How to Get US Visa (6 Steps)

In this article, I’ll show you how to get US visa easily without any glitches and how to avoid common mistakes visa applicants make.

What is a US visa

A US visa is a document that will appear on your passport. A U.S. visa allows you to travel to a port of entry, airport or land border crossing, and request permission of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Customs and Border Protection (CBP) inspector to enter the United States.

Obtaining a visit visa for the United States of America is often thought to be a tough task. But guess what? According to a visa statistics report, released by the US Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs, a total of 8,83,986 nonimmigrant visas to the USA were issued in May 2017 alone.

The fact that the number of foreign nationals allowed to enter the country in a month is this high only shows that the probability of you getting a visa is high too. But before you can apply, you need to understand the procedure.

To get a US visa, you need to send an application online and pass a physical interview held at your nearest US consulate, after which, you will be granted the US visa.

But the process can be broken down further.

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How to Get US Visa (6 Steps)

Here’s how you can get a US visa in six steps.

Step 1 – Identify which visa suits you

Take a look at the US Directory of Visa Categories to identify which type of visa you will be needing.
These vary according to the purpose of your visit, your qualifications, and your duration of stay.

For short pleasure visits, you need to get a B1/B2 visa. For jobs, you need the H1B visa or the L1/L2 visas.

Some countries participate in the Visa Waiver Program with the United States and its citizens are not required to apply for a visit visa if their stay is for 90 days or less. Learn more about this program here.

How to get USA Visit Visa

Step 2 – Apply for the visa online

Having determined your visa type, fill the Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application (DS-160) form.

Before you begin with the form, go through the guidelines for completing the DS-160 form carefully.

Once submitted, no changes can be made to the form. So make sure you do it with careful preparation and practice. You can always pause your application and come back to it to edit later using your login information.

Documents you will need to complete the US visa (DS 160) application

  • College degree marksheets and certificates (for dates)
  • Original ID proofs (for names and records)
  • Employment details (for dates and info like office address)
  • Passport (for previous travel history dates)

How to fill US visa application form (DS 160)

DS-160 form has two parts. In the first part, it asks a lot of personal information such as:

  • Full legal names
  • Aliases if any
  • Marital Status
  • Nationality
  • Date & Place of Birth
  • Local Address
  • Country of residence
  • Mobile number
  • Email
  • Passport number/numbers (multiple passports if any)
  • Passport book number/numbers
  • Family information (Spouse, Kids etc)
  • Education history
  • Work history, etc.

The second section of the DS 160 application form asks about your security and background information such as:

  • If you’ve ever been arrested or convicted.
  • If you have ever conspired to break a controlled substance law.
  • Questions related to money laundering.
  • Have you participated in the act of genocide (or any other act of genocide), etc.

Some of these questions might sound ridiculous to you but, make sure you answer them very specifically and accurately without skipping.

Step 3 – Pay the visa fees

After filling and submitting your form, it is time to pay the visa fees.

You can find the fee for your visa and other charges applicable here.

B1/B2 visa fees is $160 at the moment (in India).

To proceed with the payment, you are required to create an online account.

On creating your profile and making the payment, you will receive a unique code that will help in making an interview appointment later.

Step 4 – Schedule interview

To schedule an appointment for the interview, log in with the same credentials you used to pay for your visa.

Once you’ve logged in, start the scheduling process by clicking on ‘Schedule Appointment’ on the menu on the left of the screen.

You are required to make two appointments, one for the Visa Application Center and another for the visa interview at the Embassy or Consulate.

The interview appointment should be booked at least a day after the application center appointment.

When scheduling these appointments, keep your passport number, visa application fee receipt number, and DS-160 confirmation barcode handy.

At this stage, you can also add dependents and select a location for your documents to be delivered.

Visiting USA

Step 5 – Prepare for the interview

When at your Visa Application Centre appointment, carry the following:

  • Your passport, with a validity of at least six months beyond your period of stay in the United States.
  • Your DS-160 confirmation page, printed.
  • Proof of appointment confirmation.
  • A passport photograph (only if the applicant is 14 years old or less).

Step 6 – Attend the interview

The interview is the most crucial part of getting your US visa. Make sure you prepare well and prove to the officer that you deserve the visa.

After your visit to the visa application center, you are to appear for an interview at the US Embassy or Consulate near you (you can choose the one you like).

Bring the following items with you:

  • Documents that support your visa type.
  • A duly stamped (at VAC) confirmation of your DS-160.
  • A hard copy of your appointment confirmation letter.
  • And your current and all old passports.
  • Other supporting documents (job details, paystubs, property ownership documents etc)

If your interview goes successfully, you will be issued a visa to the United States of America.

Besides presenting all the necessary documents, you also need to present yourself as a responsible candidate at the interview.

Be sure to read all the provisions of your visa type and do not indicate that you will be violating any of those or overstaying your visa.

So, in summary, you need to apply online with your documents and clear an interview at the consulate to get a US visa.

Waiting time after the interview

After the interview, your application must be processed. Processing dates vary depending on the type of US visa filed for but can take weeks to months.

Your visa application will be processed and you will be notified. Travel arrangements should be made only once your visa has been approved, not before it.

What are the requirements for US visa?

Here are the five US visa requirements.

  1. Online nonimmigrant DS-160 form. Here is the DS-160 form.
  2. Valid Passport – A valid passport for at least six months beyond your anticipated stay in the US.
  3. One Photo – Every visa application requires a US visa photo. Upload the photo while submitting the DS-160 online.
  4. Receipt for $160 nonimmigrant US visa application.
  5. Social media info – Your social media accounts and their names and social media history for the last five years.

What are the documents required for visiting visa to USA?

Documents required for visit visa to USA are..

  • DS-160 application form.
  • Passport with at least one blank page for visa application.
  • One photo meeting the US authorities’ standards.
  • Proof of transit visa fees.
  • Interview confirmation page and copy.
  • Employer’s letter stating your trip’s purpose.
  • Any document like job contract, lease or property deed proving you will not stay in the US for more than 29 days.
  • Letter with these details: Ship’s name, Duration of your stay in the U.S, Dates of entry and exit, Your job title and duties, Your pay in the U.S. (for work related B1/B2 visa only)
  • Copies of your employer’s work records
  • Qualifications certificates and diplomas
  • Criminal records or a letter from the authorities indicating you are not convicted. (Not mandatory)

Got questions, ask below in the comments.

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Mani Karthik

About the Author

Mani Karthik

Ex “NRI” and Founder of the “Back to India” movement. I share my experience about immigrating to USA here.

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  5. Kokila tc

    Hi sir this is kokila, I am a student studying in last semester engineering in Hmsit, am visiting b2 visa for vacation , my bro is staying in America in h1 visa since 2008 how I convince them that I’ll come back to India I have principal letter n collage ID, Any other documents needed???? Exams is on dec 2019 I can’t provide them hall ticket… because before 1 week exam they provide hall ticket so how I convince them that I’ll come back appointment is on May 22 n 23 rd 2019

  6. Mani Karthik

    You don’t need to “convince” them. Just be honest and answer questions whatever is asked properly. They’ll understand your intent and if your intent to return is right, I think you should be able to travel.

  7. Pearly may

    Hi Mr. Karthik a Filipino want to visit a friend in US. He invited and going to sponsor all my expenses while I’m staying there.. Question Is it possible that consultant will denied my visa even my sponsor shoulder it all.
    And it is possible if I used my kids as on of my ties and my monthly income as a house maid.. Thank u for answering god bless

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