On July 26, 2013, the US Embassy Consular Section in the United Kingdom transitioned to a new appointment service for applicants applying for a visa to come to the US. Whereas previously applicants called to schedule their appointment, this new appointment service is online and coordinated through Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC), a third-party company. For applicants who have decided to handle the visa appointment themselves, here are ten tips to help with the process:
1. During the appointment scheduling process, first-time users of the CSC website must create an online profile before an appointment can be scheduled.
2. There is no additional scheduling fee to book the visa appointment through the CSC appointment website (there used to be a $16 fee to schedule appointments by phone).
3. One of the first questions applicants are asked when creating an online profile is “Is this a visa renewal?” If applicants answer “Yes” to this question, the appointment service may not allow applicants to book a visa appointment. Instead, the system will provide instructions on how to mail in documents to have the visa stamp reissued. If this is a visa renewal, but applicants still prefer to attend an appointment anyways, they may need to call the contact number for CSC in order to be able to book an in-person visa appointment. One reason for applicants wishing to attend an in-person appointment compared to mailing in their renewal application is the possibility of a faster processing time for visa issuance.
4. When applicants create their online profile, if they make an error with their passport number, they may call CSC to correct it. Applicants may also correct any other errors in biographical information at this same time; however, if the applicant’s passport number is correct but there is an error with the name or date of birth provided in the online profile, CSC will NOT be able to correct these errors. In this instance, applicants should attend the scheduled visa appointment with their passport and other required documentation and explain to the consular officer that there was an error in their online profile.
5. Applicants will need to provide their DS-160 confirmation number PRIOR to being allowed to schedule an appointment. The DS-160 can be found here.
6. When applicants are prompted to pay the Machine Readable Visa (MRV) Fee, it MUST be paid using a UK ATM/debit card. The appointment service does NOT accept UK credit cards or debit/credit cards from other countries.
7. Applicants MUST select one of the thirty-one hubs around the United Kingdom to have the passport couriered to after the US Embassy has processed the visa into the passport. There is no cost for this service, which is provided by DX. Applicants will pick up the passport at their selected hub or may authorize third-parties (for example, family members or friends) to pick up the passport, as long as that option is selected. In addition, although applicants must select a pick-up hub, later in the appointment scheduling process there is the option of selecting home delivery for a USD $30 fee.
8. Once the applicant’s passport has been processed and handed to the courier company, he/she will receive an email with a tracking number. The delivery of the passport, to either a hub or home, may be tracked online through the appointment service, its interactive call-in number, or through the courier company's website.
9. If applicants are not able to obtain an appointment early enough to suit their schedule, they will need to request an expedited appointment. To do so, the applicant must schedule the earliest available appointment through the appointment service. Once scheduled, select the “Request Expedited Appointment” link on the “Application Summary Page” and follow the instructions.
10. Applicants may cancel or reschedule a visa appointment any time prior to the scheduled appointment. To do so, select the “Cancel Appointment” or “Reschedule Appointment” link on the “My Account” Home Page. Applicants may cancel or reschedule a visa appointment as many times as they like without incurring any additional scheduling fee. But when selecting a new appointment date, applicants should bear in mind that the Machine Readable Visa (MRV) Fee is only valid for twelve months from the date of original payment. If the appointment is rescheduled for over twelve months from the date the MRV Fee was originally paid, the applicant will need to pay the MRV Fee again.
Several other European and African countries (including Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Angola, Ethiopia, and Cape Verde) have also recently transitioned to using CSC for appointment services for applicants applying for a US visa. Having a unified appointment service for all US Embassies/Consulates worldwide may be more efficient and less confusing for applicants; however, one possible negative is not having direct contact with the US Embassies/Consulates at this stage. We will continue to monitor this new scheduling process as it develops.