The first step you have to take in order to start your US visa application, is to figure out under what kind of visa you are permitted to enter the United States. After you have selected the visa type you need to apply for, you should check the requirements and start gathering the documents that are required for that visa.
Standard US Visa Document Requirements
There are some documents that the embassy or consulate of the US requires from every applicant no matter what kind of visa they wish to obtain. Be careful to have all these documents when you hand in your visa application.
The required documents to apply for a U.S visa are the following:
- An application form (DS 160 for non-immigrant visas or DS 260 for immigrant visas)
- A passport which six months valid beyond your planned stay in the US
- Two photographs that comply to the photograph requirements
- Paid visa fee to be able to schedule an interview
Online Application form
There are two kinds of application forms, depending on the type of visa.
Nonimmigrant Visa application form DS-160
If you are applying for a nonimmigrant visa your shall complete the online application form DS-160. The application consists of two parts. The first part contains questions about personal information as:
- Full name
- Marital Status
- Date & Place of Birth
- Mobile number
- Passport number
- Passport book number
- Family information
- Work, etc.
The second part of the online application form consists of questions on security and background information as: if you have ever been arrested, or convicted for an offense or crime. If you have ever engaged in a conspiracy to violate, any law relating to controlled substances, if you have ever been involved in money laundering, or you ever ordered, incited, committed, assisted, or otherwise participated in genocide, etc.
Click here for a full DS-160 application form in pdf, so you can prepare the answers in advance.
Immigrant Visa application form DS-260
If you are applying for an immigrant visa you should fill the DS-260 application form online.
- You will have to give personal details as:
Full name in English characters
- Full name in Native Alphabet
- Date of Birth
- Place of Birth
- Home Address
- Phone number
- Family information: Parents, spouse / previous spouse, children
- Previous US Travel Information
There are also a couple of questions on security and Background related to:
- Medical and Health information,
- Criminal Information
- Security Information
- Immigration law violation information
- Miscellaneous, etc.
Click here for a full DS-260 application form in pdf, so you can prepare the answers in advance.
All answers must be in English, with English letters, in both application forms. Most of the questions are mandatory, but there are some other optional questions that you can choose not to answer. At the end of the application, there is a “Sign Application” button which you should click on. If you do not click on this button it may result in visa refusal.
After you fulfill the form, submit it and print the confirmation page. Take this page with you when you attend the interview as a proof of submitting the application.
You must possess a passport which is six months valid beyond your planned stay in the US. However, check which countries are exempted from this requirement, because the US have an agreement with some countries the residents of which only need a passport that is valid during their period of stay in USA, and not longer.
Remember that your passport must have at least one blank page in order to be able to affix visa.
The photograph requirement is one of the main requirements for every visa you apply for. Every applicant, no matter of what age or nationality, should submit a photo that is no older than 6 months and fulfil the following requirements:
- Must be in color
- Must be printed in thin photo-quality paper
- Must be 5×5 cm
- Must show the full head of the person – face, hair, neck,- in the center covering 50% of the photo, without wearing any accessories as hats or dark glasses.
- Must show the applicant with a neutral expression, eyes open, looking directly in front
- Photos with busy or patterned backgrounds are not accepted
- Hats and scarves are allowed only for religious reason
- Face must not be covered
- Extreme makeup is not allowed
- No toys or other objects are allowed to be shown, even in children’s pictures.
Upload the photo while you apply online through the DS-160 form. If the upload fails, you can submit the photo on the appointment day. However, we advise you that, even if you upload the photo online, to still bring it with you just in case you need it during the interview.
Differently from the European visa policy where you pay the fee at on the appointment day, for a US visa you need to pay the fee in order to be able to schedule an interview. The fee that applicants should pay depends on the type of visa one applies for. The fees are as follows:
- Visa Fee – $160
- Petition Based Applicants (H, L, O, P, Q, R) – $190
- E-1, E-2 & E-3 visa applicants – $205
Keep in mind that the visa fee is non-refundable if you decide to cancel your appointment or if your visa application is rejected. Find out more about U.S visa fees here.
Supporting Documents for USA Visa
Aside of the main documents, there are others you will have to submit in order to support the answers you have given in your application form.
Previous USA 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, in order to be able to prove that you have entered the country before.
The travel itinerary is a travel plan that shows what you are planning to do while you are in the US. It includes documents as a purchased flight reservation that shows your planned date of entry and exit in the US, and also inner flight reservations if applicable.
Also, you will have to submit some proof of accommodation that shows where you are planning to stay in the US (hotel, rented house, a friend’s or relative’s house, etc.), or just show that you have enough financial means to book a hotel once in the US.
If you are planning to come to the US sponsored by another person who is a US resident then you will have to show proof for that. The sponsor must submit these documents:
- Letter for Affidavit – which is a letter that confirms the sponsor is capable of financially supporting you during your whole stay
- Employment Letter – that shows the sponsor is employed and shows the salary he is paid.
- Payslips – three to four recent payslips
- Bank Letter – that shows the days when the account was opened, the total amount of money deposited during the past year and the present balance.
If you have property in your home country or somewhere else the you should show proof for that. Having a property is a huge plus if you are applying for a nonimmigrant visa, since that shows you have stronger ties with your home country and you do not intend to remain in the US. If you do, bring proof on the appointment day as:
- Original ownership papers
- Photographs of that property
- Personal affidavit regarding the property
Employment / Professional Documents
- If employed – bring a letter from an employer that gives details on your position, salary, length of employment, period of authorized vacation and purpose of trip to the US.
- If retired – pension book.
- If self-employed – company registration certificate and income details.
Anything like: Birth certificate, marriage certificate, close family photographs, adoption certificate (if you are adopted or have adopted a child), divorce certificate, spouse’s death certificate, etc.
Letter from a physician
You are required to schedule a medical appointment with an authorized physician in the country where you will be interviewed. You must complete your medical examination with an embassy-approved doctor. Exams conducted by other physicians will not be accepted.
Every document not written in either English or the official language of the country in which the interview will take place must be translated. Translations must be certified by a competent translator.
Visa Specific Documentation
Extra documents might be required for a US visa depending on the type of visa you are applying for.
Travel for Medical Treatment
- If you are applying for a visa to enter the US for health and medical purposes, then the consular officer will require these extra documents from you:
- Medical Diagnosis – from a local doctor explaining the reason you need treatment in the US, and why you can’t receive that in your home country.
- Letter from a medical facility in the US – confirming they are capable of treating your ailment. The letter should include the costs of the procedures.
- Proof of means of subsistence to cover the expenses – like transportation, and also medical and living expenses.
If you are applying for a Study Visa, then the consular officer will require from you to submit proof you have been admitted at a US educational institution. This education institution has to be under the Student Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). You will also have to pay SEVIS I-901 fee aside of the normal visa fee and submit proof of payment during the interview.
- Depending on the Work Visa type you apply for, you might have to submit some of the following documents:
Proof you meet the qualifications (diplomas and certifications)
- Proof of professional degree (Bachelor, Master, Doctorate)
- Job offer by a US employer
- Resume or CV
- Letter from previous employers
- State License (if applicable)
- Proof that you have extraordinary abilities
- Additional Fees, etc.
If you are applying for a B-2 visa then a letter of invitation may be required. A letter of invitation is a letter written by a United States citizen or legal resident, confirming that they are willing to admit an international with whom they have family ties, or friendship, and also that they have enough room for the visitor for the entire period of their stay in the US.
Fingerprints are a mandatory requirement for all those who wish to obtain a US visa. Depending on the consulate or embassy, you will have your fingerprints taken either before or just after the interview.
Exempt from fingerprint collection are only the following categories:
- Children under 14
- Elders over 79
- A-1, A-2, G-1, G-2, G-3,, C-3
- NATO applicants
- PEople who physically are not able of giving their fingerprints