The US Visa application process involves several steps beginning with identifying the appropriate visa type or category for your purpose to travel to the United States. A US Visa is a mandatory document for international travellers to get access to the US. Applicants looking for a US visa application process must start by applying for a US non-immigrant visa. Whether you are moving to the USA for work, studying abroad, vacation, business or as a dependent, a visa is a must thing you ought to have. Read this article to learn more about what is the US Visa application process.
|Name of the Country||United States of America|
|Visa Fee||Starting from $160 (INR 13.1K)|
|Types of Non-immigrant US Visa||B1, B2,1, J1, H1B, L1, O1, E2, TN, K1|
|Visa Application fee||$185|
|Duration of Visa||Depends on the purpose of travel|
|Visa Processing Time||5-7 working days after the visa interview|
This Blog Includes:
- US Visa Application Process
- Step 1: Check Passport Validity
- Step 2: Choose a Visa Type
- Step 3: Prepare Material for Application
- Step 4: Complete the DS-160 Form
- Step 5: Schedule Biometric Registration and Visa Interview
- Step 6: Pay the Visa Fee
- Step 7: Attend the Visa Interview
- Step 8: Keep Track of Your Application Online
- Step 9: Collect Your Visa and Prepare for Your Journey
Also Read: USA Student Visa: Cost, Types, Intakes
US Visa Application Process
There are several stages in the US visa application process which you need to go through in order to get approval. Getting a US visa is not an easy process, as there are multiple stages you need to go through and it requires a set of documents for verification. But before you apply for a US visa, you need to ensure your purpose of visiting the US. In order to do that we have listed the types of US visas below so that it is easy for you to categorise them and select the one suitable for you.
Types of US Visas (Non-Immigrant)
The Immigration Department of the USA has issued various non-immigrant visas for individuals who wish to travel to the USA on a temporary basis. Candidates planning to travel to the US must ensure that they have sufficient knowledge of the types of visas in the USA and their uses. Here’s a list of some of the non-immigrant US visas and their uses.
- B-1 Visa (Business Visitor) – Individuals travelling to the USA with the intent of business, such as attending conferences, negotiating contracts, or consulting with business associates are required to apply for a B-1 visa.
- B-2 Visa (Tourist Visitor) – The B-2 visa is for tourists or individuals visiting friends and family in the United States for recreational or medical purposes.
- F-1 Visa (Student): This visa is for individuals who plan to pursue academic studies or language training programs at a recognized U.S. institution. It includes academic programs, colleges, universities, and language schools.
- J-1 Visa (Exchange Visitor) – The J-1 visa is for individuals participating in approved exchange programs, including educational and student exchange programs, internships, research, or medical training.
- H-1B Visa (Temporary Worker in a Specialty Occupation) – This visa is for individuals with specialized knowledge or skills who have a job offer from a U.S. employer. It is commonly used for professionals in fields such as science, engineering, IT, and education.
- L-1 Visa (Intra-company Transferee) – The L-1 visa is for employees of multinational companies who are being transferred to a U.S. branch, subsidiary, affiliate, or parent company in a managerial, executive, or specialized knowledge role.
- O-1 Visa (Extraordinary Ability): This visa is for individuals with extraordinary abilities or achievements in fields such as science, arts, education, business, or athletics.
- E-2 Visa (Treaty Investor) – This visa is for individuals from certain countries who have made a substantial investment in a U.S. business and are seeking to develop and direct that business.
- TN Visa (NAFTA Professionals) – The TN visa is available to Canadian and Mexican citizens who are employed in specific professional occupations under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
- K-1 Visa (Fiancé(e) of U.S. Citizen) -The K-1 visa is for foreign fiancé(e)s of U.S. citizens who are planning to get married in the United States and then apply for adjustment of status to become permanent residents.
Step 1: Check Passport Validity
People often delve into the visa process without first checking the validity of their passports. However, one should always remember that a visa is nothing without a passport and your travel won’t be possible without a passport. Therefore, it is imperative to check that your passport is valid for at least 06 months beyond your period of stay in the US before applying for a visa.
Step 2: Choose a Visa Type
From the list given above you can select what type of visa you require for your travel. If you are facing trouble in figuring out the visa you can contact your travel agents, consult the US consulate or Study Abroad Experts if it is for a student. The purpose, duration and requirements of each of these visa types are different. Before applying, candidates also have to make sure that they fulfil these requirements for the US visa.
Step 3: Prepare Material for Application
What often happens is that as soon as the candidates figure out what visa they need, they head on to fill out the visa application form. Nevertheless, they face obstacles in the application process as they have to scrounge for documents and information or end up filling out the form incorrectly. The ideal way to deal with this situation is to research the visa type you are applying for and understand the process first. Then prepare all the documents that would be required for the application and head on to apply. Also, irrespective of the visa type one has to fill out the DS-160 form which requires the following documents.
- US Travel Itinerary
- Travel financing details
- Information of US point of contact
- Proof of previous work experience
- Educational experience
- Personal information and family information
- Digital passport-size photographs on white backgrounds
- Other documents which are specific to the visa type
Also Read: US Visa Interview: Questions and Answers
Step 4: Complete the DS-160 Form
DS-160 form is for non-immigrant people going to the US, these include visitor, work, student, or dependent visas. For immigrant visas, there is a separate DS-260 form. For this, one should follow the given steps;
- Open the DS-160 form from the US Embassy website. This comes under the non-immigrant visa application.
- Select the location for the visa and enter the captcha.
- Click on start application.
- Note the application ID that appears on the screen after that.
- Answer every question even if the answer is ‘None’ then mention ‘None’. This is essential as incomplete and incorrect forms are returned and have to be rescheduled for interview.
- There is no fee to fill out the DS-160 form.
Step 5: Schedule Biometric Registration and Visa Interview
This is simply a two-step process of getting your biometrics registered and then getting your visa interview scheduled. The appointment for biometric registration can be started at the Visa Application Center (VAC). For the visa interview, the candidates have to make an appointment with the US consulate. You will need information like Passport Number, Visa Application Fee Receipt Number, and Bar Code confirmation from the DS-160 confirmation page. Also, you can reschedule the interview and biometric appointment if you are unable to attend it in time.
Step 6: Pay the Visa Fee
At the time of attending the visa interview, the candidates also have to pay a visa fee before sitting for the interview. You must check the mode of payment acceptable to pay at the US Consulate before leaving for the interview. Here is the updated visa fee for different visa types;
- Non-petition based visa types like B1,B2, F1 – $185
- Petition-based visa types like H1B, L1, and H4 – $205
- E Visas – $315
- B1/B2 tourist visa for PNG National (12 months) – $138
Step 7: Attend the Visa Interview
First, you will have to attend the biometrics registration. Before going, do remember to carry the Appointment Notice, DS-160 confirmation, Passport and other documents asked for by the authorities for the process. The interview comes after that and is conducted at the US consulate by the US consular officer. They determine if you qualify to get a visa and the genuineness of your purpose of applying for a visa.
Step 8: Keep Track of Your Application Online
You can check the status of your visa on the US State Department CEAC Website once your visa stamping interview is done. In case of success of your application, the status of your application will change to ‘Issued’.
Step 9: Collect Your Visa and Prepare for Your Journey
The last step is to collect your visa from the consulate office. The US Visa foil will be attached to your passport that you will be collecting from the office. For those who selected the home delivery option can sit back and relax. Do not fret as this can take a few days to a week for this process.
A Non-Immigrant US visa is issued for foreign nationals who are planning to go to the US on a temporary basis for activities such as business, medical emergency and any other temporary work. The type of nonimmigrant visa needed is defined by immigration law, and related to the purpose of the travel.
The US visa application process starts with checking for the type of visa you need, applying for that US visa, filling out the Non-immigrant Visa Application Form DS-160, paying the visa application fee, scheduling your visa interview, compiling your documents in a file, appear for your visa interview and wait for the processing.
As per the Government of the USA, there are three types of student visas available for international students, which are – F, J, and M.
It’s important to note that each visa category has specific eligibility criteria and requirements. It is advisable to consult the official website of the U.S. Department of State or speak with an immigration attorney for detailed and up-to-date information on the specific visa you are interested in.
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