How to apply for a US visa: the official, step-by-step guide
Many consider the US visas one of the tougher visas to score. But is it really? Rob Batchelder, Consular Chief, US Consulate General Mumbai, shares this handy, step-by-step guide:
Some people believe that applying for a US visa must be difficult. Here at the US Mission to India, we try to make the process as straightforward as possible.
Briefly, the US visa application process consists of three parts:
- Register for an account online, fill out your visa application form, pay your visa fee, and schedule your visa appointments.
- Complete a Biometrics Collection Appointment at one of five Visa Application Centers (VAC) in India
- Complete the Consular Visa Interview in person at the US Embassy in New Delhi or one of four other US Consulates in India
Before your US visa interview:
- Plan ahead: Due to high demand for visa appointments in India, the US Embassy or Consulate near you may have a significant wait time for B1/B2 visa appointments. Be sure to begin your visa application process well in advance of any planned travel. Only in rare and urgent cases is the Embassy or Consulate able to accommodate requests for emergency or expedited appointments.
- Create an account online: The first step to getting a US visa is to visit our official website. This website allows you to fill out your application, learn how to pay visa fees, and schedule your visa appointments. It is available in Hindi and English. If you do not have one already, create an online profile on the website. Be sure to make a note of your username and password, since you will use this login to schedule all future visa appointments in India. You may also schedule individual and group appointments up to six months in advance. This website contains excellent information about the US visa process in India, including both the immigrant and nonimmigrant visa processes.
- Fill the form online: Once you have created an account, you should complete the DS-160 (visa application form) and pay the appropriate visa fee. You must complete the DS-160 online. Currently, applicants must complete this form in English. Complete Hindi instructions are available on the website to assist with completing the application. While completing the application, answer all the questions as best as you can and do not provide any false information. Next, you should determine the type of visa you want to apply for and the fee for that visa. There is a wide range of non-immigrant visa types for various purposes of travel, but tourists and business visitors normally require a B1/B2 visa for which the fee is $160 USD or the equivalent in INR. Note that all visa fees are non-refundable and non-transferable whether the visa is approved or not. There are several options for payment, including National Electronic Funds Transfer (NEFT), Immediate Payment Service (IMPS), or cash at designated bank branches throughout India. Be sure to take note of your payment receipt number, because you will need that information later to schedule your visa interview. Detailed and up to date information about each of these payment options is available here.
- Schedule your biometrics appointment and visa interview: After you have completed your DS-160 and paid the fee, you may schedule your Biometrics Collection Appointment and Visa Interview. You will need your payment receipt information and DS-160 confirmation page to finalize your appointments. On the website, you will be prompted to schedule a Biometrics Collection appointment at one of five Visa Application Centers (VAC), which are located close to the Embassy or Consulates. You must schedule your VAC appointment at least one day before your US visa interview. While scheduling your interview appointment, be sure to select the language you prefer for your interview. The languages available vary by Consulate location. For example, U.S. Consulate General Mumbai offers visa interviews in English, Hindi, Marathi, and Gujarati. Remember, it is to your advantage to select the language you are most comfortable using.
- Want to reschedule an appointment? If, for whatever reason, you later need to reschedule either of your appointment or passport return preferences, you may do this online by logging into your profile and updating your scheduling. The number of times you can reschedule is limited, so plan ahead when making your visa appointments.