Frequently Asked Questions – Nonimmigrant visas
Q: I was arrested/convicted of a crime years ago. Do I need a visa?
A: Individuals who have been arrested for, or charged with, a crime may need to apply for a visa prior to travel.
Q: I had a drink driving charge. Do I need a visa?
A: ESTA will assess your eligibility for travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program. The assessment includes questions regarding previous arrests and/or convictions. However, a conviction for driving under the influence is not considered a crime of moral turpitude with regard to the Visa Waiver Program. If you choose to apply for electronic travel authorization via ESTA, the system will advise you whether you must visit a U.S. Embassy or Consulate to apply for a visa. For further details on ESTA and to see if you are eligible for the VWP please refer to the ESTA website.
Q: My company is sending me to the U.S. office for training or to attend a conference. Do I need a visa?
A: The Visa Waiver Program and the B1/B2 visa allows you to attend short, in-house training courses or conferences of less than 90 days or 6 months, respectively. You should carry a letter with you on the Company Letterhead stating the purpose of the trip, the approximate length of stay, and that your salary will continue to be paid from the Australian Company. If your company has affiliated offices in the United States, you must be able to show that you will not be providing services during your training period.
Q: Can I apply for a visa in Australia if I am not an Australian passport holder or a permanent resident here?
A: An applicant has the right to apply for a nonimmigrant visa at any U.S. consulate abroad, therefore you can apply at any U.S. consulate in Australia.
However, it may be harder to qualify for a visa when applying outside your own country of permanent residence. At your interview you will be required to demonstrate that you have strong ties abroad, and that you will return overseas after your visit to the U.S. If you choose to apply in Australia, keep in mind that your application may be refused, and the application fee is non-refundable.
If you do apply in Australia, please bring documentation to your interview to establish that you:
- Have a residence abroad which you do not intend to abandon
- Are coming to the U.S. for a definite temporary period
- Will depart upon the conclusion of your visit
- Have permission to enter a foreign country after your stay in the U.S.
- Have access to sufficient funds to cover the expenses of your visit and return passage
A decision on the issuance of your visa will be made at the time of your application and is solely at the discretion of the interviewing officer. Once this decision has been made, there is no course of appeal other than to make a new application at a later date.
Q: Does the U.S. recognize De Facto relationships?
A: No, the U.S. does not recognize De Facto relationships, so to qualify as a spouse for a visa application you will need a marriage certificate from the Department of Births, Deaths and Marriages.
Q: Do I need individual bank checks/postal money orders for the issuance fee for each family members work/study visa?
No, you may include the one bank check or one postal money order for the total amount of the issuance fee. (The Post Office will however issue individual receipts for each application fee paid.) If any one visa application is delayed, however, you may need to make alternate arrangements.
Q: I don't have a credit card or a computer. How can I make a visa appointment?
A: If you do not have a credit card you may ask a friend or relative to assist or you may consult with your travel agent. Many public libraries offer access to the internet.
Q: My passport expired but my visa is still valid. How can I transfer my visa?
A: A visa is valid for the time stamped on the visa even when the passport is no longer valid. As long as the visa is not damaged in any way and you have not changed your nationality, you may carry the "old" passport containing the valid visa and the new passport when you travel, presenting both at the point of entry. The Consulate will not transfer a visa to the new passport.
Q: How can I renew my nonimmigrant visa?
A: A nonimmigrant visa cannot be renewed regardless of its type. You have to apply for a new visa.
Q: I have an indefinite visa. Is it still valid?
A: Indefinite validity visas are no longer issued. They are valid for only 10 years from the issue date. If the visa was issued longer than 10 years ago you need to apply for a new visa unless you are eligible to use the Visa WaiverProgram.
Q: What should I do if I lose my passport and visa while in the United States?
A: Passports, Visas, and Arrival-Departure Records (Form I-94 and I-94W) are official travel documents that foreign citizens coming to the United States (U.S.) must have in their possession to show their country of citizenship and legal status in the U.S. We encourage travelers to make a copy of their passport biographic page, U.S. visa and Form I-94 as soon as possible after their arrival in the U.S.
If you are a foreign citizen temporarily in the U.S., and you lose your U.S. visa, you can remain for the duration of your authorized stay, as shown on your Arrival-Departure Record (Form I-94). You will need a valid passport to depart the U.S. and to enter another country. Your I-94 is needed as you depart the U.S., to document that you are departing by the required date. If your passport with your I-94 are lost or stolen, you must get them replaced immediately. Read more at: http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/info/info_2009.html.
Q: My I-94 wasn't removed when I left the United States. What should I do to ensure that my departure is recorded?
A: If a traveler forgot to turn in their I-94 form, please visit Customs and Border Protection’s website on the Form I-94 and I-94W instructions: https://help.cbp.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/752
Q: I am HIV positive. Do I need a visa to travel to the United States?
The department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (HHS/CDC), published a Final Rule in the Federal Register that removes HIV from the list of communicable diseases of public health significance, with this final rule going into effect on January 4, 2010
As of January 4, HIV positive status is no longer considered to be an ineligibility for travel on the Visa Waiver Program.
For further information please see: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2009-11-02/pdf/E9-26337.pdf
Specific Visas Types
Q: My DS-2019/I-20/I-20M form hasn't arrived from the United States. Can I apply for the visa with a photocopy of the approval notice to work/study?
A: No, you must have the original documents to apply, and you must bring pages of the form to the Consulate.
Q: Can I enter the United States for more than 30 days of tourism prior to the start of my program?
A: Travelers entering the United States with F, J or M visa status are generally permitted to enter up to 30 days before the start of their program and to remain in the U.S. for up to 30 days after the completion of their program (as evidenced on Forms I-20, I-20M and DS-2019). Visitors with F visa status may stay in the U.S. up to 60 days after the conclusion of their studies/practical training.
The grace period is to be used for domestic travel and/or to prepare for and depart from the U.S., and for no other purpose. You are not permitted to enter, exit and re-enter the U.S. during either grace period. For further information please refer to The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs website.
Applicants who wish to enter the United States earlier or remain after the grace period, and those who wish to use this time to visit Canada or Mexico, are advised to apply for a B-1/B-2 tourist visa prior to entering the U.S. You can apply for a B-1/B-2 visa at the same time as you apply for a student/exchange visa. An additional MRV application fee receipt is required for the B-1/B-2 visa, as well as supporting documentation.
To enter the United States under one visa and change to another visa type you may either:
- Adjust your status while in the United States; or
- Depart the United States and reenter on your student/exchange visitor visa.
Depending on which option you choose, different procedures apply as below:
Prior Entry on a B1/B-2 Visitor Visa
If you choose to enter the U.S. on a B-1/B-2 visa prior to commencing your student/exchange program you must depart the United States at the conclusion of your holiday and reenter on your student/exchange visa no earlier than 30 days prior to the start of your program. You may have a one-way ticket when entering with a valid visa.
Adjusting Visa Status
If you choose to adjust your visa status while in the United States, you must have entered the U.S. on a valid B-1/B-2 Visitor visa. You cannot adjust your status if you entered on the Visa Waiver Program. To adjust status while in the U.S. you must apply to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for a change in status in the state in which you are based as soon as possible upon entry. To locate USCIS services in the area, you may refer to the USCIS website at www.uscis.gov or contact their National Customer Service Center (NCSC) at 1-800-375-5283.
Entry and re-entry into the United States is always at the discretion of the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) official at the U.S. port of entry. For further information on the admission of students and exchange visitors at U.S. ports of entry, please refer to the Customs and Border Protection website.
Q: How do I apply for an athletic/sports visa?
A: The P visa covers athletes. For more information see our page on working visas (H, L, O, P, Q, & R visas). Alternatively, the B2 tourist or Visa Waiver Program allows participation in contests as amateurs or for prize money only. If you are sponsored by a company in the U.S., and they are paying you sponsorship fees, you must have a P visa.
Q: Does the United States have a working holiday visa program?
A: On September 5, 2007, President Bush and Prime Minister Howard announced a new pilot work and travel program. The program allows American and Australian post-secondary students and recent graduates to work and travel in Australia or the United States for up to one year.
Q: What is the difference between a work visa and an E-3 visa?
A: An E-3 visa is a certain type of work visa available only to Australian citizens. For more information see our E-3 visa page.
Q: Is there an age limit for applying for a work visa?
Q: Can I get a visa to do casual work?
A: The only visa that permits casual work is the Student Work and Travel Program J1 visa. All other work visas require a single sponsoring employer.
Q: Can my relative in the U.S. sponsor me?
A: Only your employer can sponsor you for work.
Q: Can I present a copy of my I-797 approval notice for my work visa?
A: A copy of the I-797 petition is sufficient for most petition based work visas.
Q: How long can I stay after the end of my working visa?
A: On the E, H, L, O, P, Q, and R you may enter the U.S. 10 days before the official start of your work and you may stay 10 days once employment has ceased.
Sourcing U.S. products and services
Q: Where can I get assistance in sourcing U.S. products and services to import into Australia?
A: The U.S. Commercial Service, with offices in our Sydney and Melbourne Consulates General, helps Australian companies do business in the USA by finding that particular U.S. company, product or service. Whether you simply require contact details for known U.S. companies, or plan to travel to the USA to source new U.S. products or services, we can assist. Contact us via our website at: http://www.buyusa.gov/australia/en/usbusiness.html