Non-Immigrant Visa Frequently Asked Questions
- I have an emergency, how can I schedule an appointment?
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 for yourself, or an immediate family member (spouse, child, parent, or minor sibling).
An expedite request relates only to the date of the visa interview. No expedited visa processing is available. If you are applying for a nonimmigrant visa and you have urgent need of travel and you are unable to schedule an appointment that will accommodate travel, you may request an expedited appointment through LilongweConsular@state.gov .
- My passport containing a valid U.S. visa has been lost or stolen. What should I do?
Report the loss or theft to the Embassy and local authorities before applying for a new visa.
- Is the U.S. visa in my expired/replaced/renewed passport still valid?
If the passport containing your visa has expired, you may continue to use the valid visa provided that your reason for travel is consistent with the classification of the visa you hold, and you carry a valid passport of the same nationality as well as the passport containing the valid visa when you travel.
If, however, the passport authority damaged the visa when canceling the passport, that visa is no longer valid and cannot be used for U.S. travel.
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.
It is not possible to ‘transfer’ a visa. If your passport containing the U.S. visa was not returned to you when you received your new passport, or if you will be traveling with a passport of a different nationality than the passport in which your visa was issued, then you will be required to apply and pay for a new visa.
- I have a valid B1/B2 visa. How long can I stay in the United States?
The validity period of your visa relates only to the time in which you may travel to the United States and apply for admission; it does not indicate how long you may remain.
If you are admitted into the United States, the immigration official at the port of entry will advise you on how long you may stay and stamp your passport accordingly.
If, while you are there, you find that you need to stay longer than the period of time initially granted to you, you should contact U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and apply for an extension of your stay. USCIS has sole jurisdiction over such matters.
- Is there a set period of time I have to remain outside of the United States before returning? How many times can I visit per year?
There is no set period of time you are required to remain outside the United States before reapplying for admission.
Each time you travel, the immigration authorities at the port of entry needs to be satisfied that the purpose of your trip is for a visit only and that you have a residence outside the United States which you have no intention of abandoning.
Be sure to carry with you evidence of your residence and commitments outside the United States for presentation to the immigration officer. There is no set form that this evidence should take, however, if he or she is not convinced that you are a genuine visitor, you will be denied entry and in your next visa application, the consular officer must also be convinced of the same. If you spend more time in the United States than in your home country, you may no longer be eligible for a nonimmigrant visa.
- How quickly can I obtain a visa if approved in my interview?
Processing times for U.S. visas vary. It generally takes 2-3 business days or 48-72 hours to process nonimmigrant visas in Malawi. Please plan accordingly. Have your approved visa in hand before booking flights or making commitments to international travel. A visa applicant’s failure to plan does not constitute an emergency for the consular section.
- My application was refused under Section 214(b). I would like to appeal the decision or have my case reviewed.
A written explanation of U.S. visa laws will have been handed to you on the day of the visa interview. As your application has been refused under Section 214(b), there is no review process or appeal.
Although the Consular Section attempts to be responsive to inquirers, please understand that our policy is to not respond to correspondence from an applicant regarding a finding of ineligibility under Section 214(b). Once a case is closed the Consular Section cannot take any further action. If you feel that you omitted evidence material to the visa decision, the proper course of action is to reapply for a visa and appear at the Embassy in person.
- My application was refused under Section 214(b). If I provide more documents will I receive a visa?
No. Please see above regarding correspondence following a visa denial. Applying for a non-immigrant visa is not primarily a document-based process.
The main issue in determining if an applicant qualifies for a visa is intent, and documents alone cannot establish intentions. In some cases, documents can help establish an applicant’s intent to return to Malawi by showing that the applicant is financially and socially well-established here or has previously traveled internationally and returned to Malawi.
In other cases, the circumstances are clear enough that documents are unnecessary. If your visa application has been refused it is highly unlikely that any document you could provide would alter the consular officer’s decision.
- What does a consular officer look for when determining an applicant’s eligibility for a nonimmigrant visa?
The officer considers the applicant’s personal circumstances, family circumstances, travel plans, travel history, financial resources, property ownership, and ties outside of the United States that will ensure his or her departure after a temporary visit.
- My visa application was refused. Can I get a refund?
The fee that you paid is an application fee. Everyone who applies for a U.S. visa anywhere in the world must pay this fee, which covers the cost of adjudicating your application. As the application form states, this fee is non-refundable regardless of whether you are issued a visa or not.
If your application was refused under Section 214(b) and you choose to reapply, whether at this embassy or elsewhere, you will be required to pay the application fee again.