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Non-Immigrant Visas

Why is there a visa requirement?

The United States is an open society. Unlike many other countries, the United States does not impose internal controls on most visitors, such as registration with local authorities. In order to enjoy the privilege of unencumbered travel in the United States, aliens have a responsibility to prove they are going to return abroad and that they do not intend to break the law (e.g. by working without authorization), before a non-immigrant visa can be issued. The law places the burden of proof on the visa applicant. Our immigration law requires consular officers to view every visa applicant as ineligible for a visa until the applicant proves otherwise. Consular officers have a difficult job; they must decide in a very short time if someone is qualified to receive a non-immigrant visa. Most cases are decided after a brief interview and review of whatever evidence an applicant presents.


Non-Immigrant visa interviews take place on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon, BY APPOINTMENT ONLY. All applicants should appear at the Embassy at the time selected for their scheduled interview date.  Applicants not appearing during this time period must schedule a new appointment. To make an appointment, please see below.


Visa Fees/Payments: Applicants of tourist, business, student and exchange-visitor visas must pay an application fee of US $160. Applicants for petition-based visas, such as the R visa for religious occupations, must pay an application fee of US $190. All fees are non-refundable. There may be an additional reciprocity fee of $40 or $80 for the issuance of certain student or business visas to Lao nationals.  Any such additional fees must be paid in cash to the Consular Cashier before a visa will be issued. A receipt will be provided for all payments to the Consular Cashier. See the Reciprocity Tables for information regarding issuance visa fees. For a full listing of fees, please visit the State Department’s website.

Visa Validity

A U.S. visa allows the bearer to enter the United States one or more times within the validity of the visa. The visa does not determine how long you can stay in the U.S. When you arrive in the U.S., the Immigration officer at the port of entry will determine the length of your stay based on your travel plan. You must depart the U.S at the end of your authorized stay or request an extension from the office of the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS) of the Department of Homeland Security.

The validity of a U.S. nonimmigrant visa, and whether single or multiple entries are authorized, will depend on the purpose of your trip, the specified visa classification, and reciprocal agreements between your country and the United States. The consular officer will determine the best validity for your circumstances when you apply for the visa. U.S. visas for Lao visitors are limited to a single entry. The validity of student, temporary worker, and diplomatic visas for Lao citizens is limited to three, six or twelve months, depending on the type of visa.

All applicants in Laos who wish to apply for tourist, student, or other non-immigrant visas (NIV) to the United States must make an appointment online. All non-immigrant visa applicants should arrive for their interview on the time and date specified for their scheduled appointment. They should submit their passport and application, and pay the appropriate non-refundable application fee prior to the interview. Supporting documents should be brought to the interview by the applicant. Do not send supporting documents via mail, fax, or email to the Consular Section.

On the day of the interview, we request that family members, friends, or other persons not accompany the visa applicant to the Embassy. Minors may only be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. Applicants who do not speak Lao, Hmong, or English may bring a translator. Applicants are generally interviewed in the order that they arrive, but should plan to be at the Embassy for several hours.

Passports with issued visas are generally available for pickup at 3:30 P.M. on the following business day. However, many different factors may influence the processing of individual visa cases and timing may vary on the individual circumstances of each applicant. The Consular Section encourages visa applicants not to purchase plane tickets until after they have received the visa.

A visa allows a foreign citizen to travel to the United States port-of entry, and request permission from the Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection, U.S. immigration inspector to enter the United States. A visa does not guarantee entry into the United States.

Visa Denials

Individuals refused a visa under Section 214(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) can find more information on the State Department’s website.

Individuals refused a visa under Section 221(g) of the INA or for another ineligibility can find more information on the State Department’s website.

Applicants refused under Section 221(g) may submit the requested documents or information on Tuesday or Thursdays at 8:00AM.
Applicants refused under Section 214(b) may reapply for a visa any time they wish. They will be required to pay a new application fee. Previously refused applicants should only reapply if their circumstances have changed significantly since their last application or if they have additional, critical information to present that will clarify their circumstances. It is quite possible that even after reapplying, they still may not qualify for a visa. Reapplying is the only way to have a visa application reconsidered.

Important Notices

Please keep in mind that your electronic signature on any visa application form is your guarantee that all information you provide is true and correct. You are personally and legally responsible, even if a travel agent or someone else prepares documents for you. Any fraudulent documents or misleading statements may result in your permanent ineligibility for any future visa.

You are not allowed to bring electronic devices, including mobile telephones, into the Embassy. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your cooperation.

As is standard practice around the world, we do not permit third parties to attend non-immigrant visa interviews. This rule also applies to third parties who are American Citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents. If a third party has an interest in your case, please have them write a letter stating their interest and bring it to your interview. Minors may only be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. Your interview can be conducted in Lao, Hmong, or English, as you prefer.

Advance travel planning and early visa application are important. No assurance regarding the issuance of visas can be given in advance. Please do not make any binding travel plans until you have received your visa.