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Demystifying the U.S. Visa Process OAIE Conference May 12, 2011. U.S. Department of State U.S. Consulate General Toronto Presented by Scott G. Feeken. Presentation Topics. Overview – Description of who we are and what we do General visa statistics Visitor for business/pleasure (B1/B2)

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Demystifying the u s visa process oaie conference may 12 2011

Demystifying the U.S. Visa ProcessOAIE ConferenceMay 12, 2011

U.S. Department of State

U.S. Consulate General Toronto

Presented by Scott G. Feeken

Presentation topics
Presentation Topics

  • Overview – Description of who we are and what we do

  • General visa statistics

  • Visitor for business/pleasure (B1/B2)

  • Students (F-1)

  • Exchange Visitor Program (J-1)

  • Employment (H-1B/NAFTA)

  • Application/Administrative Process

  • Additional resources/Questions?

Who we are and what we do
Who we are and what we do

  • U.S. Department of State

    • consular officers conduct personal interviews

    • grants visas

  • U.S. Department of Homeland Security

    • Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (CBP)

    • Pearson International or any U.S. border

    • Admits into U.S. (the FINAL word)

    • Limits the duration of stay in U.S

General visa statistics
General Visa Statistics

  • There are 7 U.S. Missions located across Canada

  • Toronto processes the highest non-immigrant visa workload in Mission Canada

  • Toronto processes approximately 60,000 visas per year, from roughly 170 different nationalities, including visitor, student and vocational visas

Alphabet soup
Alphabet Soup

  • Visitor for Business or Pleasure (B-1/B-2)

    Petition Based Visas:

  • Student Visitors (F-1)

  • Exchange Visitors (J-1)

  • Foreign Workers (H-1B, TN)

    Note: Above classifications and documentation requirements are relevant for Canadian citizens, but they do not require visas.

Visitor for business or pleasure
Visitor for Business or Pleasure

  • B-1/B2 visa is for temporary visitors for business or pleasure (e.g. to attend job interviews, meetings, academic conferences/workshops, medical treatment, tourism, visiting family members.)

  • INA 214(b) applies – applicants must overcome the assumption of immigrant intent

  • Mandatory documentation = valid passport, passport quality photo, appointment letter, DS-160 bar code page

  • May bring documentation to interview that supports reason for travel and ties to your place of residence


  • F-1 visa is for student visitors attending an academic institution of learning in the U.S.

  • School issues a signed I-20 to the student

  • Student must register in the SEVIS database and present proof of SEVIS fee payment

    • SEVIS = Student and Exchange Visitor Information System


  • INA 214(b) applies

Exchange visitor program
Exchange Visitor Program

  • J-1 visa is for exchange programs, including internships and the summer/work/travel programs

  • Program sponsor institution or third party issues DS-2019 and DS-7002 (Trainee/Internship Placement Plan)

  • Participant must be registered in the SEVIS database and present proof of payment

  • Must overcome INA 214(b)

J 1 visas and the two year rule
J-1 visas and the “two-year rule”

  • INA 212(e) “two-year rule”….

    • “home-country physical presence”

      • reside in country of nationality or permanent residence for two years before eligible to apply for H-1B, L-1, LPR status

      • also applies to J-2 dependents

    • applies if:

      • funded by U.S. or home government

      • field on skills list for home country

      • particular programs with mandatory 212(e)

Employment h 1b visa
Employment – H-1B Visa

  • Temporary employment for up to 6 years in a specialty occupation requiring theoretical or practical application of highly specialized knowledge (extensions are possible)

  • Requires completion of at least a bachelor’s degree in the specialty or equivalent experience

  • Annual numerical caps

  • 214(b) does not apply

Employment h 1b visa continued
Employment – H-1B Visa (continued)

  • Employer’s responsibility to complete the petitioning process:

    • Files I-129 Petition with U.S. Department of Homeland Security

    • Files Form ETA-9035, Labor Condition Application with U.S. Department of Labor

    • Receives I-797 approval form

  • Employee’s responsibility to apply for the visa

Employment tn status
Employment – TN Status

  • NAFTA “visas” for citizens of Canada or Mexico

  • Must be for work in a designated professional occupation (see NAFTA handout); specific degree/licensing requirements apply

  • Need job offer letter and proof of qualifications

  • Canadian citizens must apply directly at the Port of Entry without first obtaining a visa

  • Mexican citizens need to apply for TN visa

  • Admitted for a maximum of 3 years initially

Procedures for canadian citizens
Procedures for Canadian Citizens

  • No visas – proceed to POE with passport and:

  • Academic Study (F-1)

    • I-20, evidence of financial support

    • Proof of SEVIS registration and fee payment

  • Internships (J-1)

    • J-1  DS-2019/DS-7002, SEVIS registration & fee receipt

  • Employment (H-1B or TN)

    • H-1B  I-797

    • TN  job offer letter and proof of qualifications

Application process
Application Process

  • Gain admission or get hired

  • School or employer files/issues paperwork

  • Complete on-line application form (DS-160) at,

  • Pay your application fee and make appointment for visa interview at

  • Prepare for interview/gather required items

    • DS-160 Confirmation page with photo

    • Possible reciprocity fees

    • Valid passport 6 months after travel date

    • Supporting documentation (as discussed)

  • Attend your visa interview at the Consulate

Administrative process
Administrative Process

  • Department of state committed to facilitate legitimate travel but must ensure that applicants are both qualified for the visa and do not pose a security risk to the United States

  • Refers to various additional checks that must be done before visa can be issued

  • Timing varies based on individual circumstance

  • Applicant kept informed during process and notified when review is completed

Plan ahead
Plan Ahead

  • Appointments filled several weeks in advance

  • Most visas can be processed within one week, but some require months of processing

  • Typical reasons for processing delays are mandatory administrative reviews and waivers of ineligibilities

  • Every applicant’s situation is unique

  • An approval notice or interview appointment does not guarantee the issuance of a visa

Additional resources
Additional Resources







  • see handout