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Frequently Asked Questions

Appointment Process

  • How can I schedule my appointment?

    How can I schedule my appointment?

    • Scheduling an appointment is easy; all appointments are scheduled via our online system.

  • How can I change my appointment date/time?

    How can I change my appointment date/time?

    • You may change or cancel your appointment any time, by going to the appointment page, and using the identification code and password you received on your appointment confirmation page.  NOTE:  We cannot provide information on individual appointments or confirmation codes/passwords.  You must record this information when scheduling your appointment.

  • What do I do if I cannot get an appointment date?

    What do I do if I cannot get an appointment date?

    • We add new appointments every business day; please check often. If you cannot find an appointment, please continue to check back. Click here to learn more about emergency appointments.

  • I scheduled an appointment but was told my name did not appear on the Embassy’s list. What can I do?

    I scheduled an appointment but was told my name did not appear on the Embassy’s list. What can I do?

    • If you scheduled an appointment but your name was not on the list, you will need to reschedule your appointment. NOTE: Only one (1) appointment per person is allowed. If you schedule more than one (1) appointment, the system will cancel all your appointments without notice.  Each individual applicant (including children) must have separate appointments.

Applying For a Visa

  • Do my children need to appear in person for the visa interview?

    Do my children need to appear in person for the visa interview?

    • Yes, we prefer that all applicants appear in person. It is mandatory that children over 14 years of age appear in person for the interview. If children under 14 are unable to come to the interview, only the parent or legal guardian can apply on the child’s behalf. It is up to the Consular Officer’s discretion to waive the appearance requirement for a child. Please bring proof of relationship or legal guardianship such as an original birth certificate or court document.

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

    Can I accompany the visa applicant to his/her interview?

    • The applicant is the only person allowed into the U.S. Consular Section for a visa interview. Relatives, friends, co-workers, employers, lawyers, etc. will not be allowed into the building. Parents or legal guardians are advised to accompany any minor child (age 17 and under) to the appointment.

  • What should I bring with me to the visa interview?

    What should I bring with me to the visa interview?

    • Please bring your DS-160 application confirmation page with the bar code, your original Ecobank MRV receipt, a passport valid for at least 6 months, a recent 2"x 2" photo with a white background (taken within the past six months), and all previous U.S. visas, even if expired.

      Applicants are welcome to bring documents explaining the purpose of travel, as well as document which demonstrate financial, family or social ties to Ghana. These documents may be reviewed, on a case-by-case basis, at the discretion of the interviewing Consular Officer.

      If you are accompanying a minor child applicant (age 17 and under), please bring proof of relationship and/or legal guardianship such as an original birth certificate or court document.

      Visitors for educational purposes (students/scholars) should also bring the original Form I-20 or Form DS-2019 issued by the school you plan to attend, as well as proof of SEVIS payment.

      Note: Applicants must arrive with all application materials and required documents. Applicants with incomplete application packages may be turned away and required to reschedule their appointment.
  • How soon will I know whether I qualify for a visa?

    How soon will I know whether I qualify for a visa?

    • The majority of applicants will be told by the Consular Officer the outcome of their visa application at the conclusion of the interview. If you are notified that you have been approved for a visa, you will be given a collection ticket to come back in two (2) business days to pick up your visa; please bring this collection ticket with you when picking up your visa (without it you will not be admitted to the Consular Section).

      There is no same day delivery of visas. Most visas are available in two (2) business days, but occasionally additional time for processing may be required due to special circumstances, incomplete applications, or administrative processing. As such, please schedule your appointment as soon as your travel plans are made and as far in advance as possible.

  • Can I travel on a valid U.S. visa in an expired passport?

    Can I travel on a valid U.S. visa in an expired passport?

    • Generally, yes. If you have a valid U.S. visa in an expired passport, you may still travel to the U.S. on the valid visa, provided you travel with a valid passport of the same nationality as the expired passport and the two passports contain identical biographic data.   If you are traveling on a valid visa in an expired passport, please be sure to travel with both the expired passport and the valid passport.  NOTE: While you are not required to obtain a new U.S. visa in your new passport, you may do so if you like.  If you choose to do so, however, you will need to reapply and complete a new application and pay another visa fee.

  • How long before my planned departure should I apply for a visa?

    How long before my planned departure should I apply for a visa?

    • We recommend that applicants apply as far in advance as possible, or at least three months before their travel date. While most applications can be processed expeditiously, occasionally a case requires additional processing time. There is also no guarantee that your visa application will be approved. Normally applicants receive their visas two (2) business days after the interview. Factors beyond our control sometimes delay the release of passports with the visas. NOTE: For security reasons we cannot interview and print visas on the same day.

Traveling To the United States

  • Can I use the Visa Waiver Program to travel to the United States?

    Can I use the Visa Waiver Program to travel to the United States?

    • Passport holders of the following countries are eligible to use the Visa Waiver Program: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, if:

      • They present a machine-readable passport (MRP) valid for six months past their expected stay in the United States.  This includes all categories of passports—regular, diplomatic, and official, when the traveler is seeking to enter the U.S. for business or tourist purposes, for a maximum of 90 days.  If the passport was issued between October 26, 2005 and October 25, 2006, it must have a digital photograph printed on the biographic data page of the passport OR include an integrated chip with information from the data page.  If the passport has neither, the traveler is required to obtain a U.S. visa.  If the passport was issued before October 26, 2005, no further requirements are in effect;
      • The purpose of their stay in the United States is 90-days or less for tourism or business (if in doubt, travelers should check with the nearest Embassy or Consulate to verify that what they plan to do is considered tourism or business.  Transit through the United States is generally permitted.  Note that foreign media representatives planning to engage in that vocation in the U.S.  are not eligible, as the purpose their stay does not qualify as "business");
      • They have complied with the conditions of previous admissions under the Visa Waiver Program, and have not been found ineligible for a U.S. visa; and
      • If arriving by air or sea, they are traveling on an approved carrier (almost all major airlines and cruise ship companies are currently approved carriers - copies of carrier lists may be requested from the Department of Homeland Security's National Fines Office at 1525 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, VA 22209), and have a return trip ticket to any foreign destination other than the U.S.  or adjacent islands; or
      • If arriving by land, they can demonstrate the intent to stay 90-days or less in the U.S. and sufficient funds to support themselves in the United States. 

      October 17, 2008, the Visa Waiver Program was expanded to include seven new countries:  Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, the Republic of Korea and the Slovak Republic.  DHS has announced that nationals of these seven countries will be able to travel without a visa for tourist and business travel of 90- days or less beginning on November 17, 2008, provided they possess a biometric passport and register on-line through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). 

      NOTE:  VWP travelers who have been admitted under the Visa Waiver Program and who make a short trip to Canada, Mexico or an adjacent island generally can be readmitted to the U.S. under the VWP for the original admission period.  See the Department of Homeland Security's Customs and Border Protection (CBP) website for additional details.  Also VWP nationals resident in Mexico, Canada or adjacent islands are generally exempted from requirements to show onward travel to other foreign destinations.  

  • I did not turn in my I-94 when I left the United States. What should I do?

    I did not turn in my I-94 when I left the United States. What should I do?

    • If you returned home with your departure record Form I-94 (white) or Form I-94W (green) in your passport, it means that your departure was not properly recorded.  It is your responsibility to correct this record.  You must provide sufficient information so we can confirm your timely departure from the United States.  This will close out your earlier record of arrival to this country.

      Learn more about the most current procedures on turning in your I-94.

  • What food products can I take to the United States?

    What food products can I take to the United States?

    • The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) establishes criteria for the admissibility of plant, dairy and meat products returning with travelers and determines what may be admitted into the United States.   The USDA can be contacted at 301-734-8896 for information about the admissibility of plant or plant products.  Learn more about USDA food restriction.

      All travelers entering the United States from a foreign country must declare all:

      • Fruits
      • Vegetables
      • Plants and plant products
      • Meat and meat products
      • Animals, birds, and eggs

      Your declaration may be oral, written, or both, and must cover all items carried in your baggage and hand luggage.  If you are returning from abroad, you will be given a Customs Declaration form on which to declare your agricultural products.   You will also be asked to indicate whether you have visited a farm or ranch outside the United States.  USDA officers inspect passenger baggage for undeclared agricultural products.  Failure to declare any items may result in delays and fines of up to $1,000.

      Agricultural products of U.S. origin, such as fruits, vegetables, meats, and birds taken out of the United States, cannot always be brought back into the country.  These items should be declared upon returning.  Consult in advance with USDA inspectors.

Emergency Appointments

  • I need to travel to the United States to receive medical care. How can I get an emergency appointment?

    I need to travel to the United States to receive medical care. How can I get an emergency appointment?

    • Applicants for medical emergency cases may request an emergency appointment via the online appointment system.   You should present a letter from the hospital in the United States about the medical condition of the patient, together with other supporting documents, i.e. proof of relationship between the applicant and the patient, financial documents of the applicant, etc. 

      NOTE:  Due to the large volume of emergency appointment requests received on a daily basis, we apologize but we are unable to grant all inquiries.  Learn more about medical emergency appointments.

  • I need to attend my relative's funeral in the United States. How can I get an emergency appointment?

    I need to attend my relative's funeral in the United States. How can I get an emergency appointment?

Questions Regarding Nonimmigrant Visa Refusals

  • Why was my visa application refused?

    Why was my visa application refused?

    • Most visa applications are refused under Section 214(b).  What is Section 214(b)?  Section 214(b) is part of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and it states, “Every alien shall be presumed to be an immigrant until he establishes to the satisfaction of the consular officer, at the time of application for admission, that he is entitled to a nonimmigrant status...”

      Visa applicants can overcome this presumption by proving they have a permanent residence abroad which they have no intention of abandoning.  This is generally established by the documentation of family, social, employment, economic or other ties in their home country which will compel them to return after a temporary stay in the United States.  Because visitors to the United States do not have the rights to employment while there, an applicant's economic position in their home country and their personal financial resources are additional factors in determining whether the applicant has the need or desire to work while in the United States.

      Consular officers wish to facilitate travel to the United States.  They are obliged, however, to evaluate the facts and circumstances surrounding each visa application and to judge whether the applicant has met the burden of proof required by law for issuance of a visa.  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 nonimmigrant visa.  Given the facts they presented, the consular officer denied their nonimmigrant visa application under section 214(b) of the Immigration Act. 

      Other visa applications are refused under Section 221(g).  Section 221(g) is part of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and it states, “(g) No visa or other documentation shall be issued to an alien if, 

      1. it appears to the consular officer, from statements in the application, or in the papers submitted therewith, that such alien is ineligible to receive a visa or such other documentation under section 212, or any other provision of law,
      2. the application fails to comply with the provisions of this Act, or the regulations issued thereunder, or
      3. the consular officer knows or has reason to believe that such alien is ineligible to receive a visa or such other documentation under section 212, or any other provision of law: Provided, That a visa or other documentation may be issued to an alien who is within the purview of section 212(a)(4), if such alien is otherwise entitled to receive a visa or other documentation, upon receipt of notice by the consular officer from the Attorney General of the giving of a bond or undertaking providing indemnity as in the case of aliens admitted under section 213: Provided further, That a visa may be issued to an alien defined in section 101(a)(15) (B) or (F), if such alien is otherwise entitled to receive a visa, upon receipt of a notice by the consular officer from the Attorney General of the giving of a bond with sufficient surety in such sum and containing such conditions as the consular officer shall prescribe, to insure that at the expiration of the time for which such alien has been admitted by the Attorney General, as provided in section 214(a), or upon failure to maintain the status under which he was admitted, or to maintain any status subsequently acquired under section 248 of the Act, such alien will depart from the United States.”

      Learn more about Section 214(b) or Section 221(g).

  • What are strong ties?

    What are strong ties?

    • Strong ties differ from country to country, city to city, individual to individual.  Some examples of ties can be a job, a house, a family, a bank account.  "Ties" are the various aspects of your life that bind you to your country of residence: your possessions, employment, social and family relationships.

      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 United States 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 will help their visa applications 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 nonimmigrant visa.  Third party guarantees including from U.S. Citizens or legal Permanent Residents do not represent sufficient evidence of strong ties to receive a visa.

  • Why didn't the Consular Officer give me time to explain?

    Why didn't the Consular Officer give me time to explain?

    • 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 Ghana, your stated intent in visiting the United States, your previous travel history, 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.

  • Why didn't the Consular Officer look at my documents?

    Why didn't the Consular Officer look at my documents?

    • Applying for a nonimmigrant visa is not a documentary process. Consular Officers never rely solely on documents. Documents alone do not establish an applicant's intentions. Documents that demonstrate that an applicant is well established in his/her own country can in some circumstances help to show an individual's intent to return to his/her own country after a temporary stay in the United States. Depending on the specifics of your case, the Consular Officer may or may not have needed to examine your documents closely to make a decision about your eligibility for a visa. You were correct to bring documents with you, in case the Consular Officer needed to refer to them. If the Consular Officer made a decision in your case without detailed scrutiny of your documents, it was because other circumstances of your case were clear. If your visa was refused, it is highly unlikely that any document you could provide would significantly alter the Consular Officer's decision about your case.

  • Why can't I get my money back?

    Why can't I get my money back?

    • The U.S. $160 or local equivalent that you paid is an application fee. Everyone who applies for a U.S. visa is subject to this fee. The application instructions state clearly that this fee is non-refundable and will not be returned if you fail to establish that you qualify for a U.S. visa. The U.S. Embassy has no authority to refund an application fee.

  • I was refused a visa; can I re-apply?

    I was refused a visa; can I re-apply?

    • If you were found ineligible under U.S. law to receive a visa but you now have new information, or if your overall circumstances have changed significantly, you may re-apply following the same procedures as any other applicant. Re-applying is the only way to have your application reconsidered. A new visa application will incur a new processing fee of US $160.

Other Frequently Asked Questions

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

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

    • If you feel that you were treated improperly during the processing of your visa application, you should write to NIVAccra@state.gov or send a letter to the Chief of the Consul Section, U.S. Embassy, P.O. Box GP 194, Accra, Ghana, and describe the circumstances. Your concerns will be investigated and corrective action taken where justified.

  • What should I do if my visa is lost or stolen?

    What should I do if my visa is lost or stolen?

    • If your visa is lost or stolen, it is very important that you report the loss of the passport and visa to the Ghana Police and that you obtain a police report in order to help protect yourself from identity theft. We also ask that you provide the following information by email to NIVAccra@state.gov or by post to Fraud Investigative Unit, Consular Section, U.S. Embassy, P.O. Box GP 194, Accra, Ghana.

      Please provide the following information:

      1. An identity document (preferably a copy of your lost or stolen passport).
      2. Your address and phone number. 
      3. A photocopy of the lost visa, if available, or the date and place of issuance, if known. 
      4. A photocopy of the bio-data page of your lost passport, if available.  If not, the nationality and number of your lost passport as well as the issuance and expiration dates, if available. 
      5. Circumstances of the loss: When and how your passport was lost or stolen.