Please take the time to review the information on our website together with the following most frequently asked questions we receive. Please do not telephone the Consulate for visa information. If, after reviewing the information, your question remains unanswered, please get in touch using our contact form. Due to the high volume of inquiries, we cannot respond to questions that are answered on the website.
We aim to respond to visa inquiries within 5 working days of receipt. If you have not had a response within 5 working days, please check your email provider’s “spam” folder, BEFORE resending a form. Please note, however, that if the answer to your inquiry is on our website, you will not receive a response.
Do I need a visa?
Some Canadian and Bermudan citizens are Visa Exempt.
Citizens of 38 countries which include the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland are eligible to travel visa-free provided they meet the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) criteria.
VWP travelers must apply in advance of travel for Department of Homeland Security (DHS) ESTA travel authorization.
Anyone who is not Visa Exempt or is not eligible to travel under the Visa Waiver Program will require a Visa for travel to the U.S.
Valid Visa in an expired passport
If the passport in which your visa has been endorsed has expired, the visa in the old passport can still be used provided you are traveling for the same purpose as when the visa was issued and you also carry a valid passport of the same nationality. If, however, the passport authority clipped the corners of the passport when canceling it and, in so doing, damaged the visa in any way, that visa is no longer valid and cannot be used for travel to the United States.A change of name will not affect the validity of the visa. We recommend that when traveling, you carry a copy of the document showing the name change.
Please note that a B-1/B-2 visa that is valid “indefinitely” is no longer valid for travel to the United States. You are required to either travel visa free under the Visa Waiver Program, if qualified, or apply for a new visa.
I am completing the DS160 visa application form but Belfast does not appear to be on list of processing locations?
You will find Belfast listed as “Northern Ireland, Belfast”.
Passport validity and the six month rule
The requirement that a passport be valid for six months beyond the holder’s stay in the United States is waived in the case of a British Citizen passport holder. Provided your passport is valid for the duration of your visit, you may submit it in support of your visa application and travel to the United States.
It is also waived for Irish Citizen passport holders and for many other nationalities. Please download the list here PDF (PDF – 92kb) for further information.
If you are traveling visa free under the Visa Waiver Program and your passport is not valid for 90 days, you will be admitted until the date on which the passport expires.
Questions about ESTA
Qualified Visa Waiver Program travelers who are entering the United States by air or sea carrier are required to register under the Electronic System for Travel Authorization. It is important to note that there is only one official U.S. government website, which is: https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov. The fee for registering under ESTA is $14.00. If you are asked to pay more, you are not on the official website.Please note that if you hold a valid U.S. visa, you are not required to register under ESTA. Please review our list of Frequently Asked Questions concerning ESTA.
Questions about the DS-160
Please take the time to see our video before completing the form as it answers many of the questions that we are asked – you can find the Youtube here. You are required to complete the form to the best of your ability. We cannot assist you or provide individual guidance.
- If you make an error when completing the DS-160 you are required to correct it. If the form has been transmitted, you are required to complete a new one;
- If you cannot remember specific dates, you may give approximate dates;
- If there is insufficient space to enter all of your information, it may be added on a separate sheet of paper and submitted with your application;
- The site does experience intermittent connectivity issues. If you experience such difficulties we recommend that you try accessing the website at another time and or a different computer;
- If you experience issues with uploading a photograph, you may bring the photograph to the visa interview.
I have completed the DS160 visa application form. How do I pay the visa-processing fee and book an appointment for interview?
You can pay the visa processing fee and schedule an appointment in one of two ways; either online via https://ais.usvisa-info.com/en-gb or via telephone:
- Callers fom Northern Ireland can call 028-9568-0208
- Callers from elsewhere within the United Kingdom can call 020-3608-6998
- Callers from within the United States can call 703-439-2367
I selected London as the processing location when completing the DS160 visa application form. Can I book an interview in Belfast if there is an earlier date available?
I am not a UK resident. Can I apply for a visa while I am in the United Kingdom?
Nonimmigrant visas are processed at the U.S. Embassy in London or the Consulate General in Belfast. If you are in the United Kingdom, you may schedule an appointment to apply for a visa in either London or Belfast regardless of your nationality or status in the United Kingdom.
We cannot guarantee in advance that any visa application will be successful. Applicants are advised to obtain a visa before making non-refundable travel arrangements.
I cannot obtain a visa appointment in time for my intended travel date. Can I request an emergency appointment?
If you have urgent medical or humanitarian need of travel and you cannot schedule an appointment prior to your proposed date of departure, schedule the first available appointment at https://ais.usvisa-info.com/en-gb/niv then use the “Request Expedite” link to submit a request for an expedited appointment and to explain the reasons for your request.
If your request is approved, please note that the appointment is expedited and not the time it takes to process the visa application. For information about visa processing times, refer to the relevant FAQ.
I have a return flight from Belfast to England/Scotland/Wales/Isle of Man/Channel Islands following my visa interview. How can I check-in for the return flight if I have to leave my passport in Belfast for visa processing?
Please check with your airline to determine what alternate form of ID will be acceptable to check-in for your return flight.
We have an arrangement with Easyjet, Flybe, Aer Lingus and Manx2 whereby we can provide a letter for check-in in Belfast for the return journey if no other form of acceptable ID is available.
If you require such a letter for the return journey with one of these airlines, you can request it on the day of your visa interview.
How long is the wait for a visa appointment/ how long does visa processing take?
Click here for the wait times for a nonimmigrant visa interview at the U.S. Consulate in Belfast. Please note this information is updated weekly. The advertised wait time is correct at the time of publishing but we cannot guarantee appointment availablity. Wait times change all the time according to demand.
Visa Processing Times
Applicants who answer “Yes” to any of the Security and Background questions on the visa application form DS-160 should allow at least six months for their application to be processed.
The average visa processing time for all other applicants is approximately three workdays but it can take longer in some cases. Note: This does not include the time it takes to return the passport by courier which can take several additional workdays.
We cannot guarantee visa issuance or visa processing times in advance. All processing periods quoted above are estimates only. We advise anyone who requires a visa to apply well in advance of their intended travel date and not to make non-refundable travel arrangements until they actually have a visa.
Emergency & Group Appointments
If you have an urgent medical or humanitarian reason for travel and you are unable to schedule a suitable appointment, you may request an emergency appointment in Belfast as below.
Follow the instructions on the U.S. Embassy Visa Page. Book the first available appointment. Once you have booked, you will have access to the Request Expedite function which you can use to submit a request for an emergency appointment. You can submit a request for an earlier appointment in either Belfast or London but not both. You can only submit one request.
If you need to book an appointment for a large group and you are not registered as a Group Processor, email firstname.lastname@example.org with details for assistance.
I am resident in Northern Ireland and need to apply for an F/M student visa but I cannot obtain an appointment in Belfast in time for my intended travel. Can I request an emergency/expedited Belfast appointment?
COVID restrictions have severely limited the number of visa appointments available, however, we encourage any F/M student visa applicant resident in Northern Ireland who has not been able to book an appointment in Belfast in time for their intended travel to follow the instructions below to submit a request for an emergency/expedited Belfast appointment:
(1) complete the visa application form at https://ceac.state.gov/genniv/;
(2) create an account and pay the visa processing fee at https://ais.usvisa-info.com/en-gb/niv/;
(3) book the first available appointment in either Belfast or London;
(4) use the Request Expedite function to submit a request to Belfast for an expedited Belfast appointment.
In your request, state your purpose of travel, where you reside, the date you intend to travel to the United States, and provide a range of dates when you will be available for interview. Failure to include all the requested information is likely to delay the processing of your expedite request.
Your request will be reviewed by a consular manager.