Everything You Need to Know About US Visa Appointments
The United States is one of the most visited countries in the world. According to the World Atlas, the country received 80 million visitors from different parts of the world in 2018. The U.S. is widely famed for its healthy economy, various tourist centers, and high employment rate. It is then not surprising seeing business people, job seekers, and fun lovers troop to its embassies and consulates across the world for visa appointments and other immigration processing.
Are you planning to visit the United States very soon? Have you commenced the process and would like to know about visa appointments? This article gives you a comprehensive guide of all you need to know about the United States visa appointments.
A Step By Step Guide of your US Visa Appointments
Each US visa classification has its own designated documentation and processes that must be completed by foreign applicants. For instance, the immigration process for employment seekers is quite different from those visiting for tourism. Also, a student immigration process is different from that of a businessman. Regardless of your purpose, however, you will be required to keep some appointments before a decision can be made on your visa application. The following are the processes involved in booking US visa appointments.
Us visa appointments : DS-160 Form
Form DS-160, also known as Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application is for foreign national applicants who want to travel to the US temporarily. It is also used for K Fiancée (male and female) visa, which is for those who are fiancées of US citizens who want to travel to the United States to get married and possibly staying permanently afterwards.
Who Must File Form DS-160?
Regardless of your mission in the United States, as long as you are visiting on a temporary and not permanent visa, you will need to complete Form DS-160. A Form DS-160 cannot be jointly filed by a group of people even if you are all family members or coworkers. Every visitor, including a child, must have their own. For those under 16 years of age, those who are illiterate, or for any other reason, unable to fill the form themselves, a third party can assist in completing the form. A third party filling a Form DS-160 on behalf of a visa applicant must identify himself or herself at the end of the form – that is on the “Sign and Submit” page of the form.
Documents to Be Submitted With Form DS-160 for your Us visa appointments
Every temporary visa applicant using Form DS-160 must have the following documents available, as they will need to submit them with the application:
- Travel itinerary
- Dates of your last five trips or visits to the United States. This is for those who have in the past traveled to the U.S. If you have embarked on international travel to other countries other than the U.S. in the past five years, you may also be asked about your travel history to those places.
Other Information: Additional information may be needed, depending on your purpose of traveling to the US.
- For Students and Exchange Visitors: If you are traveling to the United States on an F,J, or M visa, you will need to provide your SEVIS, which is printed on your DS-2019 or I-20.
- For Petition-Based Temporary Workers: If you are travelling on H-1B, H-2, H-3, L, O, CW, P, R, or E2C visa, you will need to provide a copy of your Form I-129.
- Other Temporary Workers: Your employer’s information will be needed.
Once you have completed the application with all the necessary documents, you will be asked to confirm your present location. This is for your application to be forwarded to the appropriate U.S. consulate or embassy. After submitting your Form DS-160 Application, you will need to print the confirmation page of the application, which you must take along when going for an interview later. For more information on how to fill the DS-160, check the dos and dont’s of scheduling your us visa appointment.
US Visa Appointment Schedule
Most US visa applicants are required to have a date with a consular officer for a US visa interview and as well undergo a medical examination and biometric screening. All these are referred to as visa appointment process. Electronically submitting your DS-application means you have made the first step required in the visa appointment. Generally, children who are 14years and younger, and adults ages 80 years and above are not required to appear for a visa interview. For these age categories, their visa applications may be submitted through the interview waiver.
To schedule your visa appointment, you will need to contact the US embassy or consulate at the location you wish to apply. You can choose an embassy or consulate closest to or most convenient for you. keeping in mind, however, that it may not be easy getting an appointment outside your country of residence. When you contact the embassy, you will get to know whether you need to be interviewed, and how to schedule an interview if required. This U.S. Department of State’s webpage has the full list of website address links of all the embassies and consulates in different countries.
Once you have been able to locate the consulate or embassy near you, do ensure to read through the information on the page. Keep in mind that visa appointment schedule and requirements vary widely across different U.S. embassies and consulates. You need to pay attention to every detail required by the consulate or embassy concerning your appointment booking. This includes choosing the date for your interview. You can also get premium service and help on your application by applying with US visa appointment premium service.
How to Find the US Visa Appointment Available Dates
On this DOS webpage, there is a section for visa appointment wait times. The same can also be found on each embassy’s or consulate’s website. The “wait times” are estimated times to receive an interview appointment. It will give you an idea of the available dates in the embassy at which you are to be interviewed. Keep in mind that changes can be made to the wait times based on incoming workload and staffing in each consulate or embassy.
US Visa Appointment Booking
To book your US visa appointment, you will need to visit U.S. Visa Information and Appointment Services website. Scroll down to the bottom of the webpage and click on “Nonimmigrant Visa Applicant” box, which is the link to the next action. You will be taken to a webpage showing the list of different countries. Select the same country of the consulate or embassy you have earlier chosen in your nonimmigrant online application form.
You will also need to input the DS-confirmation number for each applicant applying for a visa. Some other information will also be needed, depending on your visa type and purpose of travelling to the United States. Once all that is done, you will need to pay the nonimmigrant visa (MRV) application fee, using any of the payment methods available in your country of residence.
Schedule your US Visa Appointment
If you have completed the above steps appropriately, you will be allowed to schedule your consular appointment. In case you are not able to complete the process and/or schedule your consular appointment on your own, You can get help from agents on your application by applying with US visa appointment premium service.
Most US visa applicants will be required to book an appointment at the Visa Application Center (VAC). For some applicants, only VAC will be needed while some will have to undergo both VAC and an interview. If you are to attend both VAC and an interview, you cannot do the two on the same date. You must complete your VAC appointment at least one day before your visa interview.
At VAC, your biometric information will be taken. Biometric method for each applicant is determined by the U.S. government and can change from time to time. You are to comply with the officials at the center. During your biometrics appointment, your fingerprint and digital photo will be taken. Other additional biometrics such as iris scan and facial recognition may also be required.
Immigration Medical Examination Appointment
All visa applicants, including children and elderly, are required to undergo immigration medical examination. The examination will be done by a physician approved by the embassy or consulate. Any medical examination done by any other person other than the approved physician will not be accepted by the embassy. You will need to contact and schedule an appointment with the physician yourself. The medicals must be done before the interview date. The result of the medicals will NOT be given to you. It will be forwarded to the embassy by the physician. Ensure that you make your medical appointment as early as possible as it might take days before the results get to the embassy.
Interview for Us visa appointments :
After scheduling your US visa appointment, knowing the date, the time, and the venue for the interview, you need to start preparing ahead. Your performance at the interview can make or mar your chance of getting approval. If you go unprepared and fail to convince the consular officer, that can ruin your chance. Having invested money, energy and resources in the process, you should ensure that all these efforts don’t go down the drain. It, therefore, requires putting adequate preparation in place. The following steps on how to prepare for your US visa interview will help you have a stress-free interview at the embassy:
Gather the Required Documents
From the day you have been scheduled for your interview appointment, you should start gathering the needed documents to ensure you don’t forget any of them when the time comes. Here is the checklist of the required documents for the US visa appointment.
- DS-160 Confirmation page. This is the page you were asked to print after electronically submitted your DS-160 application online.
- Proof of payment of your visa application fee. Go with a copy of your receipt
- Visa interview appointment confirmation page
- Your current passport and your old passport (if any). Your current passport must be valid for at least 6 months beyond the period of your indeed stay in the U.S. If your passport is going to expire before that period, you will need to renew the passport before the date of your interview
- Passport paragraph. The photograph must follow this specification
- Financial statements. The embassy will like to know your financial capability to determine if you will be able to fund your travel and mission to the US. For instance, if you are going on a student visa, you must demonstrate that you have the financial strength to pay for your study and support yourself throughout the program. The same applies to every other visa category. You can demonstrate financial ability to support yourself with bank statements, property, employment financial documents, etc
If you are being sponsored, you will need to show proof of sponsorship. You should have the proof showing the sponsors financial ability to support you throughout your stay. You must all show the ties between you and the sponsor.
- Job Offer: If you are going on a temporary work visa, you must have a copy of the job offer signed by your U.S. prospective employer.
- Academic Result & Proof of Student Letter: If you are going on a student visa, you must have all the necessary documents to demonstrate this accordingly. You will need to show your result or transcripts. You will also need to present your student status letter issued by the college or university.’
Common US Visa Interview Questions
During visa interviews, consular officers usually ask applicants general and personal questions, using their discretion to determine what to ask who. They are questions to test the authenticity of your claims in the application. While there are no specific questions which an applicant must be asked, the following are some of the most common ones you should expect on the day of your interview:
- What is the purpose of your visit to the United States?
- Have you been to the United States before?
- Do you have relatives or friends currently in the United States? If yes, you may be asked some questions about them
- What do you do for a living?
- How much is your yearly income?
- Do you pay taxes?
- Do you own property?
- Where do you live?
- Do you own a car?
- Where will you be residing during your stay in the United States?
- Have you booked your flight tickets?
- Do you have travel insurance?
- How long will you be staying in the United States?
- Is anybody travelling with you? If yes, who is the person?
- Are you married? Do you have children? Do you have pets? If yes, who will take care of them while you are in the U.S?
- Do you have the intention to remain in the U.S.?
- How can you prove to me that you will return to your home country?
Attending US Visa Interview
Arriving at the Venue
On the day of your us visa appointment, it is important to arrive at the venue at least 15 minutes ahead. In case you have special needs, such as disabilities, you should contact the embassy or consulate at least 48 hours before the schedule. This is to ensure that the needed help is made available for you. When going for your us visa interview, ensure you appear in a way that portrays you as a serious applicant. The first impression matters a lot in the interviewer’s evaluation of you. There are embassy dress code tips for men and women, which you must try to follow.
If you are a man, you should dress in any of the following ways:
- A blazer or suit jacket with a shirt, and complete them with khaki pants or dark jeans, and shoes.
- A polo shirt of a single color
- Smart-casual shoes that are neat and not scruffy
- Avoid sports shoes or sneakers
- Avoid extremely bright colors or printed shirts
- Don’t use sunglasses
- Wear a clean shave or presentably style your mustaches and beards
- A blazer or suit jacket with a shirt, and complete them with a formal blouse and dark trousers or jeans
- Avoid very tight dress and miniskirts
- Wear elegant shoes
- Avoid extremely high heels
- Wear simple hairstyle and soft makeup
- Don’t use too many accessories
Generally speaking, male and female visa applicants should avoid any of the following dresses to their interview:
Too much jewelry
A dress that reveals your underwear
Outfits with fluorescent colors
Checking-in for your US visa appointment
Your Relatives Will Not Be Allowed In
Due to security reasons, most embassies and consulates allow only visa applicants to enter the premises. You may need to show your original passport, visa fee payment receipt, and appointment letter to the security officials, as means of identification.
For applicants who need an interpreter, they may come with their interpreter to participate in the interview. Also for special needs applicants, the embassy may also allow one person to come with them to help during the interview. This includes the elderly, minor children, and people with disabilities.
Items Not Allowed at your US visa appointment
Items like cell phones, electronic equipment, bags, sprays, liquids, perfumes, foods, bottles, sealed envelopes or packages, and dangerous items aren’t allowed inside the embassy or consulate.
As soon as you are allowed in, you will be subjected to a security check. This may include having a full-body detector scan.
As part of the security check of your us visa appointment, you will also be taken through a fingerprint verification process. This will be done by a security officer to verify the earlier fingerprint taken at the Visa Application Center.
In the Waiting Area
Once you are done with the fingerprinting exercise, you will be directed to a seat in the waiting lounge area. You are expected to sit quietly while waiting to be called in for your interview. When it is your turn, your name will be announced and you will be directed to a particular window number. This is where you will meet the officer that will interview you. There is a glass window between you and your interviewer. You will be speaking through a microphone on the glass window. Space is made under the window where you would be able to pass across documents to the interviewer.
Us visa appointments: The Interview
The US visa interview is going to be question and answer moment. It will be conducted in a friendly atmosphere, so don’t be shaky and appear disorganized. Keep your calm as you walk towards the window to meet your interviewer. Put on a smile as you exchange greetings with the officer.
The whole session will last just around 15 minutes. The officer will ask you some questions and also verify your documents. Go straight to the point and answer only the questions you are asked. Avoid giving unnecessary details as that may make you contradict yourself. Ensure that all you answer all the questions truthfully, confidently and accurately.
After the Interview
After the US visa appointment, the consular officer will inform you if your visa is approved, denied, or pending. Pending means, it will require additional administrative processing, which will take more time. If your visa is approved, your passport will likely be retained at the consulate or embassy, to place a sticker or a stamp on it.
You will be informed when the passport will be mailed to you, which is usually within a few business days. If your visa is denied, you will be asked to pick up your passport soon after your interview. In some cases, the officer is unable to make a decision immediately after the interview. This means your case needs to be further reviewed and may need additional information. In such a scenario, you will be given a letter which will detail the additional information you are to provide and the timeframe within which you must provide them at the embassy.
Rescheduling a US Visa Appointment
Most US embassies usually have a large number of applicants seeking a chance for visa appointments. It is, therefore, highly recommended that you endeavor to keep the appointments on the first scheduled date and time. However, if for any reason you will be absolutely unable to appear for your visa appointment on the scheduled date and time, you may reschedule it for another date.
How to Reschedule Your Visa Appointment
There are two ways to reschedule your US visa appointment. You can either put a call through to the VAC or get it done online. You will be able to push the appointments forward to the next available date for appointments.
NOTE: There is a deadline for which you can make changes to your visa appointment schedule after the earlier given date. If the deadline has passed, you will not be able to make those changes. In addition, you must give a valid reason that warrants the changes.
US Visa Appointments : Processing Time
US visa processing times vary widely, and this largely depends on the type of nonimmigrant visa you are applying for. For instance, a student visa processing may take a longer time than a business or tourist visa. Other factors include the workload at each center, an individual’s country of origin, and other personal factors about the applicant. Visa applications are treated on a case-by-case basis. In some cases, two people from the same country applying for the same visa category may have different processing times because of each applicant’s varying situations. Another determining factor is the wait time between when you make your visa appointment and the exact date scheduled for the appointment. The following are average processing for different categories of nonimmigrant visas:
Nonimmigrant Visa Wait Time:
The wait time for a US visa appointment is determined by each embassy or consulate. The wait time will be shown on the embassy’s website when you are making your appointment. The earlier you book your US visa appointment, the more likely you will be interviewed on the date you want. Nonimmigrant applicants are advised to apply for visas at least 3 months before the intended date of their US travel.
Wait Time for Emergency Travel
If you need to travel for any emergency reason, you may get a date earlier than the wait time showed on the website. Cases that generally warrant emergency travel include injuries, serious illnesses, or deaths of an immediate family member.
Processing Times for Different Nonimmigrant US Visas
Tourist and Business Visa: B1 and B2 visas for tourism and business purposes usually take between 2 weeks to 4 months.
Student Visa: Most student visas take 2 weeks to 4 months.
Nonimmigrant Work Visas: between 1 to 9 months, depending on the type of work visa and the preparation level of the applicant and the employer sponsoring the visa.
Note that the above are just estimates; you may spend less or more time, depending on a number of factors as noted above.
Ready to Book United States Visa Appointment?
As earlier mentioned, the US visa application is typically a long process that involves various steps and documentation. It requires thoroughness and being timely, as any delay or error can mark an individual’s weeks or months of efforts. It is, therefore, recommended that you have the full knowledge of the visa type you are applying for and the process involved in getting it. You should also be ready to ask questions on any area that seems grey to you. You can get premium service and help from agents on your application by applying with US visa appointment premium service.