Ask the U.S. Consul August 2016

Visa photo

Dear U.S. Consul,

How do you qualify for an emergency visa and how fast can the Embassy deliver the visa?

Sincerely, Visa Applicant.

Dear Visa Applicant,

Thank you for your question.  We certainly understand and are sympathetic to the fact that emergencies happen in life, however, the United States does not have an “emergency” visa category.  Visa applicants sometimes confuse the emergency nature or purpose of their travel with the type of visa they are actually seeking.  In almost all these cases, the visa category will be the B1/B2 business or tourist visa, which is a non-immigrant visa class.

In cases involving the death or serious illness of immediate family members in the United States, we appreciate the pain and sadness people feel, and we try to accommodate visa applications as quickly as possible.  Applicants sometimes refer to these visa applications as seeking a “bereavement” or “humanitarian” visa.  However, there is no special visa category for family emergency cases.   Visa applicants can request an expedited interview appointment which requires written documentation supporting the nature of their emergency. This will allow the applicants to schedule their interview sooner, but it does not expedite the processing of the visa. This usually takes approximately 5-7 business days.

Another example of an emergency visa situation is the last-minute or urgent business meeting.  Unfortunately, no matter how important the meeting or how time-sensitive the matter, the Embassy cannot expedite the necessary visa processing time.

In almost all these scenarios, applicants will need to apply for a B1/B2 business or tourist visa.  Regardless of the purpose of the travel, the duration of the trip, or the emergency nature of the situation, applicants still must qualify for the visa and await the necessary processing time.

This is why we can’t stress enough how important it is to keep your visa current and apply early.  If your visa is about to expire, you don’t need to wait until it expires to apply for a new one.  In fact, if you apply ahead of the summer rush, there is practically no wait time for a visa appointment.  We strongly encourage visa applicants to be prepared in case a family emergency comes.  By applying early and keeping your visas current, you will avoid the hassles and disappointment of trying to get your visa renewed in a hurry, or possibly not being able to travel to the United States as early as you would like.

To apply now, follow this link:


The Consul