In immigration law, a USA Visitor Visa is a tourist visa to US. It is also known as B2 Visa. Visitor visa is a non-immigrant visa issued to people entering US temporarily for pleasure, tourism, or medical treatment. Any foreign citizen including parents who wants to visit USA for tourism, visiting children, family, friends, relatives, attending special events, family functions, ceremonies, or for medical treatment may qualify and can apply for Visitor Visa. Preparing an application for a B-2 Visitor Visa requires certain knowledge and understanding about the process and preparation for the application and interview to follow.
Quick Facts about USA Visitor Visa
· Visitor visa or tourist visa is also known as B1-B2 or B2 visa for USA.
· Visitor visa is subject to approval. You must apply and get the visitor visa stamped in your passport.
· Tourist visa is granted for a specific purpose only, like tourism, medical treatment, etc. Person entering the United States on visitor visa should not be involved in study, business, or work. If the purpose of your trip is business, you must apply for a US Business Visa (B1 Visa).
· Maximum length of stay in US on visitor visa can be 6 months or less, which is subject to grant at the port of entry at US airport on arrival. An extension to maximum 6 months may be possible which is subject to approval. To request an extension, you will need to submit a visitor visa extension application to USCIS with fee.
STEP 1 – Get a Digital Photograph of each applicant
A digital photograph is required for while applying for a US visitor visa. The photograph must meet certain criteria. A good photographer or studio can get this picture if you mention photograph needed for US visa purpose.
The digital photograph must meet the following requirements:
· The digital photograph must be a square.
· Minimum dimensions must be 600 pixels by 600 pixels.
· Maximum dimensions must be 1200 pixels by 1200 pixels.
· Image must be in color (24 bits per pixel).
· Image must be in the JPEG format (.jpg or .jpeg file extension).
· File size of the image must be less than or equal to 240 kilobytes.
See the complete photograph requirements for visitor visa.
Please Note: Some embassies or consulates no longer require you to upload a digital photograph while filling out the DS-160 form. In such cases, the photograph will taken at the OFC (offsite facilitation center) or ASC (Application Service Center) along with the fingerprint at Visa Application Center.
STEP 2 – Complete a visitor visa application form DS160
Visitor visa application (form DS160) must be completed online, over the internet. You can complete the application here.
After successfully completing the application, you will receive a confirmation with a 10-digit barcode. Take a printout of this page. This will be needed for setting up your visa interview appointment.
You will need the following before you start filling DS160 form for visitor visa:
· Digital photograph of applicant in a specific format. If you are unable to upload or provide the correct picture during the online application submission, you can carry a printed picture when go for visa interview if your consulate accepts.
Some embassies or consulates no longer require you to upload a digital photograph while filling out the DS-160 form. In such cases, the photograph will taken at the OFC (offsite facilitation center) or ASC (Application Service Center) along with the fingerprint at Visa Application Center.
· You must know which consulate you will be appearing for interview. Since the application must be completed online, you must have a reliable internet connection.
· Passport details (Name as on passport, date of birth, issue date, expiration date, passport number, etc) of each applicant.
· Family information of applicant (Name of parents of each applicant, occupation, mailing address, work address, income, etc).
· Address where you will stay in USA.
· Name and address of your relatives in USA, if any.
· For US residents, your social security number and your US tax ID number.
· Date of most recent travel to US, if any.
Filling DS-160 Form
· Provide correct and truthful information. Enter the information requested into the appropriate spaces in each window. Answer all questions. Your answers must be in English and must use English characters, except when you are asked to provide your full name in your native alphabet.
· Most of the questions asked in the form are self-explanatory, and enough explanation is given for self-help. Provide the correct information. For fields that are not applicable, select “does not apply”.
· You can temporarily save your application on the website itself. If you plan to be away from the online application for more than 20 minutes, please save your application permanently to a file on your local computer. In any case, continuously saving your data on your local computer may be a wise thing to do, so you can start from where you left off previously, in case you are not able to complete the application in one sitting.
· If there is no activity for 20 minutes or more in the process of completing this online application, your session will expire and all entered data will be lost.
· If you are using a public computer, make sure you delete the file after you are successfully done with your application.
· Letters and special characters like Ã±, Ã©, Ã¼, Ã§ are not recognized by the system. Please enter names like MuÃ±oz and SÃ©monin as Munoz and Semonin, unless otherwise asked.
· Review the information you entered for accuracy.
· Print the confirmation page.
· Bring the confirmation page with you at all steps during the visa application process
Are all fields on the DS160 mandatory?
Most fields on the DS160 are mandatory. You may leave fields marked “Optional” blank. Some fields may also give you the option to select “Does Not Apply”. If that field does not apply to you, you may mark the box next to “Does Not Apply.” All other fields must be completed. The application will not allow you to submit a form with any mandatory fields left blank. In this instance, an error message will be displayed and you will be required to complete the field before continuing with the application. If you do not answer questions that apply, your form may also be rejected.
What happens if I need to step away in the middle of data entry?
The DS160 will “time out” approximately 20 minutes after the application has been idle. The “time out” is designed to protect your privacy. If the application times out, all the data that has been entered will be lost. In order to guard against possible “time out” issues you should save the application at regular intervals while you are completing the application. To save the application, click the “Save” button at the bottom center of the application. Clicking save will temporarily save your application. In order to permanently save your application, select the “Save Application to File” button. Then, click the “Save” button on the File Download window. Identify a place on your computer to save the application file, browse to that location, and click the “Save” button on the Save As window. The system will download your application to the specified location. Once the download is complete you can click “Close” to return to the application. You can then use the “Import Application Date” option on the “Getting Started” page to upload the data that you have already entered.
STEP 3 Pay the visitor visa application fee
In order to ensure the proper amount is paid and activated in a timely manner, first create a profile at US visa Service website and choose the Schedule Appointment option. On the payment confirmation screen, you will be presented with payment options and further details of how to initiate payment. The fee is good for a year from the date of payment. You must take an appointment within a year for your visa interview.
At present the US visitor / tourist visa (B1/B2) visa fee is $160. The Visa fee must be paid before scheduling the US Visitor visa interview.
In order to ensure the proper amount is paid and activated in a timely manner, first create a profile at the Stanley website and choose the Schedule Appointment option. On the payment confirmation screen, you will be presented with payment options and further details of how to initiate payment. The fee is good for a year from the date of payment. You must take an appointment within a year for your visa interview.
Depending on the type of US visa you are applying for, the visa fee may be different.
All fees are non-refundable.
STEP 4 Take appointment for visa interview
After you pay the fees, you will have to schedule 2 appointments as part of the visitor visa process. The two-part appointment process consists of an appointment with one of the five Offsite Facilitation Center (OFC) to give Biometrics information that includes fingerprinting and photograph , and second an appointment with the Consulate or Embassy for a personal visa interview.
Take online visa appointment at offical website for US visa appointment.(www.ustraveldocs.com).
Setting up a visa appointment
· Visa interview appointment is required for those planning to obtain a visitor visa to USA. There will be 2 appointment needed. First one for Biometrics i.e. fingerprint & digital photograph at Visa Application Center (VAC) and the other one for the US visa interview at the applicable U.S. Embassy or Consulate. You must schedule the VAC appointment at least one day before the interview appointment date. You can schedule both appointments, either online using this website or through the call center.
· You can take appointment online at US visa online appointment system.
· You can also call center +13106165424 (USA local number) for any help with appointment
· Do not wait until the last minute to book your interview – you may not get your preferred date and time.
· Before setting up appointment, determine which US consulate you need to apply to.
· Check earliest available interview date.
· Check the visa wait times at a specific US consulate.
Documents required to schedule Visitor Visa Interview Appointment
· Passport valid for at least 6 months beyond the intended period of stay
· Visa application fee payment receipt
· DS-160 Form confirmation page
· E-mail address
STEP 5 Visitor Visa Fingerprinting at Visa Application Center (VAC)
After taking appointment with the consulate or embassy for personal interview, schedule the fingerprinting appointment at least a day or two before the interview at the consulate. earlier, the fingerprints were taken during the personal interview. But under the new rules you are required to give the Biometrics information at the VAC appointment. This measure has been introduced to reduce congestion at the US consular facilities and to speed up the applicant processing. Schedule the visa interview appointment at the Consulate or Embassy prior to the VAC appointment.
earlier the fingerprints were taken during the personal interview appointment. But according to the new rules, prior to your interview at the Consulate or Embassy, you are required to give the Biometrics information that includes fingerprints and photograph at one of the five Visa Application Center (VAC). The Visa Application Center are also know as Offsite Facilitation Centers (OFC). This program is also known as the “BioVisa” (Biometric Visa) program. No additional fee will be charged for this appointment as it is already included in the application fee. You can schedule an VAC appointment at any of the five centers; but applicants usually prefer to have both the VAC and personal interview appointment in the same city.
You can take the appointment online through: http://www.ustraveldocs.com
You should plan ahead for this appointment. You cannot have the appointments with the VAC and the consulate on the same day. A minimum one-day gap is required between the two appointments. You are asked to arrive 15 minutes early to the appointment; no earlier than that.
Ink-free digital imprints of all your ten fingers will be taken at the Visitor Visa fingerprinting appointment. First, a digital scan of the four fingers from your left hand and then the four fingers from the right hand will be taken. Finally, a digital scan of the two thumbs will be taken. Injury or cut on your finger does not qualify you for a fingerprinting waiver. You might be asked to take another appointment after the finger is healed. Without all the ten digital imprints, your application will be deemed incomplete. These fingerprints are taken for a valid reason. When you arrive at the port of entry in US, you will again give your fingerprints. These fingerprints are compared to your fingerprints taken back at the Visa Application Center to determine the genuineness of your identity.
In addition to the fingerprints, the officer will take a digital photo of your face for their records. Children under 7 are required to bring a hard copy, not a digital copy of their photograph. In addition to the photograph in the DS-160 form, this photograph is taken as a proof that you were present in person for the VAC appointment. At your interview at the consulate, the consular officer will refer to this photograph during your interview.
Waivers and Exemptions
Children under 14 and adults over the age of 79 are not required to provide fingerprinting. The consulate has specific rules and regulations to waive fingerprinting requirement for applicants with specific cases like permanent abnormality on the fingers, burnt fingers, scarred fingers, permanent handicap like one hand, etc. To gather information about such specific cases please refer to the following page:
Step 6. Go for visa interview at designated US consulate
On the day and time of your appointment for interview, go to the consulate where your interview is scheduled. Carry all mandatory and supporting documents and originals.
Carry the following to your interview:
· Your passport (and your old passports if any)
· Your photograph
· The DS160 Confirmation page stamped at the VAC.
· Visa application fee receipts (if applying at a US consulate in India)
· Interview Appointment letter
· Supporting documents.
Visitor visa interview
The interviewer will be behind a glass window, and you will be able to speak through a microphone on the glass window. You will be able to hear the interviewer through a speaker, which is also on the glass window. A slot below the window will let you exchange documents with the interviewer.
The interviewer may ask questions and verify your documents. Answer truthfully and confidently. Answer only the questions you are asked. Do not provide more information than you are asked, and do not present any documents that you are not asked to. The primary goal of the interview is to verify all information presented in the application and to make sure that you qualify for the desired Commonly asked questions during USA visitor visa interview. These sample questions and answers will help visitor visa applicants, especially parents, applying for B2 visa.
Q: Why are you going to the US?
A: “I am going to visit my son/daughter and for tourism purposes.”
Q: Have you been to the U.S. before?
A: Give the true answer Yes or No.
Note: The consulate can check to confirm this answer.
Q: Do you have relatives in the US? If yes, who?
A: Give the true answer Yes or No. “My son/daughter lives there.” If you have other relatives in the U.S. mention them.
Note: Do not give details of other relatives unless they ask first.
Q: Who is going to sponsor your visit?
A: “My son/daughter is going to sponsor my visit.”
Q: Where will you stay in the US?
A: “We will stay at XYZ Street, ABC City, PQ State, 1234 Zip code.”
Note: Memorize the address. It should correspond to the one on your visa application.
Q: What does your son/daughter do for a living?
A: “My son/daughter is a designation for name of company.”
Note: Memorize the designation and name of company. Show proof of employment and other employment-related papers at this point, ONLY if asked.
Q: How much does your son/daughter earn?
A: Give the true answer. “My son/daughter earns $ ___ annually.”
Note: Carry financial documents to support your answers. Your answer must correspond with the amount given in the visa application.
Q: Where does your son/daughter work?
A: “My son/daughter works for name of company.”
Note: Memorize the name of the company.
Q: What does your son/daughter-in-law do?
A: Give the true answer. “My son/daughter-in-law works for ____ company or is a home maker or studies at ___ University.”
Note: Mention that they study only if they are on F1 or student visa. If they are on H4 dependent visa, then don’t say that they are studying.
Q: Who is paying for your son/daughter-in-law’s studies?
A: “My son/daughter is paying for his/her studies. He is able to pay for all our expenses over and above the expenses of his/her wife/husband’s studies.”
Note: Make sure your documents show clearly that it is possible for your son/daughter to pay for the studies as well as your visit.
Q: How long has your son/daughter been in the US?
A: “My son/daughter has lived in the US for number of years.”
Q: Which visa is your son/daughter and son/daughter-in-law on?
A: “My son/daughter is on name/number of visa (for example H1) visa. My son/daughter-in-law is on name/number of visa, for example H4/dependant visa.”
Note: Memorize name and number of visa.
Q: Did your son/daughter study in the US? Where?
A: Give the true Answer, Yes or No. If yes, give details of university etc.
Note: Be prepared with details about university, what degree they studied etc.
Q: What visa did your son/daughter enter the U.S. on?
A: Give the true Answer. For example, if they came on a student visa and later changed to work visa, say so.
Note: The consulate can check to confirm this Answer, so always tell the truth.
Q: Is your son/daughter married?
A: Give the true Answer, Yes or No
Q: Does your son/daughter have any children?
A: Give the correct Answer
Q: Is your daughter/daughter-in-law pregnant?
A: “No, she is not.”
Q: Will your wife/husband accompany you on your trip?
A: Give the true Answer. “Yes, my wife/husband will accompany me.”
Q: If only one person is traveling to the U.S. then they may ask: Why are you traveling alone? OR Why isn’t your husband/wife accompanying you?
A: If you are a widower/widow, say so. Otherwise give the reason for your solo visit. “My husband is unable to get leave to go to the U.S.”
Q: When do you plan to travel?
A: “We plan to travel in name of month.”
Q: Why do you want to travel at that time?
A: “My son/daughter has arranged for leave from work during that period. They will be able to show us around then.” If the trip is in spring/summer, you can say “We want to visit during summer as the weather will be suitable for us and we have heard that everything is beautiful at that time of the year” If visiting in fall/winter, say “We want to visit at that time because we want to see the fall colors and snow.”
Note: Make sure you are aware of what is good to see at the time of your visit.
Q: What are you going to do in the US?
A: “We are going to travel/visit the interesting places there like: (give some names of famous tourist spots) Disneyland, Niagara Falls, Washington D.C, Las Vegas and spend time with our son/daughter and son/daughter-in-law.”
Note: Make sure this answer corresponds with the answer for the previous question.
Q: What is the purpose of your trip?
A: “We are going for pleasure and tourism, to see some of the interesting places in the US and to spend time with our son/daughter (and son/daughter-in-law).”
Q: Have you blocked your tickets?
A: “Yes, we have.”
Q: Do you have return air tickets, medical insurance etc.
A: “Our son/daughter will arrange for that after our visa is approved.”
Q: How much expense do you expect from this trip?
A: “My son/daughter will be sponsoring this visit.”
Note: Never say that you can put up some/part/all of the money.
Q: Have you been outside of the country before?
A: Give the true answer Yes or No.
Note: If you have been outside the country before, be prepared to answer questions about your previous visits.
Q: Is this your first visit to US?
A: Give the true answer Yes or No.
Note: The consulate can check to confirm your answer, tell the truth. If you have visited U.S. before, be prepared to answer questions about your previous visits.
Q: What places do you want to visit?
A: “We want to visit give names of interesting and famous U.S. tourist attractions like Disneyland, Las Vegas, Niagara Falls, Washington D.C etc.”
Q: How long will you stay in the US?
A: “We want to stay for number of months, for example six in the U.S.”
Q: Can’t you finish your visit earlier? Why do you want to stay for so long?
A: “There is a lot to see in the US and at our age we cannot do it all in a hurry. We would also like to see fall foliage towards the end of our visit (if going in summer). If we stay for six months, we will be able to do sightseeing and spend time with our son/daughter (and son/daughter-in-law). But a shorter visa will be acceptable if you think it is appropriate.”
Note: Say the last sentence about the shorter visit only if you think that they might refuse.
Q: What is the guarantee that you will come back?
A: “I have family and property here in India, so I will definitely come back.” Give all the reasons. If you have other children and grandchildren in (country you live in) definitely mention that. If you have a job or run a business, mention it. Definitely mention if there is someone who is dependant on you in (country you live in) (like younger child or old parents etc.)
Note: Be prepared for this question. Have papers (property; financial) to prove it. Carry photographs of grand kids
Q: When did you last see your son/daughter?
A: “We met out son/daughter when he/she/they last visited us in month and year.”
Note: Consulate can check to confirm this answer.
Q: When did your son/daughter last visit (country you are living in)?
A: “My son/daughter last visited _____________________ in month and year.”
Note: Consulate can check to confirm this answer.
Q: When does your son/daughter plan to visit next?
A: “My son/daughter may visit late next year or maybe even later than that. They have no fixed plan right now.”
Note: Don’t say that they will visit in the same year otherwise the Visa Officer might say that you can meet them then.
Q: When did your son/daughter go to US?
A: “My son/daughter went to US in month and year.”
Q: What work do you do and where?
A: Give the correct answer. If you are retired, say so.
Q: What is your job profile?
A: Give job details, responsibilities etc.
Q: How much do you earn/ What is your annual income?
A: Give true answer and details.
Note: Carry financial documents to support your answers.
Q: If you are working, you may be asked: Did you take leave?
A: “Yes, I have accumulated six months? leave over the past years.”
Note: Show leave certificate.
Q: Your income is not enough to support international travel. What do you plan to do?
A: “My son/daughter is sponsoring my visit. He/she will take care of all my expenses for this trip.”
Note: Carry appropriate documents.
Q: If you run a business, you may be asked: Who will look after your business in your absence?
A: “I have arranged for __________________person to take care of my business in my absence” OR “My partner will take care of it.”
Q: When did you retire?
A: Give the true answer. “I retired in month and year.”
Q: How much pension do you get?
A: Give the true answer. “I get ____________ pension annually.”
Q: What assets/property do you have in this country?
A: “I have whatever property/assets you have, for example a house or two shops, etc. in India.”
Note: If you have property or immovable assets in country, do mention them during the interview – it will be seen as a reason to return.
Q: Who will take care of your property while you are gone?
A: “We have made arrangements with relatives/friends to take care of our property for the duration of our visit to U.S.”
Q: Can I see your Business/visiting card?
A: If you have a card, show it. If not, say you don’t have one.
Q: Do you have a credit card?
A: Give the true answer, Yes or No. If yes, show it.
Q: Will you work in the US?
A: “No, I am going for tourism and sightseeing. I have no intentions or reasons to work in the U.S.”
Q: How many children do you have ? And where are they? What do they do? Are they married?
A: Give the true answer, “I have ___ children. My other son/daughter is married. He/she lives in India and they have a son/daughter.”
Note: Definitely mention if your other child lives in India and has children.
Q: What is your son/daughter’s birth date?
A: Give the correct answer.
Q: When is your son/daughter’s wedding anniversary?
A: Give the correct answer.
Note: You might want to carry a few wedding pictures.
Q: Can you tell me your son/daughter’s contact details?
A: Give phone number and e-mail address.
Note: Memorize these. Make sure your answers correspond with details given on visa documents.
Q: Show me your documents OR Has your son/daughter sent any documents?
A: Show documents.
· Fill all the forms/applications neatly and completely.
· Know what you have filled in the form, esp if you have taken guidance from others. Frequently, elderly people who apply for visa do not know what they have written in the application form because the sponsor fills the application for them.
· Answer the questions in the form truthfully.
· If getting copies of documents, ensure that the copies are readable.
· Verify that the names, date of birth, etc, are matching with the information in your passport.
· Organize your documents in proper logical order. A well organized and orderly set of documents will make it easier for you to find the right documents quickly during the interview, so you will not get nervous