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Frequently Asked Questions

The Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in La Paz, Bolivia desires to facilitate lawful travel to the United States of America.  Information about how to obtain a visa may be obtained on our website at   Below are some frequently asked questions regarding visas.

Q.  What are the most important things I need to do to get a visa to the U.S.?

A. a) Schedule your appointment as soon as possible; b) come prepared to the interview with all necessary documentation and information; and c) always tell the truth during the interview.

Q.  I have an indefinite visa, is it still valid?

A. No.  The United States Government stopped issuing "indefinite" validity visas on February 1, 1995 and they are no longer valid. The maximum validity of a B-1/B-2 visa is ten years.

Q.  For how long is a visa valid?

A. You may use your visa to travel to the United States until the date it expires.  At the port of entry, the length of your authorized stay in the United States will be determined by US immigration authorities.

Q.  Do Bolivians need 6 months validity on their passport to obtain a visa to the US?

A. Yes, for an immigrant visa.  For non-immigrant visas, the passport must be valid for at least the intended length of the trip at the time of the interview. 

Q.  I have a visa in my old passport. Can I just transfer it to my new passport?

A. No. It is not possible to transfer a visa from one passport to another without making a new visa application. You should carry both passports when traveling to the US.

Q. My passport containing a valid visa has expired. I've obtained a new passport. Do I need a new visa?

A. If the passport in which your visa has been placed has expired, the visa in the old passport still can be used, provided that you also carry a valid passport of the same nationality. Note: If, when canceling your old passport, your national passport authority has clipped the corners of the passport, and, in so doing, has damaged the visa in any way, that visa is no longer valid and cannot be used for travel to the United States.

Q.  My marital status has changed, and I have a passport that reflects my new name.  Can I still travel with my visa in my former name?

A. Yes, you may.  However, you should travel with the documentation that shows your change of marital status (divorce decree, marriage certificate, death certificate, etc.) to present to the immigration authorities at the Port of Entry, in case such proof is requested. 

Q.  My children's visas are in my passport.  Can they travel without me?

A. No.  If the child's visa is located in the passport of one of the parents, then the child can only utilize the visa if they travel with the parent who is the lawful bearer of the passport.  If the child wishes to travel without the passport bearer parent, then the child will need to apply for a separate visa in his or her passport.

Q.  What will happen if I obtain or present false documents to a Consular Officer?

A. Do not attempt to procure or present any false documents, or else you may be barred for life from obtaining a U.S. visa.

Q. Can I purchase a visa from a “tramitador,” or can a “tramitador” guarantee the issuance of my visa? 

A. Only the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in La Paz, Bolivia can issue visas within Bolivia.  Some unscrupulous individuals attempt to “issue” or “guarantee” visas to the U.S. for a fee.  Do not fall prey to these scams.  Please contact the local authorities and the Consular Section of the Embassy if you suspect that you have been the victim of fraud.

Q.  Should I hide the fact that I have relatives in the U.S.?

A. No.  Always tell the truth on your application and during the interview.  You may get a visa if you have relatives living in the U.S., in some cases even if they are living there illegally, provided that you otherwise qualify for the visa.  However, if you try to conceal this information from the consular officer, that may result in you not getting a visa.

Q. Do I need to have $10,000 in the bank to get a tourist visa?

A. Not necessarily.  U.S. immigration law presumes that all visa applicants are intending immigrants, and they must prove otherwise to the satisfaction of the consular officer.  One aspect of this is that the applicant must have sufficient resources for the planned travel.  Applicants that can demonstrate strong financial, social and family ties to Bolivia may be eligible for a tourist visa.

Q.  What if my relatives or friends in the U.S. are paying all of my expenses?

A. Applicants must demonstrate strong ties to Bolivia, which include their own personal financial solvency.  The financial situation of friends or family in the U.S. is not as relevant.

Q.  If I get a 10-year visa, does that mean that I can stay in the U.S. for 10 years?

A. No.  A visa allows the bearer to present himself or herself at the port of entry (for example, Miami airport) and request admission from officers of the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”).  Even if you have a valid visa, DHS may decide not to admit you to the United States at the port of entry.  DHS officers authorize entry to the U.S. and determine how long a visitor can stay – the maximum stay for tourism is generally 6 months.  A 10 year visa is valid for 10 years, meaning the bearer can seek entry at the port of entry from DHS during that time frame.  It does not allow the bearer to live in the U.S. for 10 years.  If, while you are in the United States, you find that you need to stay there longer than the period of time initially granted to you, you must contact the nearest office of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to apply for an extension of your stay.

Q. What if I enter on the visa waiver program and then decide I want to stay longer than the 90 days?

A. You CANNOT extend the time on the Waiver Program. The 90 days also includes any time spent in Canada, Mexico and adjacent islands. Therefore, you cannot cross the border into these areas and then return for another 90 days. You can, however, ask for re-entry on the Waiver Program if you have left the continent.

Q.  How can I renew my visa?

A. A visa cannot be renewed regardless of its type. One must apply as if it is a new visa.

Q.  Can I apply for a visa in Bolivia if I am not a Bolivian passport holder or a permanent resident in Bolivia?

A. An applicant has the right to apply at any Consulate abroad. However, it may be more difficult to qualify for the visa when applying outside one's own country of permanent residence. If you choose to apply in Bolivia it is on the understanding that you may be refused, and the application fee is non-refundable if the visa is not issued. You are expected to demonstrate strong ties to your country that you plan to return to after your visit to the US. Therefore, applicants are advised to always apply in their own country of permanent residence if possible. The decision on the issuance of the visa will be made at the time of application.

Q.  I was arrested/convicted years ago; can I apply for a visa?

A. Anyone arrested or convicted of a crime (regardless of how long ago) must apply for a visa and cannot use the Visa Waiver Program. The applicant must submit details including court date, type of offence, and outcome. The port of entry and exit to/from the US and the expected dates are also required. This information is in addition to the usual requirements for the type of visa being applied for.

Q.  My DS-2019/I-20/I-20M form hasn't arrived from the US.  Can I apply for the visa with a photocopy of the approval notice to work/study?

A. No, you must have the original documents to apply, and you must bring all pages of the form to the Consulate.

Q. Can I present a copy of my I-797 approval notice for my work visa?

A. No, you must have the original I-797 notification of approval from the office of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The consulate CANNOT accept a faxed copy from the applicant, the employer, or the applicant's lawyer.

Q.  My company is sending me to the US office for training; do I need a visa?

A. The B1/B2 visa allows you to attend short, in-house training courses of less than 6 months. Among your supporting documentation, you should carry a letter with you on the company letterhead stating the purpose of the trip, the approximate length of stay, and that your salary will continue to be paid from the Bolivian company.

Q. Can my relative in the US sponsor me?

A. Only your employer can sponsor you for work.

Q.  Can I get a visa to do casual work?

A. No, there is no visa that covers casual work. You must have an employer sponsor you as described in the working visa information page.

Q.  Can I work or study in the U.S. on a tourist visa?

A. No.  You need to obtain special visas in order to study or work legally in the United States.
Q.  If I have only a tourist visa, what sort of activities can I do in the United States?

A. B-2 visa is only valid for travel to the United States for a temporary visit for pleasure. This includes touring, visiting friends and relatives, visits for rest or medical treatment, participation on conventions, conferences or convocations of fraternal or social organizations, and participation by amateurs - who will receive no financial remuneration - in musical, sports or similar events or contests. For a visit for business purposes you need a classification B-1 visa. To apply for such a visa follow the instructions on form DS-156.

Q.  What is the Visa Lottery?

A. The 1990 Immigration Act established the Diversity Visa (DV) classification to encourage greater diversity in the immigrant populations in the US.  Bolivian citizens are eligible to apply for the diversity lottery.

Q. Where can I find more information?

A. The answer to almost every question about visas can be found on our website at Embassy of the United States - La Paz , Bolivia and the State Department website.  You may also write to us by e-mail at

Q. How long does it take to get a visa appointment at the U.S. Embassy in La Paz, Bolivia?

A. Please plan ahead, schedule your appointment as soon as possible! Due to the current demand for visa appointments, you may experience a delay of almost three weeks. See up-to-date wait times, click here.

Q. Is there a special process for emergency travel such as to go to a funeral or to visit a family member in the United States who is ill?

A. We do have expedited appointments available for urgent travel needs.  The fastest way to obtain an expedited appointment in case of urgent travel need is to call the Visa Appointment and Information Service at 800-100-449 and purchase a PIN.  This PIN can be immediately activated.  The applicant should then explain to the service the nature of the urgent travel in order to obtain the earliest appointment possible and the operator will provide additional information about the process. Please note that all applicants, regardless of their purpose of travel, must schedule an appointment and appear in person with the required documents in order to be issued a visa. 

Q. I have a valid visa but my passport expired.  Do I need to have a new visa put in my new passport?

A. No, you do not.  It is not necessary to renew the visa until it expires, and you may travel with both passports.  However, if you wish to renew, you must make an appointment, pay the interview fee, and apply as if it were the first time.

Q. If I already had a U.S. visa and want to "renew" it, is there a special process for that?

A. You must go through the same appointment process as all other NIV applicants.  Please be sure to provide us with the previous passport that contains the valid visa at the time of the interview, as well as any other passports containing recent travel.

Q. Who may accompany me to the visa interview?  

A. Visa interviews are between the applicant and the interviewing consular officer, and third parties (e.g. family members, friends, business associates, attorneys, etc.) will be directed to take a seat during the course of the interview.  At the discretion of the interviewing officer, third parties may be asked to provide information pertinent to the applicant's qualifications.

Q. How long will I wait in line for my visa interview?

A. On a typical day, the Embassy schedules 100-150 visa interviews. Our goal is to interview everyone within one hour from the time of entry onto the Embassy compound. For example, if you have an appointment at 8:00am, you will be permitted to enter the compound at 7:30 (30 minutes before the scheduled time), and we hope to complete your interview by 9:00. During this time, prior to the actual interview, your application will be reviewed for completeness and entered into a database and your fingerprints will be scanned by a digital reader. The wait time could vary - shorter or longer - depending on a variety of factors. The Embassy provides chairs and restrooms for those waiting in line.

Q. How long is the average interview?

A. On average, the interview will last 3-5 minutes, but can vary depending on the complexity of the case. The interviewers must complete mandatory checks of the database (name and date of birth, fingerprints and photo recognition) for each applicant, and enter notes into the system. All interviewing officers are American citizens and commissioned officers of the Foreign Service of the United States.  The point of the interview is to clarify or expand on the information provided on your application. 

Q. How do I get my passport back?

A. Passports are returned through DHL courier service.  It takes three to five business days to receive your passport and visa from DHL.  Same day service is not available.

Q. Can I pick my passport and visa up sooner?

A. We do not make exceptions to the requirement to use DHL for return of the passport and visas except in cases of medical emergency or to attend a funeral.  All other applicants must go through DHL to receive their passport back.  For this reason, all applicants should schedule their visa appointments well before the date of intended travel.  We recommend scheduling your appointment at least 6 weeks before the intended date of travel wherever possible.   

Q. What do Consular Officers base their decisions on?

A. Section 214(b) of the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act creates the legal presumption that every visitor visa applicant is intending to immigrate.  In order to be issued a visa, applicants must overcome this presumption.   Applicants can overcome this presumption only by demonstrating to the consular officer that they have a residence abroad and compelling professional, financial and social ties to that residence.  The consular officer must be convinced that the applicants’ ties to Peru are strong enough that the applicant will use the visa consistent with U.S. law and will return to Bolivia at the conclusion of a legally authorized stay abroad.

Q. But the officer did not look at my documents, how can they determine my ties to my country of residence?

A. Each applicant is given the opportunity to present the DS-156 Non-Immigrant Visa application form which details their personal information.  The information on this form is critical, because the form contains an oath and signature line attesting to the truth of the information contained within.  The Officer asks questions based on the information presented in the application.  Officers generally ask for documents only when it is necessary to clarify or corroborate information provided by the applicant on the application form or in the interview.  Consular Officers base their decisions primarily on the interview with the applicant and the information attested to on the application form and do not normally consider outside documentation.

Q. Someone I work with and who makes the same salary that I do has a visa, but I was turned down.  Why? 

A. An applicant’s economic circumstances are only one of the factors considered by consular officers during the course of an interview.  In making their decisions, consular officers consider a number of factors including but not limited to how established the applicant is in their profession, family circumstances, the purpose of the applicant’s travel, the applicant’s history of travel and return to his or her country of residence, as well as the travel history of the applicant’s immediate family members. 

Q. When can I apply again?

A. The refusal of a visitor visa is not permanent, and applicants may reapply.  However, we strongly recommend that individuals reapply only if they can demonstrate a significant change in circumstances since the last application.  No guarantee can be made in advance of an application that a visa will be issued since so much depends on the interview.  Nevertheless, you may be assured that all re-applications are accorded every consideration possible under the law.

Q.  Can I appeal the officer’s decision?

A. Visa interviews are conducted by commissioned officers of the United States Government, and they have broad discretion in visa matters. Their decisions in visa cases, while subject to review by supervisory consular personnel, are final. There is no right of appeal. Refused applicants who believe they qualify for visa issuance may reapply, and all re-applications are accorded every consideration possible under the law.

Q. Why didn’t they tell me when I called that I would not get a visa?

A. Each visa application is thoroughly examined and evaluated on its own merits. Since it is impossible to obtain all relevant facts without seeing your passport and completed application, we are unable to tell you by phone whether you will receive a visa. Our telephone information system, as well as information distributed on the Internet, is designed to give general information regarding the visa application process and suggest types of documents that might help demonstrate eligibility for a U.S. visa. However, in no circumstances is someone able to guarantee in advance that you will receive a U.S. visa.

Q. Why can’t I have my money back?

A.  The fee that you paid is an application fee. Everyone who applies for a U.S. visa anywhere in the world must pay this fee, which covers the cost of reviewing your application. As the application form states, this fee is non-refundable regardless of whether you are issued a visa or not. If your application was refused under Section 214(b) and you choose to reapply for a visa, whether at this Embassy or elsewhere, you will be required to pay the application fee again.

Q. How do children qualify for visas?

A. The presumption in Section 214(b) of U.S. Immigration law applies to children as well as to adults.  Children generally demonstrate that they are not intending immigrants by presenting compelling evidence of the economic, family and social ties of their parents or legal guardians.  For this reason, though children under the age of 14 are not required to appear in person, both parents must appear in person on their behalf and be prepared to answer questions regarding family circumstances and economic, family and social ties.  If the parent(s) or legal guardian(s) have had a U.S. visa, they should bring the passport containing the visa and all passports obtained since the issuance of the visa to the interview for themselves and their immediate family members.

Q. I’m an American citizen and want to sponsor my family member or contact to come to the United States.  If I pay for their trip and guarantee that they return can I get them a visa?

A. It is important to understand that it is the applicant who must establish eligibility for a visa by demonstrating their own compelling ties to their country of residence.  Even in the case of a compelling reason for wanting to travel to the U.S., Consular Officers cannot issue visas based on the assurances of friends or family members.  Officers make their decisions in the context of social and economic conditions in the country in which they work and the experienced rate of return of applicants from that country.

Q. I traveled to the U.S. on a student visa but then I transferred to a new school in the United States do I need to get a new visa?

A. So long as you maintain full time student status and have a valid up to date I-20 you do not need to return to Bolivia to obtain a new visa.   You may use your initial visa for subsequent entries to the U.S. so long as you have a valid I-20 and have continuously maintained student status since your initial entry to the U.S. as a student. 

Q. I lost my I-20, do I really need this to apply for a visa?

A. The I-20 is a required document for student visa applicants, as well as proof of payment of the SEVIS fee.  We will not be able to process you application without these documents.  We urge applicants to apply for studies in the United States well in advance of any intended studies.

Q. I was accepted at a school in the U.S. and had the I-20 form and SEVIS form, why was my student visa denied?

A.  All student visa applicants are subject to section 214(b) of U.S. Immigration Law which presumes them to be intending immigrants unless they can prove otherwise.  Student visa applicants must demonstrate that they are bona fide students whose purpose in applying for the student visa is for a well thought out program of studies in the United States after which they intend to return to their country of residence.

Q. I lost my passport with my U.S. visa in it, what do I do?

A. Please see lost & stolen passports.(Se puede linkear?)

Q. What are the requirements for traveling without a visa?

A.  Passport holders from certain countries may travel without visas, so long as the passports meet certain requirements.  For up to date on these requirements and other limited categories of travelers who may travel without a visa please refer to Visa Waiver Program (VWP).

Q. I have had difficulties during my travel screening at transportation hubs, such as airports and train stations, or crossing U.S. Borders. Whom may I contact? 

A. If you have had difficulties with your travel screening, and possessed a proper visa at the time of your travel screening, you should contact the Traveler Redress Inquiry Program (TRIP).

Q. I will only make a layover in the U.S. Do I still need a visa? 

A. Yes, you need a transit visa that has the same requirements, fess and procedures than the tourist visa.