Skip Global Navigation to Main Content
Skip Breadcrumb Navigation

Frequently Asked Questions


When will my nonimmigrant visa (NIV) be finished?

In general, NIV processing takes about five to eight working days once we receive all application materials in good order. Reapplications can take several more working days. Please note that NIV processing time may vary with our workload. The Embassy is closed on both U.S. and Korean holidays, and weekends. There is no visa processing when we are closed. Please call Ilyang (1588-0002) or HANJIN (1588-0011) to inquire about the pick-up and delivery status of your passport.

Please note that during our busy seasons near the end of the calendar year, around Lunar New Year and in the summer NIV processing times may vary with our workload. While we trive to process all NIV applications as quickly as possible, please do not count on expedited processing during these busy periods.

Please understand that U.S. law requires us to process each application separately on its own merits. We can never give assurance of visa issuance.

What does my appointment time mean?

Your appointment time is the time when we are expecting you to appear at the first floor of the U.S. Embassy Seoul, Nonimmigrant Visa (NIV) branch, to begin your NIV application processing. Your interview will not be at that time, it will be later. For example, if your appointment is at 9:00 AM, please be inside the Embassy at 9:00 AM. Your interview is only the last part of your NIV processing on the day of your appointment. We generally interview applicants within one hour after their arrival at the Embassy, but given our large volume and high complexity of applications, we can never guarantee that NIV processing can be finished in time to suit anyone's plans. We strive to process applicants as quickly as possible. Please be sure to bring your appointment admission ticket and arrive in time for airport style security screening as you enter the Embassy. Please bring your application materials completely and correctly filled out.

I'm not a Korean citizen. Can I apply for a nonimmigrant visa (NIV) at the U.S. Embassy Seoul?

Yes, anyone physically present in Korea may apply for an NIV here. NIV applicants are interviewed after scheduling an appointment through Visa Information Web Services at

Spouses and minor children of U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) personnel (U.S. military or civilian) may have interviews for nonimmigrant visas (NIVs) to visit the U.S. without appointments. Korean employees of USFK, and their spouses and minor children may also have interviews for NIVs without appointments at the same time if the primary applicant is on official travel. These applicants must appear at the Embassy's side entrance at 8:30 am, any workday, Monday-Friday, except Korean or U.S. holidays, with all documents fully prepared, including official orders, and necessary fees paid in advance. 

Please review the information on this website for detailed information about documents and fees, and our Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, the DS-160.  U.S. law requires that all visitor and student NIV applicants show sufficiently strong family, social, professional or economic ties to a residence abroad to ensure that their stay in the U.S. will be temporary. Section 214(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, as amended (INA), states that "every alien shall be presumed to be an immigrant until s/he establishes to the satisfaction of the officer, at the time of the application for a visa, that s/he is entitled to nonimmigrant status." This means that we are required to view each NIV applicant as intending to immigrate, and therefore ineligible for an NIV, until the applicant proves otherwise. We must caution non-Koreans that establishing such ties while someone is away from home, and in Korea temporarily, can be difficult.

NIV processing usually takes up to seven working days, longer during busy periods, after we have received all application materials in good order. Please apply early to avoid last minute problems.

I lost my passport that contained a valid U.S. visa. What can I do?

If you lost your passport that contained a valid U.S. visa, you must apply by appointment. In addition to the required application materials, you must submit your new passport, entry/exit records from Korean Immigration, a signed and dated police report (translated into English; if available) and copy of the old visa (if available). Please schedule an interview appointment through Visa Information Web Services at

What qualifies as evidence of finances? Does the U.S. Embassy accept guarantees of financial support for NIV applications?

Evidence of finances may include bank books, income tax certificates, certificate of employment/business registration or proof of scholarship. While we highly recommend that you submit evidence of your financial situation to help us determine your compelling social and economics ties to Korea, such documents are not required to apply for an NIV. No NIV decision is based solely on an applicant's finances. When determining eligibility for a visa, economic, family and social ties are evaluated collectively. Guarantees of financial support from persons other than the applicant may have little bearing on a visitor visa application.

What visa do I have to apply for?

NIV type is determined by the purpose of travel stated on your NIV application (DS-160). Please refer to "Visa Classifications " on this website to learn more.

What are my chances of getting a visa?

We adjudicate each visa application individually on its own merits as quickly as our resources permit, in accordance with U.S. laws and regulations.  Please understand that no one, not a travel agent or us, can say in advance if an applicant is ineligible or eligible for an NIV. While U.S. law does not permit us to offer advance assurance that we can adjudicate an application in time to meet the applicant's desired travel plans, or that any particular applicant is eligible for a visa in advance of actually applying, we strive to offer the best possible service. For further information on the visa process please refer any interested parties to our website, available through links at

How can I help my friend get a visa?

Applying for a visa can seem complicated at times, and be a source of anxiety for the applicant. Understandably, many Americans want to help a friend, colleague or loved one through the visa process. 

However, the fundamental rule of applying for a visa is that an applicant must qualify based on his or her own circumstances.

If you wish to convey information to us in support of an application, please send it directly to the applicant, who can share it with us during his/her interview, or who can include it with a mail-in submission. Due to the high volume of mail and applicants, we are unable to match any information received in advance with an application at the time of interview.

One of the most common misconceptions regarding nonimmigrant visas is that someone can act as a sponsor or offer to guarantee a person's return to their home country. We receive many such well-intentioned letters. Unfortunately, U.S. immigration law makes no provisions for offers of guarantee or the like.

For more information on helping someone obtain a visa more

updated: March 28, 2011