How To Apply
Step 1: Learn More About U.S. Nonimmigrant Visas
The United States wholeheartedly welcomes foreign visitors who desire to study, conduct business, or simply visit the sights in its very diverse 50 states and territories. However, we understand that the process of applying for a U.S. visa may appear daunting as you navigate through a complex web of regulations and procedures. As such, our goal in creating this website is to provide you with as much information as possible in order to prepare you for your upcoming visa application.
In the following paragraphs, we have attempted to answer some of the most common questions we receive from our applicants. Should you desire more information than what is provided here, we encourage you to follow the links provided at the bottom of this webpage.
Non-immigrant visas facilitate a TEMPORARY stay in the U.S., for holidays, business, study, temporary work, participation in a conference or exchange program. Should you wish to immigrate to the U.S., a non-immigrant visa is not appropriate. For more information on nonimmigrant visas, including the different types of classifications, please visit the Department of State webpage "Temporary Visitors to the U.S.".
The length of time a B1/B2 visa holder is permitted to remain in the United States is at the discretion of the immigration officer who processes the visitor at his/her port of entry. Visitors who wish to extend their stay in the country must formally submit such requests to the Department of Homeland Security before their permitted stay in the country has expired. For more information, please consult the USCIS website.
Unless your visa has been cancelled by a United States consular or immigration officer or it has been physically damaged, the visa is valid until the expiration date listed on it, regardless of whether the passport has expired.
If the passport containing your valid visa has expired, simply travel to the United States with both your new, valid passport and your expired passport containing your valid visa in hand to present to the U.S. immigration officer upon arrival. Under no circumstances should you attempt to remove the visa from your expired passport and paste it into your new one.
Recent changes to U.S. immigration law require the vast majority of visa applicants to submit their applications in person. Although some categories of applicants may be eligible for a waiver of personal appearance with a consular officer, nearly all applicants must submit biometric fingerprints and therefore must nonetheless appear in person. This includes applicants with diplomatic or official passports who are traveling to the United States for non-official purposes.
Yes. All individuals who plan to transit through the United States, regardless of how long they intend to stay in the airport, must obtain a transit or other valid visa. For more information, please visit the Department of State webpage titled "Transit Visa".
There are numerous grounds of ineligibility that can prevent or significantly delay issuance of an individual’s visa. For a list of each of these, please refer to the Department of State's list of ineligibilities.
The most common ground of ineligibility, however, is that an applicant failed to demonstrate that his/her visit to the United States would be only temporary in nature. Section 214(b) of the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act states: "[e]very alien shall be presumed to be an immigrant until he establishes to the satisfaction of the consular officer, at the time of application for admission, that he is entitled to a nonimmigant status...." To overcome Section 214(b), applicants must demonstrate that they have a residence and other ties abroad that would compel them to leave the United States at the end of a temporary stay. The law places this burden of proof on the applicant.
Permanent residence and strong ties differ from country to country, city to city and individual to individual. Some examples of ties can be a job, a house, a family, and a bank account. "Ties" are the various aspects of your life that bind you to your country of residence: your possessions, employment, social and family relationships.
During the visa interview, consular officers look at each applicant individually and consider professional, social, cultural and other factors. In cases of younger applicants who may not have had an opportunity to form many ties, consular officers may look at the applicant’s specific intentions, family situations, and long range plans and prospects within his or her country of residence. Each case is examined individually and is accorded every consideration under the law.
For more information on visa denials under 214(b), please refer to the Department of State's fact sheet on visa denials.
No. U.S. law requires all nonimmigrant visa applicants to qualify for the visa on their own, through their own individual circumstances, as outlined above. Under U.S. law, it is not enough to show that your expenses will be covered by your host in the United States. Regardless of the financial situation of your friend or sponsor, you are subject to the same requirements as every other visa applicant.
Although we accept nonimmigrant visa applications from all eligible applicants, it may be more difficult for you to qualify for the visa if you are not resident in the Dominican Republic. As such, we typically encourage nonimmigrant visa applicants to apply for the visa at the Embassy or Consulate that covers their country of residence.
Because of the heavy demand for nonimmigrant visas in the Dominican Republic, there is a waiting period for an appointment (for more information on wait times, please refer to the Department of State's webpage on visa wait times. If you have an emergency that will not permit you to wait for a normal appointment, we grant early appointments for medical emergencies on a case-by-case, discretionary basis. You must contact our Visa Information Center in order to request an emergency appointment.
Note that the following information does not apply to certain J-1 (work-study, camp counselor, exchange visitor, etc.) visa applicants. See the next section for information pertaining to the J-1 program.
Most temporary worker categories require the approval of a petition by DHS, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) before you can apply for your visa. The process of obtaining an approved petition can be a complex and time-consuming one, so start early. Be wary of any organizations that advertise quick and easy employment opportunities -- phony schemes intended to defraud Dominicans abound.
Virtually all temporary work visas require the application process to be initiated by the U.S.-based employer, who files a petition with the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services for permission to hire a foreign worker. If the petition is approved, the applicant receives a form I-797 “Notice of Approval,” the original of which he or she should bring to the Consulate along with the completed visa application.
Each applicant for a temporary worker visa (with the exception of those applying for visas within the H-1, L, R, and O categories) must demonstrate, at the time of his/her application, that they have a permanent residence and other ties abroad which they have no intention of abandoning. To assist in meeting this requirement, you may wish to submit, together with your application, evidence of permanent employment within the Dominican Republic (your employer should note whether the position will be open for you after your return), any previous passports containing U.S. visas (even if expired), and evidence of property ownership, if applicable.
For more information on obtaining a temporary worker visa, please refer to the Department of State's guide to working temporarily in the U.S.
The "J" visa category encompasses a wide range of programs designed to enhance mutual understanding between the United States and other countries through international educational and training programs.
Some of the most popular of these in the Dominican Republic are the Work-Study and Camp Counselor programs, which will be discussed in greater detail below. However, it is important to note that the Department of State administers many other programs allowing foreign nationals the opportunity to visit the United States as exchange vistors. For more information on these, please refer to the Department of State's website for exchange visitors.
Work/Travel: The Summer Work/Travel program provides foreign post-secondary students the opportunity to work and travel in the United States during their summer vacations, typically May to September for Dominicans. Eligible program participants are bona fide post-secondary school students actively pursuing a degree or a full-time course of study at an accredited educational institution. Students must also be enrolled in an accredited educational institution and registered for a full-time course load for the semester following their participation in a summer work/travel program. Approximately half of all applicants in this program are allowed to travel to the United States without first having job offers, allowing them to find employment while there. However, half of all program participants must have job offers in the United States at the time of their visa applications.
There are several Dominican organizations that sponsor students wishing to participate in this type of program, arranging both their employment and issuance of their forms DS-2019 (a required part of the visa application). All program participants are required to apply through a sponsor organization.
For more information, please refer to the Department of State’s guide to the Summer Work/Travel program.
Camp Counselor: Camp Counselors interact directly with groups of American youth by overseeing their activities in a camp setting during the US summer season, between May and September. Although non-counseling chores may be an occasional part of camp life, program participants cannot serve as "staff" — including (but not limited to) administrative personnel, cooks, or menial laborers such as dishwashers or janitors. Foreign university students, youth workers, and other specially qualified individuals at least 18 years of age may work as counselors in US summer camps for up to four months. Extensions are not permitted.
All program participants must be placed prior to their arrival in the United States at camping facilities that are either accredited; a member in good standing of the American Camping Association; or affiliated with a nationally recognized nonprofit organization; or inspected, evaluated, and approved by the sponsor.
Participants receive pay and benefits commensurate with those offered to their U.S. counterparts. Sponsors must provide information on the duties, responsibilities and contractual obligations relative to accepting a camp counselor position to their participants prior to departure from the home country. Please refer to the regulations for details.
As is the case with work-study visas, there are several Dominican organizations that sponsor individuals wishing to participate in this type of program, arranging both their employment and issuance of their forms DS-2019. All program participants are required to apply through a sponsor organization.
For more information, please refer to the Department of State’s guide to the Camp Counselor program.
Foreigners who hold a nonimmigrant visa type B, E, F, H, I, J, L, M, O, P, or Q can travel with a domestic employee to the United States. If you are considering employing a nanny or domestic employee to accompany you to the United States, please refer to this domestic employee guide (PDF 74 Kb). The conditions of employment should be stipulated in a contract (PDF 23 Kb) that is attached to the domestic employee’s B-1 visa application. All of the requirements must be documented in order to receive approval from the consular officer.
Only travelers from a select group of countries and who possess the proper documentation are eligible to travel to the United States without a visa. If you believe you are one of these individuals and would like a complete description of what the Visa Waiver Program is, who is eligible to participate, and what requirements eligible participants must meet, please review the U.S. Department of State’s Visa Waiver Program webpage.
Travelers can now seek redress and resolve possible watch list misidentification issues at an easy to use and easy to access online by visiting the DHS Traveler Redress Inquiry Program (DHS TRIP) webpage. DHS TRIP provides a way for legitimate travelers to address situations where individuals believe they have been incorrectly delayed, denied boarding, identified for additional screening, or have otherwise experienced difficulties when seeking entry into the country.
Following are links to other websites offering more detailed information on U.S. nonimmigrant visa policies and procedures. Please note that we are unable to accept responsibility for the accuracy of the information you find outside of our website.
U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs - The U.S. Department of State's worldwide website detailing policies and procedures concerning all nonimmigrant visa categories.
"See You in the USA" - An Electronic Journal produced by the U.S. Department of State's Office of Public Diplomacy for nonimmigrant visa applicants and their families.
U.S. Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services - The website for the U.S. government agency that administers nonimmigrant policies and procedures within the United States. In addition to providing information on specific visa categories, this website offers guidance on what visa recipients should know once they arrive in the United States.
International Cultural Exchange Visas - A guide for applicants interested in participating in one of the many programs offered within the J-1 visa category.
If you returned home with your Department of Homeland Security Form I-94 (white) or Form I-94W (green) Departure Record in your passport, it means that your departure was not recorded properly.It is your responsibility to correct this record.You must provide U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) sufficient information so we can record your timely departure from the United States.This will close out your earlier record of arrival to this country.
If you do not validate a timely departure from the United States, or, if you cannot reasonably prove otherwise when you apply for admission to the U.S. in the future, CBP may conclude you remained in the U.S. beyond your authorized stay.If this happens, the next time you apply to enter the U.S. your visa may be subject to cancellation or you may be returned immediately to your foreign point of origin.
In particular, visitors who remain beyond their permitted stay in the United States under the Visa Waiver Program cannot reenter the U.S. in the future without obtaining a visa from a U.S. Consulate.If this occurs and you arrive at a U.S. port-of-entry seeking admission under the Visa Waiver Program without a visa, CBP Officers may order your immediate return to a foreign point of origin.
If you failed to turn in your I-94 Departure Record, please send it, along with any documentation that proves you left the United States to:
ACS - CBP SBU
1084 South Laurel Road
London, KY 40744
Do not mail your Form I-94 Departure Record or supporting information to any U.S. Consulate or Embassy, to any other CBP office in the United States, or to any address other than the one above.Only at this location are we able to make the necessary corrections to CBP records to prevent inconvenience to you in the future.
To validate departure, CBP will consider a variety of information, including but not limited to:
- Original boarding passes you used to depart the United States;
- Photocopies of entry or departure stamps in your passport indicating entry to another country after you departed the United States (you should copy all passport pages that are not completely blank, and include the biographical page containing your photograph); and
- Photocopies of other supporting evidence, such as:
- Dated pay slips or vouchers from your employer to indicate you worked in another country after you departed the United States,
- Dated bank records showing transactions to indicate you were in another country after you left the United States,
- School records showing attendance at a school outside the United States to indicate you were in another country after you left the United States, and
- Dated credit card receipts, showing your name, but, the credit card number deleted, for purchases made after you left the United States to indicate you were in another country after leaving the United States.
To assist us in understanding the situation and correct your records quickly, please include an explanation letter in English.Your statement will not be acceptable without supporting evidence such as noted above.You must mail legible copies or original materials where possible.If you send original materials, you should retain a copy. CBP cannot return original materials after processing.
We strongly urge you to keep a copy of what you send to ACS-CBP and carry it with you the next time you come to the United States in case the CBP officer has any questions about your eligibility to enter.
If taking short trips (30 days or less) to Canada, Mexico, or the Caribbean Islands during the course of your visit to the U.S., hold onto your I-94 or I-94 (W).It should only be turned in when you leave the U.S. to return home.
Delays beyond the traveler's control, such as cancelled or delayed flights, medical emergencies requiring a doctor's care, etc. are not considered unauthorized overstays, however, you will need to bring proof of the cause of your overstay next time you travel to the U.S. in order for it to be forgiven. For airline delays, ask the airline for a letter affirming the delay or a copy of your cancelled boarding pass.
All downloadable documents on this page are provided in PDF format. To view PDFs you must have a copy of Adobe Acrobat Reader. You may download a free version by clicking the link above.