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Preparing for a Visa interview

Visa applicants may consider embassy interviews intimidating, owing to the obligation to provide personal information to the consulate regarding the purpose of travel, criminal history, family ties, etc. Naturally, most people are anxious when they have to be interviewed but preparing ahead with a bit of research on the information and documents that are required by the US embassy can ease the tension. 

 How Can I Pass US Visa Interview?

Although there are no proven methods to pass a visa interview,  getting information on expected conduct and documents to present during the US Visa interview can help an individual feel prepared and ease interview-induced anxiety. That said, here are some important things to keep in mind when attending a US visa interview:

  • Dress appropriately: A visa interview is a formal event. Consequently, interviewees must dress to suit the occasion. To portray purpose and seriousness, especially as a student, consider a comfortable formal attire.

  • Language: English is the official language for visa interviews. Although language translators may be available, applicants may still need basic writing, listening, and speaking knowledge, depending on the circumstances. To build confidence, entrants may engage in an English question-and-answer session. 

  • Keep it short and simple: Brevity is important. Bear in mind that there is a stipulated time frame for each interview, so give direct answers and avoid repetition. Ask questions when in doubt or provide clarity when needed.

  • Submit authentic documents: Present only valid documents, e.g., international passport, national ID card, transcripts, etc. Do not use documents with contrasting information, and it may have significant consequences, including a ban or criminal charges. 

  •  Create a good impression: Make eye contact while keeping positive body language. Also, use positive words that may best communicate a great personality and authenticity.** **If there are matters that seem confusing concerning any of the processes, make a polite request. 

  • Strong attachments: Depending on the type of application, there may be a need to show strong ties to the country of residence. Here, show documents of investment, properties, business, or ties to a family.

What is the US Visa Interview Process?

The US visa interview begins with an appointment. The meeting provides the consulate an opportunity to verify legal papers at the same ask important questions. Upon arrival at the U. S. embassy, candidates will either click the red button for the non-immigrant visa category or the yellow button for the immigrant visa category. By clicking, the queue management machine automatically assigns a number to each individual. This will grant entry into the consulate for a full-body metal detector scan. After completion, interviewees, according to their Qmac number, may sit at the waiting lounge and pay attention to the indication on each interview window.

Once there is a vacant window or officials call the queue system number for intake, candidates can proceed to submit the proof of appointment, alongside the original passport and other documents. Fingerprint and iris scans for special immigrant visas will run simultaneously. Thereafter, in some instances, the officials will generate a no-fee receipt or give directions to the payment window to settle the bill for the visa application. In the fourth step, the interview will be held. If it ends well, the consulate will send a valid passport via mail, and in the event of an oversight or denial, there will be appropriate measures to communicate the situation.

What Questions do They Ask at a US Visa Interview?

Generally, the interviewer determines what questions to ask. It is mostly related to the type of visa application. Questions for an F-2 visa category will vary from other types. Despite this difference, below are some questions that cut across all visa categories:

  • Question 1: What is the purpose of your trip?

    Be honest and state the reason for traveling. Visitors with no intentions to work or stay must show evidence of enough funds to cater to basic needs all through the tour. For students, answer accordingly and show documents like an admission letter, tuition fee receipt, etc. 

  • Question 2: Have you traveled to the US before:

    The answer should be No or Yes. If yes, quickly share important details about the prior visit. First-time applicants need not go the extra mile.

  • Question 3; Do you have relatives domiciled in the US?

    Yes/No. Take the opportunity to mention plans for accommodation and provide little details about relatives, such as their city of residence and address. 

  • Question 4: What do you do for a living? Do you earn? Who is covering your expenses during your stay?

    Show a breakdown of salaries or wages for at least a year. If a third party is footing the travel expenses, attach a signed letter of sponsorship. 

  • Question 5: are you on a scholarship program/ where will you be studying/working?

    Beneficiaries of a scholarship program are required to provide the address and website of the school and show proof of scholarship. Should the purpose of entering the country be for gainful employment, give details of the job and employer. 

  • Question 6: Are you married? Do you have kids or pets?

    This is a little personal. Answer accordingly. Present marriage certificates and birth certificates(if applicable) guarantee the consular that there is provision for their care. The aim is to make sure loved ones will be in good custody while away.

  • Question 7: Do you plan to stay in the US longer than expected?

    As a student or a visitor, the answer is no. seize the occasion to show strong attachments to your home country. 

  • Question 8: Are you traveling with a company/alone?

    Mention the type of relationship it is with the company. Give verifiable details. If not, answer appropriately.  

  • Question 9: Can I go through your educational degrees?

    Provide all the necessary degrees and statements to the consular.

What do US Visa Officers Check?

Following the standard at the US consulate, each application is unique. According to the US Immigration Law, the consular has jurisdiction to approve or deny an application. Therefore, to guarantee fairness, officers will screen each applicant thoroughly and individually. Typically, the interview will concentrate on study plans, post-graduate plans, financial strength and status, university choice, etc. 

At the same time, officers will check the applicant's eligibility for the visa category. Sometimes, if there is probable cause to be in doubt, the embassy will seek the services of immigration attorneys to investigate birth certificates, transcripts, police reports, hospital invoices, address history, affidavits, and consent letters. US officers may carry out background checks, social media checks, or contact a former employer.

How Long is an Interview for US Visa?

The interview will last only a few minutes. Although, considering the number of applicants in the waiting lounge and the time required for capturing personal data and biometrics, making payments, scans, etc. The whole process may take approximately two to three hours. The length of a US visa interview is also attributable to the interviewee’s preparedness and ability to answer promptly. 

US Visa Interview Dos

As detailed earlier, visa interviews revolve around examination and documentation. Hence, individuals must have all required documents handy and maintain the general decorum expected in similar formal settings. Applicants must: 

  • Be on time: To beat the traffic and to find a suitable parking spot, applicants should leave home an hour earlier. Arriving earlier than the schedule provides the time to relax, go over paperwork and prepare.

  • Keep documents: Applicants must ensure that all legal papers are in good form. It is advisable to arrange them in a file and carry it from window to window, granting the need to store or access information.

  • Keep a good posture: Good posture helps the applicant feel confident and relaxed. Good body language helps everyone feel less tense.  

  • Be honest: Answer every question truthfully. The interview session is to determine the reason for entering the country. Hence, clearly explain the intent, be it for employment or education. Also, state how long the study program or tour will last.

  • Communicate well:  Avoid words that may create confusion. Words such as "I'm not sure, I guess, I can cross-check,” etc. instead, use positive words like "excellent, correct, perfect, and great.

  • Speak on your behalf: There is no need for representation.  Although relatives and friends can be present, they may have to sit in the waiting room. 

US Visa Interview Dont’s

Certain actions or omissions by the interviewee may indicate the reasons for visa denial. These hints may seem insignificant but may impact the interviewer’s assessment and perception of the interviewee and their decision on whether or not the applicant has met the necessary requirements. These are a few examples:

  • Lateness: Arriving late does not help to project the right image. Dishonoring the date and time of the visa appointment can badly affect the application.

  • Providing wrong information: Giving false information grounds for visa denial and other punishments. It may bar the individual from the possibility of submitting a U.S. application for a specified period. Individuals should therefore provide consistent and verifiable information.

  • Misguided answers: Do not take too much time before answering a question. Else, the official may consider the reply as a dishonest submission. Also, providing the wrong answers is completely unacceptable. Do due diligence right before attending the interview. 

  • Giving irrelevant information: Only provide answers to questions asked, no superfluous or unnecessary details. Avoid providing irrelevant details that may trigger further questioning or create the feeling of being investigated.

  • Creating a scene: Avoid the heated exchange of words. Do not argue at the embassy. Rather, make requests and ask questions.

  • Take Deep Breaths: Some people find that taking deep breaths eases the nerves and keeps anxiety at bay.

US Visa Interview Tips

Candidates must note the remarkable impact planning influences the outcome of a US visa interview. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when planning: 

  • Know what documents to bring: Applicants who intend to travel with family must prepare original passports, photographs, invitation letters, birth certificates, adoption certificates (if applicable), marriage certificates, court and prison records (if applicable), affidavit of support, military records, etc. If there are any documents recorded in a language other than English or the official language of the home country, they should be officially translated into the English language. Also, foreign nationals applying in a foreign country must complete a DS-160 application form and provide social media history for at least five previous years. It is not mandatory to provide social media information if there is none. While there are no consequences for not having a social media account, if an applicant states that they do not have a social media account and it is discovered to be false, it could be detrimental to the outcome of the visa application. It may be beneficial to take a precautionary step before an interview by combing through social media history to take down controversial comments and indicting posts. Furthermore, applicants may consider setting strict media privacy options to limit the access authorities can have. In all, fabricating media content will not score points. Instead, it may result in a denial on the basis of fraudulent submissions. 

  • Know the visa category/details of your program: Outline personal needs and how well the chosen visa category will fit. Understand the pros and cons of a professional career and communicate the reasons for applying to study. The same logic applies to other types of visa applications.

  • Review US Embassy interview instructions: The consulate may provide additional information regarding a visa category, eligibility, or interview requirements. To access these instructions, applicants can browse the list of US embassies and consulates to choose the specific office where the interview is scheduled. 

  • Schedule and Complete a Medical Examination: Visa applicants must complete all medical examinations plus other tests, vaccinations, and important health certifications before the interview date. It is important to finalize every aspect of the medicals in the same country where the interview will be held, seeing as some physicians will mail the result directly to the consulate, though the common procedure is to present a sealed copy during the visa interview. 

It is important to note that applicants from certain nations, due to the economic condition, may need to convince the consular that there are job opportunities in their home countries. The inability to do so may lead to a visa denial.

Do's and Don'ts in Student Visa Interview

The interview stage is the final phase of a student visa application process. Here, approval will grant entry into the US for study purposes. Mainly, there are two types of student visas. The F-1 visa is mostly given to full-time students with courses that demand 18 hours or more every week, and the M-1 visa issued to individuals who are entering the country for training programs.

The interview will only take a short period. During that time, the student must prove their eligibility to study in the US by presenting the following documents:

  • A completed DS-160 online application form
  • SEVIS (student and exchange visitor information system) form granted by a US institution
  • SEVIS receipt fee
  • Visa application fee receipt
  • Passport and photographs
  • Visa appointment letter
  • Bank statements and financial support documents 
  • Documents that confirm personal ties and compulsory return after course completion
  • Academic certificates, etc.

In furtherance, to improve the chances of being successful, students may need to convince the consulate of strong academic capabilities by showing additional degrees, diplomas, or test scores such as TOEFL, GMAT, SAT, etc. To add, it is good to assure the embassy that the new physical, emotional and social environment will not be a problem.

On the other hand, it is risky to falsify documents or tweak information. It is in the applicant’s best interest not to submit documents damaged documents.  It is also important to make sure that the choice of school matches accommodation arrangements. After the study program, students are expected to return home. Do not mention the chances of employment during a student visa interview. However, students have the opportunity to get on-campus employment, optional practical training, off-campus employment, and curricular practical training for not more than 20 hours every week during school sessions and 40 hours during recess.

A student visa or immigration attorney may be able to provide guidance and advice for preparing for a student visa interview. 

How do I Get a Waiver for US Visa Interview?

The US Visa Interview waiver is a program created mostly for renewals and fresh issuance to applicants who meet the requirements. This provision, seeing as prior applications were successful, nullifies the need for officials to take fingerprints, scans, or conduct an interview.

To initiate a waiver, interested individuals have to fill out the DS-160 form and then answer "waiver of interview" questions online. The system will automatically introduce an online queue where the application will be processed. Afterward, the consulate will forward an email that contains the interview waiver confirmation letter plus information communicating how additional documents can be submitted. 

Are B1 and  B2 Visas Eligible for an Interview waiver?

Yes. the B1 and B2 US Visa are eligible for renewal without an interview. The B visa categories allow foreign nationals to enter the country temporarily for business and tourism. Generally, children who are younger than fourteen years are eligible to renew or apply for a visa without an interview. Also, individuals who have never stayed in the US for more than six months on a B1/B2 visa can apply. 

How Do I Know if I Am Eligible for Visa Interview Waiver?

Waivers are strictly by merit. It is an automatic process for individuals above the age of 79, while younger applicants must at least hold a B1, B2, F, M, J, L, or H Visa and:

  • Legally reside  in the country where the last visa was issued
  • Pass the last interview
  • Make sure the visa expires no later than 12 months before issuance.
  • Keep consistent personal details.
  • Never have an arrest record
  • Not be refused a visa in the last 12 months
  • Have never worked without authorization. 

Is Interview Waiver Program Cancelled?

No. The waiver program is still active. According to media notes from the office of the spokesperson for the US Department of State, the program will run until December 31, 2022. However, it will only cover H-1B visas (specialty occupation), H-3 visas (trainee or special education visitors), L, O, P, Q, H2, F, J, and M visas.

US embassies worldwide may still require an interview depending on the local economic and political atmosphere. 

Can an Immigration Attorney Guide Me Through My US Visa Interview Process?

Yes. Oftentimes, a visa refusal is an indication that something was done wrongly. Hiring an immigration attorney who is knowledgeable in current immigration laws can steer the applicant clear of errors and a visa refusal. The attorney will provide guidance on how to prepare for the visa interviews, what category of visa is most suitable for the applicant, what documents are required, and how to optimize the interview process by provisioning clear and useful information to help the interview make a decision. If  the applicant was refused a visa, an immigration attorney might also advise on available legal options.