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Nonimmigrant Visas Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions


The United States welcomes foreign visitors. We are pleased that almost one million people from Taiwan travel to the United States each year for business, tourism, visiting relatives, studying in the U.S., or for other purposes. This guide answers some of the most frequently asked questions about U.S. visas.

There are two primary types of U.S. visas, immigrant and nonimmigrant.

Immigrant visas are issued to those who intend to reside permanently in the United States ('green card' holders). Under U.S. law, immigrant visas are generally reserved for persons who are close relatives either of U.S. citizens or of persons with permanent resident status in the United States, or for people hired to work in the U.S. at jobs in which it has been determined there are not enough skilled Americans at present to perform.

Nonimmigrant visas are issued to those who intend to enter the United States for a temporary stay and who intend to depart the United States at the end of their stay. U.S. law establishes separate classifications of nonimmigrant visas for tourism, business, temporary employment, study, transit, investment, training, and other purposes.

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The Online DS-160 Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application

  • Where can I find the DS-160?

You can access the DS-160 from the Consular Electronic Application Center website or from the AIT website.

  • Can I provide answers in my native language?

No. All application questions, except as specially provided, must be in English, using English characters only. Applications that are submitted in any language other than English may be denied, and you may be required to submit a new application.

  • Are all fields on the DS-160 mandatory?

Most fields on the DS-160 are mandatory. You may leave fields marked “Optional” blank. Some fields may also give you the option to select “Does Not Apply”.  You should mark “Does Not Apply” only if the field indeed does not apply.  All other fields must be completed.  You will not be able to submit a form with any mandatory fields left blank. In this instance, an error message will be displayed and you will be required to complete the field before continuing with the application. If you do not answer questions that apply, your form may also be rejected.

  • What happens if I need to step away while I am completing the form?

The DS-160 will “time out” approximately 20 minutes after the application has been idle. The “time out” feature is designed to protect your privacy. If the application times out, all the data that has been entered will be lost. In order to guard against possible “time out” issues you should save the application at regular intervals while you are completing the application. To save the application, click the “Save” button at the bottom center of the application. Clicking save will temporarily save your application. In order to permanently save your application, select the “Save Application to File” button. Then, click the “Save” button on the File Download window. Identify a place on your computer to save the application file, browse to that location, and click the “Save” button on the “Save As” window. The system will download your application to the specified location. Once the download is complete you can click “Close” to return to the application. You can then use the “Upload a Previous Application” option on the “Getting Started” page to upload the data that you have already entered.

  • The confirmation page has an "X" in the box where the photo should be. What does that mean?

That means that the photo upload failed.  Since we request all applicants to attach a 2” x 2” inch square photo on the lower left-hand corner of the confirmation page, we will scan your photo if needed.  This photo should be printed from the same photo image that you submit electronically with your DS-160.  If it is not printed from the same photo image, it should still meet the photo requirements.

  • Why did the edits I made from the review page "edit" link not save?

In order for data changes made from the review page links to save, you must use the buttons at the bottom of each page to navigate, instead of the browser's back/forward buttons or the buttons along the left of the screen.

  • Should I save my application before I submit it?

YES! You should save your application locally (to either your computer hard drive or a CD) before you submit your application. Saving your application locally is beneficial in two ways. First, if your application is rejected by the U.S. Embassy or Consulate for being incomplete, i.e., your application contains inaccurate or non-responsive answers or you failed to answer a critical question, you will be able to access your saved application data, correct the inaccurate or incomplete answers and submit the corrected application without having to complete an entirely new application. Second, if you are a frequent visa applicant, you can update your saved application the next time you wish to apply for a visa and submit the updated application. This will save you time by not having to re-enter information that has not changed since the last time you applied.

  • How do I save my application?

To save the application, click the “Save” button at the bottom center of the application. Clicking save will temporarily save your application. In order to permanently save your application, select the “Save Application to File” button. Then, click the “Save” button on the File Download window. Identify a place on your computer to save the application file, browse to that location, and click the “Save” button on the Save As window. The system will download your application to the specified location. Once the download is complete you can click “Close” to return to the application. You can then use the “Upload a Previous Application” option on the “Getting Started” page to upload the data that you have already entered.

  • 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 will 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.

  • I am traveling with my family or as part of a group. Can I create a family or group application?

Yes. On the “Thank You” page you will see an option to create a family or group application. When you select this option, certain information from your application, such as destination, will automatically be imported to and displayed on a new application. Please note that if you use this option you will need to create an individual application for each of your family members traveling with you or for each individual within the group.

  • If I use the option on the "Thank You" page to create a family or group application, can I modify the data automatically populated by the system?

Yes. If one of the dependents has a different surname or nationality, for example, the applicant can alter that data on the application before submitting.

  • When I apply for a nonimmigrant visa using the online DS-160, are additional forms required?

No.  The DS-160 has replaced all of the following forms: DS-156, DS-157, and
DS-158, which are no longer necessary.  However, there are one exception:

Applicants for E visas (Treaty Traders/Investors) will be required to complete both the DS-160 and a hard copy DS-156E.

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Applying For a Visa

  • U.S. dollar rates for nonimmigrant visa application processing fees changed on April 13, 2012.  What if I already paid my fee before April 13, but am scheduled for an appointment after April 13, 2012?

    Applicants will be charged the fee in effect on the day of payment.  If you paid your visa fee before April 13, 2012 and that fee increased, you do not have to pay the difference between the new and old fee amounts as long as your visa interview is on or before July 12, 2012.  Starting July 13, 2012, you will be required to pay the new fee at exchange rates set by AIT without exception.  If you paid your visa fee before April 13, 2012 at the AIT exchange rate in effect at that time and that fee has since decreased, we cannot give you a refund, however, these receipts are valid for the usual one year from the date of issuance. 
  • How can I minimize my time at AIT while applying for a visa?

AIT’s interview process is designed to maximize convenience for our visa applicants and minimize waiting time.  Our goal is to process your application as efficiently as possible.  To do this there are many things that the applicants can do to help.

The time printed on the appointment ticket is the entrance time. Applicants who arrive at the appointed time will be allowed into the building with minimal delay. Due to safety reasons and the large number of applications that we process every day, applicants who arrive before their appointed time cannot be let into the building early.  To avoid an unnecessary wait outside please do not arrive early for your appointment.

Cell phones and other electrical devices are not allowed in AIT.  Applicants are reminded that if they do not bring electrical devices they do not have to worry about checking them in with the guards.

  • I am not a Taiwan resident.  Can I apply in Taiwan?

Visa applicants should generally apply at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate with jurisdiction over their place of permanent residence.  Although visa applicants may apply at any U.S. consular office abroad, it may be more difficult to qualify for a visa outside your country of permanent residence.  Residents from outside Taiwan have to show strong ties to Taiwan.

  • Can I accompany a visa applicant to his/her interview?

The applicant is the only person allowed into the American Institute in Taiwan for a visa interview.  Relatives, friends, co-workers, employers, lawyers, etc. will not be allowed into the building.

One family member or assistant is allowed to accompany applicants with disabilities.  Parents or legal guardians may accompany any minor child (age 17 and under) to the appointment or a relative may accompany an adult over age 65.

  • What are “strong ties”?

“Ties” are the various aspects of a person’s life that bind him/her to his/her country or residence: possessions, employment, social and family relationships.  Some examples of ties can be a person’s job and income, a house or apartment, a car, close family relationships, bank accounts, etc.  Visa applicants must demonstrate that they have sufficiently strong family, social, or economic ties to their place of residence to ensure that their projected stay in the U.S. will be temporary.  It is impossible to specify the exact documents visa applicants should bring since each applicant’s circumstances vary greatly.  Visa applicants should bring to the interview whatever documents they think demonstrate their individual circumstances.  Strong ties differ from country to country, city to city, and individual to individual.  Consular officers look at each application individually and consider professional, social, cultural and other factors.  Each case is examined individually and is accorded every consideration under the law.  Under U.S. law, it is the applicants’ responsibility to show that they have strong enough ties to their place of residence to qualify for a non-immigrant visa.

  • What documents should I bring to my interview?

Anything considered relevant.  It is the applicants’ responsibility to show that they have strong enough ties to their place of residence to qualify for a non-immigrant visa.  Generally speaking, it is better to bring extra documents that may not be needed than to have to return for another interview because the Consular Officer asked for documents the applicant did not think he/she needed.

  • How long before I plan to travel should I apply for a visa?

We recommend that applicants apply as far in advance as possible (for student, exchange visitor, and employment-based visa categories, there are limitations on how far in advance a visa may be issued.  Please see the specific regulations for your visa category). While we strive to return passports with issued visas via courier service as soon as possible, factors beyond our control sometimes delay the return of passports for several days. While most applications can be processed expeditiously, occasionally a case requires additional processing time.  Moreover, because of the high number of applications AIT receives, it is not possible to interrupt our service to the majority of applicants in order to accommodate specially those applicants who fail to apply for a visa early enough.

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

To qualify for most nonimmigrant visas, applicants must meet the requirements of U.S. immigration law.  Failure to do so will result in a refusal of a visa.  The most frequent basis for refusal relates to the requirement that an applicant possess a residence abroad he/she has no intention of abandoning.  Applicants prove the existence of such residence by demonstrating that they have ties abroad that would compel them to leave the U.S. at the end of the temporary stay.  The law places this burden of proof on each individual applicant.  See the U.S. Department of State website for more details on visa issuance and denials.

  • I have an application to immigrate to the United States on file. Do I need to withdraw the immigrant application in order to get a tourist visa?

No. We issue many visitor visas to persons who plan to immigrate lawfully to the U.S. in the future. Our experience shows us that many people from Taiwan who have filed petitions to immigrate do not intend to immigrate at the time they apply for a tourist visa. However, applicants who falsely deny on their applications that they have an immigration petition on file may well be refused a visa. This is because a false statement on part of the application calls into question the truthfulness of the rest of the application.

  • I have a green card, but I decided not to live in the U.S. due to personal reasons.  I am planning to visit my friend in the U.S. for two weeks and would like to apply for a tourist visa.  What should I do?

If you are a lawful permanent resident (green card holder) who no longer resides in the U.S., prior to applying for a nonimmigrant visa you should complete the form I-407, and submit it to the Immigrant Visa Unit (located on the second floor of the consular building).  Once the I-407 is approved, you may then apply for a nonimmigrant visa (located on the first floor).   This form is available free at the Atos Application Processing Center (APC). You may also ask for the form and complete it on the day you come to AIT.  You must make an appointment for your tourist visa application unless you are over the age of 80.

In most cases, an applicant is not qualified to obtain a non-immigrant visa if the applicant is an LPR (in possession of a green card).  This regulation applies even if the green card has expired or the LPR no longer resides in the U.S.

  • Should I disclose the fact that I have close relatives living in the United States? Should I disclose the fact that I have an immigration petition on file? Should I disclose prior visa refusals? If an applicant conceals or misrepresents information, or submits fraudulent documents to AIT, what are the consequences?

DO NOT LIE OR CONCEAL FACTS. The consequences of fraud are serious.  Always tell the truth.  If an applicant’s ties to Taiwan are adequate to overcome the presumption of immigrant intent, a visa will be issued.  Problems arise when applicants mislead the interviewing officer as to their intent in visiting the United States.  Once a misrepresentation is made, it will be difficult to believe other information supplied by the applicant.  Applicants who provide incorrect information, conceal relevant facts, or misrepresent their cases may become permanently ineligible to enter the United States. All approved applications are checked against computer records to see if certain information on the application was truthfully presented. It is common in Taiwan for an applicant to have relatives in the United States or a petition to immigrate on file. These factors by themselves will not prevent approval of your application. Misrepresentation of these facts, however, risks causing your application to be refused.

  • Should I hire a visa consultant or other adviser to help me apply?

This is a personal choice.  In most cases it is not necessary for you to hire a visa consultant to help with your application because the vast majority of NIV applications are approved at AIT.  Consultants in Taiwan often charge large fees for filling out forms. Moreover, our experience shows that many applicants are coached by intermediaries to provide misleading answers, whereas truthful answer would not have harmed the application. Simply statedhe discovery of a misleading answer often puts the entire application in doubt.

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Visa Denials

  • Why didn’t the Consular Officer give me time to explain my situation?

The Consular Officer who refused your visa is highly trained.  During a short interview, the Consular Officer looks at several aspects of your case: your situation in Taiwan, your stated intent in visiting the U.S., your financial situation, and many other factors.  Based upon the unique circumstances of your case, the Consular Officer asked you the questions he/she deemed necessary to elicit relevant information.  The Consular Officer weighed your answers to those questions with the other facts of your case.

  • If I am refused a visa, do I have to wait three to six months before reapplying?

No. There is no time restriction on resubmitting an application after a refusal. If you have additional information or supporting documentation to present you may reapply. If your circumstances are unchanged, your chances of gaining approval on a second or third application are much lower. In such cases, it is probably better to wait until your personal circumstances have changed significantly before reapplying.

  • I have been accepted by a U.S. school, which issued me an I-20. Why isn't that enough for issuance of a student visa?

The approved I-20 is just one piece of information the interviewing officer must consider when deciding whether a visa may be issued. Student visa applicants must also demonstrate ties to a residence abroad that will compel them to leave the U.S. when their studies are completed.  In student visa cases, the applicants may intend to stay in the United States for many months and even years pursuing a course of study. Consequently, we must consider your overall circumstances when deciding whether to approve a student visa. Student visas must be denied if it appears that the applicant's primary purpose of travel is not to obtain an education, but rather to facilitate an indefinite stay in the United States. The fact that a school has admitted a student to study and issued the student an I-20 is, therefore, only one factor we consider.

  • Is a denial under Section 214(b) permanent?

No.  If an applicant has new information which was not presented to the interviewing officer at the time of the first application, or if the applicant’s overall circumstances have changed significantly since the last application, a visa may be approved.

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Traveling To the United States

  • My visa says that it is valid for five years. Does this mean that I am permitted to stay in the United States for five years?

No.  The validity of a U.S. visa designates the period it may be used to seek entry into the United States, not how long a visitor may stay. For example, a multiple-entry visa valid for five years gives the traveler the right to seek admission into the United States as many times as desired within the five-year period. The immigration inspector at the U.S. port of entry, not the officer at AIT, decides how long a foreign traveler can stay in the United States. This period is usually long enough for the traveler to complete the stated purpose of the visit. For most visitors, this will be a maximum of six months. Students will usually be permitted to stay long enough to complete their education program. The immigration inspector will give the foreign traveler a document (usually Form I-94, Arrival and Departure Record) that indicates how long the foreign traveler may stay in the United States and in what status.

  • My passport has expired, but my visa is still valid.  Can I still use my visa?

If your visa has not expired, been cancelled or damaged, simply carry your old and new passports (issued by the same country) together when you go to the United States.  Carrying your old passports can actually be advantageous because it allows the immigration inspector to see your travel history.  If you prefer to have a visa placed in your new passport, you must submit a new application, pay the visa application fee, schedule an interview date and arrival time, and be re-interviewed.

  • I have recently changed my name and have received a new passport.  Can I still use the visa that is contained in my old passport?

No.  Please follow regular procedures to apply for a new visa.  Please include your previous name(s) on your application form DS-160 and bring a copy of your household registration record showing your legal change of name.

  • I did not turn in my I-94 when I left the U.S., what should I do?

Please visit the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Website for detailed information.

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Other Questions

  • My father is in a hospital in the United States.  I need to leave for the United States immediately. Can I request an expedited appointment for my visa application?

In true emergencies such as the imminent death of a family member, we will do our utmost to process your application the same day.  Please click here for information about how to apply for a visa for emergency travel.  Please note that you must still show that you qualify for a visa.

  • What can I do if I have a complaint about the application process or my case?

All visa applicants are entitled to courteous, efficient, and consistent treatment. If you feel you were treated improperly during the processing of your visa application, you should write to the chief of the Non-Immigrant Visa Unit at AIT and describe the circumstances. Your concerns will be investigated and corrective action taken where justified. Our fax number is 886-2-2162-2211.  Our e-mail address is

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