How to Make a US Embassy London Visa Appointment
If you’re applying for a US visa from the UK, you will in most cases be required to attend a visa interview at the US Embassy in London.
The Embassy in London is located at:
Embassy of the United States of America
33 Nine Elms Lane
The visa interview follows submission of your visa application form and payment of the requisite application fee(s).
The visa appointment is a critical stage in your application for a US visa. The adjudicating Consular officer will be looking to assess your eligibility and credibility as a visa applicant.
Do you need to attend a visa interview?
Non-US nationals between the ages of 14 and 79 applying for an American visa will generally be required to attend a visa interview in-person in their home country. The interview will be with a Consular officer, who will review your documentation and ask you questions about the information provided in your application and your plans while in the USA.
The visa interview is usually the final stage of the visa application process, after which a decision will be made. In cases where the Consular officer is unable to make a decision on your application based on the interview or the documents provided, they may put your application into Administrative Processing.
Is the US Embassy in London taking appointments?
US visa processing services have resumed following the global suspension during the pandemic. However, service levels have yet to return to pre-pandemic levels and visa appointment availability remains limited.
Emergency appointments are available in certain circumstances for urgent travel.
How to make your visa appointment
Interviews are by appointment only and must be scheduled in advance.
To book a visa interview, you have to use the official Visa Appointment Service online booking system. You will need to create an account on the website and pay the fee(s).
You cannot make an appointment by email.
When making your booking, you will be offered the soonest date available.
The online system will show a calendar of available appointments relating to your visa category in real-time. Applicants are advised to keep checking the system, as new appointments are added to the system as they become available, for example, due to cancellations.
When you make your appointment, ensure you note the following details for future reference:
- Appointment password – the Embassy does not keep this information
- Your appointment confirmation number
- Time and date of your appointment
Are emergency visa appointments available?
A limited number of expedited appointments are available on a discretionary basis in exceptional, urgent and unforeseen circumstances, such as medical emergencies.
You can request an expedited interview on the Visa Appointment Service website. You will be asked to provide reasons why you need an emergency appointment to travel urgently. If you are applying for the B1/B2 visa, you will also need to provide details as to why you cannot travel visa-free under ESTA.
US visa appointment waiting times
We are seeing significant delays between applicants paying their visa fee and attending their interview appointment. Applicants can currently expect to wait several months for their US visa interview.
Prior to COVID, visitor visas, for example, would take around two weeks, whereas other nonimmigrant visas would usually be much shorter at around 2 calendar days.
We can provide guidance on current London Embassy processing times, or you can check the Embassy website for current expected waiting times, particularly if you are concerned about an expiring visa or travelling while your passport is retained for visa issuance.
If you have to pay the MRV fee for your visa application, you would usually have to make and attend the visa appointment within 12 months of your payment date.
Due to the pandemic, MRV payments are being extended automatically to Sept 30 2022 and will not expire after 12 months to allow for ther visa to be scheduled and attended where the application is subject to delayed processing or limited service availability.
US visa supporting documents to bring to the interview
Given the current protracted waiting times, applicants should ensure they are fully prepared for their interview. This includes understanding which supporting documents to bring with you to the appointment.
You would typically need to bring:
- Appointment confirmation letter
- Valid passport with six months after the date of arrival
- Your photograph, compliant to USCIS requirements eg 2 inches x 2 inches. Note that standard UK-sized photographs do not comply.
- Application form confirmation page
- Receipt for fee payment
- Proof of eligibility for your visa classification
In addition, you may also need to bring documentation relevant to the visa category you are applying under. The E-2 visa, for example, requires a business plan.
You may also need to bring certain documents because of your personal circumstances, such as your travel history. For example, if you are applying for a temporary work visa such as the L-1 visa, you would need to detail your professional qualifications and provide confirmation and details of the role you would be taking on in the US. If you are applying for a visitor visa, you would be expected to provide details of your travel itinerary and proof that you have the funds to support yourself for the duration of your trip, you should confirm where you will be staying while in the US and provide evidence to assure that you will leave the US at the end of your trip and before the expiry of your visa.
Taking advice can ensure you take sufficient and comprehensive documents that best evidence your eligibility to the consular officer and avoid delays or refusals due to insufficient evidence.
Photographs for your interview
It may be necessary to provide a physical photo at your interview. Not all embassies or consulates require this, so it is best to confirm if this is a requirement before your interview.
If you do need to provide a photograph, ensure it meets the US visa standards. Note that the US photograph specification is different to that of UK standards:
- It is a colour photo.
- The photo must clearly show your full face, neck and shoulders.
- All of your facial features must be visible and unobstructed.
- The size of the photo is 2 x 2 inches (51 x 51 mm).
- The resolution of the photo must be 300 pixels per inch (12 pixels per mm).
- Your head should be between 1 inch (22 mm) and 1 and 3/8 inches (35 mm), or between 50% and 69% of the photo’s total height.
- The photo must have been taken within the previous 6 months of making your application.
- The background must be white or off-white.
- You must be directly facing the camera to give a full-face view.
- The expression on your face must be neutral and both of your eyes must be open.
- You must be wearing clothes that you would usually and regularly wear. Do not wear a uniform in the photo, unless it is religious clothing that you would regularly wear.
- Hats and head coverings that hide the hair or hairline are not allowed, unless they are religious items that are worn daily.
- Your full face must be completely visible and not hidden in any way, be that directly or through being in shadow cast by the head covering or hat.
- You may not wear eyeglasses or sunglasses in the photo, unless they can’t be removed for medical reasons. If there are medical reasons, a supporting letter must be provided by a doctor or medical professional.
- Headphones, hands-free devices or any other such item must not be in the photo. Hearing devices or similar may only be worn in the photo if you normally wear them.
If you need to print out the photo, you should use photo quality paper. Both matte and glossy photo paper are acceptable.
Online application forms for nonimmigrant visas will require you to upload a digital format photo. There are further requirements for your photo in digital form. These are:
- The uploaded image must be square, that is, the height and width must be equal in size.
- The minimum dimensions for the image are 600 x 600 pixels. The maximum dimensions are 1200 x 1200 pixels.
- It must be:
- in colour,
- 24 bits per pixel, and
- in sRGB colour space (standard for digital cameras).
- The image must be a JPEG file.
- The size of the image file must not be more than 240 kB.
- Where it is necessary for the image file to be compressed to reduce it to an acceptable file size, the compression ratio must be no more than 20:1.
- The photo must not be digitally enhanced in any way, e.g. retouched, stretched or lightened.
- Should you wish to scan a physical photo that you already have in your possession, the resulting image must be 2 x 2 inches (51 x 51mm) and scanned at 300 pixels per inch (12 pixels per mm).
While you are at the Embassy, you will also be required to submit your biometric information; a set of your fingerprints will be electronically scanned.
How long will the interview last?
In general, you should allocate two to three hours for your time at the Embassy.
The length of the interview itself will depend on the complexity of your application, the volume and quality of your supporting documentary evidence and how quickly the consular officer is able to make a decision.
For common applications, such as tourist visas, interviews may only last only a few minutes. Work visa applications can take longer as there will be more extensive supporting documents to cover. The E-2 visa, for example, requires a detailed business plan to be submitted.
Being prepared for the interview by considering the questions you could be asked and having a comprehensive bundle of supporting documents will usually help to reduce the interview length.
You will not be permitted entry into the Embassy more than 30 minutes before your scheduled appointment.
You will receive a decision on the day. If successful, you will need to hand over your passport while the visa is issued. Your passport will be returned to you by a courier company.
Cancelling your appointment
It is possible to rearrange or cancel your appointment in advance of the interview date via the Embassy website.
NNU Immigration are specialists in US visa applications. We deal with the US Embassy in London on a daily basis, and can support and advise on making a visa application. Contact us for help and advice with your US visa application.
This article does not constitute direct legal advice and is for informational purposes only.