Frequently Asked Questions

Table of Contents

What is the difference between a Visa, e-Visa and ETA?

Visa(Regular): It is an official stamp placed in your passport that allows you to enter and leave a country within the valid period of time stated in the visa.

e-Visa: It has the same validity as a Regular Visa. It is usually issued through an online e-Visa Service. You can have an e-visa in a digital format and on a printed document.

ETA: An Electronic Travel Authority allows the holder to travel to a country as required within a valid period of time. It serves the same purpose as Visa and e-Visa.

Do I have to appear in-person at the Embassy to apply for a Visa?

It depends on the Embassy. However, Schengen country embassies require the applicant to appear in person.

Some embassies may require a written authorization letter from you for our Courier to pick up your documents. Authorization Letter

How long does it take to process a Visa?

It varies according to the Embassy policy. As soon as your travel is scheduled, please visit our website for information on visa requirements, processing fees and processing times.

GC Visa Office requires two extra days to review your documents before submitting the application to the embassy.

Can GC Visa Office process my visa application if I am not a resident of Maryland?

Certain embassies have consular jurisdiction. Meaning, based on the State you reside in, your visa will be processed through the nearest Embassy/Consulate that covers your State.

GC Visa Office can only process visas as the Embassy jurisdiction allows it.

What are the specifications for the Passport photo?

Generally, all the embassies require 2 x 2 passport size photos with white background. Please visit the U.S. Department of State for guidelines and samples. The link is provided below:

Passport Photo Specifications

Can I send digital copies of my documents to the Visa Office?

Yes, you can. However, before you digitalize your documents consider the following:

  • Use PDF format for documents and JPG format for passport photos.
  • If you are using your mobile device:
    • Use enough light to clearly display the full contents of the documents.
    • When taking a photo of the Passport Vital Information Page, the signature page MUST be included.  Passport has to be placed on a white flat surface, not folded and not handheld.
    • Do not combine several documents on one page. Use a single file per document.

NOTE: Apple users may download the following app Download app to scan your document.

Where and how should I mail my passport and original documents?

You should Fed-Ex/UPS/DHL your original documents.

Mail to:  Visa Passport Office, General Conference of SDA, 12501 Old Columbia Pike, Silver Spring, MD 20904, Telephone no: 301.680.6030

What are the GC Visa Office Hours?

Monday through Thursday, 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

What is the GC Visa Office Service Fee?

$65 – For GC/ADRA/ARM employees.

$85  – For external Institutions.