The vast majority of non-citizens wanting to enter the US will need to get a visa in advance. This official document certifies that someone has been approved to enter the country. How to apply for a visa may seem like an annoying formality, but it is essential for anyone who wants to lawfully enter the country and avoid serious penalties.
Here is How to Apply for a Visa
Learn how to apply for a visa below, and make sure to follow the steps carefully to ensure that your trip does not end before it starts.
Step One – Complete the Visa Application
If you are entering the country as a tourist or visitor, this is the first step in how to apply for a visa. However, if you are entering for reasons of employment, you will need to get approval before you apply. The application is available online. The steps are relatively straightforward, but you will need to be completely honest and be able to show the following supporting documents:
- Travel itinerary if you have one already
- The dates of your last five visits to the US
- Your resume or CV
- Additional information depending on your reason for applying
As part of how to apply for a visa, you will also need to submit a recent photo. These are the basic outlines of how to get a visa application completed, but depending on your English fluency and level of comfort with administration and bureaucracy, the process may seem complex and confusing. If you need information or guidance at any time, ask an immigration lawyer how to apply for a visa.
Step Two – Schedule an Interview
The next step in how to apply for a visa is to schedule an interview at a US consulate or embassy. This will be required for most, but not all. These applicants are exempt, but anyone can be asked to submit to an interview at the discretion of the consular officers:
- Anyone 13 or younger
- Anyone 80 or older
All other persons must be interviewed. You will typically want to schedule an interview at the embassy or consulate in your home country, but it is not required. Be aware, however, that applying at an embassy/consulate in another country can create unwanted complications and delays. No matter where you apply, the number of interview times available can vary widely. Good advice for how to apply for a visa is to schedule your interview long in advance of your trip.
Step Three – Prepare for Your Interview
Once your interview is scheduled, you will likely be required to pay the visa application fee. The amount of this fee varies depending on where you are traveling from. You may also have to pay a separate fee to have your approved visa issued. Once the funds have been collected, you will also need to gather together the required documents discussed in step one. You do not need to present them until you get to the interview, but the sooner you start collecting them, the better.
Step Four – Attend the Interview
Every step on the list of how to apply for a visa is important, but this is the step that can make or break you. The interview will start with the consular officer determining why you need a visa and what visa category best applies to your trip – tourism, employment, student, etc. The steps you took in advance for how to get a visa will also be carefully scrutinized and studied. A scan of your fingerprints will also be taken during the interview and saved digitally. Finally, you will need to answer any questions asked of you honestly and accurately. If you are found to be lying or withholding information, your visa will likely be denied.
Step Five – Final Steps
How to get a visa is not quite over yet. After your interview, you may be asked to supply additional information and documentation. The wait time to get your visa approved will vary depending on where you are traveling from. It is also important to know how to apply for a visa only makes you eligible for admission to the US. Officials at the point-of-entry have the right to deny you access to US soil even if you have a valid visa.
How to apply for a visa is not tremendously complicated on the surface. But once you begin the process, you may find that it is more challenging and confusing than you expected. You may also run into issues that you need legal help to resolve. If you or someone you love is learning how to get a visa, make sure you also have an immigration lawyer you can turn to for information and insights on demand. Rely on the experience and dedication of Henner Law Group. To speak to one of our visa attorneys, call 914-290-5777.