Step by Step: U.S. Visa Application

From the voodoo mystique of New Orleans and honky-tonk rhythms of Nashville to the glittering lights of New York City and Las Vegas, the United States beckons to be explored. And to make your journey less stressful, we’ve decided to make things a little easier by breaking down the U.S. Visa application process. This step-by-step guide covers everything from what documents you will need to what questions will be asked during the interview. Now all that’s left to do is book your flights!

South African passport holders require a visa for the United States of America. Fortunately, it is a relatively straightforward process. You will need to apply at the U.S. Consulate General in one of the major cities (Cape Town, Johannesburg, Durban) and apply at least 15 days before you travel to allow for ample processing time.

Please note this process is applicable to South African passport holders.

us visa south africa

Types of Visas

Although there are multiple types of U.S. Visas, the two main visas are the B-2 Visitor Visa and B-1 Business Visa.

Validity of U.S. visa

A B-2 Visitor Visa allows the holder to stay within the U.S. for up to six months. The validity of the visa itself is usually anything between 1 to 10 years.

Find out more about the B-1 Business Visa.

Note: Your passport should be valid for at least six months beyond the date of return. 

How long does it take to get a U.S. Visa?

The estimated processing time for a U.S. Visa is between 5 to 15 working days. However, it can take longer if additional documents are required. You will be able to track your visa application online.

If you did not opt for the courier service when applying, you will be able to collect your passport and visa from your nearest DHL office.

U.S. visa

Visa Costs

The U.S. Visa cost in South Africa is $160 USD (approximately R 2200.00 depending on exchange rate). Visa courier services are an additional R 90.00 or R 400.00 depending on the type of delivery.

Application fees can be paid in cash or by credit card.

For credit card payments, you can call the Visa Information Service Center (VISC) on 021 300 9700 (Cape Town), 031 100 3000 (Durban), or 010 500 8800 (Johannesburg) during business hours, or visit the U.S. Department of State Visa Appointment Service website to make payment and to schedule your appointment.

For cash payments, you can create an account on the U.S. Department of State Visa Appointment Service website, follow the steps until you reach the payment page, and then download, print, and follow the payment instructions page.

us visa cost

U.S. Visa Requirements

  • Barcoded DS-160 confirmation page
  • Appointment confirmation page (which you should have received via email after booking your interview at the consulate).
  • An original South African passport that is valid for at least six months beyond your date of return. It will need at least two empty pages for the visa and entry stamps.
  • One colour photo that meets the U.S. Visa photo requirements.
  • All passports that show previously issued visas to the United States or international trips.
  • Any supporting documents, such as bank statements, invitation letters, letter of employment etc.
  • A marriage certificate for an accompanying spouse.
  • An unabridged birth certificate for accompanying minors.

us visa requirements

How to apply for a U.S. visa

  1. Get photographs that meet the U.S. Visa photo requirements before beginning the application process. You will need to upload a digital copy with your online application.
  2. Complete the online application and pay the non-refundable visa processing fee of $160 USD (the amount in Rand varies according to the exchange rate, but is currently about R 2200.00). It can be paid in cash or by credit card.
  3. Print out the barcoded confirmation form and schedule your visa interview at the nearest U.S. Consulate General.
  4. Gather your documents and any supporting documents that may be required.
  5. Attend your interview.
  • You will need to appear in person at one of the U.S. Consulate Generals.
  • Some of the questions you may be asked during the interview include: What is the purpose of your trip? How long do you plan to remain in the U.S.? How do you plan to cover the costs of the trip?

passport and visa

Where to Apply for a U.S. Visa?

You will begin your U.S. Visa application online, but will be required to attend the visa interview and provide biometrics in person at the U.S. Consulate General.

There are U.S. Consulate Generals in three of the main cities in South Africa:

U.S. Embassy Pretoria U.S. Consulate General Cape Town
Address: 877 Pretorius Street,

Arcadia, 0083

Address: 2 Reddam Avenue,

Westlake, 7945

Telephone: (+27) 012 431 4000 Telephone: (+27) 021 702 7300
Business hours: Monday to Friday

8:00 – 16:45

Business hours: Monday to Friday

8:00 – 16:45

Email: Email: consularcapetown@state.gov
Website: za.usembassy.gov Website: za.usembassy.gov
U.S. Consulate General Johannesburg U.S. Consulate General Durban
Address: 1 Sandton Drive,

Sandhurst, 2196

Address: 303 Dr Pixley Kaseme St,

Durban Central, 4001

Telephone: (+27) 011 290 3000 Telephone: (+27) 031 305 7600
Business hours: Monday to Friday

8:00 – 16:45

Business hours: Monday to Friday

8:00 – 16:45

Email: consularjohannesburg@state.gov Email: consulardurban@state.gov
Website: za.usembassy.gov Website: za.usembassy.gov

Note: The Consulate General of Cape Town and Durban are closed to the public every Friday, while the Consulate General of Johannesburg is closed every last Friday of the month. The U.S. Embassy in Pretoria does not provide any visa services.

Getting to the embassy / parking options

Public parking is not available at the U.S. Consulates.

For Cape Town, parking is available at Steenberg Village shopping centre for applicants and visitors to the U.S. Consulate General. It is a 7-minute walk from the consulate.

For Johannesburg, secure, paid parking is available at Sandton City Shopping Mall for applicants and visitors to the U.S. Consulate General. It is a 10-minute walk from the consulate.

For Durban, paid parking is available at the Royal Hotel, Workshop Shopping Centre, and Pine Parkade for applicants and visitors to the U.S. Consulate General. The walk to the consulate is approximately 7 minutes.

Public transport options include: Gautrain (for Johannesburg), Uber, public buses, metered taxis, and minibus taxis. Options may vary according to city.

Courier service

If your application is successful, there are three options for getting your passport back:

  • Free delivery to your local DHL office within 3 to 5 business days.
  • Standard delivery to your home or office within 3 to 5 business days.
  • Priority delivery to one of the DHL offices within 24 hours of the interview.

You will be notified when your passport is ready for collection.

visa courier

Printing and Visa Photographs

For printing and photographs, the following businesses can be found in the surrounding area:

Cape Town

Creative Photo Lab at Reddam Pharmacy

Address: Shop G5, Steenberg Village,

Reddam Avenue, Tokai, 7945

Telephone: (+27) 021 701 4001

PostNet

Address: Shop 7a Tokai on Main,

Main Road, Tokai, 7945

Telephone: (+27) 021 715 5681/0

Johannesburg

Kodak Express

Address: Shop L65, Sandton City,

Corner Alice Lane and Sandton Drive, Sandhurst, 2196

Telephone: (+27) 011 884 7754

PostNet

Address: Shop L38B, Sandton City,

Rivonia Road and 5th Street, Sandhurst, 2196

Telephone: (+27) 011 783 6810

Durban

Kodak Express

Address: Shop 13, Mountanne House,

Soldiers Way, Durban Central, 4001

Telephone: (+27) 031 301 0624

Copyshop Printers

Address: Shop 8, West Tower,

331 Dr Pixley Kaseme Street, Durban Central, 4001

Telephone: (+27) 031 301 4168

us visa photos

All information on this blog page was correct at the time of publishing and may change at any time without prior notice. Travelstart is not affiliated with immigration authorities or their application centres and will not be liable for loss or inconvenience arising from the use of this volatile information

Search for cheap flights

Return
One way
Day
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
Month
January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December
Day
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
Month
January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December
Select
1 Traveller
2 Travellers
3 Travellers
4 Travellers
5 Travellers

Our Readers Comments

  1. much needed info for me. Thanks

  2. Thank you for the information. Is it necessary to purchase a ticket prior to the interview or can it be purchased after the visa has been issued.

    • Hi there,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      I’ve gone onto Travelinfo under the visa sections and found the following: – Under additional info it does state: “Intention to depart the United States upon completion of your travel.” This would mean a return ticket.

      Requirements:
      Passport valid for travel to the USA. Your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond the period of stay in the USA (unless exempt by country-specific agreements).
      Passport containing the most recently issued US Visa (if applicable).
      Non-immigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160 confirmation page.
      Confirmation and instructions page printed from above website.
      One 5x5cm colour photo taken within the last 6 months. See website for further guidelines.
      Accompanying family members, unless entering the United States for another purpose, should present an original marriage certificate (spouse) and/or birth certification (for unmarried children under 21), as applicable.
      Many visa types require additional documents.
      Intention to depart the United States upon completion of your travel.
      Sufficient funds to cover all expenses while in the USA.
      Evidence to show that the applicant has a residence abroad to which he/she intends to return at the end of the stay in the USA. This is generally established by evidence of family, professional, property, employment or other ties and commitments to some country other than the USA sufficient to cause the applicant to return there at the conclusion of his/her stay.

  3. I have just paid for the visa appointment, only to see that the calendar for Cape Town consulate isn’t open for bookings – at all! Does anyone know what is happing or how to get an appointment? The calendar is block-booked for everyday going forward until infinity…
    Do I need to go to JHB?

    • Hi Kirsten,

      Sorry to hear you are struggling with applying for your UK visa.

      I’ve gone onto Travelinfo and cant see any update that one is not able to make an appointment.

      My only suggestion would be is to contact the Embassy or official visa handling agency direct and see what feedback they are able to give.

      Best of luck and hope you come right.

  4. My fiance and I went for our Visa Interviews at the US Consulate in Durban on 13 February 2018, which I thought was more than enough time as we were due to fly on 20 March. I received my visa within 3 days however my fiance to date has not received hers. Checking the status update on the Consular website says that the visa is in “Administrative Processing”. It has been over 4 weeks now and it’s looking increasingly likely that we won’t receive her visa in time to travel. What is most frustrating is that it is impossible to speak to anyone or email anyone who can actually provide any information as to the progress of the application. To date we have not received any communication regarding the reason why the process has taken so long or about when we can expect to receive her passport back. I have tried phoning the Consulate and no one can help, I have emailed them and they say they are unable to assist. I have no idea how long this process will drag on, but I can tell you that it has been one of the most frustrating visa application processes I have ever experienced, and I have done my fair share of travelling. Hardly the service I would expect from the Consulate of a 1st World Country.

  5. Hi All

    My husband and I had our interview together on 26th March 2018 @ Durban, at first the interviewer was really intimidating.
    My husband has his own company and she requested for the bank statements of that business which we did not carry, she did give us momentary grieve for not having those bank statements.
    She went on to ask if we had left the country in the last 6 months and in our case we had and I think this helped with our Visa approval.
    She then asked how much our accommodation costs, no further information was requested.
    3 minutes into the interview and Visa’s were granted.
    Today is 27th March and are passports are already with DHL.

  6. Do you need return airline tickets if before you go for your visa interview or can you book it there after?

    • Hi Adine

      Please see requirements below for a South African passport holder applying for a US Visa.
      We do recommend you contact the Embassy direct to get the most up to date information as this could have changed at anytime.

      Requirements:
      Passport valid for travel to the USA. Your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond the period of stay in the USA (unless exempt by country-specific agreements).
      Passport containing the most recently issued US Visa (if applicable).
      Non-immigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160 confirmation page.
      Confirmation and instructions page printed from above website.
      One 5x5cm colour photo taken within the last 6 months. See website for further guidelines.
      Accompanying family members, unless entering the United States for another purpose, should present an original marriage certificate (spouse) and/or birth certification (for unmarried children under 21), as applicable.
      Many visa types require additional documents.
      Intention to depart the United States upon completion of your travel. Valid return air ticket
      Sufficient funds to cover all expenses while in the USA.
      Evidence to show that the applicant has a residence abroad to which he/she intends to return at the end of the stay in the USA. This is generally established by evidence of family, professional, property, employment or other ties and commitments to some country other than the USA sufficient to cause the applicant to return there at the conclusion of his/her stay.

  7. I am flying to Cancun via Atlanta, I’m in transit. I didn’t realize that we needed a US visa for being in transit. We were only made aware of this at the Mexican embassy. Do you think the US embassy will expedite our applications if it’s not a medical emergency or death of a family member. No where on the site did it state anywhere about having a visa even if in transit . The earliest appointment we can get is 2 weeks away and we fly in 3 weeks time. We will pay any expedition fees,

    • Hi there,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      For this you would need to contact the US Embassy direct. As they are the ones who grant the visa’s they would be the only ones to advise if theye will expedite your applications for none medical reasons.

      I am not sure when you are departing, maybe they will receive a cancellation so you can also keep checking their calendar for last minute cancellation.

      We do recommend when booking a trip to always contact the Embassy or official handling agency direct to ask any questions over the phone and get the person’s name. As looking it up, sometimes the website might not be updated or you might have missed some important information.

      Hope you manage to come right.

  8. Very useful site: Can anybody out there tell me if you visited the embassy in the past month – march 2018 in Johannesburg, Sandton. I am interested in the processing time. Our appointment is 09th May 2018 i just want to be sure that we get our Visa before 04th June 2018 (that is when we fly out) to USA).
    How soon after your interview did you get your passports back?

    • Hi Colette,

      I am not able to say for the Johannesburg US Embassy. But if it’s the same in Cape Town it is pretty quick then.

      After you have had your interview a couple days later your passport / visa is ready for collection.

      Again this does depend from Embassy to Embassy depending if there is a back log and the processing time etc.

      Best to call them they will be able to give more accurate information.

  9. Another Question : Canadian Visa: I have applied online and waiting approval (what is the process time)? I guess i still have to submit our passports once approved to the embassy via agent? How long does this particular process take to stamp the passport and get the passports back. (very nervous) . I basically just want more or less time frames if all is approved and no outstanding documents needed by the embassy?

    • Hi Colette,

      Please see info below when applying for a Canadian visa:

      NB: There are major delays in the issuing of visas, due to a backlog at the High Commission SA offices.
      10 to 15 working days for Business visas
      20 to 30 working days for Tourist visas

      Some applicants may be required to appear for an interview at the High Commission – processing times for such applications may be significantly longer.

      For the most up to date info would recommend contacting the Embassy direct.

  10. i love this article, i probably learnt a thing or two here

  11. I am from Nigeria, i would like to know how easy it is to get a us visa.. i know it wont be easy but c’mon anything is possible thats what i have come to learn overtime, thanks for your anticipated reply

    • Hi there,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      I’m afraid we do not specialise in visa related queries for foreign passport holders. Please contact the Embassy direct or official visa handling agency. They will be able to advise on the correct procedures to follow and what documentation will be required when applying for a visa and the cost.

Have something to say...