This article will give you a detailed idea of what to expect at the US tourist visa interview and how to prepare for it. This article is composed assuming that the applicants are parents or parents-in-law of persons already in the US.
The visa interview has personal and consequently unpredictable factors involved in whether your visa application gets accepted or rejected.
Consular officers would really like to see applicants who are honest, stay for the authorized duration, and come back promptly after that. They would not want anyone to stay illegally in the US. Even though the US is a country of immigrants, it does not mean that anyone can enter the country with whatever reason.
Many people do not know the basic rules. Many people are not aware of the penalties for breaking the rules. If you get a business visa, it does not mean you can go to the USA and start your business over there. If you get a 10-year multiple entry visa, it does not mean that you can stay in the USA for 10 years. A 10-year multiple entry visa means you can go to the US anytime within the next 10 years. For each visit, your actual stay will be determined by the date stamped in your passport at the port of entry. It is usually for 6 months. You can extend your stay up to another 6 months.
US Tourist Visa Interview Tips
- Wear formal clothes as if for a formal business meeting. The interviewing officer will always be an American (the interpreter, if required, may be local). If possible, a man should wear a tie. Americans always appreciate formal attire, so they will not find you overdressed if you wear a tie.
- Arrive early. You don’t want to miss your interview just because you got stuck in traffic.
- Do not get nervous. Be confident. You will be more confident if you have prepared thoroughly. Smile when you meet the visa officer for the first time. Do not show signs of nervousness, such as flickering eyes or trembling fingers, as that could go against you. Look into the eyes of the officer while speaking.
- Each candidate should greet the officer with a smile and a “good morning” as soon as you enter the interview booth.
- Each candidate should have a confident posture and look at the interviewing officer straight in the eyes throughout the interview.
- Be confident in your answers, whatever you say. Make short, clear, and to-the-point replies, in a loud and clear voice. Do not tell anything that is irrelevant or not asked for. By mistake, you could give some unnecessary information that may lead to your rejection.
- Be polite, do not argue, and do not ask unnecessary or unrelated questions. Do not unnecessarily elaborate your responses as this may not work in your favor.
- Demonstrate respect in your language even if you do not feel this is being reciprocated.
- Often times you might not understand what the interviewing officer is saying because of his/her American accent and/or the microphone system. If you do not understand one of their sentences do not feel afraid to say, “Beg your pardon; I did not understand you.” If he/she repeats the question, and you still do not understand, that is not a problem; do not panic. Calmly and confidently say, “Sorry, sir/madam. I still did not understand you. Could you kindly repeat what you said?”
- If you speak English, it is preferable to have the interview in English so that you and the consular officer can understand each other. Interpreters mess up sometimes.
- Consular officers are very smart in their profession. They can figure out the true intentions of applicants most of the time because of their training and experience. Some of them may even know regional languages.
- Consular officers are fond of asking “What if…” type questions
Some examples are:
What would you do if you won the jackpot in a Las Vegas casino?
What if someone offers you a job in the US at a very high salary?
What if someone offers you a partnership in their business?
What if some beautiful woman proposes to you?
Consular officers may ask such questions to scrutinize the applicants. Do not give an answer immediately without thinking through it. If the officer suspects that your intention may be to stay in the US and/or work there, your visa may be rejected.
If you give answers, such as I will buy a house in the US and stay there after winning the jackpot, I will accept the job offer or partnership and start working, or get married to the beautiful US citizen girl and settle there, your visa will be rejected. When you are applying for a tourist visa, you are just supposed to tour the country and not just stay in the US forever because of one or another reason.
- Be honest during the interview and while preparing the documents. The consular officer is not your enemy and is just doing his/her duty.
- For every question asked, when you are saying your answer, you should be prepared to simultaneously put forth a document supporting your answer and refer to the document in your answer.
E.g. If the interviewer asks you what are your ties in your home country (for which you would return to your home country after your visit) and if one of the components for your answer is that your only grandchild is in the home country, then you should simultaneously present photographs of your grandchild and your family to the interviewer to strengthen your answer.
- The purpose of the tour should be for vacationing, visiting friends/family, or any other allowed activities.
- Always reply with correct answers. All data while applying for the visa and details of the answers given in your interview are computerized and maintained. If your visa is rejected once, you cannot be changing your details the next time you go for an interview.
- Your appearance should convey who you are. If you are a student, you should look like a student. If you are an executive, you should look like an executive. Your body language should convey friendliness, but that you are also serious about your goal.
- Mind your manners and refrain from unnecessary body movement.
Consular Officer Didn’t Look at the Documents
Many people complain that the visa officer neither asked any questions nor looked at any documents and rejected their application, which is not fair at all. It is not like that in reality. Visa officers are experts in their profession, and they are appointed in consulates in foreign countries after extensive training. Due to their vast experience, visa officers, many times, can figure out the true intentions of applicants just by looking at them. They can even figure out whether the information provided in the application and/or documents may be real or falsified. They do not need to talk to applicants in many cases. You may be surprised to know what things they may know, such as the value of property in a given area, income/income tax ratios, and many other things.
In rare cases, the interviewing officer might say that, “I can grant a visa to only one of you two.” Be prepared for this situation. Ideally, both of you would like to travel to the US together, or both of you would like to stay back in your home country together. While one of you would not want to travel alone to the US, you might as well take the visa for one person. It is better than having both of your visas rejected. This way at least it will be easier for one of you two to get a visa if/when you apply next time. Before going to the consulate, decide which one of you should get the visa if this situation occurs, and when the officer asks this question, confidently say, “In that case, you can give the visa to her,” or, “You can give a visa to me.” Be prepared to give a good reason for the choice made between you two if the officer asks about it.
If You Get the Visa:
Immediately go through all the information on the visa stamp very carefully. Make sure there are no typographical errors in your name, passport, number, date of birth, etc. written on the visa stamp. If there are any such errors, contact the visa application center to get it corrected. Even a small error is not tolerable as it can cause trouble later on and should be corrected as soon as possible.
If You Don’t Get the Visa:
- That’s not the end of the world! It doesn’t change anything in life. Things will continue to be as excellent as they were before.
- You did your best. The rejection was solely due to the decision of the interviewing officer.
- You can always apply a second time. That’s something to think about.
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