What is a non-immigrant U.S. visa?

A non-immigrant U.S. visa is an entry permit to the U.S. It is issued by the U.S. Department of State and is stamped in your passport.

Non-immigrant visas are for individuals who are not citizens or permanent residents of the U.S. who are coming to the U.S. temporarily for a specific purpose such as tourism, attending a conference or work. A U.S. visa stamp allows you to to request permission of the border inspector at a U.S. Port of Entry to enter the U.S.

A visa alone does not guarantee entry into the U.S. You must also carry your other documents, including valid passport, valid DS-2019 (for a J visa) or I-797 Approval Notice (for an H visa) and demonstrate proper intent (non-immigrant or dual intent) at time of admission.

Where do I get a U.S. visa?

You must obtain a U.S. visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate outside the U.S. Please consult the website of the U.S. Consulate / Embassy where you will apply for your visa to find out about application procedures. 

Can I apply for a U.S. visa in Canada?

While it is always recommended that you apply for a U.S. visa in your home country, some people apply for their U.S. visas in Canada. Generally speaking, U.S. consular posts in Canada do not support third-country-national visa processing except in limited circumstances such as where the individual seeks H-1B visa renewal or where the individual obtained their terminal degree at an institution of higher education located in the U.S.  U.S. consular posts always reserve the right to refer the application for administrative processing in order to determine if you are eligible for the visa.

If you decide to apply for your U.S. Visa in Canada, please note that you may have to wait in Canada while your visa application is pending. In addition, if your application is denied, you will not be able to return to the U.S. 

How long will it take to get a U.S. visa?

June, July, August and December are the busiest months in most U.S. Consulates so visa appointments may be difficult to obtain during these months. Wait times for visa appointments and visa processing times can vary significantly so you should check on current wait times on the U.S. Department of State website.

Due to background checks, mandatory visa interviews and increased scrutiny of individuals conducting research in “sensitive fields,” you should be prepared for delays in the processing of your visa application. If your field of study or research is on the Technology Alert List, you should obtain a letter from your UB host department explaining in detail the nature of your research. This letter should be written in simple language so it can be easily understood by non-specialists.

In addition, applicants from certain countries may have additional processing requirements, which may delay the issuance of their U.S. visa stamp.

Also, if you have applied for Lawful Permanent Residence in the U.S., have a criminal record or violated your previous immigration status, your application for a new visa may be subject to additional scrutiny or denial. If you have concerns about your ability to obtain a U.S. visa due to one of these issues, please contact UB ImmigrationServices for assistance. 

What is non-immigrant intent?

All applicants for J visas are required to demonstrate their intent to return to their home country following the completion of their  scholarly activities in the U.S. There are several ways you can demonstrate your intent to return home:

  • Be ready to explain clearly how you intend to utilize your research experience at home after you finish your program
  • Bring proof of ownership of any property (e.g. land, house, apartment) in your home country
  • Bring bank statements for accounts you maintain in your home country
  • Bring proof of a job offer or continuing employment in your home country
  • Bring proof of your family's ties to your home country (e.g. property, business ownership, bank accounts or other assets)

For additional information about applying for a J-1 visa, we encourage you to visit the Department of State website.

What do I need to apply for a J-1 Scholar visa?

The U.S. Department of State website lists detailed instructions regarding the forms, documents, etc. which are required for the visa application. It is important that you bring everything to your visa interview to avoid needless delays in the processing of your application. 

What do I need to apply for an H-1B Temporary Worker visa?

For the latest information on how to obtain an H-1B visa, please visit the U.S. Department website

For additional requirements, please contact the U.S. Consulate or Embassy where you will apply for your visa.