The time it takes to apply for a U.S. visa depends greatly on the type of visa you are trying to obtain. Temporary non-immigrant visas can take weeks or months at most, while immigrant visas can take years to be approved.
Because the U.S. government reviews applications on a case-by-case, first-come, first-served basis, it is not easy to give a definitive answer as to how long it will take to review an application.
For example, a person applying for a tourist visa may be approved within a few weeks, while someone applying for the same visa may take several months, depending on his or her circumstances.
How Long Does it Take to Get a US Visa?
How long it takes to apply for a U.S. visa depends on the type of visa you are applying for. It takes three to five weeks to process a U.S. visa application. Once processed, the applicant receives a positive response to their application and the consulate issues the documents. It may take up to two days for the visa to be issued.
Applications denied under Section 221(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) take approximately 60 days from the date of the visa interview to process. In some cases, it may take more than six months.
Applicants who need to apply for permission to engage in activities outside the scope of their visa should keep in mind that they will have to wait 6 to 8 months from the date of the interview to receive the results of the review.
On the other hand, if you are applying for a short stay in a country that uses the Visa Waiver Program and uses the electronic system for travel authorizations, you can expect to receive a response to your ESTA application within 72 hours.
US Visa Processing Times for Different Visa Types
The processing times for US visas are as follows:
|Visa Type||Processing Time|
|E-1 visa||2 to 4 weeks|
|E-2 visa||4 to 6 weeks|
|E-3 visa||2 months|
|F-1 visa||immediately after the interview|
|F-2 visa||Few days to 2 weeks|
|J-1 visa||1 to 4 months|
|Q-1 visa||15 days to 3 months|
|M-1 visa||At least 4 weeks|
|B-1 visa||A couple of weeks to 2 months|
|B-2 visa||A couple of weeks to 2 months|
|H-1B visa||3 to 6 months|
|H-1B1 visa||4 to 6 months|
|H-3 visa||4 to 6 weeks|
|L-1 visa||3 to 4 months|
|L-2 visa||15 days to 1 month|
|R-1 visa||8 to 9 months|
|P-1 visa||3 to 6 months|
|I visa||10 days|
|O visa||2 to 3 months|
|C visa||5 working days|
|U visa||12 to 18 months|
How do I get my Passport Back?
The applicant’s passport will remain in the custody of the U.S. Embassy/Consulate where the application was filed for the duration of the visa processing. The applicant cannot pick up the passport in person. Instead, it will be delivered to you by courier.
Once the application is complete, the applicant will receive an email with a tracking number. Applicants can track their passport by logging into their account.
Remember that the State Department can expedite interview appointments and processing in emergency situations. It is important to contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your country in case of an emergency.