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Ask the Consul

"Ask the Consul" is a collection of responses prepared by the Consular Section that covers a variety of subjects of interest to U.S. citizens and to citizens of other countries who want to visit or live in the United States.  If you have a general consular question, please send it to us by e-mail.  Questions may be submitted in English, Ukrainian, or Russian; answers will be posted in English and Ukrainian. 

Important Note: We DO NOT respond to any personal questions sent to "Ask the Consul," nor do we discuss specifics of individual visa cases.  If you have questions regarding a personal visa matter, please see the list of our e-mail accounts below in order to direct your question to the appropriate channel: 

For specific inquiries regarding a non-immigrant visa application or to schedule a non-immigrant visa appointment, please contact our Call Center: 044-383-80-66 . If calling from the United States, please call (703) 988-71-07.  Or please contact kyivniv@state.gov

To schedule an immigrant visa appointment, please contact our Call Center: 044-383-80-66. If calling from the United States, please call (703) 988-71-07 .

For specific inquiries regarding an immigrant or fiancé(e) visa application, please contact kyiviv@state.gov

For specific inquiries on the adoption of Ukrainian orphans by U.S. citizens, please contact kyivadoptions@state.gov.

To inquire about the services we provide for U.S. citizens, please contact kyivacs@state.gov

QUESTIONS OF THIS WEEK

Q:  My passport has expired, but the U.S. visa in it is still valid. Do I need to apply for a new visa?

A: The U.S. visa is valid until the expiration date printed on the visa (unless it has been cancelled by a U.S. officer).  You may use the visa and a new passport together if the passport containing the visa has expired or will expire soon.  Any difference in the name transliteration in two passports will not affect the visa validity.  However, the nationality indicated on the visa must match the nationality of the new passport. 

Q: I have a valid U.S. tourist visa that was issued in my maiden name some time ago.  I got married and recently received a new passport issued in my married name.  Can I travel with two passports and the original marriage certificate translated into English and notarized by a local notary?  If not, is there any special procedure to apply for new visas in such cases?

A: It is best to acquire a new visa with your new legal name. There is no special procedure to apply for a visa with your married name. Alternatively, you may travel with both passports, but we strongly recommend that you present both passports and the original or certified copy of your marriage license (or divorce decree) attesting to the change of your surname at the U.S. Port of Entry.  

Q: I have a valid U.S. visa.  This year I plan to travel with my child, who is registered in my passport. Does s/he need a visa or would my visa be enough? 

A:  Every person (including children of any age) requires a visa to travel to the U.S.  You will need to fill out the application form DS-160 online for your child and pay the $160 visa application fee. If your child’s visa is approved, that visa will be placed in your passport.  Please note, for all cases involving children under 16, both parents should be present at the interview.  For detailed information on our nonimmigrant visa application procedures please visit our website at: http://ukraine.usembassy.gov/

Q: Do Ukrainian citizens need to have a medical insurance when visiting the U.S.? 

A:  No, we do not require our visa applicants to present the proof of purchasing medical insurance at the visa interview.  Every visa applicant needs to decide for him/herself if he/she would like to have medical insurance during the trip.  The required documents are listed on our website at http://ukraine.usembassy.gov/

QUESTIONS OF LAST WEEK 

Q: My passport with a valid tourist visa was stolen.  Is there any special application procedure for such cases? 

A:  If your passport with a valid tourist visa was stolen, or you lost it, first of all you should report the accident to the police.   In order to receive a new visa you have to apply again.  You are welcome to use the Renewal procedure and Renewal by mail procedure, depending on your qualifications.  However, please note that in order to use these procedures, applicants must meet all the requirements.   Please do not forget to include the police report into the application package.   For detailed information on our nonimmigrant visa application procedures please visit our website at: http://ukraine.usembassy.gov/

Q: My visa will expire while I am in the United States. Is there a problem with that? 

A:  No. If the Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection Immigration Officer at the port of entry (generally an airport) admitted you into the United States for a specific period of time, s/he will note your authorized period of stay on your I-94 card, called an Arrival Departure Record. You will be able to remain in the United States during your authorized period of stay, even if your visa expires during the time you are in the United States. Since Form I-94 documents your authorized stay and is the official record of your permission to be in the U.S., it is very important to keep it inside your passport. 


PREVIOUS QUESTIONS 

Q: If I receive a multiple-entry nonimmigrant visa for 5 years, how many times during the calendar year can I travel to the United States?  And how long can I stay in the U.S.? 

A: A multiple-entry visa allows a person to travel to the U.S. several times within the period of the visa's validity.  However, the number of days spent on the territory of the U.S. during the calendar year should not exceed the total of 180 days.  At the point of entry to the U.S., an immigration officer will indicate how long the visa holder is permitted to stay in the country. 

If a visa type does not allow long-term stay in the U.S., extensive and frequent travel to the U.S. may raise questions about the visa holder's intent to maintain permanent residence in Ukraine.  Such trips may negatively affect his/her ability to obtain a new visa to the U.S.

Q: I study in the United States, but my U.S.  visa has expired.  If I decide to visit my family in Ukraine, do I need to receive a new visa to come back to the United States?  Is there a guarantee that I will receive the visa to continue my studies, or can I extend my visa while in the U.S.? 

A:   If you would like to travel outside the U.S. but your previous U.S. visa has expired, you will need to apply for a new one in the U.S. Consulate in Ukraine, or any other country outside of the U.S.  There is no procedure for extending the visa. 

Although it is possible to apply for a visa in any U.S. Consulate worldwide, we recommend you to submit your application in the country of your citizenship/permanent residence because interviewing officers' unfamiliarity with local conditions in your country may make it more difficult to demonstrate your qualifications for a visa because ultimately an applicant has to demonstrate ties to the country where s/he applies for a visa. 

Since it is impossible to obtain all relevant facts without seeing your passport and completed application, we are unable to tell you whether you will or will not receive a visa. 

Q: I am a 5th-year student at a XXX university.  This year I plan to participate in the Summer Work and Travel program.  Am I eligible to take part in the SWT program, if I finish my studies in February 2013?

A: Final year students are eligible to take part in the SWT program even though they will have graduated at the time of the participation as long as they apply to participate in the program prior to their graduation.

For more information about U.S. visas, please visit the Consular Services/Visa Services section of the U.S. Embassy website at http://ukraine.usembassy.gov/.  Additional information about exchange programs is available at http://j1visa.state.gov/, http://www.travel.state.gov/ and http://www.exchanges.state.gov/.

Q: What documents do I need for my visa to be approved?

A: The only documents required at your visa interview are your one-page DS-160 confirmation page with barcode and your passport.  Applicants are welcome to present whatever information they feel demonstrates that they have strong economic, family or professional ties in their country of residence.  The consular officer will request to view such documents at his or her discretion.  Since each applicant's situation is different, there is no "set" of documents that you can present that will guarantee visa issuance.  For more information on the NIV application procedure, please visit the How to Apply/Application Package.

Q: My girlfriend and I are thinking about getting married, but I want to take her to the U.S. to meet my family before we decide.  What kind of visa should she get? 

A: You have two very distinct choices: a) she can apply for a tourist visa (B1/B2) or b) she can apply for a fiance visa (K1).

If she applies for a tourist visa (B1/B2), she must qualify on her own merits as a short-term traveler who does not intend to abandon her residence abroad.  Depending on the applicant, the fact that a traveler is in a relationship or engaged to a U.S. citizen may in fact indicate immigrant intent.  Applying for a fiance visa (K1) takes longer and is more expensive, but has a greater chance of being issued if and when the relationship is determined to be bona fide.  We review such cases with the understanding that many applicants attempt to use the B1/B2 visa to circumvent the lengthier K1 visa process.

Q: What happens if I have a valid visa, but my passport has expired or has been cancelled?  Can my visa be transferred to my new passport? 

A: Your visa cannot be transferred, however, you may present your expired or cancelled passport containing the valid U.S. visa, along with your new passport at the point of entry into the United States.  Alternatively, you may apply for a new visa, that will be put in your currently valid passport, but you must pay all fees again. 

Q: Why did the consular officer refuse me without even looking at all my documents? 

A: The consular officer examines your application and passport when you are called to the window for an interview.  That information, along with the information obtained during the interview, is usually sufficient for a decision to be made.  If an officer believes  that a document (such as a letter from your employer or inviter) will be informative, he or she will request it.  It is important to note that documents presented are only one of many factors consular officers consider when determining an applicant's eligibility for a non-immigrant visa.  It is known that many documents in "visa packages" are either fraudulent or exist for the purpose of the visa interview alone, and thus are dubious in their authenticity.

Q: How can I immigrate to the U.S.?  Where should I send information about myself? 

A:  There are several ways to immigrate to the U.S.:
  1. Through family relations.  In this case your parents or brothers/sisters who hold the U.S. citizenship may file an I-130 immigrant petition on your behalf.
  2. Through employment.  In this case an immigrant petition is filed by your U.S. employer.
  3. Through investment.  In this case you are expected to invest at least 500.000 USD in the U.S. economy.
  4. Through winning a Green Card (participation in the Diversity Visa Lottery (http://www.dvlottery.state.gov/).

You can find detailed information on existing legal ways to immigrate to the U.S. either on our web site (http://ukraine.usembassy.gov/immigrant-visas.html) or on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service Internet page (http://www.uscis.gov/).

Q: Should I translate my supporting documents into English and notarize the translations when applying for a B1/B2 visa?  Additionally, do applicants need to present  proof of medical insurance at the time of a visa interview? 

A: Applicants do not need to translate supporting documents into English  or notarize the translations to receive a tourist visa.  Consular officers speak Ukrainian and Russian.

As for medical insurance, proof of medical insurance is not required to receive a tourist visa.  Applicants themselves should make the decision whether to purchase medical insurance. 

Q: Is it possible to transfer a valid U.S. visa from an expired foreign passport to a new one? 

A: U.S. visas do not lose their validity when the passport in which they were placed expires.  However, U.S. law requires that all persons requesting entry to the U.S. present a valid visa and a valid passport.  An alien can present two passports: one, which fulfills the visa requirement and the other, which fulfills the passport requirement.  The alien's nationality, as indicated in the new passport, must be the same as that shown in the passport bearing the visa stamp.  Also, the passport containing the visa must be complete and whole.  Removing a visa from a passport invalidates the visa, as does destruction of the biographic page or significant damage to other pages of the passport.

Visas cannot be transferred from one passport to another.  If an applicant wishes to have a visa placed in a new passport, she or he must apply again for a visa.  This new application is subject to the same fees and requirements as any new visa.  For more information please visit our website http://ukraine.usembassy.gov.