Below are the most frequently asked questions about non-immigrant visas:
Who Should Apply For a Visa?
I am a Brazilian Citizen. Do I need a visa to enter the United States?
Yes. A valid visa is a requirement for all Brazilians to enter the United States, even if they are simply transiting a U.S. airport. However, if you are a Brazilian citizen but also carry a passport from a country participating in the Visa Waiver Program (dual nationals), then you may not need to have a U.S. visa if you travel using that other passport.
Do I need a visa even if I’m only transiting the U.S? I’m only spending a couple of hours at the airport.
Yes. All international air passengers who travel through the United States for transit purposes require a transit visa.
I carry a European Union passport. Do I need a visa?
It depends on the reason for travel, the date when the passport was issued or renewed, and the nationality of your passport. Passport holders from countries that participate in the Visa Waiver Program typically do not need a visa for business or leisure travel to the United States of less than 90 days duration, if their passport is machine-readable and meets certain other requirements.
Citizens from the countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program whose passports are not machine-readable can only enter the U.S. with a visa (which is machine-readable). Please follow the link provided to check the requirements applicable to your passport, and contact your country’s Embassy or Consulate with questions about whether your passport meets those requirements.
Information About the Application Process
How do I apply for a visa?
Except as noted above, all those interested in applying for a visa must schedule two appointments, one for biometric information collection at the Applicant Service Center (ASC) and one for the visa interview at the Embassy or Consulate. See the How to Apply and Where to Apply pages.
I am having difficulties with the Visa Information and Appointment Service. Whom should I contact?
The service provides a special services line which applicants may use to resolve technical difficulties. Please call one of the local numbers for the Call Center or send an email to email@example.com.
What documentation is required for a visa application?
- Signed passport. Brazilian passports should be valid, at least, until the date of the return to the country of origin.
- Old passports (whether or not they include U.S. visas, but especially if they include still-valid U.S. visas) should also be presented.
- The confirmation page of completed online visa application form DS-160. Only the confirmation page will be accepted. Please, remember to fill out the form DS-160 at least 72 hours prior to your interview.
- The original receipt for the MRV fee paid online, via telephone or through the bank boleto system. Copies (even notarized) will not be accepted.
Documents that give supporting evidence of your ability to pay for the trip and your strong links to Brazil (eg.: labor card, personal and business income tax returns, pay slips, marriage and birth certificates, corporate documents, bank statements, school statements, documentation of properties you own such as cars or real estate, other evidence of financial resources such as rental properties or savings accounts, etc.).
What are the working hours of the Consular Section?
Consular sections are open to the public Monday through Friday, except on Brazilian and American holidays. As the hours for each consular section vary, please check the Contact Information and Working Hours page to find out the appropriate address and working hours.
Should I appear in person at the Consular Section?
All applicants who don’t meet one of the waiver of interview criteria and who are not renewing a previous full-validity visa must go personally to the Embassy or Consulate where they have made their interview appointment.
How long should I expect my appointment to take?
We make every effort to ensure that visa applicants spend as little time as possible at the Embassy or Consulate. At the same time, there are a number of steps that must be completed for every visa interview. It is very important that you arrive as close as possible to your designated appointment time, understanding that up to approximately 150 people may share the same half-hour appointment block. Scheduling appointments in this manner allows us to attend to applicants with the greatest possible degree of efficiency.
Because there are so many travelers seeking visas, please be aware that you may spend several hours at the Embassy or Consulate, depending on a variety of factors. We advise that you bring along some reading material. You may also wish to bring a snack. In Brasilia, São Paulo, and Rio de Janeiro, a limited selection of food and beverages is on sale at the on-site café or food cart to which applicants have access.
Do I need to bring my family members’ passports to the interview, even if they are not planning to travel?
Bringing your spouse’s passport (and those of other family members) can be very helpful in establishing your ties to Brazil. Although you are not required to bring the passports of family members who are not applying for a visa at the same time as you, presenting their passports to the Consular Officer can sometimes help establish your own ties.
Must I show my airline ticket when applying for a visa?
It is not required to present airline tickets when applying for a visa and we recommend that applicants do not purchase non-refundable tickets until they have received their passport with the visa. You may need to present your tickets or itinerary when in transit in the United States.
I am not a Brazilian Citizen. Can I apply for a visa in Brazil?
The Consular Sections for the U.S. Mission in Brazil will accept applications from all persons ordinarily resident in Brazil (Brazilians and foreign citizens). If you are not a Brazilian citizen and your habitual residence is in Brazil, just schedule an appointment through the regular process.
If you are a foreign citizen who doesn’t ordinarily reside in Brazil and you are planning to apply for a visa during your visit to Brazil, we strongly recommended you apply for a visa in your country of citizenship or habitual residence. If you decide to apply in Brazil, please note that there is no guarantee that your visa will be approved as the Consular Officers may not be in a position to properly evaluate your application. You should also schedule the appointment through the regular process.
If I am issued a visa, how will I get my passport and visa back?
Passport delivery is included in the $160 MRV fee. Generally passports are delivered within 10 business days, unless additional processing is required.
I want to book my travel as far in advance as possible. How long will it take to get my visa back?
The amount of time required to issue visas and return passports to applicants was addressed in the previous question. However, applicants are strongly advised not to book their travel until after they receive their passport and new visa. There is no way for us to guarantee or for you to be certain in advance that you will be issued a visa. In addition, applicants sometimes arrive for the interview lacking an essential document, or with an injury that prevents us from being able to collect acceptable finger prints, or some similar issue. In these cases, while the visa may still eventually be issued, there will be delays beyond the normal processing time.
The best way to avoid the unpleasant circumstance of having bought an airplane ticket only to find out that the visa was refused, or that you will need to go through the costly process of changing your tickets to another travel date, is to wait until after your visa arrives at home. If you have an unforeseen emergency circumstance, you may request expedited scheduling of your interview, but there is still no guarantee that the visa can be issued in time for your optimal travel date.
When I received my visa, I discovered that it had an error. What should I do?
We make every effort to ensure that visas include the applicant’s full name, date of birth, nationality, gender, visa type and class, passport number, and expiration date, all accurately printed on the visa. Fortunately, errors are extremely rare. However, should you discover an error, then it is very important for you to bring your visa to the post where it was issued. The procedure for correcting visa errors varies among the posts; please verify details with the post where your visa was issued.
Information About Different Types of Visas
What is the difference between an immigrant and a non-immigrant visa?
Immigrant visas are designed for people who wish to live permanently in the United States. Generally, they are issued to family members of U.S. citizens and people of other nationalities who have already gained Legal Permanent Resident status in the U.S., as well as to employees whose U.S.-based employers sponsor their immigration applications.
A non-immigrant visa, on the other hand, is designed for people whose visit to the U.S. is intended to be temporary. Temporary visits may include a wide variety of purposes (each with its own type of appropriate visa), as well as a variety of lengths of stay. The key difference between immigrant visas and non-immigrant visas is that an immigrant visa enables the visa-holder to stay in the United States permanently; a non-immigrant visa requires the applicant to leave the United States at the end of his or her authorized period of stay. The rules that apply to qualify for a non-immigrant visa are different from those that apply to immigrant visas. For more information about immigrant visas, click here.
What do I have to do to apply for a temporary visa for my domestic employee/babysitter to accompany me to the U.S.?
Under certain circumstances, domestic employees/babysitters may be issued B-1 (business) visas to accompany their employer on a trip to the U.S. for a limited period of time.
It is advisable that employers accompany their domestic employee(s) to the visa interview and be ready to explain the circumstances of their employment. Visas can be issued if the domestic employee and employer demonstrate a need for the domestic employee’s services during the trip.
The domestic employee must also qualify for a visa in all other respects, i.e. have worked as a domestic employee for at least one year and overcome the presumption of being an intending immigrant.
Only persons resident in Brazil going for a limited time to the U.S. may bring a domestic employee. U.S. citizens and/or Legal Permanent Residents (‘green card’ holders) residing in the U.S. cannot bring a domestic employee to the U.S. on a B-1 visa.
Domestic employees or other attendants who intend to accompany their employers to the U.S. must schedule an appointment and come in person for the interview.
Besides the regular documents (visa application forms, photograph and visa application fee), they must present, in triplicate, a typewritten employment contract, dated and signed by the employer and the employee. As a basic minimum the contract must include the following specific items:
- A description of the duties to be performed by the applicant;
- A statement from the employer agreeing to pay the minimum wage or prevailing wage, whichever is higher. The federal minimum wage can be found athttp://www.dol.gov/dol/topic/wages/. Prevailing wages are maintained by the U.S. Department of Labor and are broken down by occupation and metropolitan area. You can find prevailing wages at http://www.flcdatacenter.com.
- The employer’s agreement to provide free room and board to the employee;
- The employer’s agreement to provide free medical insurance for the employee;
- The employer’s agreement to provide free transportation to and from the United States;
- A statement as to the length of the contract and the conditions for terminating the contract. For example: “This contract will be valid from February 1, 1992, until February 1, 1994; it may be terminated by either party to the contract giving one month’s advance notice.”
- The employee’s statement that he/she will not accept any other employment while working for the employer;
- The employer’s statement that he/she will not withhold the passport of the employee;
- The statement indicating that both parties understand that the employee cannot be required to remain on the premises after working hours without compensation.
Any other items mentioned in the contract are a private matter between the contracting parties as long as they do not conflict in any way with the required terms of the contract indicated above.
Can I travel to the U.S. to attend a conference (academic or professional) with a tourist visa (B-2)?
No. If your purpose of visit is to attend a conference, congress, fair or any other type of business in the U.S., or any activity related to your work in Brazil, you must apply for a business visa (B-1). The B-2 visa is valid only for tourism purposes.
We are a couple who recently got married in Brazil, and one of us is an American citizen or a Legal Permanent Resident in the U.S. How can we move to the United States together?
You need to apply for an immigrant visa for the spouse who is not a U.S. citizen or Legal Permanent Resident. CR-1/IR-1s are the immigrant visas for Brazilians who have married an American citizen in Brazil, when the couple wants to live in the U.S. If the American is currently living in the U.S. he must file the petition at the local USCIS office (they must file the I-130 petition, which can be found on the USCIS website). The I-130 petition can no longer be filed outside of the United States. Petitioners residing in Brazil are required to file their Forms I-130 by mail with the USCIS Chicago Lockbox. Note: if the spouse is a Legal Permanent Resident, rather than an American citizen, then he or she must file for an F2A visa for the immigrating spouse, and can file this form only in the U.S. More information is available at this link.
What if we are not actually married yet, but plan to move to the United States and marry soon thereafter?
In this case, the appropriate visa is a K-1 fiancé visa, which is only available if the applicant will marry an American citizen. Travelers entering the United States on a K-1 visa must marry the American citizen within 90 days of entrance to the U.S. The American citizen must file an I-129F petition at their local USCIS office in the United States. Although the K-1 is considered a non-immigrant visa due to its temporary status, it is processed as any other immigrant visas in Rio de Janeiro. For more information, please follow this link.
I’ve heard about humanitarian parole. What does that mean?
Humanitarian Parole is an extraordinary measure used sparingly to bring an otherwise inadmissible alien into the United States for a temporary period of time due to a compelling emergency.
Humanitarian Parole is not intended to be used to circumvent normal visa issuing procedures, bypass delays in visa issuance, or immigrate to the United States.
Neither the Department nor consular officers have the authority to approve or extend any type of parole under any circumstances; that authority rests solely with DHS.
What Are the Different Costs and Fees?
Is there a visa application fee?
Yes. The visa application fee (MRV) can be paid by credit card through the appointment website or by telephone. An applicant may also choose to pay through a bank boleto at any bank in the boleto network. There is no longer be a separate appointment-scheduling fee or a separate courier fee.
Do I have to pay for the visa?
Besides the application fee, no other fee is required for the Tourist Visa (B-2), but fees are applied to some visa categories based on reciprocity practices between Brazil and the United States. These visa issuance fees must be paid immediately upon the end of the visa interview at the cashier in the consular section, and may be paid in cash (dollars or reais) or by major credit card.
If I am not a Brazilian Citizen, or if I am a Brazilian Citizen but also have citizenship in another country, do I still have to pay a visa fee?
It depends. If you plan to travel on your Brazilian passport, then the fees described in the previous question (and the link provided) apply. If you travel on a valid passport from another country, then fees may be different. Please consult the information for your country available at this link. Please also review the information given above about applicants from other countries who decide to seek U.S. visas in Brazil.
Old Visas and Passports, Name Changes and Lost and Stolen Visas
What should I do if my passport expires but my visa is still valid?
Make sure that the visa was not damaged and always travel with both the expired passport with a valid visa and the new passport.
I plan to get a new passport soon, but I hear that the Brazilian Federal Police will keep my old passport. What should I do?
We strongly advise that before you renew your passport, you make a complete copy of every page of your old passport, including the front pages with your passport number and personal information. Although not required, this information can be very helpful when you apply for your next visa.
I have a visa but it has my maiden/married name. Now I’m married/divorced, and my name has changed. Do I need a new visa?
If your name has legally changed through marriage, divorce, or a court ordered name change, you will need to obtain a new passport. Once you have a new passport, the Department of State recommends that you apply for a new U.S. visa to make it easier for you to travel to and from the United States. If you are not able to get a new visa to match your passport, you should carry the legal document that shows your name change and be ready to show it at the airport when you enter the U.S.
If you have emergency travel that does not allow you time to get your visa updated, we recommend that when traveling, you carry a copy of the document showing the name change.
I have a visa that was issued many years ago with no expiration date. Is it still valid for travel?
No. As of 1995, all such visas were limited by law to a maximum of 10 years’ validity. At this point, all previously issued visas without expiration dates have expired. If you try to travel with this visa, you may very well be turned around at the port of entry and sent home. You will need to apply for a new visa.
I’ve heard the nonimmigrant visas issued before 09/11 have been canceled. Is it true?
No. All the Non-immigrant Visas issued by the American Embassies or Consulates are still valid until their expiration date.
My passport with a valid U.S. visa has been stolen/lost. What should I do? How can I cancel the U.S. visa?
If your passport with a valid United States visa has been stolen or lost, first of all you need to go to a local police station – as soon as you discover this problem and as close as possible to the place where your passport was lost or stolen – and report your document(s) lost or stolen. If available, you will need to provide copies of the original documents. You will be issued a police report detailing the incident. Don’t forget to make an extra copy of the report for your own records. You do not need to worry about what language the report is written in, as long as it is generated by local police in any country where you may be traveling when the incident occurs.
Next, you need to complete a Lost and Stolen Passport form, available from the Consulate/ Embassy that issued your visa. Once you have all of these documents assembled, please scan and e-mail them to the U.S. Consular Section of the Consulate/ Embassy in Brazil that issued your visa. Please, include your full name, date of birth, place of birth, your contact information, stolen/lost passport number and the visa type. If you have copies of your visa and/or stolen/lost passport, e-mail them to the U.S. Embassy’s or Consulate’s Consular Section as well.
My passport with a valid U.S. visa has been stolen/damaged/lost. Can I get a copy of the visa in my new passport?
Unfortunately, lost, stolen or damaged United States visas cannot be replaced. You will need to apply for a new visa at the U.S. Consulate of your choice. Please follow the instructions on how to apply for a visa. Along with the other required documentation, bring a copy of the police report and the Lost and Stolen Passport form to your interview.
What Arrangements Are Made For People With Special Needs?
Are any provisions made at the interviews for applicants who have special needs?
We do make special accommodations for applicants who are elderly, pregnant, appearing at the Embassy or Consulate with very young children (under 2 years old), injured, and who have special physical needs. These applicants are prioritized ahead of other applicants so that they will spend less time at the Embassy or Consulate.
What about applicants who do not speak Portuguese, or are unable to speak?
Applicants who speak Portuguese or English will have no difficulty during their interviews. Applicants who speak Spanish may also be able to conduct their interview in Spanish, depending on the staffing at each consulate and because of the close similarity between Portuguese and Spanish. However, applicants who do not speak any of these languages are strongly advised to bring an interpreter with them.
Likewise, applicants who are unable to speak are strongly advised to bring an interpreter, for example, a sign-language interpreter. Interpreters need not be formally licensed, and can be family members or co-workers. The primary qualification is that the applicant be comfortable that the interpreter can accurately translate the interviewer’s questions and the applicant’s answers. It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that this qualification be met.
I have an allergy on my fingers. Will there be a problem with taking my finger prints?
All applicants from 16 to 65 years old are required to be finger-printed as part of the visa application process. If you have an allergy on your fingers, capturing your finger prints could be difficult. If your fingers are permanently affected by an allergy or other condition, then you should bring a letter from a registered physician to your interview indicating that this condition is permanent.
Questions About the Supreme Court's Decision on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)
Can same sex couples now apply for visas in the same classification as heterosexual couples?
Yes. Same-sex spouses and their children are equally eligible for NIV derivative visas. Same-sex spouses and their children (including stepchildren of the primary applicant when the marriage takes place before the child turns 18) can qualify as derivatives where the law permits issuance of the visa to a spouse or stepchild. In cases where additional documentation has always been required of a spouse applying with a principal applicant, such documentation wil also be required in the case of a same-sex spouse.
Are there nonimmigrant visa classifications which will require approval of certain documentation before an interview can take place?
Yes. Same-sex spouses and stepchildren of student (F-1 and M-1) visa applicants will need to obtain an I-20A prior to application. Spouses of exchange visitors (J-1) visa holders will need an approved DS-2019. Finally, same-sex spouses of victims of criminal activity (U-2s) and human trafficking victims (T-2s) will require completed Supplement A to Form I-918 or I-914, respectively, before an officer approves any derivative cases. This additional documentation is also required for opposite gender spouses.
I am in a civil union or domestic partnership; will this be treated the same as a marriage?
At this time, only a relationship legally considered to be a marriage in the jurisdiction where it took place establishes eligibility as a spouse for immigration purposes.
Entry To and Exit From the United States
I forgot to turn in my Departure Record Form I-94 / I-94W. What should I do?
If you left the US on a commercial airline or sea carrier (cruise ship) then there is nothing to worry about because your departure was documented through the commercial organization. Keep the form in your passport, however, because it might help expedite your entry into the US if you choose to visit again.
If you departed the US on a private plane or sea carrier your departure will likely not be documented. If this is the case, you need to mail your I-94 or I-94W form to:
DHS- CBP SBU
1084 South Laurel Road
London, KY 40744
You will also need to provide evidence to validate your departure. Bank, work, and school records showing your presence in another country are some of the ways you can do this. The formentioned address is not able to respond to any questions you might have concerning your length of stay in the US. If you have any questions regarding this, please write to:
US Customs and Border Protection
1300 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Attn: Mint Annex Building FOIA division
Washington DC, 20229
For other questions regarding the I-94, please visit the US Customs and Border Protection site.
Does my Brazilian passport have to be valid for six months beyond my date of departure from the United States?
For Brazilian travelers, it is only required that the passport be valid for the intended period of stay in the United States, as Brazil is exempt from this requirement. However, it is still recommended that you travel with a passport that will be valid for six months beyond the date of your departure from the United States.
How long can I stay in the United States?
Duration of stay in the United Sates is determined by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials at the port of entry. For more information see the Visa Validity and Length of Stay page.
What does the visa validity/expiration date mean?
A visa is permission to apply to enter the United States. Visas are valid for entry into the U.S. up to and including the validity date indicated on the visa. A visa doesn’t permit entry to the U.S. A visa simply indicates that your application has been reviewed by a U.S. consular officer at an American embassy or consulate, and that the officer determined you’re eligible to travel to the port-of-entry for a specific purpose.
Information About Refusals
If my application for visa is denied, how long should I wait to reapply for a visa?
You may reapply for a visa any time by scheduling a new interview. You will have to submit new visa application forms, and pay a new visa application fee. You may wish to wait to reapply until your circumstances have changed since a new interview will once again consist of an evaluation of your social, professional, economic, and financial ties to Brazil.
For more information concerning visa denials, please click here.
Can a U.S. Citizen sponsor my application for a visitor’s visa?
No, U.S. Citizens may not sponsor a visitor’s application – a visitor must qualify individually for a U.S. visa, regardless of a concerned U.S. citizen’s interest in the case.
Doesn’t it help my application if a U.S. Citizen is sponsoring my travel?
Not necessarily. In general, there is no provision of law which requires a sponsoring U.S. citizen to actually pay your costs of travel or to ensure that you leave the United States at the end of your authorized stay. Because of this, the fact that a U.S. citizen is willing to pay for your travel does not necessarily help your application. You must still demonstrate, on your own, sufficient ties outside of the United States to convince the Consular Officer that you will leave voluntarily at the end of your authorized stay.
I have had trouble at the port of entry, but I believe it was due to some error. Is there any way I can address this situation?
The Department of Homeland Security launched a web site designed as one-stop shop for people with general questions about travel as well as those who believe they have experienced screening, boarding or port-of-entry problems in error. Please visit this link.