U.S. Visa and Travel FAQs for non-U.S. citizens following the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

U.S. Embassy London
Consular Affairs

LAST UPDATED: June 29, 2020 at 10:45 BST

Due to the ongoing impact of coronavirus/COVID-19, we ask that you check this information before deciding whether to contact us. Due to reduced staffing, we will be unable to reply to any questions submitted through our contact forms if they are answered here, so it is vital that you read this information in full.

We understand your concern regarding visas and travel in light of the coronavirus (COVID-19). We hope that this information will help answer your questions.

If you have a question about a future visa application or an application that has been in process since before March 20, 2020, please be aware that we are unable to provide guidance at this time beyond what is offered on this webpage and elsewhere on our website. We ask that you continue to monitor our website for updates, and submit a contact form request only after normal visa services have resumed.

UPDATE: On Monday, June 22, President Trump signed a proclamation suspending entry into the United States of certain immigrants and nonimmigrants who present a risk to the U.S. labor market following the coronavirus outbreak. Effective immediately, the proclamation extends the suspension of entry for certain immigrants (Presidential Proclamation 10014) through December 31, 2020. The new restrictions imposed by the proclamation are effective at 12:01 a.m. EDT on Wednesday, June 24 and expire on December 31, 2020, unless continued by the President.

U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, and aliens who are or were inside the United States or those holding valid nonimmigrant or immigrant visas on the effective date are not subject to the proclamation.

The proclamation suspends entry of nonimmigrants in the following categories: H-1B, H-2B, J (for aliens participating in an intern, trainee, teacher, camp counselor, au pair, or summer work travel program) and L, along with their spouses and children. No valid visas will be revoked under the proclamation.

Presidential Proclamation 10014 and this proclamation provide exceptions to their restrictions for certain categories of immigrants and nonimmigrants. The full text of the presidential proclamations are available on the White House website. Please read the Proclamation in full for details, including exemptions.

Please also note that routine visa services remain suspended at this time, and Presidential Proclamation 9996 remains in effect. Therefore, it is important that you carefully review the proclamations and the FAQs below for the latest information about travel to the United States and U.S. visa services in the UK.

Is the U.S. Embassy in London closed/Has my visa interview appointment be cancelled?

In response to significant worldwide challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of State has temporarily suspended routine visa services at all U.S. Embassies and Consulates. Embassies and consulates have canceled all routine immigrant and nonimmigrant visa appointments as of March 20, 2020, but will continue to provide emergency and mission-critical visa services as resources and local conditions allow. We will resume routine visa services as soon as possible but are unable to provide a specific date at this time. Please see these notices which contain detailed information about the current status of visa services worldwide and visa restrictions related to the COVID-19 global pandemic.

A nonimmigrant visa fee is valid and may be used for a visa application in the country where it was purchased within one year of the date of payment. Please note that visa fees are non-refundable and non-transferable. If you wish to apply for a visa through another Embassy or Consulate, you will be required to pay a new MRV fee and complete a new Form DS-160.

You do not need to be concerned if your Visa Appointment Service account shows ‘Attend Appointment’ – you may disregard this while all routine visa interview appointments are cancelled. When new appointment dates are available for booking, they will display through your appointment calendar within your account.

Please monitor our website and the email account you used when registering with the Visa Appointment Service (including any junk or spam folders) for the latest information and any further updates.

Can I travel to the United States?/What does the travel order (Presidential Proclamation 9996) mean?

Entry of foreign nationals who were physically present within the following list of countries within 14 days prior to their entry or attempted entry into the United States is suspended, per Presidential Proclamations 9984, 9992, 9993, 9996 and the subsequent proclamation issued May 24, 2020:

– Brazil (effective May 26 at 11:59 p.m. EDT)

– The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, excluding overseas territories outside of Europe;

– The Republic of Ireland;

– The 26 countries that comprise the Schengen Area (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland)

– The Islamic Republic of Iran;

– The People’s Republic of China, not including the Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau

Please click here to review the Presidential Proclamation for detailed information.

The Department of State recommends the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) website regarding COVID-19 for the most up-to-date information.

The travel restriction does  NOT  apply to American citizens, legal permanent residents, most immediate family members of U.S. citizens, and other individuals who are identified in the proclamation. The Department of Homeland Security will direct those who have been in the Schengen Area who are exempt from these restrictions, including American citizens, to travel through select airports where the U.S. Government has implemented enhanced screening procedures. Travelers are advised to visit the Department of Homeland Security’s website for further guidance on U.S. travel restrictions.

I have an immigrant visa. Is that the same as a Green Card?/Am I an LPR?

It is not possible to apply for a Permanent Resident Card (commonly known as a “Green Card”) from outside the U.S. If an individual travels to a U.S. Port of Entry as the holder of a valid immigrant visa and they are admitted to the U.S. as a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR), they are given the forms necessary to apply for a Permanent Resident Card at that time.

When an immigrant visa holder is admitted as an LPR at a U.S. Port of Entry, their passport is stamped with the words “Processed for I-551 temporary evidence of lawful residence” which helps facilitate overseas travel while they are waiting for the Permanent Resident Card to be processed.

I believe the travel restrictions of Presidential Proclamation 9996 do not apply to me, and I need to apply for a nonimmigrant visa. What should I do?

You may book an appointment to apply for a visa. Please refer to our  website for step-by-step information about the application process.

Once you have booked an interview date through the calendar in your Visa Appointment Service account, you can then use the ‘Request Expedite’ feature. You will be asked to briefly outline the reason that you must travel in an emergency. The Nonimmigrant Visa Unit will review your request and reply by email.

Please note, appointment availability is extremely limited and we cannot guarantee that an expedited appointment will be available for you. Expedite requests are generally approved only when there is a humanitarian need for travel, such as for critical medical treatment. Please also be aware that an expedite request relates only to the date of the visa interview. No expedited visa processing is available.

I believe the travel restrictions of Presidential Proclamation 9996 do not apply to me, and I have a valid nonimmigrant, immigrant or fiancé(e) visa or I have a valid registration under ESTA. What should I do?

Information about the status of ESTA registrations at this time is provided on the only official ESTA website at https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov

If your ESTA was cancelled but you believe that you fall under one of the exemptions identified in the Proclamation, please refer to the Travel Proclamation Help on the ESTA website for guidance.

If you believe that the travel restriction does not apply to you, we suggest that you contact your airline for the latest information about your travel plans and any restrictions.

If you travel, we suggest that you carry any official original documentation that you have that you believe demonstrates why you are exempt from a travel restriction, such as a Permanent Resident card (commonly known as a Green Card), a marriage certificate or a birth certificate, so that it is available if it is requested for review.

I am not exempt from the travel restrictions in Presidential Proclamation 9996, but I have an emergency need to travel and I have a valid nonimmigrant, immigramt or fiancé) visa or valid ESTA. Is there anything I can do?

If you do not fall under one of the exceptions to the Presidential Proclamation but you have a valid visa or a valid ESTA and you believe that your travel is in the U.S. national interest, please contact us. In your message, please state “National Interest Consideration” and then provide a brief description of the emergency. You can reach us using our Visas contact form.

If I can provide a negative COVID-19 test result, can I still enter the United States?

The Presidential Proclamations do not include an exception on the basis of negative test results. Please review each Proclamation in full for details of possible exemptions.

I have been offered an expedited appointment. What do I need to know about attending the appointment?

You will go through airport-style security screening. Due to the impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19), everyone should wear a face mask if they are aged 11 or over. You can choose to buy a mask or make your own. Click here for information about how to make a face covering (sew and no-sew tutorials are available).

You must not bring laptops or bags above cabin-baggage size to your appointment as they not are permitted into the building and there are no storage facilities available. To save time, we recommend that you keep the number of small bags and belongings that you bring with you to an absolute minimum.

If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or have been exposed to the virus, you must reschedule your appointment through the Visa Appointment Service website. If you have recently entered the UK and you are subject to mandatory quarantine, your appointment must take place after the 14 day quarantine period.

UPDATED: I am a student and I need to get my visa in time for the fall semester. What can I do?

We are taking this issue seriously and are seeking ways to ensure that our aspiring and returning students will receive priority attention once routine visa operations can resume. However, at this time, we are unable to predict when this may be.

UPDATED: I am a student with a valid F-1 visa, and I need to travel to the United States in time for the fall semester. What can I do?

F-1 students are not excepted from Presidential Proclamation 9996.  This means that while Presidential Proclamation 9996 remains in effect, it will not be possible for you to travel directly to the United States from the United Kingdom unless you fall under another excepted category within the Presidential Proclamation. Please review the Presidential Proclamation for detailed information.

Travel to the United States from a country that is not covered by the Presidential Proclamation may be possible, but we advise you to verify whether the countries to which you intend to travel have implemented travel or other restrictions before you make travel arrangements.  Please also bear in mind that the Presidential Proclamation suspends travel to the U.S. for any individual who has been physically present in the United Kingdom within 14 days prior to their arrival in the United States.

We will publicize any announcement on the resumption of student visa interviews once information is available, so please keep checking this page for the latest updates.

UPDATED: What does Presidential Proclamation 10014 refer to?

Under Presidential Proclamation 10014, which was signed on April 22 and extended on June 22 until December 31, 2020, the Department of State will not issue immigrant visas, with certain exceptions. Exceptions include lawful permanent residents; immigrants seeking to enter as a healthcare professional; spouses, children, and prospective adoptive children of U.S. citizens; and certain Special Immigrant Visa applicants. Please review the proclamation for detailed information. If normal operations resume while this Presidential Proclamation remains in effect, it will not be possible for a visa appointment to be scheduled unless you are applying for a category of visa that is excepted under the proclamation.

U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, and those holding valid immigrant visas on the effective date of the Proclamation, are not subject to the proclamation.  No valid visas will be revoked under this Proclamation.  Routine visa services have been suspended at U.S. posts worldwide, but as resources allow, embassies and consulates will continue to provide emergency and mission critical visa services for applicants who are not subject to this presidential proclamation. Please review the full text

Additionally please be aware that due to the impact of COVID-19, all immigrant visa appointments have been cancelled until further notice. Please continue to monitor this website for updates.

UPDATED: Will my immigrant visa case expire?/Can I continue with the application process?

If your application is being processed by the Embassy in London, applicants are given 12 months from the date on which the Embassy’s Immigrant Visa Unit writes to them with instructions about the status of their case in which to apply for the visa.

If the case is being processed by NVC and you have questions after checking the information at https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/immigrate/national-visa-center.html and the CEAC account (if applicable), please contact NVC directly using the contact information on that webpage, which includes an online contact form.

If you have been advised that your case file has been forwarded to the Embassy in London, you may refer to our website for an overview of the application procedure, and begin compiling the necessary supporting documents. You may book a medical appointment and proceed with the application process after normal operations have resumed. Please monitor our website for updates.

Under Presidential Proclamation 10014, which was signed on April 22 and extended on June 22 until December 31, 2020, the Department of State will not issue immigrant visas, with certain exceptions. Exceptions include lawful permanent residents; immigrants seeking to enter as healthcare professionals; spouses, children, and prospective adoptive children of U.S. citizens; and certain Special Immigrant Visa applicants. Please review the proclamation at https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/proclamation-suspending-entry-immigrants-present-risk-u-s-labor-market-economic-recovery-following-covid-19-outbreak/ for detailed information. If normal operations resume while Presidential Proclamation 10014 remains in effect, it will not be possible for a visa appointment to be scheduled unless you are applying for a category of visa that is excepted under Presidential Proclamation 10014.

UPDATED: Will my fiancé(e) visa case expire?/Can I continue with the application process?

If your application is being processed by the Embassy in London, applicants are given 12 months from the date on which the Embassy’s Immigrant Visa Unit writes to them with instructions about the status of their case in which to apply for the visa.

If you have been advised that your case file has been forwarded to the Embassy in London, you may refer to our website for an overview of the application procedure, and begin compiling the necessary supporting documents. You may book a medical appointment and proceed with the application process after normal operations have resumed. Please monitor our website for updates.

Please note that routine visa processing at U.S. Embassy London is currently suspended.  We are only able to process visas for immediate family members, defined as spouses and minor children.  Therefore we are unable to proceed with fiancé(e) visa applications at this time. We will resume routine visa services as soon as possible but are unable to provide a specific date at this time.

If the fiancé(e) visa petition expires, you may revalidate the petition with a letter from the petitioner stating that you both remain legally free to marry and that you will do so within 90 days of your arrival in the United States. You should take the letter with you to your visa interview in the future, not mail it or email it to the Embassy.

UPDATED: I have a valid K-1 visa. Can I travel directly from the UK to the United States?

Although K-1 visa holders are not subject to Presidential Proclamation 10014, they are not excepted from Presidential Proclamation 9996.  This means that while Presidential Proclamation 9996 remains in effect, it will not be possible for you to travel directly to the United States from the United Kingdom unless you fall under another excepted category within the Presidential Proclamation. Please review the Presidential Proclamation for detailed information.

Travel to the United States from a third country that is not covered by the Presidential Proclamation may be possible, but we advise you verify if the countries to which you intend to travel have implemented travel or other restrictions prior to making travel arrangements.  Please also bear in mind that the Presidential Proclamation suspends travel to the U.S. for any individual who has been physically present in the United Kingdom within 14 days prior to their arrival in the United States.

I’m a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) and I’m currently outside the United States. What should I do?

As explained above, the travel restriction does not apply to legal permanent residents.

If you are not in possession of your Permanent Resident Card (Green Card) and wish to travel to the United States, you may apply for a Transportation Boarding foil in order to facilitate boarding by the airline to transport you back to the U.S.  Please see our website for further information about how to apply for a Transportation Boarding foil.

As you may be aware, if a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) remains outside the U.S. for more than 12 months (or beyond the validity period of a Reentry Permit obtained prior to departing the United States), they lose their entitlement to LPR status. Information about travel and maintaining permanent resident status is provided through the USCIS website.

I’m in the United States and I’m worried about overstaying my authorized period of admission. What should I do?

If you are in the United States, please visit the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website for information about how to apply to extend your stay. While you are in the United States, any questions about your status are a matter for USCIS, not the Embassy. Information and contact details can be found via their website.

UPDATED: Can my U.S. visa be  extended?

Nonimmigrant visas cannot be extended. However, the majority of nonimmigrant visas are valid for several years. Please check the visa in your passport to confirm the validity period of the visa in your case. Please see the Frequently Asked Questions section of our website  for more information about visa and passport validity.

If you were issued with a J, O or P visa and it expires, check our website to see if you may qualify to apply for a new visa by courier. All other visa applicants aged 14 to 79 inclusive are required to attend a visa interview appointment when reapplying for a visa.

Immigrant and fiancé(e) visas cannot be extended. However, if you are unable to travel within the validity period of your visa due to circumstances beyond your control, you can request visa reissuance. Please monitor our website for the latest updates. After normal operations have resumed and your unused visa has expired, please submit a visa contact form through our website at that time to request visa reissuance. We will send you information about how to submit your passport, visa package (if applicable) and a letter explaining why you were unable to travel and requesting visa reissuance. Please note that you will be required to undergo a new medical examination and pay a new visa fee before the visa can be reissued.

Under Presidential Proclamation 10014, which was signed on April 22 and extended on June 22 until December 31, 2020, the Department of State will not issue immigrant visas, with certain exceptions. Exceptions include lawful permanent residents; immigrants seeking to enter as a healthcare professional; spouses, children, and prospective adoptive children of U.S. citizens; and certain Special Immigrant Visa applicants. Please review the proclamation at Whitehouse.gov for detailed information. If normal operations resume while Presidential Proclamation 10014 remains in effect, it will not be possible for a visa appointment to be scheduled unless you are applying for a category of visa that is excepted under Presidential Proclamation 10014.

Can I have a refund for a U.S. visa that has already been issued?

As explained at the time of fee payment, visa fees are non-refundable. The application fee is levied to cover the costs of adjudicating and processing an application. Please see above for information about visa validity, provided that your new purpose of travel is consistent with the type of visa you hold.

I have a question about my existing visa application​

If you have any questions about a visa application that was submitted before the travel restrictions and the answer is not provided in these FAQs or on our website, please monitor our website for updates. After normal operations resume, you can contact us at that time to request case-specific information.

If you were asked to send in information or documentation in connection with an existing application, please do not mail it at this time. Please monitor our website for updates. After normal operations have resumed, you may follow the instructions on your Visa Appointment Service account about how to send documents to the Embassy.

If your application is subject to additional administrative processing, or under review pending a decision on a waiver of ineligibility or for any other reason, that will remain the status of your case until you are advised otherwise.

Any other questions

If you have any further questions about visas, please see our website, including the Frequently Asked Question (FAQs), for detailed information. Please note that we will be unable to respond if your question is addressed on this page or wlsewhere on our website.

If your question is about ESTA or the Visa Waiver Program, please note that  those programs  are administered by CBP, not by this office. If you have ESTA questions after checking our website (including the FAQs) and the official ESTA website (including the Help section), you can find additional information and contact details for CBP through their Info Center website.

If you have general questions about coronavirus (COVID-19), check our website for a list of useful resources.

If you have question about flights, please contact your airline.