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

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Our Readers Comments

  1. much needed info for me. Thanks

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