Simplified U.S. Visa Application Process Takes Effect in Israel

The American Embassy in Israel initiated a more streamlined and affordable U.S. visa application process on December 12.

Under the former system, applicants paid separate fees to obtain a required PIN, apply for a visa and receive the document via courier. Under the new system, no PIN is required to schedule an interview, and a single flat fee covers the application and delivery. The fee can be paid by phone, online or at any Israeli Postal Bank location, while interviews can be scheduled by phone or through a new website.

The single payment will also cover both at-home delivery of visa documents and courier services to the U.S. Embassy in the event applicants have to submit additional documentation post-interview. Except in cases where more documents are needed, applicants will be informed at the interview whether a visa will be granted, which according to the Jerusalem Post has been standard practice.

Depending on the type of U.S. visa requested, the fee ranges between $140 and $390. According to the Post, the new single-fee system will save applicants $70.

A U.S. official told the Post the changes are intended to create a “one-stop shop” for visa applicants, sparing them headaches caused by red tape.

Applicants who began the process of obtaining a visa prior to December 12 and who scheduled an interview by December 11 will be processed through the old system. Those who did not schedule an interview as of December 11 will be required to reapply under the new system.

According to the website of the U.S. Embassy in Israel, nonimmigrant visa applications can be expedited for individuals traveling to the United States for medical treatment or to visit a gravely ill or dying relative, as well as for individuals with approved employment-based H, L, P or O visa petitions. Students applying for F, M or J visas can also receive expedited processing to meet enrollment or attendance deadlines at U.S. schools.