How to Get a Replacement U.S. Visa After Losing Your Passport

Unfortunately, the Department of State does not issue a “replacement” for a lost or stolen U.S. visa. You will need to apply for the nonimmigrant visa again.

By , Attorney University of Arizona College of Law
Updated 5/02/2024

If your passport containing a valid U.S. visa has been lost or stolen, you've obviously got two things to worry about: the loss of your primary travel document, and the loss of your proof that the United States has granted you entry rights. Below, we will talk about the various steps to take to remedy this situation and other forms of followup, including:

  • advising the appropriate authorities of the loss, particularly if a crime was committed and your passport was stolen
  • applying to the U.S. for a new visa
  • taking extra precautions not to lose the next visa, and
  • expecting extra scrutiny when you travel in the future (to assure that you are really you, not a passport thief posing as you).

Reporting the Loss of Your Passport and U.S. Visa

The first thing you should do upon realizing that your passport has been lost or stolen is to report the matter to the government agency in your home country that's responsible for issuing passports. If theft was the cause of the loss, you should also file a police report. Many countries share lost and stolen passport data through Interpol, and almost all passports now have a machine-readable chip that is scanned by immigration authorities worldwide. This means that after you report your passport lost or stolen, the authorities will be alerted if anyone attempts to use the passport to travel. For this reason, even if you recover the passport, you should not use it to travel once it has been reported lost or stolen.

The U.S. Department of State also recommends that you email the U.S. embassy or consulate that issued your visa and report its loss or theft (including a picture of the visa if you have one.) This is an important step because if someone attempts to use your visa to enter the United States and you have not reported it missing, the authorities could suspect that you allowed them to use it.

If you are present in the United States and your passport and U.S. visa are lost or stolen, you will need to contact your home country's embassy or consulate to obtain a replacement passport before you can leave the United States.

Submit a New Application to the DOS to Replace Your Lost or Stolen Visa

Unfortunately, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) does not issue a "replacement" for a lost or stolen U.S. visa. You will need to apply for the visa again. This policy is the same for every visa type, including B-2 visitor visas, F-1, M-1, and J-1student or exchange visitor visas, and the various nonimmigrant work visas.

Additionally, you must appear for an in-person interview at a U.S. consulate, in the same manner that you did for your original visa. The reason is that you will not be eligible for an interview waiver without having a physical visa and passport. While this will technically be a new application, in practice these are more like an interview for a visa renewal, except that the visa officer will want to see evidence that you reported the loss or theft of the passport and might ask you questions about the circumstances of the loss or theft.

If you lost your B visitor visa, then during the interview, you can expect the officer to review your U.S. travel history and ask questions about your past trips. Bring whatever relevant information you have. Also bring proof of employment and your bank statements in case the officer wants to see them. Unlike first-time applications though, many people whose visitor visas are lost or stolen will apply for a replacement visa without any definite U.S. travel plans, just because they want to have the visa handy. It's okay if you don't have any specific plans to travel to the United States and just want to get the new visa to avoid delays next time you travel. Still, the officer will want to make sure there have been no major changes in your life circumstances that might affect your eligibility for the visa.

If you lost a student visa or work visa, you will need to present the same documents that you did at your first interview. If you lost your passport and visa while you were back in your home country on a visit, you might be eligible for an expedited appointment. Each consulate has a procedure for these types of appointments, which you will find on the consulate's website.

If your visa is lost or stolen while you are in the United States, you will have to wait until you return home to replace it. In the meantime, you can print your I-94 travel record from the Customs and Border Patrol website as secondary proof of your immigration status and the length of time you are authorized to stay.

Don't Lose the Next One! Multiple Lost or Stolen Visas Are a Red Flag for Visa Fraud

When you receive your new visa, take extreme precautions not to lose it again. If you have had more than one U.S. visa lost or stolen, you will likely encounter deeper scrutiny in your next interview. The U.S. visa officer might limit the duration of your new visa, or might refuse your visa based on suspicions that you were complicit in the "loss" or theft.

This is because there have been incidents where people sold, rented, or permitted family members or friends to borrow their passports with U.S. visas. This can be grounds for permanent visa ineligibility and you could even face criminal prosecution.

Prepare for Potential Future Problems With U.S. Immigration Authorities

Once your visa and passport are reported lost or stolen, that information might be shared with immigration authorities around the globe and entered into databases that are accessible by airlines and governmental agencies Therefore, when traveling on your new visa, you might receive extra screening from airline personnel and immigration authorities, in order to verify your identity—in other words, to make sure you aren't actually the thief, posing as you.

When you travel, carry a copy of any reports you filed regarding your lost and stolen passport, including police reports. In the United States, your identity can be verified with your fingerprint by U.S. immigration authorities, but you still might be asked about the circumstances that led to your old visa being lost or stolen.

If you recover your passport with a U.S. visa in it, and the visa was previously reported lost or stolen, you should not use it to travel to the United States.

Furthermore, some countries share lost and stolen passport data with the U.S. and this might be cross-referenced with U.S. visa issuances, resulting in the automatic cancellation of your visa, even if you did not report the visa as lost or stolen to the Department of State. This means that even if the authorities in your country have a way to reinstate a passport that was previously reported as lost, your U.S. visa inside the passport might no longer be valid or might be flagged for extra screening because it was associated with a lost or stolen passport.

The U.S. consulate in your home country might be able to verify the validity of your visa, but this does not guarantee that you will not be subject to additional screening at the U.S. port of entry.

If you lose your visa while traveling in the United States and you will be returning home on a new replacement passport, you will need to allow plenty of time for airline personnel to update your information. For your trip home, you should hand-carry a copy of your I-94 travel record, which you can print from the CPB website, and documentation of reports of the loss or theft.

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