How to Apply

Your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond your period of stay in the United States, unless exempt by country-specific agreements (PDF, 57 KB). If more than one person is included in your passport, each person who needs a visa must submit a separate application.

  • Completed Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160

Please note that you must answer EVERY question on the application forms. If the answer to a question is “none,” please write “none”(Do not leave it blank). Incomplete/incorrect forms will be returned and will require you to schedule a new interview appointment.

Important! Many of our visa applicants are completing the DS-160 incorrectly, causing us to postpone their planned visa interview dates.

Only a passport, DS-160 confirmation page, a 2 x 2 inch color photo not older than 6 months. You cannot be wearing glasses in the photo. With a light or white background, and the forms listed in Step 2 are required for the visa interview.  Additional documents may be requested to establish if you are qualified. For example, additional requested documents may include evidence of:

  • The purpose of your trip;
  • Your intent to depart the United States after your trip; and/or
  • Your ability to pay all costs of the trip.

Note: Visa applicants must qualify on the basis of the applicant’s residence and ties abroad, rather than assurances from U.S. family and friends. A letter of invitation or Affidavit of Support is not needed to apply for a nonimmigrant tourist visa. If you do choose to bring a letter of invitation or Affidavit of Support to your interview, please remember that it is not one of the factors that we use in determining whether to issue or deny a nonimmigrant tourist visa.

Urgent information for visa applicants regarding novel coronavirus:

As of March 17, 2020, the United States Embassy Cotonou has suspended routine nonimmigrant visa appointments.  We will resume routine visa services as soon as possible but are unable to provide a specific date at this time.  The MRV fee is valid and may be used for a visa application in the country where it was purchased within one year of the date of payment.  If you have an urgent matter and need to travel immediately, please email CotonouRDV@state.gov to request an emergency appointment.

Any individuals with pending consular appointments who (1) were physically present within the Schengen zone (including France, Germany, and Belgium), the United Kingdom (excluding its non-European entities), Ireland, the People’s Republic of China( excluding the Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau), or Iran, within the last 14 days are restricted from traveling to the United States.  Transit and stopovers are considered as being present in the above areas.

On the day of your interview, please pay the following nonrefundable visa application fees: $ 160 for B-1 (Business) and B-2 (Tourism & Visit) nonimmigrant visas; $ 190 for H, L, O, P, Q, and R visas; and $ 270 for E visas.

During your visa interview, a consular officer will determine whether you are qualified to receive a visa, and if so, which visa category is appropriate based on your purpose of travel. You will need to establish that you meet the requirements under U.S. law to receive the category of visa for which you are applying.

Ink-free, digital fingerprint scans will be taken as part of your application process. They are usually taken during your interview, but this varies based on location.

Before your interview, please remember: 

  • Plan your travel and visa application as far in advance as possible.
  • Complete your application fully and accurately.
  • Be forthcoming about your purpose and plans.
  • Prepare for your interview by being able to clearly and concisely describe your intentions.
  • Do not purchase your plane tickets before you are issued a visa. 

Attend Your Visa Interview

Once you arrive to the consulate, you will need to leave your electronic devices in the first guard gate. No phones and no electronic devices are allowed inside the embassy.

In the first window, you will be required to make the payment for your visa. $160 or current CFA equivalent.
In the second window our staff will confirm that the information in the form DS-160 is correct or will complete missing information in our system.
Individuals with incomplete DS-160 may be asked to re-schedule their appointment pending completion of their application.
Ink-free, digital fingerprint scans will be taken as part of your application process.
Finally the applicant will be interviewed by a consular officer.
During your visa interview, a consular officer will determine whether you are qualified to receive a visa, and if so, which visa category is appropriate based on your purpose of travel. You will need to establish that you meet the requirements under U.S. law to receive the category of visa for which you are applying.
After your visa interview, your application may require further administrative processing. You will be informed by the consular officer if further processing is necessary for your application.
When the visa is approved, you will be informed how your passport with visa will be returned to you.

If your visa is approved, you may also pay a visa issuance reciprocity fee, depending on the type of visa issued and passport.

In accordance with local public health recommendations, U.S. Embassy Cotonou has reduced operations to emergency services only from March 30 to April 13. If you have an emergency need to collect a passport which is currently located at the Embassy, please email CotonouRDV@state.gov.