|Updated: May 14, 2013
US Embassy in London
Both immigrant and nonimmigrant visas are available to qualified applicants at the US Embassy in London. The Consulate General in Belfast, Northern Ireland issues nonimmigrant visas only. The US Consulate General in Edinburgh, Scotland does not process any types of visas, immigrant or nonimmigrant.
Anyone physically present in the United Kingdom may apply for a nonimmigrant visa at the US Embassy, London. A person residing in the UK may apply for an immigrant visa at the US Embassy, London, and as is set out in more detail below, in some cases persons who do not reside in the UK may also apply for an immigrant visa in London.
To go directly to the section
on processing immigrant visa applications at the US Embassy
in London, click
Applying for a Nonimmigrant Visa
The following is a summary of the processing procedures and fees for a nonimmigrant visa application filed with the US Embassy in London. Anyone who is physically present in the UK may submit an application for a nonimmigrant visa.
Interviews and Waivers of Interviews
Most applicants must appear for an interview with a US consular officer in connection with their applications, due in part to the requirement, introduced in London on August 11, 2004, that most nonimmigrant visa applicants aged 14 to 79 must give fingerscans (inkless digital prints of all fingers).
Some applicants may be granted
waivers of personal appearance in the national interest or
because of unusual circumstances, including but not limited
to emergency or unusual hardship, as determined by a consular
Interviews are by appointment only and are scheduled by calling the Embassy's Operator Assisted Information Service on 09042 450 100. Calls cost £1.23 per minute. An individual appointment must be scheduled for each applicant, including the principal applicant, spouse, and any unmarried child under the age of 21 applying for a derivative family member visa to accompany or to follow to join the principal applicant. A child under the age of 14 is not required to attend an interview and the parent(s) of the child may submit the child's passport and completed visa application at their own interview.
Without an Interview
The following applicants are eligible to apply without an interview:
||children under the age of 14; and
adults aged 80 and over who are a U.K. or E.U. passport holder, or have been granted indefinite leave to remain in the United Kingdom from the U.K. government; and are not ineligible to receive a visa ; have not been refused a visa under Section 214(b), or if refused, the refusal has been overcome; and have not been denied entry into or removed from the United States.
|Applicants must be physically present in the United Kingdom to apply for a visa by mail. All applicants aged 14 and over who were born in or hold a passport from North Korea, Cuba, Syria, Sudan, Iran or Libya are required to schedule an appointment for an interview.
In addition, some applicants for O and P visas may be excused from a personal appearance at the Embassy, under the Visa Reissuance programme. To see whether you are eligible for the programme, go to the Embassy's Visa Reissuance Wizard.
Persons who need not appear for an interview, or who have been notified that they must submit additional documents in order for their applications to be processed, must use the services of the private courier agency under contract to the Embassy for both the delivery of their documents to the Embassy and the return of their documents and passports. The contractor, DX Secure, may be contacted on 0871 562 6666 to arrange collection and delivery.
Forms and Fees
The passport of the applicant(s) together with a completed online DS-160 visa application form and supporting documents must be submitted for each applicant regardless of age.
Links to the DS-160 forms and to the Department of State’s photograph specifications may be found on our Useful Links web page.
Every visa applicant must pay an application fee before submitting an application. The amount of the fee differs depending on the type of nonimmigrant visa for which one is applying. The current fee schedule, which became effective on April 13, 2012, is as follows:
- Petition-based visas (H, L, O, P, Q, R) -- $190.00
- Treaty Trader/Investor and Australian specialty occupation visas (E-1, E-2 and E-3) -- $270.00
- K Visas -- $240.00
- All other nonimmigrant visas -- $160.00
Payment must be made by credit or debit card when the appointment is scheduled with the Embassy’s Operator Assisted Information Service. All visa application fees are non-refundable and non-transferable. The Embassy accepts Visa, MasterCard or American Express only. A receipt for the payment of the visa application fee and instruction for completing the online electronic visa application form will be provided by the Embassy’s Operator Assisted Information Service when a visa appointment is scheduled by calling 09042 450 100.
Nationals of certain countries are required to pay an issuance fee in order for an approved visa to be issued. Fees are based on reciprocity and reflect the charges levied by the applicant's government to a US citizen for a similar service. If an issuance fee is required, the applicant will be advised and payment must be made to the Embassy cashier in cash (sterling or dollar equivalent) or by credit card (VISA, MasterCard or American Express). The Embassy does not accept any other credit or debit cards, or personal cheques.
Applicants for J-1 visas must pay a fee of $180 (except short-term exchange visitors, such as camp counselors and au pairs, who pay a reduced fee of $35) and F-1 and M-1 visa applicants must pay a $200.00 fee to the Department of Homeland Security in the United States before appearing at the Embassy for their visa interview. Instructions as to how to pay the fee can be found on our Useful Links page.
Additional Administrative Processing
Some nonimmigrant visa applicants will be advised at the time of their interview or by letter shortly thereafter that additional administrative processing of their applications will be required. In some circumstances processing can take 12 weeks or longer and cannot be expedited.
Persons Ineligible for Nonimmigrant
Visas; Waivers of Ineligibility
US immigration law renders persons, with some exceptions, ineligible for nonimmigrant visas under a variety of circumstances—for example, if they have been convicted of certain crimes such as serious offenses or offenses involving controlled substances, if they have intentionally misrepresented an important fact to procure or to attempt to procure a visa, entry to the United States, or any other immigration benefit, or have any one of a number of disqualifying medical conditions.
Waivers of ineligibility for visas and inadmissibility to the US may be requested in connection with almost all nonimmigrant visa applications. Waivers of ineligibility for nonimmigrant and immigrant visa applicants are determined exclusively by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and for nonimmigrant visa applications only if recommended by a consular officer (or the Secretary of State). The DHS is not bound to follow that recommendation. Visas will be issued only if the waiver is granted by the DHS. Processing of applications for waivers currently takes approximately six months. If a waiver is granted the visa may be limited to a maximum validity period of one year or less, although longer periods may be allowed in certain circumstances. For additional information regarding ineligibility for visas, and waivers of those ineligibilities, click here.
Applying for an Immigrant
Before a person may file
an immigrant visa application at the US Embassy in London,
a petition for immigrant visa classification on behalf of
that person must have been filed by a close relative who is
a US citizen or lawful permanent resident, or by a sponsoring
employer or, in certain circumstances, by the applicant. Once
the Department of Homeland Security has approved the petition,
and the US Embassy, London has received notice of the approval,
an immigrant visa application may be processed. When the application
is approved, the applicant is issued an immigrant visa, which
is placed in the passport. After the applicant enters the
US as an immigrant, a Permanent Resident Card (commonly referred
to as a 'green card') will be mailed to the immigrant as evidence
of lawful permanent resident status.
Who May Apply
Any person who is a resident
of the UK, or who is in the US and whose last residence was
in the UK immediately prior to entering the US, may apply
for an immigrant visa at the US Embassy in London. In addition,
any person physically present in the UK but having no residence
in the UK, may apply for an immigrant visa in London if the
person has permission to remain for the period required to
process the application. Finally, immigrant visa applications
may be accepted from persons neither residing in the UK nor
physically present in the UK, at the discretion of a consular
officer or at the direction of the Department of State.
Immigrant Visa Application
If the immigrant visa petition has been filed with US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in the US, the USCIS upon approval of the petition will forward it to the Department of State's National Visa Center (NVC). The NVC then sends the applicant (or his or her designated representative) instructions as to how to pay the required fees. Once the fees have been paid the NVC will send the applicant or representative an ‘Instruction Package For Immigrant Visa Applicants’ with forms that must be completed and returned to the NVC, along with certain civil documents. Upon receipt of the required forms, the NVC completes its processing, schedules the applicant’s interview appointment at the US Embassy, London, and forwards the applicant’s file to the Immigrant Visa Branch at the US Embassy, London.
If a Petition for Alien Relative (form I-130 for immediate relative classification only) is filed with the USCIS Sub Office at the US Embassy, London, the approved petition is forwarded to the Immigrant Visa Branch at the Embassy without the need for involvement by either the USCIS or the NVC in the US. The Immigrant Visa Branch then sends the applicant forms to be completed and returned. In those forms applicants provide biographic information and indicate that they possess all documents that will be required at the time of the immigrant visa interview. Once the Immigrant Visa Branch completes its processing, it will send an appointment package to the applicant or his or her representative. The package includes an appointment letter giving the date for the immigrant visa interview.
All applicants for immigrant visas, whether the petition was filed in the US or in London, must book the required medical examination with the Embassy’s designated medical practitioners, Knightsbridge Doctors. Applicants must ensure that the results of the required medical tests are available by the time of their immigrant visa interview. Knightsbridge Doctors advises applicants to allow four working days for the test results to be sent to the Embassy.
On the day of the interview the applicant, and any family members applying together, submit the final part of the immigrant visa application with required documents and are interviewed by a US consular officer. If the applicant is determined to be eligible for an immigrant visa, the visa is typically issued within 48 hours and the applicant’s passport, with the immigrant visa, is returned to the applicant by the Embassy’s designated courier service, DX Secure.
Filing an Immigrant Visa Petition
Generally, a US citizen resident in the UK may file an immigrant visa petition with the USCIS Sub Office at the US Embassy on behalf of a spouse, parent or unmarried child under the age of 21.
For additional information about how to file such a petition and supporting materials, click here.
In exceptional circumstances, the DHS officer in London will
accept an immigrant visa petition from a US citizen who is
not resident in the UK as long as the sponsored spouse, parent
or child is a UK resident. If the US citizen resides in the US, the citizen should file the petition in the United States with the USCIS Chicago Lockbox. USCIS filing instructions may be found here.