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How to Prepare for a US Visa Appointment

As you likely know by now, citizens of foreign nations who intend to either visit or immigrate to the United States often[1] must first obtain a visa for entry. Non-immigrant applicants, meaning – applicants who seek to come to the United States on a non-permanent basis - must first identify the type of visa which specifically suits their travel needs and purposes[2]. Those seeking to immigrate to the United States have an entirely different process altogether. After ensuring the chosen visa type is appropriate, the applicant would then submit their application with their carefully completed Department of State Provided Forms[3]. Thereafter, payment[4] must be submitted before being given the option to schedule any appointments. Two appointments must be scheduled. One is to be held at the Visa Application Center, and the other will be an interview held at the Consulate.

The official visa interview will be held at the Consulate or U.S. Embassy on the date previously scheduled. It is important that applicants ensure that their interview is scheduled well before their anticipated travel dates to allow time for processing. The interview will require that you bring confirmation of your appointment, previously completed visa application forms, passport, and supporting documents. What qualifies as a supporting document will be dependent upon the type of visa for which you are applying. Generally, a large component of the interview is verifying validity of the details within the application. Specifically there is focus on confirming non-immigrant intent. 

Interview Preparation

As an example, let’s analyze the potential preparation for an H-2B employment visa. An H-2B visa is for skilled or unskilled workers entering the United States to perform temporary work for which there is a shortage of U.S. workers. To validate these preliminary aspects, an applicant should be prepared to provide:

  • Employment Confirmation: A letter from the United States employer confirming that the applicant has been hired
  • Temporary Work Confirmation: A detailed offer letter which indicates the specific time frame during which the temporary work will take place to ensure that it only lasts for a confined period of time.
  • Shortage of U.S. Worker Confirmation: A copy of the Department of Labor certification indicating that U.S. workers are not qualified or otherwise not eligible for the specific type of employment offered to the visa applicant. 

In addition to those specific proofs, applicants should also be prepared to demonstrate their non-immigrant intent. Documents which indicate an attachment to the applicant’s home country are most helpful to demonstrate this required intent. An applicant should provide:

  • Proof of property owned
  • Bank details
  • Proof of marriage and/or children
  • Proof of participation in engagements, events, or activities taking place in the applicant’s home country
  • Proof of an already purchased return flight
  • Any other documents that indicate permanent ties to a home country or represent intent to return

Interview Etiquette and Next Steps

Lastly, in addition to these probative materials, applicants should also be mindful of their presentation. Applicants should be mindful of:

  • Being timely
  • Smiling and being pleasant
  • Remaining calm, and not appearing to be nervous
  • Listening carefully to questions being asked
  • Answering questions with confidence and certainty
  • Politely asking for clarity if questions are not well understood

When the interview is complete, applicants will have an immediate response from the Consulate or Embassy official. Visas, however, will not be provided on site, and the applicant will be informed how to retrieve their visa or how it will be sent to them after processing. 

[1] “Often” and not “always” because there are several nations for which the visa requirements are waived as listed here.

[2] The itemization of different nonimmigrant visa types are available for review here.

[3] Specifically, the DS-160 must be satisfactorily completed.

[4] Visa Fee Schedule available here

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