US Visa Appointment London Waiting Times

If you’re applying for a US visa from the UK, you’ll most likely have to attend a visa interview at the US Embassy in London, or the Consulate in Belfast.

You will be asked to schedule the interview when you submit your visa application form.

Availability of US visa interviews at the US Embassy in London

The availability of visa interviews will be a critical factor in determining the length of time it will take for your application to be processed and for you to receive a decision.

US visa processing and immigration services across the globe have been severely disrupted since the pandemic, due to the regional US travel bans and suspension of visa processing.

At the US Embassy in London, emergency and mission-critical visa services continue to be offered, but US visa appointments remain extremely limited as routine visa services have not resumed in full.  New visa appointment dates are slowly being released but the demand is so high that appointment lead times are several months.

Further delays in appointment availability are also expected following the end of US travel restrictions from the UK from November 8, 2021 and more people become eligible to travel to the US.

Supporting documents for your US visa appointment

While interview availability remains an issue, applicants are advised to take steps to ensure their application forms and supporting documents are complete, error-free and as thorough as possible to avoid any further delays in decision-making when the time for the interview arrives.

If the adjudicating officer who is interviewing you has any doubts or concerns about your eligibility for your visa category or if they believe you may present a national security or other risk to the US, you could see your application being put into administrative processing, which will result in a further delay on a decision.

The type of visa you are applying for will largely determine both the documentation you should take and the questions you are likely to be asked. Employment and business visas for example will usually require more extensive supporting documentation and longer visa interviews than a temporary visitor visa.

Perhaps unhelpfully, there is no exhaustive list of documents which you are required to take with you to your interview. You will however need to be able to respond to any requests of the adjudicating officer. Given what is at stake, take professional advice on your circumstances to ensure you are sufficiently prepared.

In general, you should look to take with you as a minimum:

  • Your current passport. This should contain at least one blank page. Non-UK passports must be valid for at least six months beyond your stay in the United States.
  • One printed photograph compliant with US requirements. This must be a 5 x 5 cm color photograph taken within the last six months. This is in addition to the digital photograph required when filing Form DS-160.
  • Printed confirmation page from your completed Form DS-160 with bar code.
  • Fee payment receipt
  • Appointment Notification Notice for your visa interview
  • Evidence to support your eligibility for the visa
  • Evidence that supports sufficient ties to your home country
  • Evidence of your status in the United Kingdom, if you are not a U.K or EU passport holder
  • Evidence of previously issued US visas
  • Evidence of residence outside US
  • Evidence of funds to cover all expenses while in the US – this applies when you intend to be supported by a sponsor or where self-sufficient.
  • Documents relating to any existing medical conditions that could have a bearing on your eligibility for a visa
  • Documents relating to any arrests, convictions or cautions, regardless of where or when they took place
  • Documents relating to any previous US immigration issues such as overstaying, deportation or entry denials

All documents must be original and genuine and translations must be certified.

In addition to the above, looking specifically at the E visa for Treaty Investors of Treaty Traders, you should also bring documents relating to your business and investment plans.

A key determinant in the adjudicating process for US nonimmigrant visas is that the applicant must intend to leave the US by the visa expiry date. This requires you to evidence that the stay will be temporary and for a limited and specific period of time after which you will leave the US.

Evidence that you have ‘sufficient ties’ to your country of residence should be used to show you satisfy this requirement. Documents such as mortgage statements, payslips and evidence of family ties would be expected.

Questions you could be asked at your interview

The questions will relate specifically to the information you have provided in your form, and to the visa classification you are applying for. For tourism visas, for example, you will be asked about your itinerary and the nature of your planned activity. For an investor visa, you will be asked about your investment, the enterprise and your plans once in the US.

You will also be asked about personal information and details relating to whether you satisfy the general grounds for admissibility. Complicating factors such as any criminal record or previous US immigration issues will also be addressed.

Here are some examples of the more common, general questions that could be asked at your interview:

  • Have you ever visited the US before? If so, when?
  • Do you have a home, vehicle, business, or family in your home country?
  • What are your plans during your time in the US?
  • How will you support yourself financially during your stay?
  • Will you be visiting anyone in the US?
  • What are your plans after your stay in the US?

Remember that full disclosure is demanded at all times, or you risk being deemed inadmissible on account of fraud or willful misrepresentation.

What can you expect during the interview?

Aim to arrive at the Embassy (London address: 33 Nine Elms Lane, London SW11 7US) 20 minutes before the start time of your appointment. This should allow for security screening in order to enter the Embassy.

You then need to check-in. Your passport will be checked and your fingerprints will be taken before you are questioned by the adjudicating officer.

The interview can last anywhere between 2 minutes and 20 minutes, depending on the type of visa and the level of scrutiny and questioning of your application.

When will you receive the decision?

In most cases, you can expect to be informed of a decision at the end of your visa appointment. If your application has been successful and the visa granted, your passport will be retained for the visa to be issued. Your passport will then be returned to you by courier.

Alternatively, the adjudicator may opt to deny the application, as either a “hard” or “soft” denial.

A hard denial means the application has been fully considered and adjudicated and the negative decision is not likely to be overcome or changed on the basis of that particular application.

A soft denial is where the application goes into administrative processing. This means the officer has denied the application as an interim measure as they do not have the requisite information or clearance to be able to grant the visa at that time. Administrative processing necessarily delays decision making and as such, extends the processing time of the application. Applicants are therefore advised to ensure their petition and supporting documents are full and in order, and to prepare well for the interview to avoid the application going into administrative processing.

Need assistance?

NNU Immigration are US immigration specialists. Based in London, UK, our team of US immigration attorneys provide guidance on all US immigration categories and applications, including advice on waiting and processing times for services and appointments at the US Embassy in London. Contact us for expert advice.

This article does not constitute direct legal advice and is for informational purposes only.