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Anyone entering the United States needs a visa number, including nonimmigrants. It's how the government tracks you and identifies you. The government tracks everyone by a number and since you're not a US citizen, you won't have a Social Security number, but the visa number is how you'll conduct any business with the U.S. government and your consulate office.
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What Is a Nonimmigrant Visa?
Nonimmigrant visas are provided to foreign nationals coming to the United States for temporary reasons. It could be any reason including to study, for a medical procedure, tourism or to be with family.
There are many nonimmigrant visa classifications that determine the documentation required to earn your visa. The visa determines your eligibility to enter the United States for your stated purpose. However, it's not a guarantee of entry, it's proof that the consular officer evaluated your application and verifies that you meet the requirements for entry to the United States.
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What Is a Nonimmigrant Visa Number?
On your visa will be an eight-digit number. This is your identification number, much like US citizens have a Social Security number. Typically, the visa number has 8 numbers, without any letters or characters. In some cases, though, there is one letter preceding the (7) digits.
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Who Gets a Nonimmigrant Visa Number?
All foreign nationals here temporarily receive a nonimmigrant visa number. It's what identifies you in the United States. Just like a US citizen's Social Security number, the government uses the ID to identify you and to verify that you are who you say you are.
Border officers use your visa number to verify your identity and track your whereabouts. Everywhere your visa number is scanned, gets recorded in the system, and will be used if you apply for a visa in the future.
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Where Can You Find Your Visa Number?
Your US visa has a lot of information on and it's easy to lose track of the U.S. visa number. Among all the information you find on the card, the visa number is in the lower right corner. It's usually in red and is 8 digits long.
There aren't any identifying markers saying 'visa number' or anything else, but it's the only series of numbers in the lower right corner of the card.
If you have an older visa, the number may be at the top, but it will still be an 8 digit number in red.
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How to Get a Visa Number
Fortunately, it's easy to get a visa foil number (visa number). It starts with applying for your nonimmigrant visa.
Here are the steps.
- Complete form DS-160 - Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application
- Pay the visa application fee
- Schedule your visa immigration interview
- Gather your passport (valid for at least 6 months), one photograph, proof of assets (bank statements), and any other documents specific to your type of visa
- Attend the visa interview
If you're approved, you'll receive your visa with your visa number. The visa will state the length it's good for and include the information you need to come to the United States.
What Other Information is on the Nonimmigrant Visa?
The visa number isn't the only information you'll find on your nonimmigrant visa. You'll also find:
- Your name (first and last)
- Passport number
- Issuing port name
- Type of visa
- Single or multiple entries (how many times you can enter the US)
- Issue and expiration date
Nonimmigrant Visa FAQ
Is a nonimmigrant visa the same as a control number?
The control number on your nonimmigrant visa is located at the top of the visa and isn't the same as the visa number. The control number has more letters and digits in it. This is the number used to track visas.
What is the visa reference number?
The visa reference number is like an acknowledgment of receipt of the application for a visa. The consulate office may call it a reference number or file number.
How long does it take to get a visa?
Depending on where you are trying to get the visa from to enter the United States, it could take a few weeks to as much as 9 months to get a visa.
The Bottom Line
If you plan to come to the United States on a nonimmigrant visa, you'll need a nonimmigrant visa number. Since only a limited number of visas are granted each year, it's important to get your application in early if you have plans to come to the United States.