To apply for a US visa, you will need to complete the following steps:
- Determine which type of visa you need based on your purpose of travel (e.g. tourism, business, study, work).
- Complete the online visa application (Form DS-160) and pay the application fee.
- Schedule an interview at the nearest US embassy or consulate. You will need to bring all necessary documents, including a valid passport, the application fee payment receipt, one photograph meeting the US visa photo requirements, and any additional documents required for the specific type of visa you are applying for.
- Attend the interview and answer any questions the consular officer may have.
- Wait for a decision on your application. Processing times vary depending on the type of visa and the embassy or consulate where you applied.
- If your visa is approved, your passport and visa will be returned to you. You can then use the visa to enter the United States.
It’s important to note that each individual case is unique and the above steps may vary based on the type of visa, personal circumstances and the embassy or consulate where you apply.
US Visa Requirements
Here are the required documents for a US visa:
- An online nonimmigrant DS-160 application form. You can file the form DS-160 here.
- Your valid passport. It must be valid for at least six months beyond your planned stay in the United States. However, there are some countries that are exempt from this requirement only needing a passport that is valid during their period of stay in the United States. Your passport must have at least one blank page to be able to affix visa.
- One photograph. The US visa photo requirement is one of the main requirements for every visa you apply for. 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 in case you need it during the interview.
- Receipt proving payment of $160 for a nonimmigrant US visa application. 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. Keep in mind that the US visa fee is non-refundable if you decide to cancel your appointment or if your visa application is rejected.
- Social media details. A list of the social media that you use, and the name
of your account in each, phone number, email and social media history of the five previous years.
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.
If you are applying for a US nonimmigrant visa you should complete the online application form DS-160. You can fill the DS-160 form online via the Consular Electronic Application Center.
Aside from the main documents, there are others you will have to submit in order to support the answers you have given in your application form, such as:
Previous USA visas
If you have visited the US before with an older passport, then you should take it with you on the day of the interview at the embassy or consulate. The US authorities require previously held visas are able to prove that you have entered the country before.
An invitation letter for US visa 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.
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. If applicable, it can also show inner flight reservations.
Also, you will have to submit some proof of accommodation. It should show where you are planning to stay in the US (hotel, a rented house, a friend’s or relative’s house, etc.). However, it can just show that you have enough financial means to book a hotel once in the US.
If you are planning to come to the United States sponsored by another person who is a US resident then you will have to show proof of 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 a property in your home country or somewhere else you should show proof for that. Having 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
- Bring a letter from an employer that gives details of your position, salary, length of employment, the period of authorized vacation and purpose of the trip to the US – If employed.
- Pension book – If retired.
- Company registration certificate and income details – If self-employed.
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.
Requirements for Specific US Visa Types
Extra documents might be required for a US visa depending on the type of visa you are applying for.
Requirements for USA Study Visas
If you are applying for a US student and exchange visa, then the consular officer will require from you to submit proof you have been admitted at a US educational institution. This educational 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.
Requirements for USA Work Visas
Depending on the US 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 from a US employer
- Resume or CV
- Letter from previous employers
- State License (if applicable)
- Proof that you have extraordinary abilities
- Additional Fees, etc.
For the specific requirements of each US work visa, visit the article.
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.
Only the following categories are exempt from fingerprint collection:
- 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.