The average US visitor visa interview is all of three minutes long. During that short time, the embassy or consular officer will quickly look through supporting documentation, conduct the interview, and ultimately decide whether or not to issue you the visa.
So, how do you give yourself the best chance of visitor visa approval at US consulates in India? How can you prove in those few minutes that you’re an ideal candidate to travel to the US as a tourist? Let’s dive in and find out.
Honesty is Key
Never lie during your US tourist visa interview. The consular officer has access to a wealth of personal information about you. If you aren’t telling the truth, they will probably know it, and will likely deny your visa application.
For instance, let’s say you traveled to the US 15 years ago and overstayed your tourist visa by a few weeks. You might feel inclined to lie and tell the consular officer that you’ve never been to the US, or neglect to mention the overstay. Doing this will only hurt your chances.
Instead, be honest. Mention that you did overstay, and succinctly state the reason for it. It’s unlikely that a small infraction from many years ago will impact your chances of getting a visitor visa now, and lying is almost certain to result in a visa denial.
Or, maybe you tried to get sponsored for an H-1B visa a few years ago and were unsuccessful. Think you shouldn’t mention it because it might infer that you’re trying to move to the US? Wrong. It is always best to be honest.
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No Applicant is Perfect, and That is OK
An ideal Indian candidate for a US visitor visa is someone who has traveled a lot to other countries, has a stable job with a high income, owns property in India, has a lot of money in their bank account, and has family in India. They have ample money to support themselves in the US, yet plenty of reasons to return to India at the conclusion of their visit.
You are probably not that perfect candidate, and that is just fine. US consulates in India issue an average of over 700,000 tourist visas each year, and most of them aren’t to perfect candidates.
The key is to understand your weaknesses as a candidate, and anticipate questions related to those weaknesses.
For instance, if you’re currently unemployed and are planning to take a vacation to visit family in the US, understand how this could be a red flag to the consular officer. They know you have family in the US, and they know you don’t have a job that keeps you tied to India. From their perspective, you might have reason to want to remain in the US beyond when the visa allows it. You need to anticipate questions about this, and be ready to answer them truthfully.
It’s as Much About You as it Is Your Supporting Evidence
As we’ve mentioned, many visa interviews are just a few minutes long. While the consulate’s staff may perform a full audit of your supporting evidence and you should make sure it is sufficient and truthful, much of what determines your eligibility as an applicant comes from your interview.
Being nervous is normal and expected, but you still need to be prepared to answer questions truthfully.
Be ready to provide as many details as possible about your trip. Where are you staying? What attractions are you going to visit? Who is paying for the trip? What date do you plan to return?
Give answers that include all the necessary details, but don’t turn it into a story. If you’re most likely going to visit Niagara Falls with your sister, but might go to New York City first to visit your brother if he can make it there from Atlanta in time, just say you’re planning to stay in New York and want to visit Niagara Falls with your sister. If they ask for more details, be ready to provide them.
If you anticipate the questions that will likely be asked, answer them succinctly and truthfully, and keep calm during the interview, your chances of being approved for a US tourist visa will only increase.
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