U.S. Visa and Travel FAQs for non-U.S. citizens during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

Consular Ouagadougou COVID-19 Updates

 

LAST UPDATED: November 25, 2020

We understand your concern about visas and travel in light of the continuing impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. We hope that this information will help answer your questions.

Due to the volume of inquiries we receive, we are only able to respond to individual questions that are not answered on this page or elsewhere on our website. Therefore, please carefully review these FAQs to find the information you require. Any updates on travel restrictions and visa operations will be posted on this page, so please bookmark this page and check back regularly.

If you have a question about a future visa application or an application that has been in process since before March 20, 2020, please be aware that we are unable to provide any further guidance at this time. We ask that you continue to monitor our website for updates and contact us with any questions only after normal visa services have resumed.

Please make sure that you read the General Information in full, and then navigate to the Nonimmigrant Visa, Immigrant Visa or Fiancé(e) visa specific information section as appropriate to find more information that is relevant to your circumstances.

General Information

  • Is the U.S. Embassy in Burkina Faso conducting visa interview appointments?

The Department of State suspended routine visa services worldwide in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As global conditions evolve, U.S. Embassies and Consulates are beginning a phased resumption of routine visa services. The resumption of routine visa services will occur on a post-by-post basis, in coordination with the Department’s Diplomacy Strong framework for safely returning our workforce to Department facilities. U.S. Embassies and Consulates have continued to provide emergency and mission-critical visa services since March and will continue to do so as they are able.

At this time, routine visa operations at the United States Embassy in Ouagadougou remain suspended. Please keep checking this webpage and your email account for the latest information and any further updates.

Applicants for H1B, H2B, H4, L and certain J categories covered by Presidential Proclamation 10052 should request an appointment only if you have reason to believe you may qualify for one of the exceptions listed in the Proclamation.

As of November 10, 2020, the Consular section has resumed Immigrant Visa services on a limited basis. Applicants with pending cases will be contacted to schedule an appointment. The Consular section has also resumed processing F1 visas for returning students and J1 exchange visitors. If you are a returning student who has already begun studying in the United States, please read further below in the non-immigrant visa section for instructions on requesting a returning student visa appointment.

  • Can I travel to the United States?/What does the travel order (Presidential Proclamation 9996) mean?

Entry of foreign nationals who were physically present within the following list of countries within 14 days prior to their entry or attempted entry into the United States is suspended, per Presidential Proclamations 9984, 9992, 9993, 9996 and the subsequent proclamation issued May 24, 2020:

Brazil;

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, excluding overseas territories outside of Europe;

The Republic of Ireland;

The 26 countries that comprise the Schengen Area (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland)

The Islamic Republic of Iran;

The People’s Republic of China, not including the Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau

Please click here to review Presidential Proclamation 9996 in full for detailed information.

The travel restriction does not apply to American citizens, legal permanent residents, most immediate family members of U.S. citizens, and other individuals who are identified in Presidential Proclamation 9996. The Department of Homeland Security will direct those who have been in the Schengen Area who are exempt from these restrictions, including American citizens, to travel through select airports where the U.S. Government has implemented enhanced screening procedures. Travelers are advised to visit the Department of Homeland Security’s website and the guidance at travel.state.gov for information on U.S. travel restrictions and possible exceptions.

  • Can I travel to the United States through a country that is not covered by Presidential Proclamation 9996?

Travel to the United States from a country that is not covered by the Presidential Proclamation may be possible, but we advise you to verify whether the country to which you intend to travel has implemented travel or other restrictions before you make travel arrangements.  One possible source of such information is travel.state.gov which contains links to the websites of other countries’ immigration authorities. Travel to the United States from Burkina Faso may be possible by avoiding layover travel in the Schengen area.

Please also bear in mind that transiting a country covered by the Presidential Proclamation, even without exiting the airport, counts as physical presence within that country.

  • I believe the travel restrictions of Presidential Proclamation 9996 do NOT apply to me, and I have a valid nonimmigrant, immigrant or fiancé(e) visa. What should I do?

If you believe that the travel restriction does not apply to you, we suggest that you contact your airline for the latest information about your travel plans and any restrictions.

If you travel, please follow the steps below:

  • Arrive early for your flight.
  • Carry any documentation that you believe demonstrates why you have been excepted from a travel restriction, such as a Permanent Resident card (commonly known as a Green Card), a marriage certificate, or a birth certificate, so that it is available if it is requested for review.
  • You may also wish to carry a copy of the Presidential Proclamation itself.
  • Your status will be reviewed in consultation with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials.
  • Finally, please note that the U.S. Embassy cannot provide an official letter stating that you are excepted from a travel restriction.

If you believe that the restrictions do not apply to you, but you need to apply for a visa, scroll down to the specific information for nonimmigrant visa applicants.

  • If I can provide a negative COVID-19 test result, can I enter the United States?

The Presidential Proclamations do not include an exception on the basis of negative test results. Please review each Proclamation in full for details of possible exemptions.

  • Will I be required to self-quarantine after I enter the United States?

The Department of State recommends the CDC website for the most up-to-date information regarding quarantine regulations.

  • I’m in the United States and I’m worried about overstaying my authorized period of admission. What should I do?

If you are in the United States, please visit the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website for information about how to apply to extend your stay. While you are in the United States, any questions about your status are a matter for USCIS, not the Embassy. Information and contact details can be found on the USCIS website.

  • I have been offered an appointment at the Embassy. What do I need to know about attending the appointment?

Due to the impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19), everyone should wear a face mask. You can choose to buy a mask or make your own. Visit the CDC website for information about how to make a face covering (sew and no-sew tutorials are available).

You must not bring laptops or bags to your appointment as they are not permitted into the building and there are no storage facilities available. To save time, we recommend that you keep the number of small bags and belongings that you bring with you to an absolute minimum.

If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or have been exposed to the virus, you must reschedule your appointment by contacting consularouaga@state.gov.

  • Can I have a refund?

As explained at the time of fee payment, visa fees are non-refundable and non-transferable.

If you have paid the fee but not yet attended the visa interview, please note that fees are valid for 12 months from the date of payment.

If you have attended your visa interview, the application fee was levied to cover the costs of adjudicating and processing the application. No refund is possible. Please see the relevant specific section below for information about visa validity, provided that your new purpose of travel is consistent with the type of visa you hold.

  • I have a question about my existing visa application

If you have any questions about a visa application that was submitted before implementation of the travel restrictions and the answer is not yet provided in these FAQs or elsewhere on our website, please continue to monitor our website for the latest updates.  After normal operations resume, you can contact us to request case-specific information.

If you were asked to submit information or documentation in connection with an existing application, please do not send it at this time. Please monitor our website for updates. After normal operations have resumed, you may follow the instructions on your Visa Appointment Service account about how to send documents to the Embassy.

If your application is subject to additional administrative processing, or under review pending a decision on a waiver of ineligibility or for any other reason, that will remain the status of your case until further notice.

Please click on the appropriate link below for more information on your specific visa category:

Specific Information for Nonimmigrant Visa Applicants and Nonimmigrant Visa Holders.

  • My interview for a nonimmigrant visa was cancelled. Can I get a refund?

A nonimmigrant visa fee is valid and may be used for a visa application in the country where it was purchased within one year of the date of payment. Please note that visa fees are non-refundable and non-transferable. If you wish to apply for a visa through another embassy or consulate, you will be required to pay a new MRV fee and complete a new Form DS-160.

  • What does Presidential Proclamation 10052 refer to?

On Monday, June 22, President Trump signed a proclamation suspending entry into the United States of certain immigrants and nonimmigrants who present a risk to the U.S. labor market following the coronavirus outbreak. Effective immediately, the proclamation extends the suspension of entry for certain immigrants (Presidential Proclamation 10014) through December 31, 2020. The new restrictions imposed by the proclamation are effective at 12:01 a.m. EDT on Wednesday, June 24 and expire on December 31, 2020, unless continued by the President.

U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, and aliens who are or were inside the United States or those holding valid nonimmigrant or immigrant visas on the effective date are not subject to the proclamation.

The proclamation suspends entry of nonimmigrants in the following categories: H-1B, H-2B, J (for aliens participating in an intern, trainee, teacher, camp counselor, au pair, or summer work travel program) and L, along with their spouses and children. No valid visas will be revoked under the proclamation.

Please read Presidential Proclamation 10052 in full for details, including exceptions.

Please also note that routine visa services remain suspended at this time, and Presidential Proclamation 9996 remains in effect.

  • I have a valid student visa (F-1 or M-1). Can I travel to the United States?

If you hold a valid F-1 or M-1 visa and have not been physically present in Brazil, Iran, or China within the last 14 days, you can travel to a United States Port of Entry to apply for admission. Admission to the United States is a matter for CBP officials at the U.S. Port of Entry and all travelers are subject to questioning. No assurances are given in advance.

If you have a valid visa and you will be traveling to undertake OPT, you should carry your annotated Form I-20 and your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) in addition to your visa.

Please review the CDC website if you have questions about quarantine regulations.

We strongly recommend that all current and prospective F-1 and M-1 students and study abroad advisers review the comprehensive Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) FAQ. This includes important new information about full course of study requirements and online learning, Form I-20, employment, and the SEVIS fee.

  • Can I sign up for a student visa appointment?

UPDATE: As of November 25, 2020, the Consular section has resumed processing F-1 and M-1 visas for returning students and J-1 exchange visitors.  Appointment availability is limited.  It is not certain that we will be able to accommodate every applicant seeking an appointment prior to the upcoming academic term.If you are a returning student who has already begun studying in the United States, please contact the Consular section to schedule an appointment at consularouaga@state.gov.  In that email message, indicate the time frame of your appointment availability (for example, December 12-January 15).  In addition, you will need to include a scanned copy or legible photograph of your last university transcript and your I-20 for the next school term.

For applicants who have not yet begun studying in the United States, F-1 visa processing remains suspended. We understand this situation is difficult for individuals wishing to study in the United States, and unfortunately, we are unable to provide a date for the resumption of services. Please continue to monitor this page for updates on the status of our operations.

Applicants for H1B, H2B, H4, L and certain J categories covered by Presidential Proclamation 10052 should request an appointment only if you have reason to believe you may qualify for one of the exceptions listed in the Proclamation.

We strongly recommend that all current and prospective F-1 and M-1 students and study abroad advisers review the comprehensive Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) FAQ. This includes important new information about full course of study requirements and online learning, Form I-20, employment, and the SEVIS fee.

  • Can my nonimmigrant visa be extended?

Nonimmigrant visas cannot be extended. However, the majority of nonimmigrant visas are valid for several years. Please check the visa in your passport to confirm the validity period of the visa in your case.

If you are currently in the United States, please be aware that the expiration date of your visa has no bearing on your length of stay in the United States. Please check the stamp in your passport applied by officials at the U.S. Port of Entry for information about your authorized period of stay. Please contact USCIS for information about how to apply to extend your stay.

My child is an American citizen. Can I apply for a nonimmigrant visa to accompany my child to the United States?

The Embassy may be able to grant an emergency appointment for one parent or guardian to accompany an American citizen minor on a flight to the United States. Please contact consularouaga@state.gov to request a special appointment for this reason.

Specific Information for Immigrant Visa Applicants, Immigrant Visa Holders and LPRs

  • Is the Embassy open for immigrant visa appointments? 

UPDATE: As of November 25, 2020, the Consular section is open for immigrant visa appointments on a limited basis. If you are applying for a visa as the spouse or child of a U.S. citizen (IR-1, CR-1, IR-2 or CR-2),, K visa, or IR/IH3, IR/IH4 visas and your case is with the Embassy, please contact us at consularouaga@state.gov to schedule an appointment. Please provide the full names of the visa applicant(s) and the petitioner, plus the case number (typically LND followed by ten digits).

If you are applying for an immigrant visa in any category other than the categories mentioned above, and you have been advised that your case file has been forwarded to the Embassy, you may refer to our website for an overview of the application procedure and begin compiling the necessary supporting documents. You may book a medical appointment and proceed with the application process after normal operations have resumed. Please monitor our website for updates. Applicants are typically given 12 months in which to apply for the visa, starting from the date on which the Embassy’s Immigrant Visa Unit writes to them with instructions about the status of their case.

If you are applying for an immigrant visa and the case is being processed by NVC, please click here and visit your CEAC account (if applicable) for information. Please contact NVC directly using the online contact form on that website if you still have questions. The Embassy cannot answer any questions about NVC cases, including any questions about expedite options or about appointments.

  • I have an immigrant visa. Is that the same as a Green Card?/Am I an LPR?

It is not possible to apply for a Permanent Resident Card (commonly known as a “Green Card”) from outside the U.S. If an individual travels to a U.S. Port of Entry as the holder of a valid immigrant visa and they are admitted to the U.S. as a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR), they are given the forms necessary to apply for a Permanent Resident Card at that time.

When an immigrant visa holder is admitted as an LPR at a U.S. Port of Entry, their passport is stamped with the words “Processed for I-551 temporary evidence of lawful residence” which helps facilitate overseas travel while they are waiting for the Permanent Resident Card to be processed.

Any individual who has been issued with an immigrant visa but who has not been admitted to the United States using that visa is considered an immigrant visa holder, not an LPR and cannot travel through the list of countries enumerated above. If you hold a valid immigrant visa, please review the information about PP 9996 in the General Information section near the top of these FAQs.

  • Can my immigrant visa be extended?

Immigrant visas cannot be extended. However, if you are unable to travel within the validity period of your visa due to circumstances beyond your control, you can request visa reissuance.

If you were issued with an E-3 visa or a IR-1, CR-1, IR-2 or CR-2 visa as the spouse or child of a U.S. citizen that has now expired and you wish to move to the United States urgently, please contact consularouaga@state.gov.. Please provide the full names of the visa applicant(s) and the petitioner, plus the case number (typically LND followed by ten digits).

If you were issued with a different category of immigrant visa (not an IR-1, IR-2, CR-1, CR-2 or E-3 visa), please monitor our website for the latest updates. After normal visa operations have resumed and your unused visa has expired, please contact us at that time to request visa reissuance. We will send you information about how to submit your passport, visa package (if applicable) and a letter explaining why you were unable to travel and requesting visa reissuance. Please note that you may be required to undergo a new medical examination and pay a new visa fee before the visa can be reissued.

  • I’m a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) and I’m currently outside the United States. What should I do?

The travel restriction (PP 9996) does not apply to legal permanent residents.

If you are not in possession of your Permanent Resident Card (Green Card) and wish to travel to the United States, you may apply for a Transportation Boarding foil in order to facilitate boarding by the airline to transport you back to the U.S. Please contact consularouaga@state.gov if you need to apply for a Transportation Boarding Foil.

If a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) remains outside the U.S. for more than 12 months (or beyond the validity period of a Reentry Permit obtained prior to departing the United States), they lose their entitlement to LPR status. Information about travel and maintaining permanent resident status is provided through the USCIS website.

Specific Information for Fiancé(e) Visa (K-1) Applicants and Fiancé(e) Visa Holders

  • Will my fiancé(e) visa case expire?/Can I continue with the application process?

U.S. Embassy in Ouagadougou has resumed routine K-1 visa services on a limited basis. Please contact consularouaga@state.gov for information on how to proceed with you application.

If your application is being processed by the Embassy, applicants are given 12 months from the date on which the Embassy’s Immigrant Visa Unit writes to them with instructions about the status of their case in which to apply for the visa.

If you have been advised that your case file has been forwarded to the Embassy, you may refer to our website for an overview of the application procedure and begin compiling the necessary supporting documents. You may book a medical appointment and proceed with the application process after normal operations have resumed. Please check this website regularly for updates about visa services and travel.

If the fiancé(e) visa petition expires, you may revalidate the petition with a letter from the petitioner stating that you both remain legally free to marry and that you will do so within 90 days of your arrival in the United States. You should take the letter with you to your visa interview in the future, not mail it or email it to the Embassy.

  • I have a valid K-1 visa. Can I travel directly from the UK to the United States?

Although K-1 visa holders are not subject to Presidential Proclamation 10014, they are not excepted from Presidential Proclamation 9996.  This means that while Presidential Proclamation 9996 remains in effect, it will not be possible for you to travel directly to the United States through the Schengen area unless you fall under another excepted category within the Presidential Proclamation. Please read Presidential Proclamation 9996 for detailed information.

Travel to the United States from a third country that is not covered by the Presidential Proclamation may be possible, but we advise you verify if the country to which you intend to travel has implemented travel or other restrictions prior to making travel arrangements.  Please also bear in mind that the Presidential Proclamation suspends travel to the U.S. for any individual who has been physically present in the United Kingdom within 14 days prior to their arrival in the United States.

  • Can I extend my K-1 visa?

Fiancé(e) visas cannot be extended. However, if you are unable to travel within the validity period of your visa due to circumstances beyond your control, you can request visa reissuance. Please monitor our website for the latest updates. If your unused visa has expired, please contact consularouaga@state.gov to request visa reissuance. We will send you information about how to submit your passport, visa package (if applicable) and a letter explaining why you were unable to travel and requesting visa reissuance. Please note that you may be required to undergo a new medical examination and pay a new visa fee before the visa can be reissued.

Any other questions

If you have any further questions about visas, please see our website, including the Frequently Asked Question (FAQs)  for detailed information. Please note that we will be unable to respond if your question is addressed on our website.

If you have question about flights, please contact your airline.