Business and travel always ramp up during the holiday seasons. Reduced business hours for government offices and the usual major holiday closures exacerbate the delays you might encounter while completing a visa application.
Not to mention, there is already an increase in the number of visa applications for international travelers filed at the end of the year.
This article will help you prepare for the holiday season so you can meet your loved ones, finish your important business endeavors, or just relax on a well-earned vacation.
You don’t need to apply for a visa if you’re entering the U.S. for less than 90 days and qualify for the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). This program is country-specific, so you’re eligibility will depend on where you live.
If your travel is longer than 90 days or you don’t qualify for VWP, you must apply for a B-1 or B-2 tourist visa. And if you’re coming to the U.S. for reasons other than tourism or a business trip, you’ll need to consider other visa categories like a student visa, fiance visa, or work visa.
To begin your tourism visa process, you will need to complete the DS-160 online application. Keep your DS-160 barcode page because you’ll need it at your visa interview.
The USCIS has some interview exceptions that depend on the age of the applicant:
|13 and younger||Usually not required|
|14-79||Required with some exceptions for renewals|
|80+||Generally not required|
To schedule an interview appointment, visit the website of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate website and search for instructions for your specific country. Complete this step as soon as possible to secure the date and time you prefer, especially during the busy holiday season.
The application fee is $185 for a B-1 or B-2 visa. You’ll pay the fee when you submit your application or at your interview.
If you want to visit the U.S. by Thanksgiving or Christmas, start the process for a visitor visa by Labor Day or early September because the wait times for an interview can be two months or longer.
Timing is critical if you want to come to the U.S. for tourism or a working holiday. You’ll need to file applications and schedule your interviews sooner rather than later. By strategically planning your filings and considering potential roadblocks, you can minimize delays and ensure your application is processed efficiently. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
To avoid unnecessary stress and potential delays, it helps to start the visa application process as early as possible. Government offices often have reduced hours and limited staff during the holiday season, which can result in longer wait times.
By initiating the process well in advance, you give yourself ample time to gather all the necessary documents, complete the required forms, and secure an interview appointment.
Visa applicants may be notified that their application requires additional administrative processing, typically involving name and background checks. While the duration of this processing can vary, it usually takes between 2-4 weeks.
In addition to Christmas Day and New Year’s, government offices, including U.S. consular posts, observe all major federal holidays. Some offices have reduced business hours during these holidays. Be aware of these closures and plan your visa application accordingly.
|November 23, 2023||Thanksgiving Day|
|December 25, 2023||Christmas Day|
|January 1, 2024||New Year’s Day|
|January 15, 2024||Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.|
While booking your airline tickets in advance is tempting, it’s advisable to maintain some flexibility, especially during the holiday season. Unforeseen circumstances, such as additional administrative processing or delays in visa issuance, can disrupt your travel plans.
Avoid purchasing non-refundable tickets and consider adding flexibility options to your bookings. This way, you can make necessary adjustments if unexpected situations arise during the visa process.
The ability to leave and re-enter the U.S. may vary based on your visa type. Common student visas include F-1 (for academic studies) and J-1 (for exchange programs). These visas typically allow temporary travel outside the U.S., but specific rules and requirements are associated with them.
When leaving and re-entering the U.S., you must have the necessary documents, including a valid passport, current visa, Form I-20 (for F-1 visa holders), and other relevant immigration documents. Additionally, ensure you have the required travel endorsements on your Form I-20.
If you plan to leave the U.S. during a break or holiday, it’s a good practice to inform your Designated School Official (DSO) about your travel plans and get their guidance. They can help ensure you have the necessary travel authorization and advise you on maintaining your student status.
If you hold a valid work visa in the United States, you generally have more flexibility to travel home for the holidays than other visa types, such as student visas.
Ensure that your work visa is still valid for re-entry into the U.S. If it has expired or is close to expiring, you may need to renew it at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad. Additionally, make sure your passport will stay active during the time of your intended travel.
When re-entering the U.S., you may be subject to inspection by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers. They will determine if you meet the entry requirements, so having all the required documents and being prepared to answer questions about your employment and travel plans is essential.
No, you are generally not allowed to work in the United States on a B-1 (business visitor) or B-2 (tourism) travel visa. These visa categories are intended for temporary visits for tourism, business meetings, conferences, and general leisure activities.
The U.S. government has specific regulations regarding employment, and work is not permitted on these visa types. If you wish to work in the United States, you must obtain a visa that authorizes employment, such as an H-1B (employment-based) or an L-1 (intracompany transferee) visa. These visa categories require sponsorship by a U.S. employer and that specific eligibility criteria be met.
Working in the U.S. without the proper work authorization can result in serious immigration violations, including deportation and future visa ineligibility.
Yes, you can get a working holiday visa, but this path will likely take six months or longer.
A working holiday visa is also known as a temporary work visa in the U.S. There are a variety of temporary work visas ranging from agricultural workers (H-2A) to artists or entertainers (P-2 or P-3). There are 11 different categories for people pursuing a working holiday visa. If you plan on having a working holiday in the U.S., our expert team of attorneys can help you identify the right category for your situation.
The visa application process can be complex, especially if you want a working holiday visa. And you can’t afford to let the roadblocks stop you during the holiday season. At Scott D. Pollock & Associates, P.C., we are committed to helping you obtain your visa.
Our experienced immigration attorneys understand the nuances of the application process and can provide expert guidance and support at every step.
If you need help with the application process, scheduling, or delays, we can offer personalized client-focused Visa application services to ensure you obtain your visa on time. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and take the first step toward securing your visa.View Similar Articles