Additional Nonimmigrant Visa FAQs

Please read these Frequently Asked Questions carefully before contacting the U.S. Embassy.

1. How do you decide whether or not to issue a visa?

Consular officers make their decisions on the basis of a U.S. law known as the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). One of the most important requirements of this law is a provision known as Section 214b. This section says that “Every alien shall be presumed to be an immigrant until he establishes to the satisfaction of the consular officer, at the time of the application for a visa … that he is entitled to nonimmigrant status.” This means that the officers who interview you are required by U.S. law to view you as an intending immigrant to the United States until you can prove otherwise.

Your proof may come in many forms depending on your individual circumstances. Because individual circumstances vary greatly, we cannot provide a list of documents for you. Please note that a single document, bank account or letter of guarantee is almost never sufficient to make this sort of determination. However, please be aware that there is also great demand for visas to the U.S. and that visa officers must decide after a brief interview whether someone is an intending immigrant or not. For this reason, applicants should come prepared to explain what they are doing here in the U.A.E. clearly and concisely. If you make claims on your application about the type of work you do, your marital status, your record of prior travel to the U.S. and other foreign countries, etc. you should be prepared to back up your claims with proof.

2. What are some examples of compelling ties to the U.A.E.? What does the officer mean by “ties” anyway? Why wouldn’t he tell me what else I need to bring in?

Often, the interviewing officer considers your job, family, and financial circumstances. “Ties” are the various aspects of your life that bind you to your place of residence such as your employment, social and family relationships. In cases of very young applicants who may not have had an opportunity to establish these ties, interviewing officers may look at the applicant’s family, educational status (is the applicant in the middle of their course?), grades and long-range plans. Many refused applicants believe that there is a document or a special way to answer our questions that will enable them to reapply with greater success in a few days or weeks. However, as the problem for applicants refused under section 214(b) lies in their overall situation, no single answer or document would prove satisfactory for all cases. For example, one person may have a thriving business here in the United Arab Emirates that he would be unlikely to abandon, another may have convincing obligations to their young children or parents that would force them to return, and yet another may show that he had worked extremely hard in his academic program and would probably not sacrifice all his hard work and forego the opportunities that would come if he continued his studies and graduate with a degree. Applicants are encouraged to reapply only when their overall circumstances have changed. For example, an applicant who applied immediately after graduating but hadn’t applied for a job yet may decide to reapply following a period of steady employment.

3. When I applied for a visa, I told the officer that I was only going to the U.S. for vacation. Why didn’t the officer believe me?

We are required to evaluate your overall situation in reaching a decision. Your statement that you intend to return to the U.A.E. is helpful, but under the requirements of U.S. law the statement alone is not adequate to show that you have strong ties outside the United States that will compel you to return to the U.A.E. It is not that the officer did not believe you. Rather, the officer considered your statement along with the other evidence that you brought to your interview and concluded that, on the whole, the evidence was not compelling.

4. Is a denial permanent? Can I reapply?

If you were denied under Section 214(b) you may reapply if you have new information which you did not present to the interviewing officer at the time of your first application or if your overall circumstances have changed significantly since you last applied and you feel that you can now show that you have strong ties outside the United States.

5. I have heard that it is better to say that I am going for business than for tourism or to see relatives. Is this true? What are the consequences if the officer finds out I’m not telling the truth?

No. Tell the truth. If your ties to the U.A.E. are adequate to overcome the presumption that you wish to remain in the U.S., a tourist visa will be issued. Problems arise if you mislead the interviewing officer as to your intent in visiting the United States. Once a misrepresentation has been made, we may find it difficult to believe the other things you say. In addition, applicants who provide incorrect information or fraudulent documents during their interviews may become permanently ineligible to receive a visa. The same goes for individuals who help applicants to provide false information. All approved applications are checked against computer records to see if certain information provided on the application was presented truthfully. It is common in the U.A.E. for an applicant to have relatives in the United States. This fact by itself will certainly not prevent approval of your application.

6. I have been accepted by a U.S. school which issued me an I-20 form. Why isn’t this enough for me to receive a student visa?

The approved I-20 form is just one piece of information the interviewing officer must consider when deciding whether you qualify for a nonimmigrant visa. Remember, under Section 214(b) of the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act, you must also prove that you will leave the United States after you finish your proposed course of study. In student visa cases, applicants intend to stay in the United States for many months or even years to obtain their degrees. Consequently, we must consider your overall circumstances here in the U.A.E. when deciding whether to approve a student visa. Student visas must also be denied if it appears that the applicant’s primary purpose of travel is not to obtain an education but to facilitate an indefinite stay in the United States. Since many applicants for student visas who intend to study for degrees in the United States have been issued I-20s to study English first, we must also evaluate whether or not you are likely to continue your education beyond this period of time. This requires us to look at your past record as a student as well as to determine whether your financial sponsor would be in a position to pay your school fees.

7. Can I guarantee my friend (partner, relative, employee) to help them get a visa?

A guarantee letter by itself does not establish whether the applicant has compelling ties to a country outside the United States. Similarly, pledges from individuals that the applicant will return to the U.A.E. will not automatically enable an applicant to overcome the legal presumption that he or she is an intending immigrant. This is because U.S. law does not permit visa officers to delegate their authority to evaluate an applicant’s overall circumstances to others, no matter how highly placed that individual may be.

8. I will return to U.A.E. because I rent property here. I presented my tenancy contract. Why did the officer say I have “insufficient” ties to compel me to return?

Our experience shows that renting property in the UAE, absent other compelling ties, is not sufficient to show that a person intends to return to the UAE. While this factor may be one among others that can help to demonstrate an individual’s personal circumstances, it is usually not — by itself — sufficient to establish an individual’s eligibility for a visa.

9. I have a visa that says “multiple indefinite” that was issued to me several years ago.  Can I still use this visa to enter the U.S. on my next trip?

All of these visas are now invalid, as more than ten years have passed since the last “multiple indefinite” visas were issued. Several years ago, the U.S. Congress limited the validity of a nonimmigrant visa to no more than ten years. This means that any old-style visa that say “multiple indefinite” can be used to enter the U.S. for up to ten years after the date that it was issued. Because it has been more than ten years since date of issuance, a new visa is required.

10. I just renewed my passport and I have a valid visa on the old passport, what do I need to do?

As long as the biographical information (spelling of name in English, date of birth, place of birth and other key information) is exactly the same on both passports, you still can travel using the valid visa on your old passport by carrying both passports with you. If there has been any change in the biographical information on the new passport, or if you find it inconvenient to carry both passports at the same time, then you will have to apply for a new visa following the steps outlined here. Please note that there is no mechanism to transfer a valid visa from one passport to another other than applying for a new visa.

11. I have a complaint about the application process. What can I do?

All visa applicants are entitled to courteous, efficient and consistent treatment. If you feel that you were treated improperly during the processing of your visa application, you should write to the Chief of the Visa Unit and describe the circumstances. Your concerns will be investigated and corrective action taken where justified.

12. What are the acceptable methods of payment for fees and services that must be paid in person at the Embassy?

Acceptable methods of payment for fees and services that may be incurred during your appointment include cash or credit card. In the event our credit card machine is down, we ask you to bring cash as a backup.

1. Can I renew my visa before it expires or do I have to wait until after its expiration date?

Yes, you can apply for the new visa before your previous visa expires. Please note that the previous visa will likely be cancelled as part of the process of issuing a new visa.

2. I received my visa, but there is an error on it. What do I do?

Please visit the website here: for information on submitting your passport back to the consular section by dropping it off at Empost.

3. I have been trying to make an appointment, but the online system shows no appointments available for the rest of the year.  What should I do?

Please note that we release a limited number of appointments at a time.  New appointments are released at different times throughout the working week.  In addition to releasing new appointments on working days, some applicants may cancel their reserved appointments and consequently these appointments become available again.  You should keep checking our website at different times until you find available appointments.

For information on making an appointment or other basic questions on applying for non-immigrant visas from the UAE, please visit:

Please note that phone numbers for U.S. Visa services for UAE are:

Local number :971-04-376-8311
US Number (703) 439-2352

4. I could not print out my appointment confirmation sheet; can I still attend the interview without it?

YES.  Your name will be available with the Embassy’s security guards to allow you access to the consular section on the scheduled day of your interview.  Please remember to bring all other required documents with you and to show your passport to be admitted.

5. I am not a resident of the UAE. Can I come to the Embassy for a visa interview?

The US Embassy in Abu Dhabi ACCEPTS the following types of applications from Third Country National (TCN) applicants: applicants seeking to renew their E, F, H, I, J, L, M, O, P and R visas, regardless of where the original visa was issued. Applicants who are not residents of the UAE and seeking a B1/B2 visa type (tourist visa) are encouraged to apply from the country of their habitual residence, as this makes it easier on the consular officer to accurately assess their socio-economic ties to the country; however, non-residents may choose to apply in the UAE.   All residents of Iran must apply in the US Consulate in Dubai.

6. I am having problems with the delivery of my visa. Who should I contact?

For problems with the delivery of your visa, please contact Empost directly, using the confirmation number on your receipt.

7. I think I may have an ineligibility, what do I do? 

Make sure that you have noted on your DS-160 any problems you have encountered with U.S. immigration officials or other agencies.  If your visa is denied, the Consular Officer will provide you with a written explanation of the section of law that describes your ineligibility. If you are eligible to apply for a waiver, the Officer will advise you of the process.  Applicants who are denied because they lack sufficient evidence of intent to return to the UAE after their visit are not eligible to apply for a waiver.  A failure to list an arrest or other ineligibility will result in your visa being refused.

8. Do I bring my entire application with me to the interview, or do I just bring the confirmation page? 

You should not bring your entire application.  Your confirmation page with barcode is all that is needed to retrieve your application data. You must bring the confirmation page with you during all phases of the application process.  Without the confirmation page, it may not be possible to access your application and process your visa case.

9. Will I be required to pay the SEVIS fee each time I apply for a visa?

Possibly, the SEVIS fee is always charged at the time of the initial visa application. If you reapply for a new visa based on the same program then you will not be required to pay a new fee. If you apply for a new visa based on a different program, a new fee will be required. The SEVIS fee receipt is valid for twelve months. If your application is refused, you may reapply using this fee receipt provided it is within twelve months of the initial payment. The fee receipt may be used if you are reapplying for the same visa or applying for a new visa for a different program provided the SEVIS fee payment meets the fee required for the different program.

10. What is the visa waiver program and how do I know whether I qualify for it?

The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) enables nationals of 36 participating countries to travel to the United States for tourism or business (visitor [B] visa purposes only) for stays of 90 days or less without obtaining a visa.  Passengers from countries that are subject to the Visa Waiver Program are required to apply for a supplementary authorization to enter the United States. This application is easy to submit by entering information at the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) website.  For detailed information on the visa waiver program, please visit the US Department of State website at:

To apply for ESTA travel authorization/update your application, please visit US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) website at:

If your questions are not answered by the above information, you may write to the Consular section here.

When inquiring about a visa case, please provide the applicant’s complete passport or case number to facilitate retrieval of the case. Due to privacy restrictions, we can only provide case status information to the visa applicant directly.