As described by the U.S. Department of State, a visa is a document that grants a foreign national the authority to enter and stay in the United States for a pre-specified period of time. While there are many different specific types of visas, they fit broadly into two categories:
● Non-Immigrant Visas: For temporary travel to and residence in the United States.
● Immigrant Visas: For permanent travel to and residence in the United States.
As visas expire, they need to be renewed. Proper preparation can help to make the renewal process as smooth and stress-free as possible. In this article, you will find an overview of the key things to know about getting a visa renewed in the United States.
You Must Be Eligible to Renew Your U.S. Visa
First and foremost, it is important to confirm that you are eligible to renew your United States visa. Under U.S. immigration regulations, you can only apply to renew a visa that you already have. For example, if you currently have or previously had a B-2 visa, that is the type of visa that you will need to apply to renew.
You cannot transition to a new visa through a renewal. A fresh initial application is required to get a new type of visa. Further, visa renewal applicants must meet the following standards:
1. The applicant has no recent history of visa denials.
2. The applicant still meets all of the initial visa requirements.
In most cases, you can only apply for a visa renewal if your last visa expired within the last four years. However, there are some limited exceptions to that rule—in some circumstances, you may still be eligible for a renewal if you have an older visa.
An Overview of the Required Documents for a U.S. Visa Renewal
When you are renewing your visa, the process itself can feel overwhelming. The last thing you want is to run into problems (delay, denial, etc) because you failed to provide adequate information. Get the key documents together. The good news is that most people are already in a good starting position. The visa renewal documents are largely similar to the documents for your initial visa applications. Some of the key documents, records, and information that you should get if you are getting ready to renew your visa include:
● Passport: You must have a copy of your passport. You need at least six months to the next expiration to apply for a visa renewal.
● Previous Passports (If Applicable): If you have a previous passport with a U.S. visa attached, be sure to obtain a copy.
● Two Passport-Size Photographs: You should provide two recent, passport-sized photos along with your visa renewal application. Make sure that pictures meet the general passport photo requirements for the United States.
● A Print-Out of DS-160 Application Confirmation: If you are applying for a non-immigrant visa, you will need to complete and submit Form DS-160.
● Receipt of Payment of Visa Fee: You should keep a copy of the receipt that proves that you paid the visa renewal fee.
● Any Case-Specific Records: Finally, you may need additional application-specific documentation. For example, you may need sponsorship details and/or family documents based on your specific type of visa.
How to Apply for the Renewal of a United States Visa
Once you have all of the relevant documents, records, and information organized, you will be in the best position to apply for the renewal of your visa. As stated previously, you will need to submit the appropriate application. For non-immigrant visas, the application is Form DS-160.
Depending on your country of origin, you will either pay the application fee immediately before or immediately after filling it out. You will also be required to schedule—and eventually attend—a visa renewal interview. The interview will typically occur at a U.S. Embassy or U.S. Consulate.
Note on Interview Waivers: Some frequent travelers are eligible for a visa interview waiver. To qualify for a waiver of an in-person interview, you must meet a number of different requirements that are based on your age, nationality, type of visa, and the information that you have already provided.
Get Help From An Experienced North Carolina Immigration Lawyer
Immigration law is complicated. The visa renewal process is no exception. You and your family do not have to navigate the visa renewal process alone. If you have any specific questions or concerns about the visa renewal timeline, the required documents or information, or the visa renewal process in general, the Law Office of Mariana Toledo-Hermina is here to help. Call us today or contact us online to schedule your no-obligation initial consultation!