• February 17, 2023

Hello from U.S. Embassy Freetown!

Hello from U.S. Embassy Freetown!
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Welcome to our regular newspaper column to answer questions about U.S. visas.  Today we will answer some of the most common non-immigrant visa questions:

Question: What is the different between F1, J1 and M student visas?

Answer: An F1 student visa is for anyone wishing to attend a traditional high school or university program. If you would like to earn a bachelor’s or a master’s degree, F1 is the correct visa category.

A J1 or “exchange visitor” visa is for someone traveling to the United States for multiple reasons including for cultural exchange, to teach, to conduct research, or to study. To qualify for a J1 visa, you’ll need to be sponsored by a U.S. designated exchange program. Once a person on a J1 visa completes their program, they typically must return to their home country for at least two years. Common programs that require a J1 visa are the Mandela Washington and Humphrey Fellowships and the Fulbright program.

An M visa is for someone wanting to attend a vocational program. If you would like to attend a program where you learn a skill, like becoming an electrician, M is the correct visa category.

Question: I was issued a visa to attend a conference in the U.S. for one month, but the visa has expired. I want to apply. Do I need to do a renewal or fill out a new DS-160?

Answer: Yes, you need to complete a new DS-160 and pay the visa fee. You may not have to come in for a new interview, however, if you meet the interview waiver requirements. The requirements include a visa that has expired within the last 24 months and the applicant must be a citizen or resident of Sierra Leone. Here is a link to the interview waiver requirements: https://ustraveldocs.com/sl/sl-niv-visarenew.asp

Question: I was refused a visa in 2015 because of section 214(b). Am I qualified to apply now?

Answer: An applicant can reapply for a visa at any time; however, we suggest that you only reapply if your personal circumstances or reason for travel have changed. If you apply again with the same situation, you are likely to receive the same result.

Question: As a person who wants to study in the U.S., do I need to pay my complete fees or do a partial payment before getting acceptance by any US university?

Answer: No, you don’t have to pay your full tuition before being accepted into university. You will need to prove to the Consular Officer how you are able to pay your full tuition.

Question: Can my fiancée invite me to visit her under a B1 or B2 visa?

Answer: Yes, anyone can apply for a B1/B2 visitor’s visa. You will need to explain to the interviewing officer why you want to travel to the United States, and what ties you have (family or professional, for example) that will bring you back to Sierra Leone. It may be hard for someone with a fiancé in the U.S. to prove that they will return to Sierra Leone. Alternatively, your partner can submit a K1 fiancé petition through USCIS (USCIS.gov) so that you can move to the United States.

Please send in your questions! We will continue this column twice a month.

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