Everything You Need to Know About Nonimmigrant Visa Numbers

Updated on April 10, 2024

At a Glance

  • Identification marker on visas issued by USCIS for temporary entry to the U.S.
  • Printed in red at the bottom right corner of the visa.
  • Used for verifying the identity of the visa holder and stored in the USCIS database.
  • Availability of immigrant visa numbers is limited, leading to extended waiting times for applicants.

Getting a U.S. visa is a dream-come-true moment for many individuals who yearn for the “American Dream.” But the plethora of information contained in that small document, which we call a visa, can be overwhelming. If you’re trying to locate the visa number and having a hard time doing so, you’re not alone. In this article, we’ll explain the purpose of the visa number and how to locate it on your visa.

What Is a Nonimmigrant Visa Number?

The United States Citizenship & Immigration Services issues nonimmigrant visas to foreign nationals coming into the U.S. on a temporary basis. Most of these visas allow temporary work authorization or visitor status so you can legally enter, stay, and conduct your work in the U.S. The visa number is among the information included in the visa issued to you by the USCIS. As opposed to a visa document that serves as a permit, the visa number serves as an identification marker. This is usually printed in red and located in the bottom right corner of the visa document. The nonimmigrant visa number is also sometimes referred to as a visa foil number.

Visa numbers can vary in format. In most cases, there are eight numbers with no letters or characters in format XXXXXXXX. In some cases, however, you will find a letter at the beginning, followed by seven numbers.

The validity period of the visa number depends on the type of visa issued to you – if it is issued on a green card or I-130. If it’s a nonimmigrant visa, the visa number’s validity is the same as that of the visa itself. If it’s issued on a green card, it is permanent and won’t change unless otherwise specified.

Why Are Nonimmigrant Visa Numbers Issued?

Think of nonimmigrant visa numbers as your identification. Authorities won’t identify you by looking at your face like your friends do. They use this number to verify that it’s you and not somebody else. Each time this number is scanned at any border crossing, depot, hotel, or restaurant, it is stored in the USCIS database as a record. In most cases, this information won’t be used, but in some cases, it will be used to verify certain associated data.

For instance, when you apply for any other visas in the future, the designated office that is responsible for processing your application can request these records for verification purposes.

How to Find Your Nonimmigrant Visa Number

Since visas come with a lot of information printed on them like DOB, name, issue date, expiration date, among other data, it can be quite a task to locate your visa number. The elderly and inexperienced travelers often face this dilemma.

But it’s super easy to locate your visa number on your visa card. It’s usually at the bottom right corner of your visa printed in red. There’s no title that says “Visa Number.” In some cases, such as older visas, the visa number is printed at the top. But the color and the eight-digit format remain the same. So the location is unimportant.

How to Get a U.S. Visa Number

The visa number comes with the nonimmigrant visa that is issued to you. You need not apply for a visa number separately. To apply for a nonimmigrant visa, you are required to submit Form DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application. You have to supplement the form with documentation, conduct medical checks, and attend interviews at the U.S. Embassy. If it is approved, your visa will be issued to you with your unique eight-digit visa number.

Immigrant Visa Number Availability Per Year

Visa number availability is a different topic altogether. Compared to past years, the USCIS has greatly reduced the number of visas issued each year. Waiting time is long, and it could take several years before you hear back from the USCIS about the status of your application. Consequently, only a limited number of visa numbers are issued each year despite a huge number of applicants.

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In conclusion, you shouldn’t mistake your issued visa number with other numbers that you might have been issued as well. As you might know, small errors often lead to the rejection of the entire application, and the fees associated with them are non-refundable in most cases. So always remember that the visa number is at the right bottom corner of your visa application, printed in red.

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Frank Gogol

I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.

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