For most people around the world, wanting to go to the US means that they need a visa. The reasons for wanting to go differ from just visits for tourism or business, working, studying, or permanently moving there. The country attracts a wide range of people who have various goals and want to achieve “the American dream”. However, there are many barriers and one of them is getting a visa.
Steps to Apply for a Non-Immigrant Visa to USA
To apply for a non-immigrant USA visa you will follow a straightforward application procedure. However, there are differences depending on the type of US visa you want to get.
The US visa application is done at a US Consulate or Embassy in your country of residence following these simple steps:
- Fill in Application Form DS-160.
- Pay your application fee.
- Schedule visa interview.
- Compile the document file.
- Attend the visa interview.
Fill in Application Form DS-160
Form DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application is the US visa application form that you must fill out if you are applying for a US nonimmigrant visa. The form can be found online on the website of the US consulate from which you are applying. It contains sections specific to various types of visas, so you must first choose what US visa you are applying for.
You can fill the DS-160 form online through:
- the Consular Electronic Application Center, or
- by using the services of a third party company such as TravelAssist.
Why do we advise to apply through TravelAssist?
- TravelAssist’s staff will fill in the form DS-160 to book your US visa appointment with the US Embassy/Consulate.
- They will provide you with a complete list of required documents for your US Visa application and will check your prepared application file to make sure your application has the highest possible prospect of success.
- The staff of TravelAssist will offer 24/7 online support regarding your US visa application.
- If your US visa application is successful TravelAssist will get you your visa quickly.
- In the event of denied entry to the US, they offer Travel Protection that will cover your financial expenses.
- TravelAssist is a specialized company in processing US visa applications and has helped over 20,000 people enter the United States. They provide end-to-end visa assistance to help you successfully enter the United States.
It then has questions regarding your background, personal information, employment history and other details which are submitted as part of your application. When you complete the form and submit it, it will generate a confirmation page and code which you need to save and bring for your interview.
Pay your US visa application fee
One of the steps to apply for a US visa is to pay the US visa application fees. The US Visa fees range from $160 to more than $250 and there are also fees for filing other forms if you will be working in the US.
In addition to US visa application fees, you could also be asked to pay US visa issuance fees. Visa issuance fees are determined by the relationship that the US has with your home country. This means that some applicants will have to pay them and some will not. Their amount varies from country to country.
To be able to proceed with your application, you must pay all the necessary fees and retain the receipts for proof.
Schedule US visa interview
All US nonimmigrant visa applicants between 14 and 79 years old are required to go through a US visa interview. To have this mandatory interview, you must schedule an appointment with the US consulate or embassy from which you are applying. Since they might have a high workload and the wait time can range from days to weeks, you must make sure to schedule your interview as early as possible.
The moment that you submit your Form DS-160, you should make an appointment for your interview. You will then get an interview confirmation letter which you must bring on the day of the interview.
Compile the document file for US Visa application
In addition to your application form or Form DS-160, you must also submit documents required for USA visa application which prove to the US consulate that you meet the requirement for the nonimmigrant visa you are applying. Your US visa application file must contain the following:
- Confirmation page of the application form DS-160.
- Appointment confirmation page (if applicable).
- Passport – valid for at least 6 months beyond your date of planned stay in the US. The passport must have at least one blank page in order to be able to affix visa.
- One US Visa photo – of 5 x 5 cm size, taken within the last 6 months. If you have successfully uploaded a picture to the DS-160 application form, then you are not required to submit an additional photo.
- Previous US visas – if you have visited the US before with an older passport, then you shall take it with you on the day of the interview at the embassy or consulate.
- ACRO – which is a police certificate you should submit if you have ever been arrested, cautioned or convicted.
- Letter from a physician, if you have a medical condition that could have a bearing on your eligibility for a visa.
- Invitation letter, if applying for a B-2 visa
- If you have ever been rejected for entry or deported from the US, you must also submit documents in this regard.
Besides these documents, you must also have others depending on the US visa you are applying for. Each US nonimmigrant visa has different documents that it requires, so to find out which ones you need, you must visit the specific article for that visa.
Attend the visa interview
The final step in the US visa application process is the US visa interview. You must appear on time at the interview with all your supporting documents. The official who will interview you will ask questions about your background and other relevant details based on the visa you have applied for. If you are going to the US to work, then the interview might be longer than if you were going only for a visit.
After the visa interview, you must wait for your application to be processed. Processing times depend on the type of US visa you applied for, but they can range from a few days to a few months. When your visa is processed, you will find out whether you were approved or denied. You should only make travel arrangements after your visa is approved and not run the risk of making expenses in case it is denied.
Applicants from the UK
If you are a citizen of UK, you can travel to the US without a visa. However, this does not hold for all UK residents. To apply for a visa for USA from UK, there are some specific procedures that you must take.
Applicants from Canada
Although Canadians do not need a visa nor an ESTA to travel to the US, Canadian residents who are not citizens of one of the 38 Visa Waiver Countries, should apply for a US visa from Canada to visit the US.
Applicants from Australia
Australian residents who are not citizens of a country that participates in the Visa Waiver Program, should apply for a visa for USA from Australia.
Applicants from UAE
UAE is not part of the Visa Waiver Program, therefore, its citizens need to apply for a US visa. To learn how to apply for a US visa from UAE visit the following articles:
Applicants from Qatar
As Qatar is not part of the Visa Waiver Program, Qatari citizens, as well as residents, might have to apply for a US visa. To learn how to apply for a US visa from Qatar, visit this article.
Applicants from the Philippines
To be able to travel to the US, Philipines citizens and residents need to obtain a US visa. Learn the details of the US visa application in Philippines in this article.
US Immigrant Visa Application Process
The second type of US visas, the immigrant visas have a different type of US visa application requirements. They too start at a US consulate or embassy and you have to follow these guidelines for application for US visa which is of an immigrant type.
File the petitions
If you are applying for an immigrant visa based on family reunion or employment, the family or employer in the US must submit a petition for you at USCIS. This petition will be reviewed by the responsible authority and you must only wait to find out whether it will be approved or not. You cannot take any further steps without an approved petition, since if it is denied, all your efforts and payments will not be counted.
If your petition is approved, you will be directed to the National Visa Center (NVC), which will require you to go through more steps in order to get to your visa interview. You will receive a letter from the NVC which will have important information that guides you through the application process. Amongst that important information are your NVC Case Number, Beneficiary ID Number, and Invoice ID Number.
Choose an agent
The agent will serve as your point of contact for your visa matters. You must formally and legally select an agent to be able to proceed with the immigration visa application. You can choose yourself as an agent or you can choose an attorney, friend, family member, or sponsoring employer.
To choose your agent you must file Form DS-261, Choice of Address and Agent to the NVC which will take at least 3 weeks to be processed.
Pay the US immigrant visa fees
There are at least two fees you have to pay when applying for a US immigrant visa:
- Immigrant Visa Application Processing Fee
- Affidavit of Support Fee
You can pay these fees by credit card or check and you will need to complete this step online based on the guidance found in your NVC letter. You will also need your NVC Case Number and Invoice ID Number to proceed with this step.
Submit visa US immigrant application
The first part of the visa application is your submission of Form DS-260, Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration. This form is similar to the Form DS-160 for nonimmigrant visas, but the main difference is that it only counts as a first step. You do not complete your immigrant visa application until you are invited for the interview and your date is current. To file for the Form DS-260 you will need your NVC Case Number, Beneficiary ID Number, and Invoice ID Number. At the end when you submit it, you will get a confirmation page and number.
Submit supporting documents for US immigrant visas
Besides the standard required documents, depending on the type of immigrant visa you are applying for, you might be asked to submit additional ones. Note that all documents must be in English and those that are not must be accompanied by an official and notarized translation. You must submit these documents to the NVC based on the information you have received on the letter.
Attend your interview
Based on your current date, the NVC will schedule your visa interview with you and any accompanying family members. This is usually done one month in advance to give applicants time to prepare documents and prepare for the interview. At the interview, you will be asked questions by an official and it will be determined whether you are eligible and meet all the requirements for a US immigrant visa.
What to do When my US Visa Expires?
If your US visa expires, you have the chance to renew it through a similar procedure to the initial US Visa application process. All US visas have a date of issue and a date when they will expire stamped on the passport. It is necessary to renew the US visa only if the expiration date of the visa has passed.
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