Applying for a U.K. visa in the United States

on Wednesday, 02 May 2012. Posted in Employment Based Immigration, Immigration

This page explains how you can apply for a visa to come to the UK if you are currently in the USA.

When to apply

You can apply for a visa up to 3 months before your date of travel to the UK. We strongly advise you not to confirm your travel arrangements until you have received your visa. To find out how long we usually take to process your type of visa, go to the Visa processing times at the UK Border Agency page.

Before you apply

Before you apply, you must:

  • prepare the supporting documents that you will need;
  • be ready to enrol your fingerprints and photograph (known as biometric information) at one of the Application Support Centers run by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (unless you are exempt from this requirement);
  • be ready to send your valid original passport or travel document and supporting documents to the UK Border Agency in the USA.

How to apply

To apply for a visa, you must:

  • complete and submit a visa application form online;
  • pay for your visa online and be able to show proof of on-line payment (this will be shown on your online application form). The Visa application fees pages explain how much your visa application will cost;
  • pay your return courier service fee online if you are selecting to have your documents mailed back to you by next business day UPS;
  • book an appointment online to attend one of the Application Support Centers run by the Citizenship and Immigration Services to submit biometric information (unless you are exempt from this requirement);
  • After you have given your biometric information, you must submit your completed application, supporting documents, photograph, stamped biometric receipt and original passport or travel document to the UK Border Agency New York via mail or registered travel agent.

You need to complete, submit and pay for your application online. We cannot accept handwritten application forms.

Applying online

When applying online you will need to print out, sign and date your completed form. If you do not have access to a printer when you apply, you will be able to log in and print out the form later.

When you have completed your online application and online visa payment you will receive an email message containing your application number (also known as a 'GWF reference'). Please make a note of this number. You will also be prompted to schedule an appointment to give your biometric information via an online calendar. You can see the Application Support Centers in your area by visiting the US Citizenship and Immigration Service website but you cannot book your appointment using this website.

Once you have selected an appointment time, you will also receive an email confirming the time and date of your biometric appointment at one of the US Citizenship and Immigration Services Application Support Centers. Please print this confirmation receipt and take with you to the appointment along with your original valid passport or travel document and a printed copy of your online visa application form.

You must enrol your fingerprints and facial photograph (known as 'biometric information) when you attend your appointment. You cannot enrol your fingerprints if your fingertips are cut or damaged, or if you have put any form of temporary decoration (such as henna or mehendi) on them. You must wait until the injury has healed or the decoration has faded before making your appointment.

If you are part of a family or group, each member of the family or group must make an individual appointment. For example, if you are a family of 4 with 2 adults and 2 children you must make 4 individual appointments.

You can find the online application form under 'Do it online' on the right side of this page.

Paying your visa application fee

As part of your online application you must pay your visa application fee and return courier service fee online. The $12 courier fee allows the UK Border Agency to return your documents to you once a decision has been made on your visa application. This $12 fee must always be paid unless you have arranged for a visa agent to submit your application on your behalf or you are using the drop box facility in Washington DC. Online payment can only be done using Visa or Mastercard credit or debit card. We are unable to accept any other type of credit cards such as American Express.

You can find the online application form under 'Do it online' on the right side of this page.

Application Support Center

To complete the application process, you must attend your appointment to give biometric information (unless you are exempt from this requirement) at one of the Application Support Centers in the US run by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services. You will also need to send your application to our processing centre in New York. You should not mail any part of your visa application to the UK Border Agency until you have attended the Application Support Center and provided biometric data and obtained the stamped receipt.

You can find more information about what happens at an Application Support Center and how to send your application to our processing centre in New York on the Application Support Center page.

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