A visa is a document that permits a person to spend time in a foreign country. Every nation maintains its own visa system and imposes specific limits on who can enter its borders, why they may enter and how long the foreigner may stay in the nation.
Every visa issued by the United States government has a visa number. This is different from the control number, the number used to track the visa. Issuing visa numbers enables the United States Department of State to maintain a record of who has a visa to enter the United States and the validity of each of the visas currently in circulation. Having this information helps the federal government crack down on visa fraud.
Locate a Visa Number
On a U.S. visa, the visa number is printed in red ink on the bottom right of the document. It is located just below the visa’s expiration date. The visa number is an eight-digit figure that may be comprised of numbers and letters or of strictly numbers. More recently issued visas tend to have visa numbers comprised only of numbers.
A visa number is also called a visa foil number. Both immigrant and non-immigrant visas have visa numbers. When a visa applicant or holder checks his visa status, he must enter his case number to access information related to his visa. His case number is not the same as his visa number, which is issued when the visa is issued.
Read More: What Is a Non-immigrant Visa Number?
Checking Your Visa Status
A visa is not valid unless it has a visa number. Visitors from countries that do not participate in the Visa Waiver Program cannot enter the United States without visas. To obtain a visa and legally enter the United States, an individual must apply to the United States Department of State for the specific type of visa necessary for the reason for her visit. Once she has begun the visa application process, the applicant can check her visa status through the Consular Electronic Application Center, or CEAC.
Many different types of visas are available to persons seeking entry to the United States. They fall into two broad categories: immigrant visas and non-immigrant visas.
Types of immigrant visas include:
- K-1 visas for fiances of U.S. citizens
- F2A and F2B visas for certain relatives of lawful U.S. residents
- IR3, IH3, IR4 and IH4 visas for children born abroad adopted to U.S. citizens
Types of non-immigrant visas include:
- J visas for au pairs, exchange visitors and physicians
- A visas for diplomats and other foreign officials
- H-1B visas for various types of professionals
- H-2B for tourists
Other information on a non-immigrant visa includes:
- The applicant’s personal information like eye color, sex, name, birth date and country of origin
- An “S” or “M” designation: “S” means the holder may enter the U.S. once; “M” means he may enter multiple times
- The holder’s passport number
- The visa’s issue and expiration dates
Using a U.S. Visa
Not everybody planning to enter the United States needs a visa. Individuals coming from nations that participate in the Visa Waiver Program can enter with just passports if they are staying for a short amount of time, such as to receive medical treatment or to visit family members.
A visa number can be used to identify the type of visa a visitor holds. Without a valid visa and visa number, a visitor cannot work or attend school in the United States. When a foreign visitor checks his CEAC status, he can see the type of visa he has applied for, as well as all the other information he has provided and any additional required information.
When checking the CEAC status, a visa applicant or holder can correct any information that was entered incorrectly and can seek help with his visa. It is important for an individual seeking entry to the United States to carefully check his CEAC status because if the visa contains incorrect information, he may be denied entry to the United States.
Your U.S. visa number is an eight-digit code printed in red on the bottom right of your visa.
Lindsay Kramer is a freelance writer and editor who has been working in the legal niche since 2012. Her primary focus areas within this niche are family law and personal injury law. Lindsay works closely with a few legal marketing agencies, providing blog posts, website content and marketing materials to law firms across the United States.