How to Make a US Embassy London Visa Appointment

The visa appointment is a critical stage in your application for a US visa. The adjudicating officer will be looking to assess your credibility by asking you questions on the information provided in your application and requesting sight of documents to evidence your case.

Non-US nationals between the ages of 14 and 79 applying for an American visa will in most cases be required to attend a visa interview at a US Embassy or Consulate in their home country.

For UK nationals, this would be at the US Embassy in London at:

Embassy of the United States of America
33 Nine Elms Lane
London
SW11 7US

The visa interview follows submission of your visa application form and payment of the requisite application fee(s).

Note that you will generally have 12 months from filing your visa application form to make your appointment. Past this date, you will be required to start the process again by making a new application and paying the fee(s).

Is the US Embassy in London taking appointments?

In response to the pandemic and resulting US travel restrictions, US visa processing and related services were suspended globally. As restrictions have eased, many consultants and embassies have started to resume certain immigrant and nonimmigrant visa appointments.
The US Embassy in London and Consultates in Belfast and Edinburgh, at the time of writing, are offering limited visa appointments and routine visa services have not yet fully resumed. Visa services for emergency nonimmigrant visas, and limited appointments for US passport and citizenship services that require an in-person appearance, however, continue to be provided.
Service availability at the US Embassy London is subject to ongoing change. While interview appointment dates are slowly being released, the demand is so high that appointment leadtimes could still be several months.
Appointment leadtimes are also expected to be further delayed as US travel restrictions are eased from November 8, 2021 and surges in visa applications are expected.

How to make your visa appointment

Interviews are by appointment only and must be scheduled in advance online on the US Visa Information and Appointment Services website. To start, you will need to create an account and pay the fee(s).

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

Waiting times

Waiting times for appointments continue to be impacted by the pandemic as normal services are not yet resumed. Other factors are also at play, such as the time of year and the Embassy’s caseload.

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.

Take advice from your legal adviser or check on 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.

Expedited appointments may be available in exceptional, urgent and unforeseen circumstances, such as medical emergencies. You will first need to complete your DS-160 form, pay the fee and book the earliest available interview before contacting the Embassy to request an expedited appointment.

MRV fee

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. 

Visa supporting documents

In advance of your interview, you should check which documents you’ll need to compile and bring with you to the appointment. For example:

  • 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

The documents needed to prove you are eligible for the visa classification will depend on the specific requirements of that visa type, as well as your personal circumstances and immigration 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.

Passport return

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.

Need assistance?

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. 

Image Copyright KieranTimberlake.