Updated: January 21, 2020
Both immigrant and nonimmigrant visas are available to qualified applicants at the US Embassy in London. The Consulate General in Belfast, Northern Ireland issues nonimmigrant visas only. The US Consulate General in Edinburgh, Scotland does not process any types of visas, immigrant or nonimmigrant.
Anyone physically present in the United Kingdom may apply for a nonimmigrant visa at the US Embassy, London. A person residing in the UK may apply for an immigrant visa at the US Embassy, London, and as is set out in more detail below, in some cases persons who do not reside in the UK may also apply for an immigrant visa in London.
To go directly to the section on processing immigrant visa applications at the US Embassy in London, click here.
Applying for a Nonimmigrant Visa
The following is a summary of the processing procedures and fees for a nonimmigrant visa application filed with the US Embassy in London. Anyone who is physically present in the UK may submit an application for a nonimmigrant visa.
Interviews and Waivers of Interviews
Most applicants must appear for an interview with a US consular officer in connection with their applications, due in part to the requirement, introduced in London on August 11, 2004, that most nonimmigrant visa applicants aged 14 to 79 must give fingerscans (inkless digital prints of all fingers).
Some applicants who are renewing certain types of visas that are still current or only recently expired may be allowed to apply by post; the scheduling system will determine their eligibility to apply by post once they answer all the questions required to set up their account. Other applicants may be granted waivers of personal appearance in the national interest or because of unusual circumstances, including but not limited to emergency or unusual hardship, as determined by a consular officer.
Interviews are by appointment only and are scheduled online after completion of the DS-160 visa application form. An individual appointment must be scheduled for each applicant, including the principal applicant, spouse, and any unmarried child under the age of 21 applying for a derivative family member visa to accompany or to follow to join the principal applicant. A child under the age of 14 is not required to attend an interview (although he or she must be physically present in the UK at the time of the interview) and the parent(s) of the child may submit the child's passport and completed visa application at their own interview.
Without an Interview
Children under the age of 14 and adults aged 80 and over may be eligible to apply for their visas through the post if they meet the following requirements:
- National or resident of the UK
- Physically present in the UK at the time of application
- Were neither born in nor hold a passport from Syria, Sudan or Iraq
- Have never been refused a US visa or, if refused, the refusal was subsequently overcome
- Were never denied entry to the US
- Answered ‘no’ to all security and background questions on the DS-160 visa application form.
Persons who need not appear for an interview, or who have been notified that they must submit additional documents in order for their applications to be processed, must follow the instructions on the online appointment system for making use of the Embassy’s designated courier service or Royal Mail.
Forms and Fees
Each applicant, regardless of age, must submit a valid passport together with a completed online DS-160 visa application form and relevant supporting documents to apply for a visa.
Links to the DS-160 form and to the Department of State’s photograph specifications may be found on our Useful Links web page.
Every visa applicant must pay an application fee when scheduling an appointment online. The amount of the fee differs depending on the type of nonimmigrant visa for which one is applying. The current fee schedule, which became effective on April 13, 2012, is as follows:
- Petition-based visas (H, L, O, P, Q, R) -- $190.00
- Treaty Trader/Investor and Australian specialty occupation visas (E-1, E-2 and E-3) -- $205.00
- K Visas -- $265.00
- All other nonimmigrant visas -- $160.00
Payment must be made by debit card after the DS-160 application form is completed and before a visa interview appointment can be scheduled. All visa application fees are non-refundable and non-transferable.
When scheduling appointments online, visa applicants must also decide how their passports will be returned to them after their consular interviews. Before applicants attend their Embassy appointments, a fee of £18 per passport must be paid online by debit or credit card (Visa or MasterCard) if applicants would like delivery to a specified address instead of to one of the Embassy’s designated courier ‘hubs.’ More information is available here.
Nationals of certain countries are required to pay an issuance fee in order for an approved visa to be issued. Fees are based on reciprocity and reflect the charges levied by the applicant's government to a US citizen for a similar service. If an issuance fee is required, the applicant will be advised and payment must be made to the Embassy cashier in cash (sterling or dollar equivalent) or by credit card (VISA, MasterCard, Diners Club, Discover or American Express) or by debit card (Visa only). The Embassy cashier does not accept any other credit or debit cards, or personal cheques.
Applicants for J-1 visas must pay a fee of $180 (except short-term exchange visitors, such as camp counselors and au pairs, who pay a reduced fee of $35) and F-1 and M-1 visa applicants must pay a $200 fee to the Department of Homeland Security in the United States before appearing at the Embassy for their visa interview. Instructions as to how to pay the fee can be found on our Useful Links page.
Additional Administrative Processing
Some nonimmigrant visa applicants will be advised at the time of their interview or by email shortly thereafter that additional administrative processing of their applications will be required. This processing cannot be expedited. As of December 14, 2015, it is no longer possible to track the status of these pending applications online; rather, the Embassy will contact applicants by email if more information is required or if the visa is ready to be issued. See the Embassy’s website for further details.
Persons Ineligible for Nonimmigrant
Visas; Waivers of Ineligibility
US immigration law renders persons, with some exceptions, ineligible for nonimmigrant visas under a variety of circumstances—for example, if they have been convicted of certain crimes such as serious offenses or offenses involving controlled substances, if they have intentionally misrepresented an important fact to procure or to attempt to procure a visa, entry to the United States, or any other immigration benefit, or have any one of a number of disqualifying medical conditions.
Waivers of ineligibility for visas and inadmissibility to the US may be requested in connection with almost all nonimmigrant visa applications. Waivers of ineligibility for nonimmigrant and immigrant visa applicants are determined exclusively by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and for nonimmigrant visa applications only if recommended by a consular officer (or the Secretary of State). The DHS is not bound to follow that recommendation. Visas will be issued only if the waiver is granted by the DHS. Processing of applications for waivers currently takes approximately six months. If a waiver is granted the visa may be limited to a maximum validity period of one year or less, although longer periods may be allowed in certain circumstances. For additional information regarding ineligibility for visas, and waivers of those ineligibilities, click here.
Applying for an Immigrant
Before a person may file an immigrant visa application at the US Embassy in London, a petition for immigrant visa classification on behalf of that person must have been filed by a close relative who is a US citizen or lawful permanent resident, or by a sponsoring employer or, in certain circumstances, by the applicant. Once the Department of Homeland Security has approved the petition, and the US Embassy, London has received notice of the approval, an immigrant visa application may be processed. When the application is approved, the applicant is issued an immigrant visa, which is placed in the passport. After the applicant enters the US as an immigrant, a Permanent Resident Card (commonly referred to as a 'green card') will be mailed to the immigrant as evidence of lawful permanent resident status.
Who May Apply
Any person who is a resident of the UK, or who is in the US and whose last residence was in the UK immediately prior to entering the US, may apply for an immigrant visa at the US Embassy in London. In addition, any person physically present in the UK but having no residence in the UK may apply for an immigrant visa in London if the person has permission to remain for the period required to process the application. Finally, immigrant visa applications may be accepted from persons neither residing in the UK nor physically present in the UK, at the discretion of a consular officer or at the direction of the Department of State.
Immigrant Visa Application
If the immigrant visa petition has been filed with US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in the US, the USCIS upon approval of the petition will forward it to the Department of State's National Visa Center (NVC). The NVC then sends the applicant (or his or her designated representative) instructions as to how to pay the required fees. Once the fees have been paid, the applicant is required to complete and submit the online application form DS-260 and send certain hard-copy civil documents to the NVC. Upon receipt of the required forms and documents, the NVC completes its processing, schedules the applicant’s interview appointment at the US Embassy, London, and forwards the applicant’s file to the Immigrant Visa Branch at the US Embassy, London.
If a Petition for Alien Relative (form I-130 for immediate relative classification only) is filed with the USCIS Field Office at the US Embassy, London, the approved petition is forwarded to the Immigrant Visa Branch at the Embassy without the need for involvement by either the USCIS or the NVC in the US. The Immigrant Visa Branch will then send a letter requesting the applicant to complete and submit the online the visa application form DS-260. Once the DS-260 has been submitted and the medical examination scheduled, the applicant may schedule an immigrant visa interview and choose the return courier option.
All applicants for immigrant visas, whether the petition was filed in the US or in London, must book the required medical examination with Visa Medicals, the Embassy’s designated medical practitioners. The Embassy advises applicants to allow at least five to seven working days for the medical results to get from Visa Medicals to the Embassy. The results must arrive at the Embassy before the applicant’s scheduled immigrant visa interview.
On the day of the interview the applicant and any family members applying together submit the final part of the immigrant visa application with required documents and are interviewed by a US consular officer. If the applicant is determined to be eligible for an immigrant visa, the Embassy estimates it will take about 10 to 15 working days for the visa to be issued and the applicant’s passport, with the immigrant visa, returned to one of the Embassy’s designated courier hubs or to a specified address, depending on the choice made by the applicant online before the interview.
Filing an Immigrant Visa Petition
Generally, a US citizen who has been resident in the UK for at least six months may file an immigrant visa petition with the USCIS Sub Office at the US Embassy on behalf of a spouse, parent or unmarried child under the age of 21. For additional information about how to file such a petition and supporting materials, click here. In exceptional circumstances, the DHS officer in London will accept an immigrant visa petition from a US citizen who is not resident in the UK as long as the sponsored spouse, parent or child is a UK resident. If the US citizen resides in the US, the citizen should file the petition in the United States with the USCIS Chicago Lockbox. USCIS filing instructions may be found here.