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Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What does 214(b) mean?

A: Section 214(b) of the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act States: “Every alien shall be presumed to be an immigrant until s/he establishes to the satisfaction of the consular officer, at the time of the application for a visa, s/he is entitled to non-immigrant status.” By law, the burden of proof is on the applicant to show that he or she qualifies for a non-immigrant visa and is not an intending immigrant. The consular officer uses the interview to determine the intentions of the applicant.

Q: What are “ties to Zambia”?

A: “Ties” are aspects of life that bind people to their place of residence, including, but not limited to, possessions, family relationships, employment, education, and prospects in Zambia. As each person's situation is different, there are no set answers or documents as to what constitutes adequate ties.

Q: I completed and submitted all the documents but I was refused a visa. Why?

A: Consular Officers refer to documents only if they can provide additional insight into the case. The application form, if completed thoroughly, contains the information needed to adjudicate the visa. If there are additional documents required, the consular officer indicates that during the interview. It is the interview that is the most important part of the consular officer's decision.

Q: I came for a visa interview yesterday but got denied. When can I reapply?

A: You can reapply at any time by following the same procedures as you did for your previous visa interview. In most cases it is better to wait until your personal circumstances have changed significantly before reapplying. Please make sure that you refill and submit a new application form, DS-160 and re-schedule a new appointment and bring any supporting documents that you did not bring to your previous interview.

Q: My visa application was denied. Can the decision be reconsidered?

A: There is no appeal process for nonimmigrant visa application. You may reapply at any time and have another interview for your case to be reconsidered. If you decide to reapply, please submit the new application form together with all supporting documents and follow the same process you did for your previous interview.

Q: I am a student with an I-20 form, but my application was denied. Why?

A: An I-20 Form is one of several documents that are required to apply for a student visa. It does not guarantee a visa. A student applicant must show that they intend to pursue an education in the U.S. and also that they intend to return to their home country upon completion of their studies. Student visa applicants are also required to show that they have sufficient funds for at least the first year of school and a source of funding for the remainder of their education. In addition, students should have a sufficient knowledge of English to pursue the intended course of study.

Q: Will letters that guarantee the return of an applicant help them get a visa?

A: A letter, even from a U.S. citizen, rarely establishes the applicant's ties to their home country. U.S. law requires each applicant to qualify for a visa on his or her own merits.

Q: Will it help my application if I present a letter from my relative's U.S. Congressman or Senator?

A: Such letters are considered, but the applicant's intentions are still the key to the adjudicating officer's decision.

Q: Is it better to not 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?

A: Full disclosure is best. Close relatives and pending immigrant petitions do not necessarily disqualify an applicant. Family ties are just one of many factors used in determining ties to one's home country.

Q: What happens if I conceal or misrepresent information or submit fraudulent documents?

A: If a consular officer uncovers any attempt to conceal or misrepresent, the applicant will usually be denied a visa. The applicant may, in certain cases, be ruled permanently ineligible to enter the United States.

Q: My cousin applied for a nonimmigrant visa to come visit me in the United States and the interviewing officer refused her visa. Can you give me the reasons?

A: No, we are unable to publicly comment on any individual’s visa application. Each visa applicant was given the reason(s) why they were denied during the visa interview. In general, any applicants who have been previously refused are welcome to reapply at any time by following the same process they did before they came for the interview. Another consular officer will interview them but please be informed that the decision to grant or deny a visa is based on the consular officer's evaluation of an applicant’s circumstances in their native country and cannot be based on the assurances of friends or relatives of the applicants or third parties, no matter how well intended.

Q: How much is the visa application fees and where can I pay?

A: A majority of nonimmigrant visa applicants (Tourist, Temporary Business/Conference, Crew/ Transit, and Student/Exchange – B-1/B-2, C-1, D, F, M and J visa applicants) must pay a non-refundable visa application fee of US$140.00. Applicants for H, L, O, P, Q and R visas (the petition-based visas) must pay US$150.00. This fee must be paid at the cashier window in the consular waiting room, prior to the visa interview on the day of the scheduled appointment. Some types of visas require additional fees. For more information on the types of visas that have these requirements, please consult the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs’ Visa Reciprocity Table.

Q: Is it possible to get my application fee refunded if my visa application was refused?

A: No, this is a non-refundable fee for the visa application process.

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

A: 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 a visa. Additional documents are examined only if a consular officer needs to obtain further clarification of your situation.

Q: What documents do I need for my visa to be approved?

A: Consular officers evaluate applications on a case-by-case basis. There is no set list of documents that guarantees issuance (or refusal) of a visa as each case is different. What may demonstrate strong ties in one case may not do so in another.

Q: I received my student visa recently. When can I enter the United States?

A: You can enter the United States no earlier than one month before the start date listed on your I-20/DS-2019 Form.

Q: What should I do if I lose my Appointment Confirmation Letter before my interview?

A: Please see here.

Q: What do I do if I lose my passport and get a new one after I completed my application form (DS-160) and scheduled my appointment online but before my interview date?

A: You can attend your scheduled appointment and present your new passport. If you are not able to obtain a new passport before your appointment date, you must reschedule your appointment. You will not be able to apply for a visa without a valid passport.

Q: What happens if I cannot attend the interview on the appointment date? Can I give my appointment to someone else to attend instead?

A: If it is not possible for you to attend the interview on the date of your appointment, you can change/cancel your appointment here. Another person cannot attend your appointment. The appointment is non-transferable. Only the person(s) scheduled will be admitted to the Consular Section.

Q: Am I going to be fingerprinted?

A: Fingerprints will be collected after you submit the application. Fingerprints are collected using an inkless, electronic process. This requirement will not significantly increase the length of your interview.

Q: I am an American citizen and would like to accompany my Zambian friend/fiancé/wife/ colleague/etc. into the consular waiting room and assist him/her during the visa interview. Can I do this?

A: Only individuals applying for a visa are allowed to enter the Consular Section and to participate in the visa interview. No exceptions are made for American citizens who are family members, fiancés, colleagues, or friends of the applicant. The only exceptions, on a case by case basis, are for children under the age of 14, elderly applicants, or applicants with disabilities who may be accompanied under certain circumstances.

Q: I have a valid U.S. visa in an expired (old) passport. Can it still be used?

A: Yes, if you will be entering the United States for a reason consistent with the type of valid visa you have. You should carry the old expired passport that contains the valid U.S. visa and your current valid passport. You will use both passports for entry to the United States.

Q: Can I renew/extend my nonimmigrant visa?

A: A nonimmigrant visa cannot be renewed/extended regardless of its type. You have to apply for a new visa.

Q: I am HIV positive. Do I need a visa to travel to the United States?

A: As of January 4, 2010, if you are HIV positive, you are eligible to apply for a visa to travel to the United States.

Q: Can I apply for a U.S. visa in Zambia if I am not a Zambian passport holder?

A: Yes, an applicant has the right to apply for a nonimmigrant visa at any U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad. Therefore, you can apply at the Consular Section, the United States Embassy in Lusaka.

However, it may be harder to qualify for a visa when applying outside your own country of permanent residence. At your interview you will be required to demonstrate that you have strong ties abroad, and that you will return overseas after your visit to the United States. If you choose to apply in Zambia, keep in mind that your application may be refused, and the application fee is non-refundable.

The most frequent basis for refusal concerns the requirement that the prospective visitor or student possesses a residence abroad that he/she has no intention of abandoning. Applicants need to prove the existence of such residence by demonstrating that they have ties abroad which would compel them to leave the United States at the end of the temporary stay.

Q: My I-20/DS-2019 original form hasn't arrived from the United States. Can I apply for a visa using the scanned copy?

A: No, you must have the original documents to apply, and you must bring the complete pages of the form to the Consular Section on the interview day.

Q: I have been granted a student visa. Even though my course of study is for 4 years, the visa valid for only three years? Please explain.

A: A visa allows a foreign citizen coming from abroad to travel to the United States port-of entry and request permission to enter the United States. Applicants should be aware that a visa does not guarantee entry into the United States. Once permitted into the United States, the student should contact their school administrator to apply for permission to extend their stay.

Q: Why do I need to wait in line and why does it take so long to wait until my interview?

A: When arriving at the embassy, every applicant is expected to stand in line in order to assist us to provide prompt and efficient service to you. Please prepare to be at the Embassy for a couple of hours. The visa process involves several steps from application submission to fingerprinting and interviewing.

Q: Can I be interviewed first?

A: Applicants are served on a first come, first served basis. If you have certain circumstances that require you to be interviewed earlier, we will make every attempt to consider your request.