Skip Global Navigation to Main Content
Skip Breadcrumb Navigation
Turn Admin On!
Nonimmigrant Visas

How to Apply for a Visa

 Procedures and Instructions

Temporary visitors to the United States must apply for and obtain a nonimmigrant visa before beginning their journey.  The information in this website is designed to help you to understand the process and to come to the interview prepared.  Simply click on one of the links below or on the left side of the page to begin.

  1. U.S. Visa Categories
  2. Complete Online DS-160 Online Application 
  3. Pay the application fee
  4. Schedule your appointment
  5. Arrive at the Embassy for your scheduled interview 
  6. Delivery of Visas to Courier (IF VISA IS APPROVED)

NOTE: Please DO NOT bring any personal electronic devices (e.g., cell phones, blackberries, iPods, etc.) with you to the Embassy.  Such items are prohibited from the premises.


STEP 1: Determine the type of visa you require. 

The requirements, qualifications, and fees for each visa type vary by category.

STEP 2: Complete the DS-160 Online Application.

Fill out the online Nonimmigrant Visa Application Form (DS-160) and print only the “Confirmation Page.”  Bring the confirmation page with the bar code to your visa interview.  It is not necessary to bring a complete printed application form.  If your DS-160 does not provide complete and accurate information, we will not be able to process the application.  You will be required to update or correct your DS-160 and return at a later time to finish the application process. 

NOTE: We do not recommend working with third party businesses and websites that charge a fee to: (a) fill out the DS-160; and/or (b) prepare other application documents on your behalf.  Such businesses are not endorsed by, associated with, or affiliated in any way with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the State Department, or any agency of the United States Government. 

STEP 3: Pay the application fee (MRV).

New Application Fees: Nonimmigrant and immigrant visa application fees change on April 13, 2012. The fees for most nonimmigrant visa applications will increase, while all immigrant visa application fees will decrease. All visa applicants must pay the fee amounts in effect on the day they pay, including immigrant visa applicants who pay fees to the National Visa Center (NVC).

Type of Visa


Tourist, Business, Transit, Crew Member, Student, Exchange Visitor, and Journalist visas


Petition-Based visas (H, L, O, P, Q, and R)


Treaty Investor and Trader visas (E)


Fiancé(e) visas (K)


Fees that will decrease are not refundable - If you paid a visa fee before April 13, 2012 and that fee decreased, it is not refundable.

Fees that will increase (only nonimmigrant fees) - If you paid your visa fee before April 13, 2012, you do not have to pay the difference between the new and old fee amounts as long as your visa interview is on or before July 12, 2012. Starting July 13, 2012, you will be required to pay the difference between the old and new fee amounts.

Applicants have two options to pay the non-refundable application fee (MRV):

  1. Online by credit or debit card; or
  2. In-person at any branch of Banco Nacional de Costa Rica (effective June 1st, 2012).  Applicants who want to take this option must access their online account to print out a payment slip to bring with them to the bank.

Important Notice: After paying a Non-Immigrant Visa application fee, you must wait one business day before scheduling your appointment.

STEP 4:  Schedule an appointment either online or via the Call Center.

Beginning April 20, 2012, visa applicants can register online and schedule both immigrant and non-immigrant visa appointments free of charge, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Alternatively, applicants who prefer to call the Call Center may also schedule appointments by calling 506-4000-1976 (within Costa Rica) or (703) 745- 5475 (for callers from the US) at no additional charge.

STEP 5: Arrive at the US Embassy for your scheduled interview.

The following documents are required:

  • DS-160 confirmation sheet with bar code (DO NOT PRINT the entire form; only the confirmation sheet is needed);
    • Passport valid for at least 6 months from date of proposed travel and ALL prior passports;
  • Photograph;
  • Payment receipt for the application fee; and
  • Appointment confirmation sheet. 

Student and exchange visa applicants must bring either their I-20 or DS 2019 issued by the educational institution.

Applicants should not arrive at the Embassy more than 30 minutes ahead of their scheduled appointment.  All persons entering the premises must pass through a security checkpoint. 

Due to space limitations in our waiting room, the applicant will be the only person allowed into the building unless the applicant is a minor child accompanied by a parent or legal guardian or has a medical condition necessitating assistance.  Other parties (including relatives, friends, employers, lawyers, etc.) will not be allowed into the building unless requested by a consular official.

The applicant will be interviewed by a bilingual American Consular Officer.  During the interview, each applicant should be prepared to provide convincing, original evidence of his or her (and his or her immediate family’s) long-term economic, family, academic and personal ties that would compel the applicant to return home after a short visit to the United States. This evidence could include, but is not limited to: evidence of property ownership, bank account statements for the prior three months, proof of employment and salary, proof of pension, proof of enrollment in a university, etc. 

Please note we do not accept certificates of income prepared by accountants or attorneys. 

Note regarding minor applicants: Children ages 9 and below are generally not required to appear in person for an interview.  However, a consular officer may require a personal appearance by any child if there are doubts about the child’s present location, identity and/or legal custody.   Both parents and/or the legal guardian should attend the interview for all minor applicants. .  Parents should also bring the child’s birth certificate, along with their own passport or ID card.  Legal guardians must show proof of custody of all minor children. Except under extraordinary circumstances and/or a showing of sole custody by a parent or legal guardian, a failure by either parent to attend the visa interview may result in a refusal of the visa.

STEP 6: Delivery of Visas via Courier (IF APPROVED)

Except in very rare emergency circumstances, all approved Non-Immigrant visas are returned to applicants only via the courier service.

Passports will be delivered to the Correos de Costa Rica location that you select when you register online.

More Resources About Visas

  • If you have a question that you were unable to answer from the content on our website, please use one of the following resources:



    Call Center: 506-4000-1976 (within Costa Rica) or 703-745-5475 (if calling from the United States)

    Skype: ustraveldocs_centralamerica

    Call Center and Skype hours are Monday to Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. and Saturdays 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Costa Rican time

Join Our Online Communities

Visa application process

  • Changes in the U.S. Visa application process (State Department)

Promoting legal tourism

  • USA Visa Style

Required Forms

  • These Applications Must Be Filled Out In English

    You should not bring your entire application.  Your confirmation page is all that is needed to retrieve your application data. The confirmation page is the small sheet with the bar code that you print out after completing and saving your application. You must bring the confirmation page with you during all phases of the application process.  Without the confirmation page, it may not be possible to access your application and process your visa case.  DS-160

Additional Forms

Adobe Reader

  • Download Free
    Download Free

    All downloadable documents on this page are provided in PDF format.  To view PDFs you must have a copy of Adobe Acrobat Reader.  You may download a free version by clicking the link above.


  • attention

    For security reasons, visa applicants and American citizens are not allowed to enter the U.S. Consulate or Embassy grounds with bags, food (with the exception of snacks for children under six years old), weapons, or any type of electronic devices (including laptops, iPads, iPods, cameras, memory sticks, CDs, etc.)  Please do not bring supporting information (photos, transcripts, ultrasounds, etc.) on electronic devices.  Please bring only printed information to your appointment. 

    The U.S. Consulate General in Costa Rica does not have a storage facility for such items. We strongly discourage visa applicants and visitors to the American Citizen Services section from bringing these items to the Embassy.

    If you must bring cell phones, you must leave those items with the security guards at the entrance and pick them up upon exiting.  The U.S. government takes no responsibility for devices left at the Embassy.

    Your cooperation is appreciated.