Click here to print page

What happens once I enter the US embassy for a visa?

Ask the Embassy

Tuesday, August 30, 2016


Q. I have a visa appointment for next Tuesday at 10:00 am. When should I arrive and what actually happens once I go through the door?

A: We recommend arriving at the embassy no more than fifteen minutes before your scheduled appointment time. In your case, you should arrive at 9:45am for your 10:00am appointment. The appointment time is the time you will be admitted to the embassy, not the time of your actual interview, so there is no need to arrive earlier. If everything goes smoothly, your visit will last around one hour.

You have probably seen applicants lined up outside the embassy, or heard stories of long lines in the past. There is no reason to come early (unlike the old days before we had an appointment system). Shortly before your appointment, the greeters will call for everyone with a 10:00 am appointment letter and you will all enter the embassy together as a group.

Security screeners at the gate will not allow any cellphones, weapons, or sharp objects, among other things, into the embassy. Sharp objects include cutting tools, scissors, and knitting needles.

We do not have storage lockers, and guards cannot hold your phone for you, so please make arrangements to safeguard your possessions before you arrive.

After you clear security, you will step into the consular garden. This outdoor waiting area is pleasant and comfortable; we have a seat for every applicant, and awnings provide shelter from sun and rain. A small snack counter sells drinks and chips, and rest rooms are also available.

What happens next depends on the type of visa you are applying for. If you are interviewing for an immigrant visa, the greeters will give you a number and you can take a seat outdoors. When your number is called, you will move to an air-conditioned indoor seating area. When it is your turn for an interview, a consular officer will call you to their window and discuss your case. A typical immigrant interview lasts six to ten minutes. At the end of your interview you will exit the embassy.

If you are interviewing for a non-immigrant visitor visa, the greeters will place a barcode on the back of your passport and direct you to your seat. Your seat is your place in line. When it is time to go inside, your group will all stand and proceed indoors together. Inside, you will stand in line for verification of your passport information and electronic fingerprint collection.

Next, you will stand in line for your interview. When your turn comes, walk up to the consular officer’s window and be ready to talk about your specific travel plans and your ties to Jamaica.

The officer will ask you questions about your job, family and home, among other subjects...Your interview will likely last only 2-3 minutes. In that time, the officer will make a determination of your eligibility for the type of visa you applied for. If your visa is approved, your passport will be returned to you in 1-2 weeks via our authorised service provider; you will have selected the delivery location when you made your appointment online.

After your interview, you are done! We hope that the interview process is a pleasant experience for you; we know your time is valuable, and we make every effort to run the process as efficiently as possible.

You can find more information about how to travel to the US on the embassy’s website at and the website of our authorised service provider at

Keep on top of embassy news on our
Facebook page, Jamaica, and by following @USEmbassyJA on
. We also answer general visa questions on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

You may also send your questions to:
to be forwarded to the embassy.