Nonimmigrant Visas: Tourism & Visit

Beginning May 20, 2021, the Consular Section of the U.S. Consulate General in Johannesburg will be responsible for providing visa services to those from Lesotho seeking to enter the United States except for diplomatic visa categories. For those planning to travel on a diplomatic visa, please see separate instructions below under the heading Diplomats, and Government Representatives for directions on how to apply. As the COVID pandemic continues to affect the operating status of U.S. Embassies and Consulates around the world, perspective visa applicants should check Consulate Johannesburg’s webpage frequently for interview availability updates at https://za.usembassy.gov/visas/.

Please visit Consulate Johannesburg’s Global Support Services (GSS) website for complete information on applying for a nonimmigrant U.S. visa, including a directory of nonimmigrant visa categories. Applicants must begin their non-immigrant visa application process through the GSS appointment scheduling website at https://ais.usvisa-info.com/.

To contact a customer service representative, please visit the GSS Contact Us page for full information or use contact information below:

  • Email: To reach a customer service representative via email, please write to essa_contactus+za+info+en@visaops.net.
  • Telephone: Please contact a customer service representative using one of these telephone numbers:
    • Callers in South Africa and Lesotho: Call +27 (0)87 550 2160.
    • Callers in the United States: Call 1.703.988.7092

    Skype: To use Skype to speak to a customer service representative during regular hours of operation, add a new contact to your Skype account with the Skype name skype-za_1

Visa pickup from U.S. Consulate Johannesburg will be granted for applicants from Lesotho. Applicants should schedule their appointments on a Monday for collection on Tuesday. Though every effort will be made for visas to be ready on a Tuesday following a Monday interview, please be aware that this may not always be possible. In instances where a decision cannot be made on the day of the interview, applicants from Lesotho will have their passports returned and will be notified once the consular officer reaches a decision. In these cases, applicants should not wait in South Africa.

Presidential Proclamations and National Interest Exceptions: Individuals who have been present in 32 countries, including South Africa, remain subject to restrictions on entry to the United States (see Presidential Proclamations 9984, 9992, 10041, and 10143). Consequently, the Department is conducting visa interviews in the Schengen area, United Kingdom, Ireland, Brazil, China, South Africa, and Iran only for applicants who qualify for National Interest Exceptions (NIEs) to the Presidential Proclamations. Please refer to National Interest Exceptions for Certain Travelers from China, Iran, Brazil, South Africa, Schengen Area, United Kingdom, and Ireland and Updates to National Interest Exceptions for Regional COVID Proclamations and submit an NIE request via this link only if your purpose of travel is listed in the categories considered for exception. Please note that NIEs previously available under Presidential Proclamation 10052 are no longer be available as Presidential Proclamation 10052 expired on March 31.

Presidential Proclamation Exemptions: Spouses, unmarried children under age 21, parents (or legal guardians), and unmarried siblings under the age of 21 of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents are exempt from the Presidential Proclamation and may travel to the United States if they have a valid U.S. visa or ESTA.  [Please note that to qualify under the parent or sibling relationship, the U.S. citizen or LPR must also be unmarried and under age 21.] You do not need a letter of National Interest Exception to travel if you have one of these qualifying relationships.

Students: Students with valid F-1 and M-1 visas intending to begin or continue an academic program commencing August 1, 2021 or later do not need to seek an individual NIE to travel, and may enter the United States no earlier than 30 days before the start of their academic studies.  We do not currently envision being able to offer visa appointments to J-1 applicants wishing to participate in the Summer Work Travel (SWT) program per Presidential Proclamation 10143.  For first-time student visa applicants, please visit https://ais.usvisa-info.com/en-za/niv/ and follow instructions to request an expedited appointment.  If you are renewing your visa, you may be able to submit your application without needing to appear for an interview if you were issued a full-validity visa by a Consulate General in South Africa that expired no more than 24 months ago and have the same SEVIS number.  Eligibility is determined based on the answers provided to questions during the appointment scheduling process on https://ais.usvisa-info.com/en-za/niv.  Note: To minimize any delays in processing your application, please submit I-20 forms showing program start dates after August 1, 2020.  Please contact your Designated School Official (DSO) to get an updated I-20 form, if necessary.

Crewmembers: The suspension of entry to the United States also does not apply to any non-citizen traveling as a non-immigrant pursuant to a C-1, D, or C-1/D visa as a crewmember or any noncitizen otherwise traveling to the United States as air or sea crew (e.g. pursuant to a B1 visa or ESTA as a crewmember on a private vessel). You do not need a letter of National Interest Exception from an Embassy to travel if you fall into these groups. Please ensure you travel with evidence of the qualifying employment (e.g., employment contract, Seaman’s Book, evidence of prior employment and/or training in your field). To apply for your crewmember visa, please visit https://ais.usvisa-info.com/en-za/niv/ and follow instructions to request an expedited appointment.

COVID Testing Requirement: Effective January 26, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) requires all air passengers (ages 2 and older) – including U.S. Citizens  – entering the United States to present a negative COVID-19 test, taken within 72 hours of departure. Airlines must confirm the negative test result for all passengers before boarding. Airlines must deny boarding of passengers if they do not provide documentation of a negative test or recovery. This requirement is separate from the visa application process. All regional Presidential Proclamations restricting travel due to COVID-19 remain in place, and continue to apply to potential travelers regardless of their test results or vaccination status. Travelers holding a National Interest Exception also remain subject to all applicable pre-departure testing requirements. For additional information on this requirement, please read CDC’s FAQs here. For information regarding humanitarian waivers, please visit this site. If you would like to request a waiver of the CDC COVID-19 testing requirement, please submit your information here. Please also be advised that admission into the United States remains subject to a determination by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at ports of entry and that you also may be subject to a 14-day quarantine upon arrival to the United States.

Diplomats and Government Representatives

Diplomatic (A), International Organization (G) and NATO visas are issued to diplomats and other government officials for travel to the United States. Generally, the type of visa required by a diplomat or other government official depends upon their purpose of travel to the United States. There are very specific requirements that must be met by applicants to qualify for an A, G, or NATO visa, under U.S. immigration law.

Most diplomatic passport holders and people applying for official visas are exempt from the MRV fee. Applicants applying for these visa categories should NOT USE THIS VISA INFORMATION SERVICE CENTER because the MRV fee is nonrefundable, even if paid in error. If you believe you qualify for a visa in any of these categories, please email USConsularMaseru@state.gov to request an appointment at the U.S. Embassy in Maseru.

For additional information on Diplomatic and Official visas visit

https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/other-visa-categories/visas-diplomats.html.

For additional information on NATO visas visit https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/other-visa-categories/visa-employees-nato.html.