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: July 10, 2020 at 16:30 BST

We understand your concern about visas and travel in light of the continuing impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. We hope that this information will help answer your questions. Please make sure that you read the General Information in full, and then navigate to the Nonimmigrant Visa, Immigrant Visa or Fiancé(e) visa section as appropriate to find more information that is relevant to your circumstances.

Due to the volume of inquiries we receive, we are only able to respond to individual questions that are not answered on on this page or elsewhere on our website. Therefore, please carefully review these FAQs to find the information you require. Any updates to the Presidential Proclamations, travel restrictions and visa operations will be posted on this page, so please bookmark this page and check back regularly.

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 any further guidance at this time. We ask that you continue to monitor our website for updates and contact us with any questions only after normal visa services have resumed.

General Information

Is the U.S. Embassy in London closed?/Has my visa interview appointment been 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, fiancé(e) 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.

When new appointment dates are available for booking, they will display through your appointment calendar within your Visa Appointment Service account. Please ensure that you monitor the email address that you used to register with the Visa Appointment Service, including the junk or spam folder, as that is how you will be contacted if it is necessary for your future appointment to be postponed.

Please monitor this webpage and your email account 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;

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 Presidential Proclamation 9996 in full for detailed 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 Presidential Proclamation 9996. 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.

Can I travel to the United States through a country that is not covered by Presidential Proclamation 9996?

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 country to which you intend to travel has implemented travel or other restrictions before you make travel arrangements.  One possible source of such information is travel.state.gov which contains links to the websites of other countries’ immigration authorities.

The U.S. Embassy in London is not able to suggest countries to which you may travel, or comment on the travel regulations that apply to a country other than the United States or the UK.

Please also bear in mind the following:

  • 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.
  • The suspension also applies to traveling through a U.S. airport.
  • Transiting a country covered by the Presidential Proclamation, even without exiting the airport, counts as physical presence within that country.

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 through the only official ESTA website.

If your ESTA was cancelled but you believe that you fall under one of the exceptions identified in Presidential Proclamation 9996, 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. You may also wish to carry a copy of the Presidential Proclamation itself.

If you believe that the restrictions do not apply to you but you need to apply for a visa, scroll down to the specific information for nonimmigrant visa applicants.

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, immigrant or fiancé(e) visa or a valid ESTA. Is there anything I can do?

If you do not fall under one of the exceptions to Presidential Proclamation 9996 but you have a valid visa or a valid ESTA and you have a humanitarian need for travel, such as for critical medical treatment, please reply to this message. In your message, please state “National Interest Consideration” and then provide a brief description of the emergency.

I tried to travel to the United States and was told that I need to apply for a “212(f) waiver.” How do I do that?

Please follow the instructions in the FAQ above.

If I can provide a negative COVID-19 test result, can I 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.

Will I be required to self-quarantine after I enter the United States?

The Department of State recommends the CDC website for the most up-to-date information regarding quarantine regulations.

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 on the USCIS website.

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. Visit the CDC website 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 are not 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.

Can I have a refund?

As explained at the time of fee payment, visa fees are non-refundable and non-transferable.

If you have paid the fee but not yet attended the visa interview, please note that fees are valid for 12 months from the date of payment.

If you have attended your visa interview, the application fee was levied to cover the costs of adjudicating and processing the application. No refund is possible. Please see the relevant specific section below 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 (keep checking this webpage for the latest updates) or elsewhere 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.

Specific Information for Nonimmigrant Visa Applicants and Nonimmigrant Visa Holders

My interview for a nonimmigrant visa was cancelled. Can I get a refund?

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.

What does Presidential Proclamation 10052 refer to?

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.

Please read Presidential Proclamation 10052 in full for details, including exceptions.

Please also note that routine visa services remain suspended at this time, and Presidential Proclamation 9996 remains in effect.

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

Unfortunately, due to the impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19), we are not currently processing routine visa applications and cannot expedite appointments for student visas.

We are taking the issue of student visas 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.

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.

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 visit the White House website to read the Presidential Proclamation in full.

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 country to which you intend to travel has 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.

If you believe that PP 9996 does not apply in your case after reviewing the information above, please note that, per U.S. law, a student who has been temporarily abroad and would like to return to the United States can travel to a U.S. Port of Entry to apply for readmission with a valid U.S. student visa. This applies to reenrolling at the same school or attending a different institution. You must show your Form I-20 from the school that you will be attending at the Port of Entry. Please note that the final determination on each individual’s eligibility for admission to the United States is a matter for Customs & Border Protection (CBP) officials at the U.S. port of entry and no assurances can be given in advance.

My university is going to have online courses in the fall. Will this affect my status as an F-1/M-1 student?

On July 6, the Student Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) announced temporary changes for the fall 2020 semester that will allow students who enroll in a mixture of online and in-person coursework to meet Department of Homeland Security (DHS) requirements for F-1 nonimmigrant status. International students attending schools adopting a hybrid model—that is, a mixture of online and in-person instruction—will be able to take more than one online class while retaining eligibility for F-1 status.

If you would like more information about taking online classes in the fall 2020 semester, please click here to read the notice on the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) website.  If you have a SEVIS-related question, please click here for ICE contact details.

Can my nonimmigrant 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.

Specific Information for Immigrant Visa Applicants, Immigrant Visa Holders and LPRs

 

What do Presidential Proclamations 10014 and 10052 refer to?

Under Presidential Proclamation 10014, signed on April 22 and extended by PP 10052 on June 22 , the Department of State will not issue immigrant visas, with certain exceptions, through December 31, 2020. 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 read Presidential Proclamation 10052 for detailed information.

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.

Additionally, please be aware that due to the impact of COVID-19, all routine immigrant visa appointments have been cancelled until further notice. 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.

I fall under an exception to Presidential Proclamation 10014/10052. Can I continue with the immigrant visa application process?

If you are applying for an immigrant visa and the case is being processed by NVC, please click here and visit your CEAC account (if applicable) for information. Please contact NVC directly using the online contact form on that website if you still have questions. The Embassy cannot answer any questions about NVC cases, including any questions about expedite options or about appointments.

If you are applying for a visa as the spouse or child of a U.S. citizen (IR-1, CR-1, IR-2 or CR-2) or for an E-3 visa and your case is with the Embassy in London, please contact us to check whether it is possible to proceed with your visa application on an emergency basis. Please provide the full names of the visa applicant(s) and the petitioner, plus the case number (typically LND followed by ten digits).

If you are applying for an immigrant visa in any category other than IR-1, CR-1, IR-2 or CR-2 (i.e. you are not applying for a visa as the spouse or child of a U.S. citizen) or E-3 and 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. Applicants are typically given 12 months in which to apply for the visa, starting from the date on which the Embassy’s Immigrant Visa Unit writes to them with instructions about the status of their case.

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.

Any individual who has been issued with an immigrant visa but who has not been admitted to the United States using that visa is considered an immigrant visa holder, not an LPR. If you hold a valid immigrant visa, please review the information about PP 9996 in the General Information section near the top of these FAQs.

Can my immigrant visa be extended?

Immigrant 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.

If you were issued with an E-3 visa or a IR-1, CR-1, IR-2 or CR-2 visa as the spouse or child of a U.S. citizen that has now expired and you wish to move to the United States urgently, please reply to this message to check whether it is possible for your visa to be reissued on an emergency basis. Please provide the full names of the visa applicant(s) and the petitioner, plus the case number (typically LND followed by ten digits).

If you were issued with a different category of immigrant visa (not an IR-1, IR-2, CR-1, CR-2 or E-3 visa), please monitor our website for the latest updates. After normal visa operations have resumed and your unused visa has expired, please contact the Immigrant Visa Unit 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.

If you are currently in the United States, please be aware that the expiration date of your visa has no bearing on your length of stay in the United States. Please check the stamp in your passport applied by officials at the U.S. Port of Entry for information about your authorized period of stay. See the FAQ above for information about how to apply to extend your stay.

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 (PP 9996) 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 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.

Specific Information for Fiancé(e) Visa (K-1) Applicants and Fiancé(e) Visa Holders

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

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. Therefore, all routine visa processing at U.S. Embassy London is currently suspended.  We are only able to process visas for spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens (IR-1, CR-1, IR-2 or CR-2).  Therefore we are unable to proceed with fiancé(e) visa applications (K-1) at this time. We are taking the issue of fiancé(e) visas seriously and we will resume routine visa services as soon as possible but are unable to provide a specific date at this time.

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 check this website regularly for updates about visa services and travel.

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.

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 read Presidential Proclamation 9996 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 country to which you intend to travel has 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.

Can I extend my K-1 visa?

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 contact the Immigrant Visa Unit 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.

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 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.