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Wilfrid Laurier University Leaf
May 30, 2015
Canadian Excellence

Applying for a U.S. Visa

Traveling to the United States

If you wish to visit the U.S.A., generally you must first obtain a visa: either a non-immigrant visa for temporary stay, or an immigrant visa for permanent residence. If you are a citizen from one of the “Visa Waiver Program”(VWP) countries, you can come to the U.S without a visa if you have a machine-readable passport. Starting October 26, 2004, visa waiver travelers from ALL 27 Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries MUST present a machine-readable passport (MPR) at the U.S port of entry to enter the U.S without a visa; otherwise, a U.S. visa is required for a maximum stay of 90 days. As of October 26, 2005, VWP countries must also have biometrically enabled passports. Additionally, children are not able to travel on their parent’s passports.

Visa Waiver Program:

Please visit  on the Visa Waver Program, please visit the U.S. Department of State website for up to date information. The website contains a list of countries that participate in the Visa Waiver Program. Download the Visa Application here.

Applying for a Visa

If you are not part of the Visa Waiver Program, you must obtain a Visa. You can find information on this website.

Contact your nearest U.S. embassy or consulate for specific information on
  • How to pay fees
  • How to get an appointment for an interview
  • The latest information on visa requirements
You may have to schedule a personal appearance interview, which is a standard part of visa processing. Consular officers do security checks for all visa applicants. They will make special security clearances for some applicants as required by law. These clearances may take several weeks or longer. Plan for the possibility of a delay in the issuing of a visa and build in ample time before your planned travel date when seeking to obtain one.

Consulate General in Toronto
360 University Ave, Toronto, ON, M5G 1S4

Visa Appointments
  • To schedule a non-immigrant visa appointment through the Internet, go to the NVARS website (to use this service a $15 non refundable payment in Canadian dollars is required)
  • To schedule a non-immigrant visa appointment by phone, please call: From Canada: 1-900-451-2778. The cost of call is $2.00 (Canadian)/ minute From the United States: 1-900-443-3131. The cost of call is: $1.65 (U.S.)/ minute
  • If you wish to schedule a non-immigrant visa appointment by phone and do not have access to the 900 telephone service, you may use a credit card and call: 1-888-840-0032 (from Canada and the U.S.)
  • To obtain information about application procedures and fees, you must call the 1-900 appointment line or use the NVARS website Non-immigrant Visa Photograph Requirements

The photograph format required for the non-immigrant visa has changed. This format is similar to that required for U.S. passport processing. You have to submit the non-immigrant visa application with the new photo format:
  • The photograph for each visa applicant must be an un-mounted, full face photo, as described below
  • The photograph must have been taken within the last six months
  • One (1) photograph must be submitted stapled or glued to the application DS-156

Photo Size

The photo for each visa applicant submitted must measure:
  • 2 by 2 inches (roughly 50 mm square) with the head centered in the frame.
  • The head (measured from the top of the hair to the bottom of the chin) should measure between 1 inch to 1 3/8 inches (25 mm to 35 mm) with the eye level between 1 1/8 inch to 1 3/8 inches (28 mm and 35 mm) from the bottom of the photo

Photo Appearance

  • The photograph must be a full-face view in which the visa applicant is facing the camera directly.
  • 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 may be in color or black and white, but 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.
  • Staple or glue the one photograph to the DS-156 in the designated space. If the photograph is stapled, staples should be placed as far away as possible from the applicant's face.