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Non-Immigrant Visas

Frequenly Asked Questions

Business/Tourist/Medical - Visitor visas

I could not attend the interview appointment. Can I reschedule?

Yes. If for any reason an applicant cannot come for the visa interview on the date previously scheduled, the applicant needs only to change his or her appointment date through the Embassy’s nonimmigrant visa online appointment system, and to print a new appointment confirmation letter. There is no need to contact the Embassy.  

I cannot speak English well. Can I take my interview in Vietnamese?

Yes. Our officers are trained to conduct interviews in Vietnamese. Also, we have local employees who will translate for the applicants. 

Can my relatives or attorney attend my visa interview?

No. As is standard practice around the world, no third parties are permitted to attend the non-immigrant visa interview.

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Can the visa service agents help me in obtaining a visa?

No. You should not trust any one who said that they can help you to get a visa. Also, you should not pay any amount of money for doing fraudulent documents as our consular officers are trained to detect any misrepresentation or fraudulent document.

What do you mean by “ties to Vietnam”?

“Ties” are the aspects of your life that bind you to your place of residence, including family relationships, employment and possessions. In the case of younger applicants who may not have had an opportunity to establish such ties, interviewing officers may look at educational status, grades, the situation of parents, and an applicant’s long-range plans and prospects in Vietnam. As each person’s situation is different, there is no set answer as to what constitutes adequate ties. 

If I present a letter of guarantee of return from a person of high stature, will I get a visa?

A letter, even from a highly placed person, does not necessarily establish the applicant’s ties outside of the United States. U.S. law requires each applicant to qualify in his or her own right.

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Isn’t it better not to disclose that I have close relatives living in the U.S., that I have an immigrant visa petition on file, or that I have previously been denied a visa? What are the consequences if I conceal or misrepresent information or submit fraudulent documents?

Full disclosure is best. We understand that many people have relatives in the U.S. but intend only a short visit, or have immigrant visa petitions on file but do not intend to immigrate at this time. It is therefore to the advantage of the applicant to disclose these facts.

When an interviewing officer uncovers any attempt to conceal or misrepresent facts, the application will be denied and the applicant may, in certain cases, be ruled permanently ineligible to enter the U.S.  

If I have all the documents, will my application be approved?

Not necessarily. The interviewing officer must apply Section 214(b) of the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) in determining whether you are eligible for a U.S. visa. That section of the Act states, in part:
Every alien [visa applicant] shall be presumed to be an immigrant until he establishes to the satisfaction of the officer, at the time of the application for a visa […] that he is entitled to nonimmigrant status…

This means that the visa officer is required by law to view you, the applicant, as intending to immigrate permanently until you demonstrate otherwise. Your evidence may come in many forms, but when considered together it must be enough for the interviewing officer to conclude that your overall circumstances - including social, family, economic, and other ties to Vietnam - constitute a compelling reason for you to leave the U.S. at the end of a temporary stay. You should be prepared to present your case clearly and concisely. Your interview can be conducted in Vietnamese or in English, which ever you prefer.

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Why are the visa interviews so short? I was only asked a few questions and the interviewer hardly looked at my documents.

In a typical day, a consular officer may need to interview many applicants in a very short amount of time. However, your application form, if completed thoroughly, contains most of the information needed to adjudicate the visa. Additional documents are examined only if the consular officer needs to obtain further clarification of your situation.  

How long may I stay in the U.S. on a visitor visa?

A visa represents permission to apply to enter the U.S. There is a difference between the validity of your visa and the length of time you may stay in the U.S.

The expiration date of the visa is the date by which you must enter the U.S. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) inspector at the port of entry, not the consular officer, determines the length of time you may stay. DHS usually grants permission for the visitor to remain in the U.S. for the amount of time needed to accomplish the purpose of the visit.

If you wish to remain in the U.S. beyond the time granted, you must submit a request for extension to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). There are penalties that can be applied to any visitor who remains in the U.S. beyond the period of stay authorized by DHS at the time of entry. An "overstay" of even one day can have a serious negative effect on the traveler's ability to qualify for a U.S. visa in the future.

Click here to know more about the length of visa and the authorized duration of your stay.

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What can I do in the U.S. on a visitor visa?

Visitor visas are issued to temporary visitors for business or pleasure.  "Business" does not generally include gainful employment, but it does include almost any other legitimate commercial activity. A B-1 visa holder may go to the U.S. to consult with business associates, negotiate a contract, buy goods or materials, settle an estate, appear as a witness in a court trial, participate in business or professional conventions or conferences, or undertake independent research.

"Pleasure" includes purposes such as touring, visits to friends and relatives, visits for medical treatment, participation in conventions, conferences, or convocations of fraternal or social organizations, and participation by amateurs, who will receive no remuneration, in musical, sports, and similar events or contests.

At the visa interview, you should be able to explain clearly the purpose of your visit to the U.S.

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I am a Vietnamese national. Can I apply for a nonimmigrant visa at the U.S. Embassy/Consulate in other country?

Yes. However, we do not encourage you to apply a nonimmigrant visa in a third country such as in Thailand, Malaysia, etc. because it is difficult for consular officers in the third country to assess the ties of the applicant to his/her home country and they would generally refuse the applicant and inform him/her that he/she should apply in his/her home country. 

I am married to a U.S. Citizen spouse. Can I apply for a tourist visa to visit my spouse at the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi?

Yes. However, it is often very difficult for applicants to demonstrate to the interviewing consular officer that they only intend a short visit to the U.S., which is necessary in order to qualify for a tourist visa. When State Department officers adjudicate nonimmigrant visas, the law as written requires that we assume all applicants intend to immigrate to the U.S., until they demonstrate otherwise. If someone has declared an intention to immigrate in the near future, it can be extremely difficult to show that they will not remain in the U.S. if they do receive a tourist visa. It is the inability of most applicants to demonstrate this “dual intent” (i.e., “Yes, I will immigrate, but not just yet”) that makes it very difficult to qualify for a tourist visa.

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My application was refused. What is procedure for appealing a visa refusal?

As is standard practice around the world, any nonimmigrant visa application, once denied under Section 214(b), will not be reviewed or reconsidered unless the application re-applies.

The proper procedure for appealing a visa refusal is to file a new application that will be adjudicated by a different consular officer. The Applicant must pay the fee again and obtain a new interview. Please note that we always advise the applicants with more than one recent refusal NOT to re-apply unless his/her circumstances have changed significantly, as it is unlikely the outcome will change.

My passport expired, the visa is still valid with multiple entries and I have my new passport. Do I have to apply for a new visa?

You do not need to apply for a new visa; you can use the old and new passport to travel. 

Can I buy an airline ticket before visa issuance?

We advise you not buy an airline ticket before visa issuance. Please do not make any firmed plan until you receive your visa.

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Student Visas

When can I get more information about study abroad opportunities in the U.S?

The EducationUSA Advising Center at the U.S. Embassy provides information about a full range of educational opportunities in the U.S.  Please see the EducationUSA Vietnam web page at for more information about their services and contact HanoiEducationUSA@gmail.com regarding inquiries about study in the U.S. 

I could not attend the interview appointment. Can I reschedule?

Yes. Appointments can be rescheduled online. For more information, please see “How to Apply.”

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I have heard that it is very difficult to pass the interview for a student visa.  Is it true?

There are three basic requirements that must be met by each student who applies for a student visa to the U.S. They are:

  1. You must be a bona fide (serious) student with serious study intentions: Since you are applying for a student visa, it is expected that your purpose in going to the U.S. is to study. The consular officer will expect that you can answer basic questions about the school you will be attending, the course of study you plan to follow, your plans when you return to Vietnam, how you decided on the school you have chosen, etc.
  2. You must have adequate financial resources: You must be able to show the consular officer that you have adequate financial resources to support you while you are studying in the U.S. The following are examples of acceptable financial documentation: scholarship, fellowship or financial aid award letter from the school you will be attending, family business records, tax records, real estate records or bank books. Bank statements are not accepted as supporting documentation demonstrating adequate financial resources.
  3. You must show your intent to return to Vietnam: When you apply for a student visa, it is understood that you are seeking permission to be in the United States for a period of time to complete your studies. When you have completed your studies it is expected that you will return to Vietnam.

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I have relatives living in the United States. Will this hurt my chances of getting a visa?

No. All visa applicants must declare whether they have relatives in the U.S. Consular officers understand it is common for applicants, especially in southern Vietnam, to have family living overseas. It is also acceptable for you to live with your family members. Be honest about your family situation. We will not grant you a visa if we think that the visa is solely for you to be with the family members in the U.S. 

My family in the U.S. filed an immigrant petition for my family. Is it still possible to obtain a non-immigrant visa to study abroad?

Yes. However, students who have applied for immigrant visas do have a stronger burden to prove their intent to return to Vietnam after finishing school in the U.S. Occasionally, a visa applicant can express dual intent-- that is, he or she may want to go for a short visit now but may also wish to immigrate later. Each case is different – but the best piece of advice for all applicants is to be honest about your situation and explain clearly to the visa officer what you plan to do after you complete your studies in the United States.

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Will a visa agency help my chances of getting a visa?

No. Do not believe anyone who tells you they can help you get a visa.  Do not pay money for fake documents. Consular officers are trained to recognize fake documents and lies. 

I don’t speak English very well.  Can I speak Vietnamese at the interview?

Yes. Every consular officer has studied Vietnamese and will have a Vietnamese translator. 

How do I pay the SEVIS fee?

For information on SEVIS fee payment, please visit the U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (USICE) website.

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If I have all the documents, will my student visa application be approved?

Many applicants for student visas are confused when, after presenting the I-20 forms from their chosen school in the U.S. and other information, they do not obtain a visa. Under U.S. law, all nonimmigrant visa applicants must demonstrate to the satisfaction of the consular officer that they will leave the United States before their granted length of stay expires.

In student visa cases, the applicant may intend to stay in the United States for many months and even years pursuing a course of study. The consular officer must consider the applicant’s overall circumstances when deciding whether to approve a student visa.

Student visas must be denied if appears that the applicant’s primary purpose of travel is not to obtain an education, but rather to facilitate an indefinite stay in the United States. That a school or program has admitted a student to study and issued an I-20 is, therefore, only one factor that must be considered.

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How long may I stay on my F-1 student visa?

When you enter the United States on a student visa, you will usually be admitted for the duration of your student status. That means you may stay as long as you are a full-time student, even if the F-1 visa in your passport expires while you are in the U.S.

The DHS Officer will note this information on the I-94 form. 

I was just refused a visa under section 214(b) of the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act. What does this mean? Can I apply again?

Generally, student visa applications are refused for one of the following reasons: (a) you did not convinced the officer that you were actually going to study in America or that you would be successful in your studies; (b) you did not convince the consular officer that you had sufficient financial resources to pay for your studies; (c) you did not convince the consular officer that you plan to return to Vietnam after completing your studies in the United States. You may re-apply for a student visa at anytime, however you should carefully re-examine your application before you do so. When you interview again, you must be prepared to clearly explain (a) your study plan; (b) your financial plan; (c) what you intend to do when you finish your course of study in the United States. 

I will return home for a visit. My student visa is multiple entry and still valid, but I have already changed to other school. Do I need to apply for a new student visa while the old one is still valid?

If your visa has not yet expired, you may leave the U.S. and readmitted after absences of less than 5 months.

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Summer Work and Travel visas

For students who are interested in the Summer Work and Travel (SWT) Program, please keep in mind the governing rules of this program:

The U.S. Embassy and Consulate General in HCMC have designated the dates for participation in SWT 2012 for Vietnam: June 18 to August 20, 2012.

Rules of the SWT program prohibit students from working while their school is officially in session and this rule will supersede the above dates in cases where your school break starts later than June 18 or ends earlier than August 20.

Why is the Embassy limiting the time I can work in the U.S.?

Because U.S. law only allows students to participate in the SWT program during their University’s official break period (closed for the summer holidays). We have chosen the period June 18 to August 20, 2012 because it will accommodate the largest number of Vietnamese students, whose official school breaks fall within this timeframe, and still follow U.S. law, which prohibits students from working while their schools are in session.

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I heard that people are being refused because they worked too long last year. Is this true?

Yes, any applicant who violated U.S. law, including working while their University was in session or working longer than allowed by their visa, is unlikely to be issued another J-1 visa. 

Will I get different dates if I apply in HCMC or Hanoi? Which one is better?

No, both posts abide by U.S. law and use the same criteria to adjudicate all visas. 

Can I stay and work beyond the official SWT dates if my University gives me special permission to stay longer and miss a few weeks of classes?

You are allowed to work in the U.S. on the Summer Work and Travel Program from June 18 to August 20, 2012 only. Students whose University’s official summer break falls completely outside of the June 18- August 20 timeframe are not eligible to participate in the SWT program. 

My school operates on a credit system and I got approval from a school official to defer my studies for one semester to participate in SWT for 4 months. Am I eligible to participate in SWT?

No, students from colleges/universities that operate on a credit system are not eligible for the SWT program.

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I am a final year student, and will not be attending classes in the Fall. Can I work in the U.S. longer?

Recently, rules have changed relating to the SWT program. As of the upcoming summer work and travel season (2012), all students must follow one uniform set of dates. Therefore, no, you may NOT work in the U.S. longer. You will not have a separate set of dates even if you have graduated and intend to participate during the up-coming long academic break immediately following graduation. Only one set of dates is permitted per country. 

My U.S. visa is valid for 9 weeks, and I am allowed to arrive in the U.S. 30 days prior to the start date of my program and stay an extra 30 days after my visa expiration date for travelling purpose. Am I allowed to work during these two periods of time?

No, you are not allowed to work during these two periods of time. However, you are allowed to remain in the U.S. for travelling purpose, only if your University is in official break status during that time.

*Violation of U.S. law, including violation of the SWT program regulations, may have a negative impact on any future applications for a U.S. visa.

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A visa service has offered to provide me with fake documents (transcripts, bank documents, labor contracts, tax receipts, etc.) to help me obtain a visa. What penalty will I incur if I submit fake documents to the officer during the interview?

If you submit fake documents to the U.S. Embassy in support of your visa application, you could be permanently ineligible for admission into the United States. This means that not only will the current application be denied, but all future applications that you file will also be denied. Please keep this in mind when applying for a U.S. visa.

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APEC travelers

Do I need a visa if I have an APEC Business Travelers Card (ABTC)?

Yes, you will still need a visa to travel to the U.S. unless you qualify for the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). Travelers are advised that possession of the ABTC will not change visa requirements, your visa status, or the visa process for travel to the U.S. 

How can I use ABTC when applying for visa?

You will still need to be interviewed, since U.S. law requires visa interviews in most cases and having the Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Business Travelers Card (ABTC) does not exempt travelers from this requirement.

However, if you travel to an APEC meeting in the U.S. (even if you do not have an ABTC) you will be eligible to participate in the U.S. Embassy business facilitation programs, which offer expedited visa interview appointments

When filling out the web-form, please remember to state which APEC meeting you are going to attend. Your request will be responded to via email within two business days.

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Will the event organizers or APEC Secretariat help me obtain my visa?

No, the individual traveler is responsible for his or her visa application. 

Can visas be procured in a short time?

Visa processing times vary significantly from one location to another. Applicants should apply for visas as early as possible. APEC attendees should check the website of the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate now for information on visa interview appointment wait times and processing requirements. Links to the website of U.S. embassies and consulates can be found at State Department's website

I come from a Visa Waiver Program country/economy. Do I need a visa?

If you represent the private sector, you may travel to the APEC meetings on the Visa Waiver Program. However, if you are traveling in an official capacity, if you are a diplomat, or if you are going to cover the meetings for media, you will need the correct visa even if you are from a VWP country. 

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What kind of visa do I need?

APEC participants attending on behalf of a foreign government and members of the news media must have visas in the appropriate classification. Heads of state, heads of government, and those in Cabinet-level positions require A-1 visas. Other representatives of APEC member economies require A-2 visas if the economy is a foreign government recognized de jure by the United States. Please note that individuals who are seconded to the APEC Secretariat by a foreign government, and will not be performing official duties in the United States on behalf of that foreign government, would need a visa classification other than A-2. Such members of the APEC Secretariat would need B-1 visas if not from a Visa Waiver Program (VWP) country or Canada.

Others attending APEC may travel on a B-1 visa or under the VWP if from a VWP country.

Please note that Canadian participants do not need visas. Applications should be made as early as possible. Accredited news media representatives reporting on APEC events would need I visas.
The U.S. Government will sponsor the travel of some attendees on exchange visitor (J-1) visas. In those instances, the sponsoring organization will provide more information.

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How do I qualify for the APEC Business Travel Card (ABTC)?

To qualify for the ABTC, business travelers must demonstrate they: hold a passport from a participating economy (or are a Hong Kong permanent resident with any valid travel document); travel regularly to conduct trade and investment activities in the APEC region; and, have not been convicted of a criminal offense. Each economy vets its ABTC applicants for eligibility and criminal history before the applications are submitted to other economies for their own vetting. Each economy reserves the right to accept or reject any ABTC applicant and institute its own processing procedures. An economy is not obligated to provide reasons for application rejection. Find out more about the ABTC.  

I am a U.S. Citizen. Can I get an ABTC?

The United States does not issue ABTCs at this time.

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Renewals

I have a visa which is not yet expired, but I am planning a trip to the U.S. after the expiration date. Can I already renew my visa, before it expires ?

Yes, you can renew your visa even if it has not yet expired.

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Visa fee collection in VND and additional collection sites

How does the Embassy determine the exchange rate? How often will you update it?

 The exchange rate is determined based on the rate used by the United States Disbursing Officer (USDO). We will update the rate as often as necessary based on exchange rate fluctuations.

When will the fee collection in Vietnamese Dong go into effect? Can I still pay in U.S. dollars after that?

Citibank Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City will start collecting the visa application fees in Vietnamese Dong on August 8, 2013. As of this date, in both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, applicants will no longer pay the fee in U.S. dollars. 

What if I already paid my fee in U.S. dollars for an appointment after August 8, 2013?

Your receipt for payments is valid in either currency. 

How did the Embassy select the seven additional cities for the renewal visa application fee payment? 

The seven cities (Vinh, Hai Phong, Hue, Da Nang, Nha Trang, Da Lat and Can Tho) were selected based on our survey of cities/provinces with the largest number of U.S. nonimmigrant visa applicants.

Who can pay the visa application fee at these additional cities and what fees are they?    

Applicants can pay the VND 3,440,000 fee for non-petition-based visas or the VND 4,085,000 fee for petition-based visas at these seven Eximbank branches. We believe that this is a great initiative for applicants in those areas, especially those who will renew their visas by mail in Hanoi because it saves applicants a trip to Hanoi. Even if you will have to appear for an interview or use the drop-box service in Ho Chi Minh City, being able to pay the fee in advance in your city will shorten the time you have to spend in Hanoi/Ho Chi Minh City away from home.   

I am applying for a petition-based visa but I already paid the fee of VND 3,440,000 at Citibank/Eximbank. Can I pay the additional $30 at Citibank? 

No, Citibank cannot collect this $30 fee. You will have to pay the fee (in U.S. dollar cash or by credit card) at the U.S. Embassy Hanoi or Consulate General HCMC on the day of your visa interview. If you renew your visa by mail at the Embassy, please send an email to VisaHanoi@state.gov to make an appointment for the additional fee payment. If you use the drop-box service at the Consulate General HCMC, please bring $30 (cash or credit card) with you on the day you will drop off your application. 

Why do the cashiers at the Embassy or Consulate General not accept Vietnam Dong? 

Due to the facility limitations, the Embassy and Consulate General do not accept VND. We accept U.S. cash or major credit cards.

Can I get a refund if I overpaid?

Yes, if it is determined that you overpaid at Citibank, we will follow a procedure to get your refunded at Citibank. It is advisable that if you are uncertain about your visa category and which fee you should pay, please pay the lower fee of VND 3,440,000 at Citibank and an additional $30 at the Embassy or Consulate General’s cashier on the day of your visa interview, if required.  

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Other Questions

My name is Nguyen Thi Thu Trang. I applied for an U.S visa last week. Yesterday, I received my passport back with the U.S visa. However, when I looked at the visa, I realized that my name’s order has been changed to:

Last name: Nguyen

First name: Trang Thi Thu

Can you fix this mistake for me please?

This is not a mistake. Consistent with guidelines, visas are printed in the order of: Surname (Family Name) followed by Given Name (First Name, Middle Name).

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