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Thread: VISA questions!

  1. #1

    Default VISA questions!

    Hi all, I wrote at the beginning of the year wondering how much we could see in 3 months. We only have 3 months as that is all the standard VISA allows. I know it isn't exactly a "road trip" question, but we would love to spend 4-5 months driving in the US so am hoping we can get as much out of our VISA as possible!

    I just had a couple of questions regarding Visas that I cant get answers from the American Consulate in Canberra, Australia nor any other US Consulate. They have a funny way of answering you without answering any of your queries! I am not sure if you will know the answers, but it is worth a shot!

    1. I want to know how long in advance you can apply for a Visa. i.e. if I apply for a Visa in say April this year, when do I have to use it by? They say to apply a minimum of 3 months before you leave, but also to not make any firm plans until you have the Visa but nothing to say once you have your Visa you have to use it by this date.

    2. With the B1/B2 6 month Visa, I can see no reason why we cant apply for this even though we don't have family in the US. As far as I can tell by their mumbo jumbo we have to have an interview at the consulate and have proof that we have reasons to return, jobs, school enrolments, family etc Is this right?

    3. They didn't answer when your days start counting down. I loved the idea Lifey suggested of flying to Vancouver and starting our Alaskan Cruise from there, but have no idea if the Visa begins once we dock in the first Alaskan Port or disembark the cruise in Seattle.

    As I said, I know that these questions are not directly related to driving, but any answers will help us out to plan our road trip!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default These are certainly roadtrip questions, and come up regularly.

    First allow me to say that the US Consulate/Embassy are the most frustrating and arrogant folk to have to deal with. They will not answer the phone, do not respond to emails - when you can get an email address - and as you found out, do not answer questions put by mail. Neither will they allow you to visit the consulate unless you have an application in for a visa. You have to go through a web of security to get inside the door. There is no way around it.

    All I can say is thank goodness, when you get to the US you will find the people much more friendly and obliging.

    So here is what they expect you to do. Pay for all the expenses associated with the visa, and go for the interview - a fair expense from Perth. If the visa is refused, none of that money will be refunded. They expect you NOT to apply if you are not eligible and claim all the info is on the website.... which you and I know, it is not.

    As for the answers to your specific questions:

    1. This ambiguity is frustrating, but get your tickets when you are comfortable with it, and make sure you can change or cancel them. There is nothing on the website to say how long you have after applying for the visa waiver before you use it. If I recall correctly, you need to say when you will be travelling, despite the fact that they tell you not to purchase your tickets.

    2. The B1/B2 visa is issued under special circumstances, which are all listed on the website. Many have been told that they cannot get it for tourism purposes only. It is normally granted for specific reasons, which includes visiting with family. But not for tourism.

    [If by now you are beginning to feel not particularly welcome, I'll understand.]

    3. From experience I can tell you that your clock will start ticking when you go through border control. That is, when your pasports are stamped and you have to hand in the 'arrivals' card.

    In a previous post on your trip planning thread, I mentioned for you to see if you can find out from the cruise company, when that is. It could be when you go ashore in Juneau, or in Skagway, or in Whittier. I would also ask if you choose not to leave the ship at any of those places, will it be when you arrive in Seattle. (Mind you, it would be a pity not to go ashore, but if you want more time for your roadtrip, that could be a way to have it.) You would still see the spectacular views of the inside passage from the ship.

    Bottom line is..... Stop looking for ways to get more time. It will only cause lots of frustrations. Start saving for, and planning your next trip.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Another question to ask the cruise company.


    Your trip came up in conversation recently, which raised another question you might like to ask of the cruise ship company.

    There is a good chance, that if the cruise ship company is a US company, that your passport will be stamped the moment you board. Not sure why I had not thought of that, but I'd add it to questions you should ask.

    Not sure why this trip comes up from time to time. Maybe it is because I do not have a trip of my own to think about for this year. Just can't get out of roadtrip mode.


  4. #4


    Thanks Lifey!

    I have spoken to some travel agents for some advice and from what I can gather from them, this is what I have found:
    If I was to cruise from Sydney to Hawaii (as my 9 year old wants to do!) we don't get stamped until we reach Hawaii.
    If I was to cruise from Vancouver through Alaska and ending in Seattle, I will get stamped straight away or at the first US port
    I have emailed the cruise company this week so will find out more solid facts..............funny how the American embassies cant give you a straight answer and cancel out all this confusion!!

    The B1/B2 VISA is apparently like jumping through hoops and not the easiest to get even after forking out lots of money, so it looks like we will have to cut our holiday short :(

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default The way things used to be.

    Quote Originally Posted by 2016USAHoliday View Post
    The B1/B2 VISA is apparently like jumping through hoops and not the easiest to get even after forking out lots of money, so it looks like we will have to cut our holiday short :(
    Yes, it is a strange system. Though I have to say I never applied for a B1/B2 visa. I was not even aware of it. It was in 2004, when you still applied by mail for the 90 day visa. I attached a letter, asking if it was possible to stay a little longer, now that I had a grandson in the US. When my passport returned by mail, I found I had a five year visa, which allowed me to stay for six months per entry, without limitation on the frequency of entry.

    So I feel for those who have to do all this via the web without being able to directly communicate with staff.


  6. Default

    I would certainly make sure that any tickets you purchase are refundable or covered with trip cancellation insurance if you get a good deal and decide to purchase them before the visa is approved. Certainly apply for the visa in advance but you don't have to apply more than 6 months or so, I would think.

    As the others say, I don't think that the B1 or B2 visa will be given purely for travel and tourism purposes, otherwise everyone would be using it to have extended vacations. Also, it is an incredibly long and annoying process to apply for a visa like that, even if you are eligible. When you are planning a fun vacation you simply do not need the stress. As someone else said, the best advice would be to apply for the tourist visa, get it, then make the most of the time you do have in the US. You can always go back later.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Resource page on USA Visas

    Jumping into this old thread to post a resource. Normally, I don't like to link to commercial sites that are off-topic or used to sell products, but Roseanna Wheeler compiled information about USA Travel Visas and so I am posting here as a possible resource on this topic.

    In her words:
    We believe this is the most comprehensive page on the Internet about U.S. Visas. It covers everything from different Visa types, how to fill out the applications, and photo requirements, to what do about lost or stolen visas, expiration dates, and as much important information as we could find to help travelers.

    We are updating it regularly to keep it as current. By sharing this knowledge, patients can get to U.S. hospitals, workers can get legal entry into the U.S., tourists can properly visit, refugees can make it into the U.S. and families can be re-united.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default It does not clarify the most frequently raised issue.

    Have only just caught up with this seven month old post.

    After reading the complete page to which it links, I realised it does not clarify the situation for those who wish to travel to other North American destinations, once their visa to visit the united states expires. In fact it does not even make mention of that possibility. Most people who are coming for a holiday, know which visa they need, and where to get it, though the subtleties of the many different visas may escape them.

    I was looking for clarification of the issue raised most frequently on forum, that of visiting other North American destinations after the usa visa has expired. With this in mind, I contacted the organisation via their live chat, and drew this to their attention. Here is the chat transcript (edited to delete irrelavancies):-


    Your interesting and comprehensive page on visas to enter the united states, does not address a problem most often raised on the RTA forum.The issue of visiting Canada or Mexico or other places in North America AFTER the 90 days 0r 180 days of the visa have expired.


    I will be with you in one moment after I review your question.

    Thank you for bringing this to our attention, I will alert our website team to this issue.


    It needs to be made clear how long one visa will allow a stay in NORTH AMERICA. As it is the understanding is that after the time in the united states the visa holder MUST leave the continent.

    Many travellers come and plan to spend three months in the usa, and THEN some time in Canada or Mexico or Cuba or where ever in North America.

    At present the understanding is that all travel in North America needs to take place BEFORE entering the united states.

    Please clarify!


    I will bring this information to the attention of our team that maintains the site! Thank you for bringing this up!


    How can I save this chat?


    I can email it to you if you would like?


    Please do. Thank you.
    I will post any response I get.


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