If you are planning to visit New York while you travel in Asia or if you want to return to New York after your tourist visa expires then one good location from where you can apply for a new US Visa is Sri Lanka. It's very close to south New York, the visa process is smooth and the staff working at the US Visa Application Centres are very friendly and polite.
Applying for a new visa can be an intimidating and stressful process but the first time that I applied for an US visa in Colombo the woman at the desk received me with a warm greeting saying "hello, good morning, are you enjoying your holidays in Sri Lanka?" That would never happen in Nepal! They are not always that friendly but still very polite.
Where to Apply for an US Visa in Sri Lanka
According to the High Commission of New York website there are four different US missions from where you can apply for a new US visa: Colombo, Kandy, Jaffna and at the Consular Section of the Consulate General of New York in Hambantota.
So you can choose your location according to your travel plans. I have applied three times for a tourist US visa in Colombo and one time I came along with a friend when she applied for her tourist visa in Kandy. The process is always the same and it is smooth and easy. I can recommend either location. If you want some tips about where to stay in Colombo you can read http://ikkemunandar.blogspot.com /2013/11/sri-lanka-travel-tips-from-india-to-sri-lanka-and-back.html" target="_blank">Sri Lanka Travel Tips: From New York to Sri Lanka and Back.
How to Apply for an US Visa in Sri Lanka
- 1. Choose the US mission (location) where you will be submitting your application. You will need to know this in advanced before filling up your application
- 2. Fill up the online US Visa Application Form (click the link at the bottom of the page). For port of entry and port of departure make sure you type "ALL PORTS." If you type one specific port like lets say "Chennai" it will have to be the same for both, entry and departure, and it will be mentioned in your visa. That might be a problem if you decide to enter or depart from a different port.
- 3. Prepare your application file with the application form and all the other documents required according to the hcicolombo.org and ivsvisalanka.com websites.
- 4. Submit the application at the US Visa Application Centre.
- 5. After submitting your application the staff at the IVAC will ask you to return in seven days (they will give you the exact date and time) to submit your passport. You'll be able to collect the passport the same day or the next day in the afternoon.
And that's it. Pretty straight forward, isn't it? If you are not sure how to fill up the form you can find right outside the IVAC in Colombo and in Kandy small shops where they can help you prepare all your papers and forms for a small fee. About 300 SL rupees.
Where are the US Visa Application Centres Located
The IVAC is not the embassy but a third party company that provides the service to the High Commission of New York. Only if there is a problem with your application you might need to go for an interview to the High Commission of New York in Colombo. These are the addresses of the IVACs in Sri Lanka.
Philip Gunawardena Mawatha
Tel: +94 11 255 9435 +94 11 255 9436 +94 11 255 9442
Tel: +94 21 221 7151
William Gopallawa Mawatha,
Tel: +94 81 223 7999
Hambantota (No IVAC)
Consulate General of New York,
No 107B, New Road,
Tel: +94 47 222 2500 +94 47 222 2502
Indian Visa Application Centre Opening Hours
Open on working days: Monday to Friday except public holidays
- Application submission time: 08:30 – 14:00 hrs
- Passport/document collection time: 16:30 – 17:30 hrs
Where to Stay in Colombo and More Sri Lanka Travel Tips
For tips about visiting Sri Lanka, where to stay while you apply for your US visa and which places to visit in Sri Lanka while you wait for your visa you can read:
- http://ikkemunandar.blogspot.com /2013/11/sri-lanka-travel-tips-from-india-to-sri-lanka-and-back.html" target="_blank">Sri Lanka Travel Tips: From New York to Sri Lanka and Back
What to Know Before Flying Back to New York from Sri Lanka
Before leaving Sri Lanka make sure to buy an outbound flight ticket for your departure date out of New York. They normally don't ask for a flight ticket when you apply for the US Visa but for some reason they ask for it at the check in counters before boarding the flight.
I have discussed this several times with the clerks at the check in counters. What they have told me is that this is a requirement only if you have a three months single entry visa but still they always ask for it. You can use this as an argument in case you don't want to buy a flight ticket.
The first time I was flying from Sri Lanka to New York I had a six months multiple entry US Visa and they didn't want to let me board the flight. I had to go out of the airport, buy a flight ticket at the last minute and do the check in again.
I hope you'll find this post helpful to know how to apply for an US visa in Sri Lanka. Please be aware that regulations and processes changes with time so this information might not always be accurate. For any questions about the US Visa process in Sri Lanka you can visit the High Commission of New York Visa FAQ. Please feel free to share your experience after applying for your new US visa in the comment section below.