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Ask the Consul – November 2022
November 7, 2022

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Question: My visa expires in February 2023.  However, I would like to visit family in California for Christmas.  If I apply to renew it now, can I continue to use my current visa until I’m issued a new one or does my visa need to be valid for at least six months?

Answer: Thank you for your question.  We strongly recommend everyone keep current their tourist/business visas (B1/B2).  You may apply for a new visa at any time before or after your visa expires.  Applicants can travel with their valid visas while the application for a new visa is pending.

A visa is valid until its expiration date, unless it has been cancelled or revoked.  You may travel to the United States any time before your visa expires, even up to the day it expires!  There is no six-month validity rule for U.S visas.

The Interview Waiver virtual queue was introduced in May 2022 and provides a specific document submission time for applicants who are applying for new visas.  This allows applicants to maintain possession of their passports and documents until the Consular Section requests them to be sent for processing. When the Consular Section is ready to receive your application, you will receive an email with instructions on how to submit your documents.  Please ensure that the contact information you provide in your online profile is up-to-date and accurate.  Documents submitted without a request from the Consular Section will not be accepted.

Given the current wait time to submit renewal documents, we encourage applicants to submit their applications at least two months before their visas expire.   Once a passport and existing visa is within the Consular Section, however, our team will cancel the existing visa until a new one is issued.  Do not provide the Consular Section with your valid visa until you are sure you do not need to travel for at least 14 days.  If you are traveling at the time the email is sent to you asking to submit your documents, please email consularpos@state.gov.

We occasionally receive requests for urgent travel for family emergencies or important business meetings in the United States.  While we can provide expedited visa interview appointments for legitimate emergencies or urgent travel, we cannot expedite the visa processing time, which is typically 10-14 business days.  Therefore, it is advisable to apply as early as possible in advance of the visa expiration date.

More detailed information about the overall visa application process is available online at: https://tt.usembassy.gov/visas/https://ais.usvisa-info.com and https://travel.state.gov/ . You can contact the Visa Information Call Center at 1-(868)-235-4500 Monday – Friday between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.