A friend who is a UK citizen is planning to visit me in the US in November, when the Covid travel restrictions will get changed. Due to a miscommunication, she mistakenly began the process of applying for a visa instead of a visa waiver, and I'm fairly certain the visa application process will not be completed in time for the planned November visit.

I can't confirm the precise details at the moment, as she is asleep, but I think she has used https://ceac.state.gov/genniv/ to fill out form DS-160, electronically submitted it, and probably paid the fee. She only did this within the last day, and has not yet scheduled an interview.

If she now also applies for a visa waiver, will the concurrent applications potentially cause any problem for either application?

I have looked through various sections of the US visa and visa waiver government websites, and also tried a few google searches, and could not find anything clearly applicable to this situation.

  • In any case, there is no problem on having a visa application or also visa and using visa waiver (not so uncommon, but use the correct one for each entry, depending on the reasons). Sep 27, 2021 at 14:37

1 Answer 1


I suspect either you or your friend is a little confused.

The only way to apply for a US visa is in person at a US consulate (technically there are a few other ways, but they almost certainly aren't relevant here). In most cases, once you apply, the visa will be approved on the spot, and your passport/visa returned within a few days.

Based on your comments, I suspect that your friend has not actually applied for a visa. They may have started the process (filling in some of the required forms, or booking an appointment for the in-person interview), but they almost certainly haven't "applied" for the visa.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with them abandoning wherever they are up to in the process and applying for an ESTA. If they have paid any money (normally required before making an appointment) then they will not be able to get a refund, but other than that there are no negative side effects of doing this.

(Note that I'm presuming that your friend hasn't applied for a visa, been found ineligible to receive one, and is currently in the 'waiver of ineligibility' process. If that's what as actually happened, then they will NOT be allowed enter the US under the Visa Waiver Program on the grounds that they have explicitly been found ineligible to enter the US via any means!)

  • I don't know the exact details with certainty, but I think she has used ceac.state.gov/genniv to fill out form DS-160, electronically submitted it, and probably paid the fee. She only did this within the last day, and has not yet scheduled an interview.
    – Douglas
    Sep 22, 2021 at 5:44
  • The she has not "applied" for a visa, and can simply not proceed any further with the process and instead apply for an ESTA.
    – Doc
    Sep 22, 2021 at 14:50
  • 1
    While the substance of this answer is correct, I don't believe it's entirely accurate to say that "she has not applied for a visa" when the online form literally says "Apply For a Nonimmigrant Visa", "Start your application", and "Save your application regularly" etc. - This certainly is an application, but it cannot approved unless you go for the interview. +1 anyway as that's just semantics
    – Midavalo
    Sep 22, 2021 at 15:05
  • @Midavalo The DS-160 is the application form. Filling in the form, or even submitting it online, isn't the equivalent to applying. You haven't applied for the visa until you appear at the interview and bring the confirmation page for the DS-160 submission with you. I have personally submitted multiple DS-160 forms that were never used, and those certainly haven't been considered visa applications.
    – Doc
    Sep 22, 2021 at 19:01

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