Venezuela and the United States: Requirements and issuance procedures for obtaining US visitor visas (2016-May 2017) [ZZZ105786.E]

Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Ottawa

The website of the US Embassy in Caracas lists the following steps for applications for a B-1/B-2 visa to "visit the [US] temporarily for business or pleasure":

Step 1: Please review our Personal Appearance Waiver Program page, our Interview Waiver Program page, and our Group Travel Program page to determine whether you qualify for one of these programs. If so, please follow the instructions on the corresponding page. Otherwise, proceed to step 2.

Step 2: Fill out the application form, otherwise known as the DS-160. … Once you have finished, please remember to print your confirmation page! Our help page has answers to frequently asked questions about filling out the DS-160.

Step 3: Please refer to the Visa Information Service webpage, select Non-Immigrant Visa and follow the on-screen instructions. Also, check our website for information about security procedures and getting to the Embassy. (US n.d.a)

The same source provides the following information regarding the documents that are required to apply for a B-1/B-2 visa:

  • Confirmation page of the DS-160.
  • A valid passport. If the passport is damaged, you must obtain a new passport before applying for a visa.
  • A color photograph. The photograph must be 5 cm x 5 cm (2 inches x 2 inches), full frontal view of shoulders and face, against a white background. If you have been unsuccessful in uploading one to the DS-160, you may wish to have photos taken at the kiosk on the Embassy grounds.

If any of the following apply in your case, you may be asked to present additional documents in support of your application:

  • applicants who have been arrested and/or have a criminal conviction, have a medical ineligibility, have been denied entry into or deported from the United States;
  • professionals and academics in the areas of science and technology;
  • applicants traveling for medical treatment. (US n.d.a)

The same source recommends that applicants also bring the following documents to the visa interview: all previous passports; documents originating from the US, such as invitation letters; applicant's employment documentation; applicant's financial documents, such as a bank statement; and documents demonstrating family ties (US n.d.a). According to the "Frequently Asked Questions" page on the Embassy website, the consular officer decides the length of validity for the applicant's visa, which is "up to ten years for a Venezuelan," and visas are typically "'multiple entry'" (US n.d.b.).

The same source further states that the "nonrefundable nonimmigrant visa application fee is US$160" (US n.d.b). According to a January 2017 news bulletin posted on the Embassy website, the fees must be paid by credit card online and in US dollars at www.ustraveldocs.com (US 2017). Upon payment, the applicant will receive a receipt that is valid for one year and allows them to schedule their interview, which must be done "while the receipt is valid" (US 2017). The "Apply for a Visa" section of the "Apply for a U.S. Visa in Venezuela" page of www.ustraveldocs.com, states that after paying the fees:

Step 4

Now you will need to log in to your profile [https://cgifederal.secure.force.com] with the same credentials you used to pay your visa fee. Once you are in the system, you will see your dashboard.

Click on Schedule Appointment on the left-hand side menu.

This will start the process for scheduling your appointment. You will need:

  • Your passport number.
  • The receipt number from your Visa Fee receipt. Click here if you need help finding this number.
  • The ten (10) digit barcode number from your DS-160 confirmation page.

As you go through the process you will be able to select your visa type, enter personal data, add dependents, select your document delivery location, confirm visa payment, and schedule your appointment.

Step 5

Visit the U.S. Embassy on the date and time of your visa interview. Be sure to check the Schedule My Appointment page for the necessary documentation needed for your appointment.

Step 6

If your visa is approved, your visa will be ready for pick-up at the Zoom location you selected (at the time you scheduled the appointment). (US n.d.c)

The January news bulletin indicates that if the applicant has paid the fee on or before 18 May 2016, they may request their appointment, however, "[c]urrently, the Embassy is not able to provide new appointments for first-time business or tourist (B-1/B-2) visa applicants. If you are a first-time applicant … you should not try to pay the application fee and should not try to make an appointment" (US 2017). According to the "Visa Appointment & Processing Wait Times" application on the US Department of State's website, the wait time for the US Embassy in Caracas for a visitor visa is "999 [c]alendar [d]ays" (US 27 Apr. 2017). On 18 May 2016, a news brief on the Embassy webpage explains that

[t]he Venezuelan Foreign Ministry has refused for many months to issue visas for U.S. Embassy personnel, resulting in staff shortages throughout the Embassy and also preventing visits by technicians to maintain, upgrade and repair our consular computer systems. For many months, we have not had sufficient embassy personnel to handle the existing workload in Venezuela and, despite our best efforts, large backlogs of visa applications have accumulated. Once the Foreign Ministry resumes issuing visas for U.S. diplomatic personnel, and those staff members are able to start working, we will begin to restore full visa services to the Venezuelan public. (US 18 May 2016)

The January news bulletin states that if the applicant is renewing their valid US visa, or is "a first-time applicant for any of the petition-based, student, or investor visas," there are "limited numbers of appointments" and "wait times … will be much longer than in the past" (US 2017). According to the "Renew My Visa" section of the "Apply for a U.S. Visa in Venezuela" page of www.ustraveldocs.com, the "[q]ualifications for renewing a Visitor … visa without an interview at the Consular [s]ection" are the following:

The applicant applies to ALL of the following conditions:

  • Possesses a valid 10-year B-1/B-2 visa (or one that has expired within the past 12 months), and
  • Has never been arrested or convicted of a crime, deported from the United States, denied entry to the United States, or have had any other problems or difficulties with U.S. Customs and Border Protection when attempting to enter the United States.

Applicants will be required to apply through the normal application process if ANY of the following conditions applies:

  • The U.S. visa expired over 12 months ago;
  • The passport is damaged;
  • The applicant must travel immediately; or
  • The applicant is a domestic employee and traveling as such.

In all cases, consular officers reserve the right to require an interview of any visa applicant. (US n.d.d, italics in original)

In correspondence with the Research Directorate, an official at the US Embassy in Caracas stated that the "Embassy website contains the most up to date visa information" (US 26 Apr. 2017)

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

References

United States (US). 27 April 2017. Department of State. "Visa Appointment & Processing Wait Times." [Accessed 27 Apr. 2017]

United States (US). 26 April 2017. Embassy of the United States in Caracas, Venezuela. Correspondance from an official to the Research Directorate.

United States (US). 2017. Embassy of the United States in Caracas, Venezuela. "New Important Information - January, 2017." [Accessed 27 Apr. 2017]

United States (US). 18 May 2016. Embassy of the United States in Caracas, Venezuela. "Important New Information for All Nonimmigrant Visa Applicants in Venezuela." [Accessed 28 Apr. 2017]

United States (US). N.d.a. Embassy of the United States in Caracas, Venezuela. "B-1/B-2 Visa (Temporary Visitors for Business or Pleasure)." [Accessed 27 Apr. 2017]

United States (US). N.d.b. Embassy of the United States in Caracas, Venezuela. "Frequently Asked Questions." [Accessed 27 Apr. 2017]

United States (US). N.d.c. "Apply for a Visa." [Accessed 28 Apr. 2017]

United States (US). N.d.d. "Renew My Visa." [Accessed 27 Apr. 2017]

Additional Sources Consulted

Internet sites, including: ecoi.net; Reuters; United Nations – Refworld.