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Timeline for Your Visa Application

By Keshab Raj Seadie | August 31, 2016

visa stamp travel If you are planning to travel to the U.S., you will likely need to apply for a visa. The timeline of your visa application can vary greatly depending on a number of factors, including specific visa type and your country of origin.

Visa types are generally divided into immigrant and nonimmigrant visas. Immigrant visas are intended for those who seek permanent residence within the U.S. while nonimmigrant visas are geared towards temporary stays.

Timeline for Obtaining an Immigrant Visa

Each year, the number of immigrant visas is capped to a specific, country-dependent number. After your immigration visa petition is approved, it may be several years before you are granted a visa number by the State Department. The countries with the highest number of applicants for visa applications are Mexico, the Philippines and India. If you are a national of one of these countries, you may face longer on-average wait times.

Your wait time will also be affected by the type of immigration visa you are applying for, with priority going to highly skilled workers with expertise in in-demand areas such as engineering and chemistry as well as those with pre-established familial connections within the US.

Timeline for Obtaining a Nonimmigrant Visa

The most common visitor visa, known as B Visas, are issued to those traveling for business, tourism or medical purposes and are intended for stays of 90 days or less. Planning for your visa application should be one of the first steps in your plans to travel to the U.S. with a minimum of three weeks ahead of your intended travel time. Some applications will require additional administrative processing, which may take up to 60 days to resolve. It is best to wait until you receive approval before making any final nonrefundable travel bookings.

Regardless of the type of visa, understanding potential pitfalls and beginning your application process as soon as possible will help you expedite the process and navigate delays such as unexpected additional processing.