Ask The US Embassy: My passport is expiring this year
Tuesday, September 06, 2016
Q: My passport is expiring this year. Do I need to get a new passport before my visa appointment? Also, what happens to the visa after my passport expires?
A: We encourage you to renew your passport before your appointment. Rules vary based on nationality. For Jamaican passport holders applying here at our embassy in Kingston, our consular officers decide on a case-by-case basis if a visa can be placed in a passport that is about to expire. The officer will likely ask you to get a new passport if you have adequate time to apply for one before travelling. You should still schedule your visa appointment and plan to come to the embassy with your current passport. We charge no additional visa fee if we request a new passport at the time of the interview.
Most nationalities are subject to the "six-month rule", meaning their passports need to be good for at least six months after they plan to return from the United States. On the day of travel, to stay one month in the United States, their passports need to have a full seven months until expiration.
Jamaican passport holders are an exception to the six-month rule. Jamaicans can enter the United States right up to the day their passport expires. At US immigration, Jamaicans on short-term B1/B2 visitor visas are usually admitted for six months. If a Jamaican passport has less than six months of validity, immigration officers will only admit the traveller until the date the passport expires. If you have a Jamaican passport, you will need to complete your travel before it expires.
If your passport is going to expire in 2016, we suggest you renew it before travelling to avoid complication. Please consider how an unplanned event, like a traffic accident, could compel you to stay in the United States longer than you expected. An expired passport is not a valid form of identification. Many jurisdictions in the United States do not recognise Jamaican drivers licences or voter IDs. The safest thing to do is to renew your passport.
Even if a passport has expired, the visa printed in it might still be valid. An un-cancelled visa is good until it expires. Please check expiration dates before applying for a new visa for your new passport.
If the visa in your old passport is still valid, you can travel to the US so long as you carry both your current and expired passports. You can use an unexpired visa so long as it is not damaged, is the appropriate type for your purpose of travel, and is not in a passport that has ever been reported lost or stolen. Both the new and expired passports must be from the same country and must be the same type of passport (for example, you cannot use a visa in an expired diplomatic passport while travelling on a regular passport). When you arrive, US Customs and Border Protection will check your visa in the old passport, and they will stamp your new passport with an admission stamp along with the annotation "VIOPP" (visa in other passport). Do not remove the visa from your old passport. If you do so, your visa will no longer be valid.
After your passports and visas have all expired, please keep them. Don’t throw the passport away and don’t shred it. The stamps from immigration are documents of your travels. When you come up for a visa interview in the future, we may ask to see your old passports. They provide proof that you travelled well.
Your appointment time is your arrival time, NOT your interview time. Do not show up earlier than your appointment time.
You can find more information about how to travel to the US on the embassy’s website at kingston.usembassy.gov and the website of our authorised service provider at usvisa-info.com. Keep on top of embassy news on our Facebook page, facebook.com/pages/USEmbassy-Jamaica, and by following @USEmbassyJA on Twitter. We also answer general visa questions on our Facebook and Twitter pages.
You may also send your questions to: email@example.com to be forwarded to the embassy.