Applying for a UK visa in the USA
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. Applications received more than 3 months before your date of travel will be returned without a visa and without a refund of the application fee. You will then need to submit a new application and to re-enrol your biometric information at the appropriate time.
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, see the Visa processing times 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); and
- be ready to send your valid original passport or travel document and supporting documents to the relevant visa issuing post.
If you do not know which supporting documents to provide, the Visa application fees and guides page will help you to find guidance for your visa category.
If you are applying under the points-based system, you should provide all the documents specified in the guidance for your visa category. For each document, you should also provide any information or explanation that may help us to make our decision.
If you are applying for any other type of visa, you should provide documents that:
- support the statements that you make in your visa application; and
- show that the information in your application is true.
We will only consider documents submitted with your application. You cannot submit documents after you have completed your application at the visa application centre, unless our staff ask you for them.
For every document that you provide, you must include the original document and a photocopy. This includes a copy of your passport bio-data page (the page containing your photograph). Please ensure that the photocopies are of good quality and can be read easily. If you do not provide a photocopy of each document, we might not return your original documents to you.
If you do not have a document, or your documents are not written in English or Welsh, or you are not paying for your trip, you can find out what to do under 'More information' below.
If you have temporary permission to stay (for example, as a visitor) in the country where you are currently present, you cannot apply for most types of UK visa in that country. You can only apply for:
a visitor visa
a Tier 5 (Temporary worker - creative and sporting) visa
an EEA family permit
Your application may be referred back to your country of residence, which may cause delays.
To apply for any other types of UK visa, you must apply under the procedure for your country of residence. You can find this procedure by selecting your country of residence in our country finder.
How to apply
To apply for a visa you must:
- complete and submit a visa application form online (You can find the online application form under 'Do it online' on the right side of this page);
- pay your visa application fee online and be able to show proof of online payment;
- book an appointment online to attend an application support center to enrol your biometric information (unless you are exempt from this requirement);
- submit a signed and dated printout of your completed application form, your supporting documents, your photograph, a stamped biometric receipt and your original passport or travel document to the relevant UK Visas and Immigration office by mail or registered travel agent; and
- purchase return shipping from a recognised carrier. The return shipping must be pre-paid. When you submit your application, you must include packaging for us to return your passport and other documents. The return shipping label must be affixed to this packaging. For more information, go to our returns page.
If you are applying for settlement you must send your application to our visa processing office in Sheffield, United Kingdom. Once we have made a decision on your application, your passport and supporting documents will be sent back to you. You must send your visa application to:
UK Visas and Immigration,
International Operations and Visa,
All other application types
If you are applying for a UK visa (except applications for settlement) in the USA you must send your application the UK Border Agency in New York for processing. You should send your visa application to:
UK Visas and Immigration,
845 Third Avenue,
You must complete, submit and pay for your application online. We cannot accept handwritten application forms.
You can find the online application form under 'Do it online' on the right side of this page.
You must make your online payment using Visa or Mastercard credit or debit card. We cannot accept any other type of credit card, such as American Express.
You will need to print out, sign and date your completed online application 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 book an appointment (using our online calendar) to enrol your biometric information. You can find the Application Support Centers in your area by visiting the US Citizenship and Immigration Services website, but you cannot book your appointment using that website.
When you have selected an appointment time using our online calendar, you will receive another email confirming the time and date of your biometric appointment at an Application Support Center. Please print this confirmation receipt and bring it to your appointment, with your original valid passport or travel document and a printed copy of your online application form.
You must enrol your biometric information when you attend your appointment, but 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 be sure that the injury will heal or the decoration will fade before the date of 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.
Returning your passport and other documents once your application has been concluded
You have 2 options for the return of your documents:
Before you submit your application, you must purchase return shipping from a recognised carrier (DHL, UPS, FedEx and United States Postal Service collect from our office daily). The return shipping must be prepaid. We will not ship applications where payment is taken after the application is shipped (for example, where a credit card or account number is provided on the shipping label to be charged later).
When you submit your application, you must include packaging for us to return your passport and other documents. The return shipping label must be affixed to this packaging.
The return shipping label/package must be addressed to the UK visa applicant. It must not be addressed to a third party. You should choose a service which allows you to track the delivery of your package. Your return shipping label must not be handwritten.
Settlement applications submitted to the visa hub in Sheffield will require an international pre-paid shipping label and the appropriate packaging. The onus is on the you the visa applicant to ensure the return mailing address is correct, as we cannot rectify any shipping errors on your waybill. In addition, please note we do not ship return documents outside of the US.
By registered agent
If you have chosen to submit your application via an authorised visa service or travel agent, the agent may return your documents directly to you, but only if you use such a service to submit the application - please see the New York visa processing hub page for more information.
Submitting your application form
When you submit your application form, we will send you an email confirming that we have received it. This email will list the documents that you must bring to the visa application centre. If you do not receive this email within 24 hours, please check that:
- you have given us your correct email address, and
- the message is not in the spam or junk folders in your mailbox.
We can resend the email if you contact us and provide your GWF number. Your online form will be valid:
. until your appointment date, if you have booked an appointment through Visa4UK and you have a visa appointment reference (VAR) number; or
. for 90 days from the date when you submit it, in other circumstances. We cannot accept your form after this 90-day period, as the data will have been deleted. You will need to complete a new application if you bring an expired application form to a visa application centre.
If you realise that you made a mistake on your online form, you cannot change it after you have submitted the form. Please make any changes in writing on your printed application form.
If you review your submitted application form online or on paper, you may find that you cannot see some of your answers. Be assured that we have received the answers you have sent to us, even though they sometimes may not be visible to you. But please feel free to write comments by hand on the printed application form if you want to do so.
Application Support Center and submitting documents
To complete the application process, you must attend your appointment to enrol your biometric information (unless you are exempt from this requirement) at one of the Application Support Centers run by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services. To find out what will happen at the Application Support Center, see the Application Support Center page.
You must also 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, enrolled your biometric information and obtained a stamped receipt. To find out what you need to send and how to send it, see the New York visa processing hub page.
Will you need to be interviewed?
In most cases, our staff will make a decision based on the documents you submit with your visa application. Therefore it is essential that you submit all relevant documents with your application.
In a small number of cases, you may be asked to attend an interview or be interviewed by telephone. We will offer you the first available interview date.
We will not interview child applicants under 10 years old. If a child is travelling alone, we may interview a responsible adult (such as their parent or guardian). We may interview children aged between 10 and 14, but only in the presence of a responsible adult. Children aged over 14 may be interviewed alone.
It is a serious crime to make false statements, or submit false information or documents, when applying to enter or remain in the UK.
Before you sign your application form, you must ensure that the information on the form is correct and your supporting documents are genuine and unaltered. Our officers in the UK and overseas are highly trained to detect fraud.
If you provide false information, documents or passports, or if you lie or withhold information in support of your application, we will refuse the application and you will face serious consequences. You could:
- be banned from entering the UK for 10 years;
- be removed from the UK, if you are already here;
- be charged with a crime, which could lead to a prison sentence or a fine; and
- receive a permanent record of fraud on the UK Border Agency database.
It is better to explain why you do not have a document than to submit a false document.
Assistance from friends, travel agents, immigration agents or consultants
You may decide to submit your visa application using an independent travel agent, immigration agent or consultant, or with the help of a friend. They can only help you complete the form and advise you which supporting documents to include. They cannot make the application for you or attend the Application Support Center run by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Remember that the visa application is your application. You are responsible for the information given and any supporting documents. You must check that the information is correct and sign the application.
A genuine agent should only charge you a small and reasonable fee for their services. If an agent makes unrealistic claims or charges high fees for their services, they may be overcharging you or supplying you with false documents and statements.
If you do not have a document
You should check that you have all the relevant documents that you want the visa officer to see before you apply for a visa. It is your responsibility to satisfy the visa officer that you qualify for the visa that you have applied for.
If you do not have a document that is listed in the guidance, or that you think might be relevant to your application, you should explain why you do not have it. You must not provide a false document.
If you provide a false document, we will automatically refuse your application, and you could be banned from coming to the UK for 10 years.
If you cannot provide an original supporting document, such as your original birth certificate, you should provide a copy from the organisation that issued the document (known as the 'issuing authority').
If you do not provide original documents, it might be difficult for our officers to assess your application accurately, and your application might be delayed or refused.
If your documents are not in English or Welsh - translated documents
If you send us a document that is not in English or Welsh, it must be accompanied by a full translation that can be independently verified by us. Each translated document must contain:
- confirmation from the translator that it is an accurate translation of the original document;
- the date of the translation;
- the translator's full name and signature; and
- the translator's contact details.
If you do not submit translations of all supporting documents, this may result in your application being delayed or refused.
If you send us a translation of an overseas qualification or award certificate, we will not consider it as a direct translation of the academic level of that award. We will always use UK NARIC to assess the equivalency of overseas qualifications.
If you are not working or paying for your trip
If you are not working, you should include the original financial documents of the person who supports you.
If someone else is paying for your trip, you should explain why they are paying and include their original financial documents.