With the increased digital reliance, most applications and documents are submitted online, but the US visa appointment must be attended in person.
Who Needs to Attend a US Visa Appointment?
There are some cases when the applicant does not need to attend a US visa appointment and can obtain a US visa appointment waiver. In order to get this waiver you must fulfill one of the following conditions:
- Apply for an A-1, A-2, C-2, C-3, G-1, G-2, G-3, or G-4 visa.
- Be under 14 years old or over 79 years old.
- You are applying for a renewal of a BCC, B-1/B-2, C-1/D, F, J, M, or O visa within the same classification.
There are cases when you might be eligible to waive the biometrics collection or the visa interview, but not both. In that case, you must still schedule an appointment for the one which you cannot waive.
Also, there are some visa categories which do not qualify for an appointment waiver. These are the applicants who want to get an E-3, T, U, H-1, or blanket L-1 visa. Even if they are renewing their visas, those who fall under those categories will not be allowed to get a visa appointment waiver and must attend the visa interview.
For US immigrant visas it is highly unlikely that you will be able to get an appointment waiver, so you must discuss it with the NVC and obtain permission or confirm your appointment date and time.
How do I get an appointment waiver?
To apply for an appointment waiver, you must either choose the option online or call the VAC where you are applying. The VAC will verify whether you are eligible for a visa interview waiver and they will let you know whether you will still need to schedule an appointment or not.
How to Schedule a US Visa Interview Appointment?
To be able schedule a US visa interview you must fill in the DS-160 form first. Once you apply for a US visa by submitting the application form and supporting documents, the US Embassy Visa Application Center (VAC) will have to process it. This might take a few days to a few weeks depending on the type of US visa you have applied for and the workload that they have. Once they process the application, a visa appointment must be made. You can also schedule an emergency appointment, if you fulfill certain conditions.
The interview must be scheduled at least a day in between the fingerprint appointment.
You can schedule the appointment online through:
- ustraveldocs.com if you’re applying from Asia, or
- ais.usvisa-info.com if you are applying from anywhere else in the world.
- VisaExpress if you want to get all the assistance with your application process.
What supporting documents should I bring at the appointment?
When you make the appointments, you must have the following documents available in front of you to give the necessary information:
- Your valid passport and your passport number.
- Your visa application fee payment receipt number.
- Your DS-160 confirmation page.
- Your e-mail address.
- Documents based on the type of visa you are applying for. Here you can find the types of US visas.
Completion of a Medical Examination for the US Visa Appointment
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services wants every applicant to complete a medical appointment with an authorized physician in the country where they will attend their interview.
By “authorized physician” we mean a doctor who is approved by the US embassy in your country. If you complete your medical check with another doctor, the consular will not accept it as valid.
What will happen at the medical examination?
The medical examination includes a review of your
- medical history,
- physical examination (which includes at least eyes, ears, nose and throat, extremities, heart, lungs, abdomen, lymph nodes, skin, and external genitalia),
- chest X-ray,
- blood tests.
Supporting documents to bring at the doctor’s appointment
When you go to meet the doctor, you need to have with you the following documents:
- Your visa interview letter
- Your passport
- Passport-sized color photographs (the number varies from 2 to 4 depending on the embassy)
- A copy of your immunization records
After the exam
After the checkup takes place, the authorized physician will either hand to the applicant the medical examination results in a sealed envelope (Do not open it!) to submit them on the day of the visa interview alongside with the other documents, or will send the results directly to the US Embassy or Consulate.
Attending the US Visa Interview Appointment
Before attending the interview take care to prepare in advance so when you go to the embassy you do not feel lost. You will be interviewed by a consular officer, as part of which process you will have your fingerprints scanned. Do not bring any foods, laptops, backpacks or big bags with you at the embassy. Take as fewer things with you as possible. Wear something comfortable but a little bit official.
Arrive at the consulate
The first thing that you need to keep in mind is that you must be on time for your interview. It is true that many times you may have to wait in a queue in order to attend the interview, thus meeting the consular officer an hour or later than appointed. However, do not risk to be there late, even if someone tells you there’s a queue at the embassy. Be there at least 10 minutes earlier just in case.
At the entrance of the embassy, you will go through a security detector, which in most of the cases includes a full-body metal detector scan. After that, you will be given a token for your interview and then you will have to give your fingerprints. An officer will scan your fingerprints, and give you further directions.
Enter the interview
After fingerprinting, you will have to wait in a lounge area, where you must wait quietly for your turn. You will hear your name when it is your turn. Have your documents arranged earlier, so you will not have a mess on your hands when you meet the interviewer.
The questions the officers will ask you, depend on the type of US visa that you have applied for. Here you can find the questions that the interviewer may ask you during your interview:
- Visitor visa interview questions and answers.
- Student visa interview questions and answers.
- H1B visa interview questions and answers.
What if I Am Late for my Interview?
In case you are late just a couple of minutes, and there’s no queue then your interview will be dismissed. You will have to appoint another and wait for your interview if such thing happens.
What Happens if I Don’t Show Up For My Interview?
If you do not show up at the embassy for your scheduled interview, you must contact the embassy or consulate as soon as possible and inform them about the causes that have made it impossible to attend the interview. You must act this way, otherwise, your case might be terminated and fees that have already been paid will not get refunded.
Can I Cancel my Appointment?
It is highly unlikely that after going through the hassle of applying for a US visa and getting the supporting documents, you will have to cancel an appointment. However, circumstances change and you might not want to get a US visa anymore.
To cancel the US visa appointments, you can call the VAC and let them know that you are canceling and that you will not need a US visa anymore. For US immigrant visas, you should call the NVC and inform them that you are not interested in obtaining a US visa.
This is not recommended at all as you will have spent a lot of effort in applying for the visa and therefore should try to see whether you will get it or not.
How to Reschedule a US Visa Appointment?
Once you set your appointment or the NVC sets it for you, it is recommended to attend it on that day and time. However, if you absolutely cannot attend the US visa appointment, then you can reschedule them.
Rescheduling a nonimmigrant visa appointment
To reschedule a US nonimmigrant visa appointment, you can either call the VAC or change the date and time online. This will push the appointments to the next available timeslot that works for you. You must provide a valid reason as to why you are rescheduling so that the US Embassy takes it into account.
Rescheduling an immigrant visa appointment
To reschedule a US immigrant visa appointment, you must contact the NVC and explain your reasons for wanting to reschedule. You must provide your case number or application number and let them know of a time that is convenient for you so they can try to get you that appointment. The NVC however, will schedule the appointments at the next available timeslot if the one you are requesting is not available.
Because of this, you must make arrangements and try to attend the original appointments. Rescheduling will only delay the processing of your visa and increase the time you have to wait to know whether you got the visa or not.
It is not recommended to reschedule an appointment more than once if it is absolutely necessary. If you reschedule more than once, then you may be required to pay a new visa application fee as a penalty.
US Visa Biometrics Appointment
The biometrics appointment must be scheduled so that the applicants give their biometric information. This includes a US Visa photograph and fingerprints. The United States requires applicants to give their biometric information to increase the security of their borders and check who is entering the country.
There are some countries or specific applicants who might not need to schedule their fingerprint appointment, but you must check with the US Embassy and ask whether you have to complete this part of the visa application process.
How to Schedule a US Immigrant Visa Appointment?
When you apply for a US immigrant visa, then scheduling your fingerprint and interview appointments is different. Unlike the nonimmigrant visas when you have to schedule everything yourself, the National Visa Center (NVC) is responsible to schedule the appointments for immigrant visas.
After the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) processes the immigrant visa petition from an employer or family member, they send the documents to the NVC. The NVC assigns a case identification number and a fee identification number for you.
Then depending on whether the visa has an annual cap or limit, they schedule the appointments.
If the visa you are applying for does not have a limit, then they schedule the biometrics and interview appointments immediately. If the visa has an annual limit, then they wait until it is your turn, so until you get a current processing date. When it is your turn to get that visa, then they schedule the appointments.
For immigrant visas you do not get a choice when the US visa appointment is scheduled. Therefore, the NVC will schedule it whenever the next available timeslot is at your US Embassy. This means that you must plan ahead and take time off work or your commitments to be able to attend the fingerprints and interview appointments.