US Visitor Visa – Some Tips

So I have been writing sporadically of my vacation (all in my drafts) and I realized that the first step to this is the Visa also known to be a significant part of nightmares and fantasies of many a traveler! There is the “horror” and the “weird” in so many visa stories. I had my share of experiences during the process (the actual interview went amazingly well!!), So thought of sharing some of them – maybe they can help someone.

Note: These are suggestions – I am no expert and neither do I have any authority or influence or profits or anything. No one is sponsoring this post including the websites mentioned.

This will be applicable mainly to Indian citizens.

  1. The US Embassy website is your Bible. Everything is there! Take note of the process and understand every aspect of it. A small mistake can cost you.
  2. immihelp was a great great source of information and guidance for me. Visit their website where they have kept things as lucid for curious and ignorant cats like us.
  3. I went for tourist visa (B1/B2). So I filled up the DS-160 form, paid the visa fees and landed up for the two-day process in Mumbai which includes biometrics on Day 1 and the actual interview on Day 2.
  4. Fill out the DS-160 form accurately. Do not lie! Make sure you have documents backing every claim you make. The name field is very important. Fill in the name exactly like it appears on the passport including the middle name. The actual form doesn’t have the middle name field – but you still have to enter it. For example, if your name is Yummy Gummy Bear (with Gummy being your middle name), enter your name as Yummy Gummy. If passport has no middle name, then yay!
  5. Enter the unique code during the visa fees payment exactly as it comes, especially if you are paying through net banking – it is the main thing with which they will identify your payment with the application. Mine got activated a week after I paid after making calls and providing them with details. I am not sure how I messed up the code – but I did.
  6. You schedule the appointment once the fees receipt reflects on your page. Plan it well in advance!
  7. Carry passport size photographs (even though it is rarely needed) and all previous passports with you.
  8. You can change your DS-160 form even after appointment! They are two separate things. So if you feel you have messed up your form – you can still change and re-submit the form. At Mumbai, I realized I had made the name mistake while I was in the line for biometrics! At least then, there was a VFS(?) center where they provide you with a system to make any corrections – the staff is really good. FYI, there was a line for name correction – I was not the only one who made the mistake 😛
  9. Reach before time!! Mumbai got crazily flooded on the day of the interview. By sheer luck they admitted me even though I got late – I do not expect that to happen again.
  10. Now this is something I saw happen to another guy – If you are going by your own car and do not have anyone waiting for you then find a safe place for your electronic key. For security reasons, they do not allow any electronics in the premises which includes the car keys.

This is it for now. I will keep updating as and when I remember. I do not have any interview tips except to keep calm, smile and be prepared to back your claim. They are smart and experienced and have a reason to ask difficult questions if required.

Good luck!

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15 thoughts on “US Visitor Visa – Some Tips

  1. Thank you for putting this up. This might come in handy for someone someday.
    I am in US and have been to interviews for work visa 4 times in New Delhi and luckily got it approved all times…the key is to be honest with everything!

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  2. Prajakta,
    These tips and even more, the experiences are so valuable- thanks for sharing – especially the one with the electronic keys. This happened with me recently during my IELTS exam too. No e-keys allowed. Everything taken off before the exam.
    For my US visa application ( visitor), I filled up the form online and then got an appointment.
    On the day of the appointment, I went to the embassy, where I went through 3 different physical tests. Like physical exercises. Then I was let in. There there was another security check to get into the actual building. And imagine my surprise when after all this, all I was allowed to meet was the clerk at the counter. I thought I would be meeting some high-up official.:)
    Then when my number appeared on the electronic number system, I walked to my cubby-hole and peeped at a clerk, who peeked at me through the small hole and asked me questions like :
    1. Why are you going to the US ?
    2. Do you have family there ?
    3. Will you come back ?
    4. Do you plan to stay there for long ?
    5. How long ?
    6. Do you have enough money in your back account ( a certain sum- I am not sure , how much, now )
    7. Show proof with your bank statements of the past 6 months.
    8. Show proof of where you will be staying in the US
    9. Give one contact number for someone who will vouch for you in the US.
    By this time, I was finding these questions quite funny. Maybe I was on the verge of hysteria here.
    Finally, after about 15 minutes, the questioning completed, I was given an appointment date to come back and find out if my application had made the mark or was rejected.
    Three or four days later, I returned to find that my application was accepted and I was given a 10 year multi-entry visa.
    It is an experience of a life time, Prajakta.
    Susie

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  3. Please travel to other places, Prajakta! As a native-born American citizen, I found the process as you described it to be arduous but at the same time user-friendly, kind of like the most beautiful parts of the US. Would really appreciate description of process to visit other countries as basis of comparison

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    • I am looking at Europe next – but I have heard overall the process is simpler compared to USA. Also, there are many countries in Asia that give visa on arrival – so perhaps you can check which ones you are eligible for given your nationality 🙂

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