london visa processing
MEMORANDUM released JANUARY 2012
WHAT EFFECT DOES A U.K. CAUTION HAVE ON A FOREIGN NATIONAL'S U.S. NONIMMIGRANT VISA APPLICATION?
The Embassy is located at:
24 Grosvenor Square
The Mailing address is:
24 Grosvenor Square
The general telephone number of the US Embassy in London is: +44 (0) 20 7499-9000
Additional phone numbers:
An appointment for an interview may only be scheduled through the Operator Assisted Visa Information Service; appointments cannot be scheduled by email. If you are unable to call the number yourself, please have a friend, relative or colleague call on your behalf. They will require your passport number in order to schedule an appointment. Applicants are required to pay the nonimmigrant MRV application fee when scheduling the appointment for the visa interview. Payment is by credit or debit card card only. When making payment you will be asked to enter your credit or debit card details via your telephone keypad, rather than reading them out over the phone.
In order to contact one of the units at the Embassy by email, it is necessary to ring the Operator Assisted Visa Information Service (09042-450-100) and explain the situation to the operator. The operator will decide whether it is necessary for you to contact the Embassy and, if so, will issue with a "CIU code" that must be included in the subject line of the email. The operator will also confirm the email address to which the message should be sent.
As with all consular posts, local procedures and policies often change.
APPLICATIONS FOR NONIMMIGRANT VISAS
A non-immigrant visa is required by anyone seeking temporary admission into the United States who is not eligible to travel visa free under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) or is not exempt from the visa requirement. Non-immigrant visas (NIV) cover visits for tourism, business, work or study.
Almost all non-immigrant visa applicants are required to schedule a personal interview with a consular officer at the Embassy.
Scheduling times for non-immigrant visa interviews have been changed and expanded. Expedited non-immigrant visa interviews, when granted for O, P, I and C-1/D visa applicants, are scheduled for 8:00 am, Monday through Friday. For routine applications, passports with visas stamped in them are normally returned to the applicants in 3 to 5 working days.
Interview appointments for all non-immigrant visas are now available Monday through Friday, 9:00 am to 2:30 pm. Embassy schedulers inform us that applicants who reside in and around London will generally be given appointments at 9:00 am, 9:30 am, 10:00 am and 10:30 am. The later appointments will be reserved for those travelling to the Embassy from outside London.
Emergency appointments for non-immigrant visa interviews, when granted for other visa applicants, are scheduled from 8:00 am, Monday through Friday. Please note that the Non-Immigrant Visa Branch in London grants emergency appointments only when there is a life or death emergency. Financial and business emergencies are not considered emergencies for the granting of an emergency non-immigrant interview.
Please note: All E visa applicants require a personal interview even for a renewal of an E visa and all appointments for E visa interviews are now scheduled at 8:00 am.
The US Embassy in London will accept applications and grant interviews to anyone who is physically present in the United Kingdom and who makes an appointment for an interview. Interviews for UK citizens, however, take priority over those for third country nationals.
Please note: There is no right to counsel at either non-immigrant or immigrant visa interviews. Attorneys are not permitted to accompany applicants to their interview at the Embassy.
Most non-immigrant visa applicants between the age of 14 and 79 are required to appear in person for an interview with a consular officer.
Applicants under the age of 14 or over 80 may be eligible for submitting their non-immigrant visa application through the Embassy approved courier service.
The following applicants must apply in person regardless their age:
Exceptions to the interview requirement are made for the following applicants:
Please note: Applicants who hold a passport from one of the 4 countries designated as state sponsors of terrorism, at this writing, Cuba, Syria, Sudan and Iran, will be required to schedule an appointment to appear in person before a consular officer.
The following information is required for booking an appointment:
The applicant should not make final travel plans until the visa has been issued and the applicant is in receipt of the passport with visa issued in it.
Families or married couples applying for visas at the same time may schedule one appointment per family or couple. Everyone else must schedule individual appointments. The parent(s) of a child under the age of 14 may bring the child’s completed visa application to the Embassy at the time of their visa interview. A child under the age of 14 is not required to attend the interview.
Applicants who arrive at the Embassy more than 30 minutes after their scheduled appointment may not be seen by a consular officer. They will be required to reschedule a new appointment for another day. Applicants should expect to be at the Embassy for approximately four hours if interviewed, and should expect their passports to be returned generally within 3-5 business days of the interview.
Set out below is a brief guideline of the documentation required for a non-immigrant visa application. Please see the London Embassy’s website regarding detailed requirements for the specific visa application. http://london.usembassy.gov/nonimmigrant-visas.html
Special instructions for the Form DS-160
Important Notice: As you complete the visa application, save a copy on your hard drive, CD or USB and 'save' often.
Before going any further, please ensure that you have your passport and travel details to hand. The application will time out after 20 minutes and any unsaved data will be lost.
Most non-immigrant visa applicants between the ages of 14 and 79 are subject to another requirement, finger scanning. In order to ensure the quality of the index finger scans taken at the time of the interview, applications of persons with cuts or blisters on their index fingers will not be processed.
Return of Passports
In the interests of security and expediency, the U.S. Embassy has entered into a contract with Special Mail Services (SMS), a private courier agency, to provide courier services to individuals applying for U.S. visas and U.S. passports at the Consular Section. Non-immigrant and immigrant visa applicants who attend an interview with a consular officer at the Embassy will have their passports returned to them by Special Mail Services (SMS). There is no other method of delivery available. Envelopes for the return of the passports are available for purchase from SMS in the waiting room on the day of the interview.
Applicants will be required to purchase an envelope after the successful visa interview. Unsuccessful applicants will not be required to purchase an envelope. The table of fees for the service is set out below.
Collection and Delivery services provided by Secure Mail Service (rates subject to change)
All prices include VAT.
You may call SMS on 0871 562 6666 between 8:00 am and 6:00 pm Monday to Friday to arrange collection or delivery. For up to date information on the service that SMS provides to applicants dealing with the U.S. Embassy please refer to the SMS website at: www.thedx.co.uk.
Please note that the Embassy does not offer a same day visa service. Routine visa processing takes approximately 3 to 5 business days. Your passport will not be released to SMS until the application has been processed. If applicants provide SMS with their UK mobile telephone numbers on their courier forms SMS will send a text message to the applicants when their passports are released.
Applicants are advised at the time of their interview if their application requires additional administrative processing and should allow 60 days for the application to be processed. Their passport will be handed back to them while the Embassy conducts the administrative processing. The Embassy will notify the applicant when they are ready to proceed with the application. The applicant will then be required to contact SMS to arrange for the delivery of their passport to and from the Embassy. If this occurs, the applicant will need to call SMS on 0871 562 6666 to arrange a delivery.
Applicants whose non-immigrant visa applications are refused because the Embassy has determined that more documentation is required to adjudicate the application must provide the additional documentation along with their passport via SMS. It generally takes between 10 to 15 days for processing once the missing documents have been submitted.
Applicants requiring a waiver of ineligibility or those requiring additional administrative processing, usually involving a request for a Special Advisory Opinion, are receiving their visas in approximately 5-8 weeks after their consular interviews although the Embassy says to allow up to 16 weeks for visas to be received.
Please note: You may be ineligible to receive a visa under U.S. visa law and/or may have to schedule a special appointment with the Visa Coordination Officer. In order to determine the required process you have to carefully examine your circumstances. If any of the following are applicable to you, you will need to have an interview conducted by a Visa Coordination Officer.
You will have to submit documentation in advance to the visa coordination officer before you can book an appointment if you have an arrest or conviction record.
Please call the Embassy on 09042-450-100 to schedule your appointment and mention that due to your special circumstances the appointment may be required to be conducted by a Visa Coordination Officer. The service is available from 8:00 am to 9:00 pm Monday through Friday and 9:00 am to 4 pm on Saturdays. Calls to this number are charged at £1.23/min from BT landlines. The operator will charge the MRV fee and send you the confirmation email with a link to the Embassy’s website. Upon receipt of the email you will have to locate the personal data sheet (Form VCU-1).
Once completed, scan the form and the applicable documents and email them to LondonVABS@state.gov.
Arrest and Conviction
If you have been arrested or convicted you are required to obtain a Police Certificate from the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO). The police certificate must be issued within six months of the visa interview. If your police certificate states "No Trace" or "No Live Trace" or does not list in full your arrests/cautions/convictions, or the offense took place outside the United Kingdom, you are also required to submit a court record from the court(s) in which you were tried. The court record(s) must show the nature of the offense committed the section of law contravened and the penalty imposed. If the arrest did not result in a conviction, you may submit with your application the documents relating to the arrest. If you are no longer in possession of these documents, you may submit a sworn statement which gives the reason and location of the arrest, state and county.
For information on the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), the application form, processing times and expedited service please visit their website at http://www.acpo.police.uk/certificates.asp.
If you were denied entry to the United States or were removed from the United States you will have to furnish a copy of the report of the incident, Form I-877 or I-275. If you were deported you will have to submit a copy of the removal proceedings or any documentation relating to the deportation or removal.
If you are suffering from certain medical conditions you will have to obtain a letter from a professional practitioner, doctor or specialist. This document should explain
If you overstayed in the United States for 60 days or more you are required to submit the completed and signed scanned copy of the Form VCU-1.
For further information and the Form VCU-1, please visit this pageof the Embassy's website.
Upon receipt of your documents, the Embassy will decide which type of appointment you require and notify you of their decision by email within five workdays. When you receive the notification email, you should call the Operator Assisted Information Service on 09042-450-100, which will schedule your appointment and advise you further.
Special Procedure for individuals arrested or convicted for drunk driving
The U.S. Department of State now requires a medical examination for any applicant who has been arrested or convicted for drunk driving within the past five years or who has been arrested or convicted of drunk driving two or more times in their lives.
The applicant must first appear at the U.S. Embassy for a visa interview and disclose the arrest. The Consular Officer will then refer the applicant to the Embassy's panel physician for the examination, which the applicant must schedule. These appointments are generally scheduled within several days of the visa interview.
After the examination, the blood sample is sent to a processing laboratory where tests are conducted to determine whether the applicant has a long-term history of alcoholism. The results are returned to the interviewing Embassy approximately two weeks later and the applicant is contacted.
If the results of the blood test are satisfactory the applicant will be instructed to send his/her passport to the Embassy for visa issuance.
In the aftermath of September 11, 2001, as a result of the ongoing review of visa practices by the State Department and other government agencies, visa applications are subject to a greater degree of scrutiny than in the past which means that in some instances visa applications are taking longer to process to conclusion than has been customary.
On completion of processing, the passport will be mailed back to the applicant in the envelope provided by the Embassy. Again, final travel plans or purchases of non-refundable tickets should not be made until a visa has been issued and the applicant is in receipt of his/her passport.
APPLICATIONS FOR IMMIGRANT VISAS
Processing Times and Procedures
The Embassy will accept immigrant visa (IV) applications from:
An immigrant visa is required for anyone who wishes to enter the United States to reside there permanently, whether or not that person plans to seek employment in the United States. U.S. immigration regulations provide for the issuance of immigrant visas in four general categories: immediate relatives, family-based, employment-based, and Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, known as the "Green Card Lottery".
As with non-immigrant visas (NIV), attorneys are neither admitted into the waiting room nor afforded the opportunity to accompany the applicant to the interview. IV interviews usually last approximately 10 minutes unless a case has unusual problems.
Normally, preference visa applicants who have had their DS-2001 and DS-230 Part I forms received by the consular post and entered into the Immigrant Visa Automated Control System (IVACS) by the 15th day of a particular month are put on the London visa number request list for the second succeeding month. For example, an applicant whose Packet 3 forms were received in London and the information entered into IVACS by June 15th would normally be scheduled for an interview during the month of August.
Within a calendar month of scheduled appointments, those IV applicants physically residing in the United Kingdom generally will be scheduled during the first half of the month, while those applicants in the United States (or elsewhere) generally are scheduled for the second half of the month in order to facilitate travel back to the United States. Individual adjustments of scheduled appointments within the same month can usually be granted for good cause.
If you are applying for an immigrant visa and you resided in another country or countries since the age of 16, police certificates covering residences of six months or more must be obtained. Generally, applications for police certificates should be made directly to police authorities in the district in which you resided.
Applicants who have resided in the United States are not required to obtain a police certificate to cover their period of residence in the United States since a clearance will be obtained on their behalf by the Department of State. Please note: Police certificates from certain countries are either obtained on the applicant's behalf by the Department of State or are not currently available. For further information, please visit the Department of State's website.
If you are required to have your fingerprints taken in connection with an application for a police certificate, the U.K. police authorities may be able to assist you. Residents of London or Greater London should contact the Metropolitan Police. Please visit their website for further information.
Residents outside of the Greater London area should contact their nearest local police for assistance.
Metropolitan Police Fingerprinting Services
The Visa Fingerprint Section will take fingerprints of members of the public who are currently residing in the United Kingdom, where they require Police Clearance and Good Conduct certificates from abroad.
To book an appointment for fingerprinting, please contact the Visa Fingerprint Office on 020 7230 2099 between 8:30 am - 12:30 pm and 1:30 pm - 3:00 pm on a Monday, Tuesday, Thursday or Friday. The appointment line is closed on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays.
The fee for this service is £63 per person for the first set of fingerprints, £95 for up to 3 sets of fingerprints and £132 for 4 or more sets of fingerprints.
Please note: Payment can be made by cash only.
Documents required by the applicant are the following:
If your passport is being held by the Home Office, a letter and a photocopy of your passport is acceptable only if it has been officially stamped. A covering letter on its own is not acceptable. You may also request for your passport to be released from the Home Office for 24 hours to enable your fingerprints to be taken.
The address is New Scotland Yard, 10 Broadway, London, SW1H 0BG , right at Victoria Street. The nearest mainline train is Victoria and the nearest underground tube station is St James's Park on the District & Circle lines.
Please note: If you need to cancel your appointment, please contact 020 7230 2128 as soon as possible between 8:00 am and 3:00 pm Monday to Friday. A cancellation fee will be incurred if we are not informed.
Visa Issuance Rates
The great majority of IV refusals in London are relatively simple INA §221(g) refusals for lack of proper documentation. Most of these refusals are eventually rectified and the IV issued.
The Immigrant Visa Unit generally functions efficiently, with supervisory review available on all refusals. Attorneys are reminded to advise the consular post by fax communication as early as possible if appointments need to be rescheduled. Advise your clients to make all reasonable efforts to stay in London the night before their interview day rather than rely upon the local transportation system, which is often delayed. Finally it is advisable for your clients not to make overseas travel arrangements on the same day as their interview date, since most IV appointments will not conclude until early afternoon.
If an attorney is going to make a special request for discretionary acceptance of an IV case, he or she must be sure to submit a full description of the reasons for the request by email. The case will be considered on its individual merits. Keep in mind, however, that requests are rarely granted due to post volume.
Following to Join and Derivative Cases
London will process such cases on presentation of proof of the principal Legal Permanent Resident (LPR) status and proof of relationship along with completed forms DS-2001 and DS-230 Part I. Form I-824 is not necessary.
Immigrant Visa Photograph Requirements and Changes
Photograph requirements for immigrant visas are the same as for non-immigrant visas. This is due to the fact that the Embassy issues a similar machine readable non-immigrant style visa in the passport of each applicant applying for an immigrant visa. The same packet of information will be provided to the applicant and will be sealed for the Officer at the Port of Entry. A label will also be attached to the packet with the letter "A" printed on it. The same rules will apply for the new IV in the passport and packet of information. Three photographs will need to be provided for IV appointments and an additional photograph will be needed for the medical examination as stated above. The photos will need to meet the NIV photo requirements i.e. full face, frontal, passport style, color photograph , 2 by 2 inches with white background, taken within six months.
Most immigrant visas will be issued the next day. Fingerprints will be taken for all applicants applying for immigrant visa. Even for those who are under 14 and over 79. Electronic fingerprints and an electronic photograph for facial recognition will be taken and the Embassy will be able to check information through electronic fingerprinting on a U.S. database. Applicants who travel to a third country, rather than their home country for their IV interview before entering the United States may have problems if the third country is not issuing the same type of visa.
Appointments will not conclude until early afternoon.
The medical examination must be performed by an embassy approved physician. Knightsbridge Doctors conduct examinations for the Embassy at the following two locations:
The cost for the medical examination is £190 for applicants aged 15 and over, and £95 for those aged 14 and under. Payment must be made at the time of the medical examination and will be accepted by cash, credit card (Visa or Mastercard) or debit card. Personal checks are not accepted.
Applicants are required to present their passports at the time of the examination and a driving license or photo license to prove identity. Applicants must also bring one photograph for each applicant including for babies. The photo specifications are the same as those for the IV application. In most cases it will take about 3 days to have the medical report and X-rays couriered to the Embassy following the examination. Medical results remain valid for 1 year after the examination.
Vaccination Policies and Procedures
All applicants, including babies, must present their vaccination records at the time of their examinations. If one is not available, the physician will work with the applicant to determine what, if any, vaccinations must be administered. Payment to the designated physician for such vaccinations as are required at the time of the examination may only be made in local currency, in cash or by credit card.
Fiancé(e) visa applicants and those applying for the K-3 or V visas will be required to meet the vaccination requirement at the time of their application for adjustment of status in the U.S.
Vaccinations may be performed by the immigrant’s general practitioner or a medical facility authorized to administer vaccines. They can also be performed by the Embassy’s physician, on the day of the interview, at the following rates (all fees are subject to change without notice):
Suggested evidence of prior vaccination is one of the following:
Please bring vaccination reports with you to the medical exam. It will be determined at that time if further vaccination is required.
The USCIS London office is located within the Embassy. Public access to the USCIS office is not permitted unless you have an appointment. This office does not process refugees; however it adjudicates Forms I-130, I-360, I-600/A, I-601, among others. For further information about USCIS services in London, please visit the USCIS pages of the Embassy website.
Immediate Relative Petitions
USCIS London adjudicates I-130 petitions yet accepts I-130 petitions only from US citizens who can demonstrate that they have permission to reside and who do “principally reside” in the United Kingdom, unless emergent or humanitarian circumstances permit discretionary acceptance. Any such request must be made in writing. Please see the USCIS webpage at the Embassy website to find more details about local filing procedures, including checklists to help put the petition together properly and to check on the progress of I-130 petitions filed with USCIS London. Please note: All I-130 petitions must be filed by mail. Information about current processing time for I-130 petitions is available at http://london.usembassy.gov/dhs/uscis/i130filing.html.
Immigrant Visa Waivers
USCIS adjudicates I-601 applications and where appropriate I-212 applications for the United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, Iceland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland. The average processing time is approximately 15 weeks for the date of receipt by the Consular Section.
INA § 212 immigrant visa waivers are available in limited circumstances. If available, waiver applications are submitted on Form I-601 after the visa is refused. The applicant will be provided with written notification of refusal and the grounds for refusal at the IV consular interview and a waiver package consisting of Form I-601, a fingerprint chart, Form G-325A for the applicant and petitioner, and a request that each provide his or her hardship statement.
AMERICAN CITIZEN SERVICES BRANCH
The American Citizen Services Branch (ACS) provides services to the more than 250,000 American citizens residing in Britain as well as to visitors with emergency needs. Among the primary concerns of the ACS Branch are:
U.S. passport applications for children under the age of 14 require both parents or legal guardians' consent. Parents must also present a birth certificate or Consular Report of Birth Abroad with both their names on it, or other evidence of their relationship to the child, and both parents must present identification documents.
In order to register a birth and obtain a U.S. passport, the Applicant will need to present the British long form birth certificate (which lists full names and details of both parents) Additionally, a U.S. passport should be presented for each American citizen parent plus a marriage certificate and any prior divorce decrees (or death certificates of prior spouses). Birth registrations are done by appointment only. It is possible to apply for the Registration of Birth and the child’s first passport at the same time and both applications can be dealt with in the one interview. For information regarding the requisite Department of State forms and to book an appointment please see the U.S. Citizen Services on the London Embassy's website.
Often the question arises as to whether an American citizen endangers his or her American nationality by acquiring British nationality and a British passport.
The U.S. government presumes that U.S. citizens intend to retain their U.S. citizenship when they obtain naturalization in a foreign State, subscribe to routine declarations of allegiance to a foreign State, or accept non-policy level employment with a foreign government. Persons who wish to renounce their U.S. citizenship may contact the Embassy for relevant information. American citizens holding other nationalities should be aware that U.S. immigration law requires the use of U.S. passports to enter and depart the United States.
For questions on U.S. passport and nationality issues the Passport Unit can be reached via the Consular Section fax number +44(0) 20 7495-5012, as well as through the general telephone number or via email at email@example.com
The Passport Unit is open to the public Monday through Friday, except U.S. and U.K. holidays. Appointments are only scheduled Monday through Friday 8:30 am to 11:30 am and Monday, Wednesday and Friday 2 pm to 4 pm.
For more information on these services or to schedule an appointment with ACS please consult its website.
The Special Consular Services Unit of the American Citizens Services Branch provides assistance in cases where U.S. citizens are arrested or die abroad, are temporarily destitute or have other emergency welfare needs. SCS is the point of contact for overseas voter registration. The SCS branch also provides notary services by appointment only. In general, consular officers will provide any authorized notary service for American citizens; for aliens, the SCS Unit can notarize documents for use in the United States. Those requesting notary services and their witnesses should bring their passports for identification. The first seal and notarization costs $30 and each additional seal and signature costs $20. Appointments for this service must be made by the Special Consular Services page on the London Embassy website.
The Federal Benefits Unit of the ACS Branch assists eligible beneficiaries to request original or replacement Social Security cards, file claims for Social Security and Veterans Administration benefits, and provide advice and assistance regarding all federal benefits (SSA, VA, Railroad Board, OPM). Service hours are 9:30 am to 1:00 pm, Monday-Friday (except American and British public holidays); No appointments are necessary but for general inquiries the Federal Benefits Unit advises that the most efficient way of liaising is by emailing FBU.London@ssa.gov All inquiries should receive a response within three business days. You can call the Federal Benefits Unit between 8:30 am and 1:00 pm Monday through Friday on 020 7499 9000.