For frequently asked questions about travel to the U.S. during the COVID-19 pandemic, please access the Frequently Asked Questions About Visa Processing During the COVID-19 Pandemic page.
Interview Waiver - Simplified Visa Renewal Program
If you already have a U.S. visa, you may be eligible to renew your visa through a simplified process. If approved, the new visa will be ready, on average, within 10 business days. You do not need specific travel plans to renew your visa.
There is no special application for the simplified visa renewal program, also called the interview waiver program After you complete your DS160 visa application form and pay your visa appointment fee, you will log back into the system to schedule your appointment. You will be asked questions that will determine if you are eligible to renew your visa through the simplified process. (Note that all applicants are screened for the simplified renewal process). If you are found eligible for the simplified renewal process, you will be asked to schedule an appointment to drop off your documents at U.S. Embassy Kampala. The appointment wait time for the simplified process is considerably less than the wait time for in-person interviews.
Using the simplified process does not guarantee visa issuance. Embassy Kampala reserves the right to request that an applicant appear in person for an interview. Please note that you should always wait until you have a valid visa in-hand before booking any non-refundable travel.
Conditions for Eligibility
To qualify for the interview waiver simplified visa renewal program, applicants must meet all of the following conditions:
- You must be a Ugandan citizen or citizen of another country who is a resident of Uganda.
- You must have previously provided ten fingerprints when interviewed for a prior visa at U.S Embassy Kampala.
- Your previous U.S. visa must be currently valid or must have expired within the last 36 months.
- Your previous visa must not have been lost, cancelled, stolen or revoked.
- Your name on the form must be exactly the same as on the current DS160 application as it was on the prior DS160 application.
- You must have never been arrested or convicted of a crime; deported from or denied entry to the United States.
The interview waiver visa renewal program applies to tourist, student, or exchange visitor visas (B1, B2, B1/B2, F1, F2, J1P, J1W, J2P, J2W, M1 or M2 visa categories). If you have never held a U.S. tourist, student or exchange visitor visa, you are not eligible for the interview waiver visa renewal program.
Expedited Emergency Appointment Requests
Due to the large demand for visa interviews, U.S. Embassy Kampala cannot accommodate all requests for expedited appointments. However, we will do our best to grant them for urgent medical treatment, death of a family member, business travel (in limited circumstances), or for students with strict travel deadlines. Conventions, conferences, graduations, and family visits do not usually meet expedite criteria. We usually respond to requests within one business day.
To request an expedited visa appointment, complete the DS160 online application form and schedule a regular appointment on the closest date available. Then, sign-in to your account, click “Continue”, select “Request Expedite” and follow the instructions. See the FAQ on the scheduling website for more detailed information. Note that U.S. Embassy Kampala does not expedite appointment requests via email.
You may check the current wait time for a visa interview appointment here.
**Please note that expedited appointment requests are on a very limited basis due to high volume of applications. Applicants are encouraged to apply well in advance of their anticipated travel and not to book travel until they have a visa in hand. **
The Visa application process has two major steps.
Step 1: Complete the visa application form (DS 160) and submit it. Each visa applicant should have a separate DS 160 form, including children. Link: https://ceac.state.gov/genniv/
Step 2: Create an account on the visa payment and scheduling website by following this link: https://ais.usvisa-info.com/en-ug/niv/users/sign_in. Fill all the required fields and generate a fee deposit slip with all the banking information. Print the deposit slip and take it to any Centenary Bank branch to make the payment for the visa interview. After effecting the payment, allow 24 – 48 hours and get into your account again to schedule the visa interview appointment.
On the day of your interview, please arrive 15 minutes before the scheduled time. You should have with you your valid passport, DS-160 confirmation page, a passport-size photo taken within the last six months, the MRV fee receipt, your appointment confirmation letter and any other documents you might have wish to present to the Consular Officer during your interview.
You will need to pass through a security check before you will be allowed to enter the Embassy. Please note that certain items are not permitted in the Embassy, including laptop computers, mobile phones, cameras, other electronic devices, pocket-knives, cigarettes, and cigarette lighters.
Once you reach the Visa Section, you will present your application forms.
This means that although your interview is scheduled for a given time, you should be prepared to wait for some time before you get to the actual interview.
Embassy staff will verify the information provided and ensure that all forms are duly completed. They will also be able to answer any last minute questions about the application form. You will then be directed to the fingerprint station.
The fingerprinting process is quick and unobtrusive. The process does not require the use of ink and is usually complete within 1 minute.
In most cases, the consular officer will make a decision on your eligibility for a nonimmigrant visa at the time of the interview. In the unlikely event your case is not decided on the day of the interview, you may be requested to return with additional documents before a decision can be made. You will be given instructions on when to return to the Consular section and present the additional documents.
The photographs for each visa and/or passport applicant must be an unmounted, full face photo, as described below:
Effective May 01 2017, each applicant MUST attempt to upload his/her photo as part of the process of completing the DS160 form online at https://ceac.state.gov/CEAC. If the effort to upload is unsuccessful, applicants can still proceed with their applications.
- The photograph must be a full-face view in which the visa applicant is facing the camera directly.
- As of November 1, 2016, eye glasses will no longer be allowed in visa photos. For further details on photo requirements please visit: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/visa-information-resources/photos.html
- The applicant should not look down or to either side, and the face should cover about 50 percent of the photo area.
- Side or angled views are NOT accepted.
- The photograph should be in color, and must have only a white or off-white background. Photos with dark, busy, or patterned backgrounds will not be accepted.
- In general, the applicant’s head, including both face and hair, should be shown from the crown of the head to the tip of the chin on top and bottom and from hairline side-to-side. It is preferable that ears be exposed.
- Head coverings and hats are only acceptable due to religious beliefs, and, even then, may not cover any portion of the applicant’s face.
- Sunglasses or other wear which detracts from the face are not acceptable unless required for medical reasons (an eye patch, for example).
- A photograph depicting a person wearing a traditional facemask or veil that does not permit adequate identification is not acceptable.
- Photos of military, airline, or other personnel wearing hats are not acceptable. Photographs of applicants wearing tribal, national costume, or other headgear not specifically religious in nature are not acceptable.
Digitally reproduced photographs must be reproduced without discernible pixels or dot patterns. Photocopied photographs are NOT accepted.
Applications submitted with photos that do not meet this format cannot be processed until new photos have been provided.
Where Can Photos Be Obtained
The following vendors in Kampala provide photos that usually meet these requirements. This is not an endorsement of these vendors, and any complaints regarding the quality of photographs or service provided are a matter to be addressed directly between the client and the vendor. This information is simply provided to applicants to assist in locating various photo vendors in the Kampala area.
- Cosset Visual Studios Ltd., Kabalagala opposite Shell
0312-101-519 / 0776-807-938 / 0702-807-938 / 0712-807-938
- Kis Studio, Plot 22 Kampala Road, opposite Posta Uganda
0414-570-068 / 0703-850-645
- Photogenix Ltd:
- Cosset Visual Studios Ltd., Kabalagala opposite Shell
- Plot 85 Kampala Road – 0752-777-466
- Nakumatt branch – 0752-777-423
- Forest Mall branch – 0752-777-450
- Star United Agencies Ltd., Star Lab & Studios, opposite city square 0712-288-429 / 0703-407-700
- Trupati Muzima Mall (Uchumi Mall), 1st Floor Shop # 153
0779-838-713 / 0706-909-566
Group Processing may be requested for groups of 15 or more people for the same type of visa going for the same purpose of travel. Requests must be received at least 30 days prior to scheduled travel. Email KampalaVisa@state.gov to request a group appointment.
Visiting the Embassy
Parking at the Embassy
The U.S. Embassy in Kampala does not provide parking facilities to members of the public seeking consular services. The Embassy strongly recommends that those seeking consular services plan to utilize public parking or public transportation.
Official visas are for diplomats, government employees, and employees of international organizations (such as the United Nations) traveling on official business.
What Documentation Do I Need to Apply?
- Form DS-160. When answering the question “Purpose of Trip to U.S.” on the “Travel Information” section, choose “Other” from the dropdown menu. A second dropdown menu will appear, choose the appropriate category.
- A diplomatic note. The diplomatic note is written confirmation by the sending government of the applicant’s status. A-3 and G-5 applicants must have a diplomatic note included with their applications to confirm the official status of employers.
- A passport valid for travel to the United States and with a validity date at least six months beyond the applicant’s intended period of stay in the United States.
- A 2″x2″ photograph. See the Photo Information section on this page.
- Visa processing and issuance fees. Diplomatic passport holders are exempt from paying visa fees for all types of visas. Official passport holders are not charged for official visas, but are required to pay the $160 non-refundable visa application fee and reciprocal issuance fees, if applicable, for all non-official visas.
- A-3 and G-5 visa applicants must have a valid, signed employment contract in English and their native language and pre-notification to the Department of State’s Office of Protocol. A-3 and G-5 applicants should email KampalaVisa@state.gov to schedule an interview appointment.
Special Instructions for International Organizations:
In Kampala, International Organizations (United Nations, World Bank, IMF, IOM, etc.) must request official visas (including G4 visas) for their staff members via both email and hard copy through a known carrier. The request should be in the form of a Note Verbale and contain the full name of the employee, a copy of the official organization ID, and the purpose and dates of travel. The Note Verbale should be e-mailed to KampalaVisa@state.gov. The hard copy should be delivered to the U.S. Embassy along with the employee’s passport, DS-160 Visa Application confirmation, and photo. Official visa applications hand carried by staff members will not be accepted without prior approval from the U.S. Embassy.
The Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Kampala requests each International Organization to provide a specimen signature for each individual authorized to sign a Note Verbale, a copy of the phot ID of couriers submitting documentation, and updates such as change of personnel that handles official visa applications.
A list of International Organizations can be found here. For additional information or questions, please send an email to: KampalaVisa@state.gov
Visa application forms and supporting documents should be delivered to the Embassy’s consular section Monday 8-11 am and Wednesday 2-4 pm. We only accept applications for the MFA or the relevant international organization couriers. We cannot provide same day service. Applications subject to administrative processing may take longer to process.
Do I Qualify for a Diplomatic (A) or International Organization (G) Visa?
- Diplomats (A visas): To qualify for an A-1 or A-2 visa, you must be traveling to the United States on behalf of your national government to engage solely in official activities for that government. The fact that there may be government interest or control in a given organization is not in itself the defining factor in determining if you qualify for an A visa; the particular duties or services that will be performed, must be governmental in character or nature. Government officials traveling to the United States to perform non-governmental functions of a commercial nature or traveling as tourists require the appropriate visa, and do not qualify for diplomatic visas. You must follow the procedure outlined on this page and apply for the appropriate visa.
- International Organizations (G visas): To qualify for a G visa, your visit to the United States must be for official business. Permanent mission members of a recognized government to an international organization are eligible for a G-1 visa. Representatives of a recognized government traveling to the United States temporarily to attend meetings of a designated international organization are eligible for G-2 visas and representatives of non-recognized or non-member governments are eligible for G-3 visas. G-4 visas are issued to individuals who are proceeding to the United States to take up an appointment at a designated international organization, including the United Nations. Officials of International Organizations traveling to the United States to perform non-official functions of a commercial nature or traveling as tourists, require the appropriate visa, and do not qualify for diplomatic visas. You must follow the procedure outlined on this page and apply for the appropriate visa.
Please note: Foreign officials who are traveling to the United States on official business must obtain an A or G visa prior to their entry. They cannot travel on tourist visas nor can they travel under the Visa Waiver Program.
Are My Family Members Also Eligible for Official A and G Visas?
Only immediate family members qualify for A and G visas. Immediate family members are defined as the spouse and unmarried sons and daughters of any age who are members of the principal applicant’s household. Immediate family also includes close relatives of the principal applicant or spouse who are related by blood, legal marriage or adoption and are not members of some other household and who will reside regularly in the household of the principal applicant and are recognized as dependents by the sending government. An unmarried partner, even if recognized as the principal applicant’s dependent by the sending government, would not be eligible for a derivative A or G visa, but may apply for a B visa.
Do I Need an Interview?
The U.S. Embassy in Kampala can waive a personal appearance for many types of diplomatic visas but may request an interview.