it exclude the Cuban national from regular procedures.

I’m a third-country national. Can I apply in Cuba for a visa to the United States?

Yes. Third-country nationals may schedule a visa appointment in the same way as other applicants in Cuba through the website http://www.ustraveldocs.com/cu or by telephone at (786) 408-5995.

What is the DS-160? 

The online nonimmigrant visa application Form DS-160 replaced all nonimmigrant visa application forms required in the past and is mandatory for all nonimmigrant visa applicants wishing to travel temporarily to the United States. Once completed, the information in the DS-160 will be electronically transmitted. You must then print the confirmation page that contains the barcode confirmation number. A printout of this confirmation page must be submitted at the interview. To begin completing the DS-160, click on this link https://ceac.state.gov/genniv/. Important: We strongly recommend you to save the barcode number in case you get disconnected while completing the DS-160.

What do I need to get started?

Before completing the application form, we recommend that you draw together the following information that will be required when you complete the form:

  • The address and telephone number where you will be staying in the United States,
  • Your passport number, dates of issuance and expiration, issuing authority, etc.,
  • Your address and telephone number in Cuba,
  • Your job position, places of employment, and dates of employment for the past 10 years,
  • If you are retired, your job position, dates and places of employment,
  • All the countries you have visited in the past 5 years and your dates of travel,
  • The dates and periods of stay of your previous travel to the United States,
  • The names and surnames of your mother, father and spouse, and their dates of birth.

Are the questions in Spanish?  Can my answers be in Spanish? 

The form is in English, but you can select “Español” from the “Select Tooltip Language” window at the top, right hand corner; every time you put your mouse cursor over any group of text, a translation into Spanish will appear.  All application answers, except as specifically provided, must be in English, using English characters only.  Applications that are submitted in any language other than English may be denied, and you may be required to submit a new application and may have to reschedule your appointment.

Are all fields on the DS-160 mandatory? 

Most fields on the DS-160 are mandatory.  You may leave fields marked “Optional” blank.  All other fields must be completed: the application will not allow you to submit a form with any mandatory field left empty.  In this instance, an error message will be displayed and you will be required to complete the field before continuing with the application. If you do not answer questions that apply, your form may also be rejected.  For instance, you must complete all previous jobs even if you are retired and list all immediate relatives in the U.S., not only the one that invites you.

What happens if I need to step away in the middle of data entry? How do I save my application? 

In order to guard against possible data loss issues you should save the application at regular intervals while you are completing the application. To save the application, click the “Save” button at the bottom center of the application.  Clicking save will temporarily save your application. In order to permanently save your application, select the “Save Application to File” button. Then, click the “Save” button on the File Download window. Identify a place on your computer to save the application file, browse to that location, and click the “Save” button on the “Save As” window.  The system will download your application to the specified location.  Once the download is complete you can click “Close” to return to the application.  You can then use the “Upload a Previous Application” option on the “Getting Started” page to upload the data that you have already entered.

The DS-160 gives me an option to upload the applicant’s photo.  Do I need to do this to complete the application? 

The DS-160 photo option is currently mandatory for all non-immigrant visa applicants.  For detailed information about the photo requirements, please visit http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/english/immigrate-spanish/frequently-asked-questions.html

Why did the edits I made from the review page not save?

In order to save for data changes made from the review page links, you must use the buttons at the bottom of each page to navigate, instead of the browser’s back/forward buttons or the buttons along the left of the screen.

Should I save my application before I submit it?

YES! You should save your application locally (to either your hard drive or a CD) before you submit your application.  Saving your application locally is beneficial in two ways.  First, if your application is rejected by the U.S. Embassy for being incomplete, i.e., you failed to answer a critical question, you will be able to access your saved application data, correct the incomplete answers and submit the corrected application without having to complete an entirely new application.  Second, if you are a frequent visa applicant, you can update your saved application the next time you wish to apply for a visa.  This will save you time by not having to reenter information that has not changed since the last time you applied.  Refer to question 4 on how to save your application.

Do I bring my entire application with me to the interview, or do I just bring the confirmation page (bar code sheet)?

You should not bring your entire application.  Your confirmation page is all that we need to retrieve your application data.  The confirmation page is the single sheet with the barcode that you print out after completing and saving your application.  You must bring the confirmation page with you during all phases of the application process.  Without the confirmation page, it may not be possible to access your application and process your visa case.

I am traveling with my family or as part of a group. Can I create a family or group application?

Yes.  On the “Thank You” page you will see an option to create a family or group application.  When you select this option, certain information from your application, such as your destination, will automatically be imported to a new application.  Please note that if you use this option you will still need to create an individual application for each of your family members traveling with you or for each individual within the group.

If I use the option on the “Thank You” page to create a family or group application, can I modify the data automatically populated by the system? 

Yes.  If one group member has a different surname or nationality, for example, the applicant can alter that data on the application before submitting.

What if someone else filled out the application for me?

We recognize that due to the limited access to the Internet in Cuba, many applications are prepared by family, friends, or a service provider on behalf of the applicant.  In such cases, there are two very important points to keep in mind:

  1.  The application is your application regardless of who completed the form, and YOU remain responsible for the completeness and accuracy of the information provided.
  2. The person who prepared the application for you must provide you the user-generated answer to the security question for your application.  Without this you will be unable to make any necessary corrections to your DS-160 and may need to complete a new form.

Can my relative in the United States send you the money to pay for my interview at the U.S. Embassy?

No.  Visa application fees can be paid in cash at any Family Dollar, 7-Eleven or ACE Cash Express stores located in the United States.  Payment by debit card can also be made through the appointment system website http://www.ustraveldocs.com/cu.

Does the Visa Service allow the family to pay the visa fee when they make the appointment? 

Applicants or friends, family and associates can schedule an appointment through the website http://www.ustraveldocs.com/cu. Applicants will also be able to schedule appointments by telephone at (786) 408-5995.

Visa application fees can be paid in cash at any Family Dollar, 7-Eleven or ACE Cash Express stores located in the United States.  Payment by debit card can also be made through the appointment system website http://www.ustraveldocs.com/cu.

If my nonimmigrant visa application is denied, can I get my money back?

No.  All consular fees are intended to pay for the applicant’s processing.  So, all fees are non-refundable.  Once you have paid the fee, you cannot be refunded even if you are not able to interview that day.

List of required documentation

  • Passport valid for at least six months from date of intended travel
  • Recent (taken within the last six months) 5 cm x 5 cm passport-style photograph
  • Confirmation page of Form DS-160
  • Appointment confirmation page

Do I need a letter of invitation to be interviewed for a nonimmigrant visa?

Applicants are not required to present a letter of invitation from their relatives in the United States to apply for a nonimmigrant visa at the U.S. Embassy.

Do I need to present an Affidavit of Support for my nonimmigrant visa interview?

No.  An Affidavit of Support is not required; however, applicants must convince the officer that they have sufficient financial resources to cover their expenses in the U.S. or that somebody else will cover those expenses for them.

I am inviting my relatives to visit me in the U.S. Can I be present during my relatives’ interview at the U.S. Embassy? 

No, unless you are accompanying a disabled adult or a child under 17 years old.  You will be allowed into the building for the sole purpose of assisting your relative.  You may not participate in the interview.  The visa interview must be conducted only by the consular officer and the applicant.

The consular officer collected my passport at the time of my interview.  Does this mean I’m getting a visa?

If your visa is approved, the consular officer will tell you this at the window.

Some cases require further administrative processing to determine eligibility for the visa class requested under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).  Administrative processing can last anywhere from a few days to a few months.  If new information comes to light during administrative processing, the visa might still be denied.

What is the meaning of “administrative processing”?

It is the process established to determine the applicant’s qualification for the requested visa class.

I have been waiting for the administrative process for three months.  How much longer do I need to wait?

Applicants will be notified when a final decision has been made on the case.  You may check your case status by visiting this website https://ceac.state.gov/CEACStatTracker/Default.aspx?App=NIV.  If you have not been notified of your visa results after four months from your interview date, you may send us a message through our Contact Us form.

What office can I contact in the United States to inquire about my relatives’ administrative processing?

You should not contact any other U.S. government agency or office regarding your relatives’ administrative processing.  Information regarding this process can only be offered by our office.

I was issued a nonimmigrant visa but I was not able to travel to the United States during the validity of my visa. Can I get an extension?

No.  The validity of nonimmigrant visas cannot be extended.  If you were not able to travel during the validity of your visa, you must reapply.

I was denied a nonimmigrant visa because I’m considered 214(b).  What is that?

214(b) is a section of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952.  This section of the law states that all nonimmigrant applicants are presumed to be intending immigrants.  It is the applicant’s responsibility to demonstrate that he or she is not an intending immigrant.

Do you have guidelines I can use to overcome 214(b)?

There are no specific guidelines we can provide to applicants to overcome a 214(b) ineligibility.  This is not a permanent ineligibility; however, we recommend that applicants wait until there has been a substantial change in their personal situation before reapplying.

Can I appeal a 214 (b) decision?

No. There is no appeal process for an applicant denied under this section of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).  Applicants may reapply for a nonimmigrant visa when their personal circumstances have changed.  In most cases, that will be at least one year from the date of their most-recent visa refusal.

Can I provide documentation stating that the applicant will return to Cuba after a temporary stay in the United States?

No.  Applicants themselves must demonstrate the day of their interview at the U.S. Embassy that they are eligible for a nonimmigrant visa under the general provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

I am an American citizen.  Why was my family member denied under Section 214(b)?

All applicants, even family members of U.S. citizens, must demonstrate the day of their interview that they are eligible for the visa class requested under the general provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).  In addition, it is the totality of the applicant’s circumstances and not one specific factor that determines the applicant’s eligibility for a nonimmigrant visa.

I was denied under Section 212(f) of the INA. What does this mean?

Section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act allows the President to prohibit entry into the United States of any alien or class of aliens whose entry he or she deems would be detrimental to U.S. interests.

Is ineligibility under Section 212(f) permanent?

No.  If the applicant chooses to apply in the future for a visa, the application would be adjudicated based on the evidence presented and the applicant’s situation at the time of the new application.

I still have questions about nonimmigrant visas. How can I find more information?

The U.S. Embassy in Havana has posted extensive information on this website regarding all visa and consular matters.  You may also find comprehensive information about nonimmigrant visas at http://www.ustraveldocs.com/cu.  To listen to prerecorded information regarding visa processing in Havana, please call at (+53) 7839-4101.  If your question is not answered on these websites or by the telephone information, you can send a message to support-cuba@ustraveldocs.com.