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How to prepare for your US visa interview

Your forms are in. You’ve got your interview date — and questions. Here’s what you can expect.

Unfortunately, one person’s experience when interviewing with the US Consulate will differ from the next person’s. But you can increase your chances of success by preparing thoroughly and anticipating how to satisfy any concerns your interview officer may have about your forms or situation.

Other guides in this series

US visa application process | Choosing the right US visa

US visa interview questions to practice

Consider how you’d answer questions like:

  • Why do you want to travel to the US?
  • How long will you stay in the US?
  • Who is sponsoring you?
  • Do you have any close relatives in the US?
  • Have you bought your airline tickets?
  • What do you do in your home country?
  • How can you assure me that you’ll return home?
  • Who will take care of your house while you’re away?

Many immigrant resources publish anticipated questions that you can practice answering until you’re fully comfortable.

Questions you may be asked are wide ranging and can include details about your life in your home country, your family members here and abroad and your upcoming travel plans.

How to prepare for the day of your interview

If you’re between the ages of 15 and 79, you’re generally required to attend your interview in person.

You’ll arrive to the US Embassy or Consulate specified in your interview letter. Look up that specific location to study its specific preinterview instructions, if available.

You’ll also need to arrange courier services for the return of your passport and visa after your interview is complete.

If you don’t follow the directions exactly for your interview, your application could be delayed or denied.

What should I bring to my mandatory interview?

Every applicant must bring the following to their immigrant visa interview:

  • A copy of your appointment letter
  • Unexpired passport that is valid for six months after proposed entry date into US
  • Photocopy of the biographic page (name and photo) of your passport
  • Two color passport-sized photos
  • Form DS-260 confirmation page
  • Original birth certificate, an English translation and a photocopy
  • Medical exam results in a sealed envelope.

Additionally documents may be needed, such as:

  • Original marriage certificate if you are married
  • Original divorce certificate if you are divorced
  • Military records if you’ve ever served
  • Adoption papers if you were adopted
  • Court and criminal records if you’ve ever been convicted

Confirm additional required documentation that you may need to bring along.

You’ll also want to bring to the interview your spouse and any qualified unmarried children immigrating with you. All applicants that the US Consulate requires to participate will be named on the interview appointment letter you receive from the NVC.

If your spouse or unmarried children will be immigrating separately at later date, you are not required to bring them to the interview. They will be scheduled for a separate interview appointment. Your sponsor or petitioner is not required to attend.

Tips to perform well in your interview

  • Every word matters. While it can feel unfair, the US Consulate is free to consider everything you say and even your behavior during the interview when determining whether to approve your visa.
  • Respect is crucial. In general, it’s a good idea to show the utmost respect for every person you encounter during your interview.
  • Don’t rush. Wait to submit forms and documentation until you’re asked to. Answer all questions throughout with confidence. Say “please” and “thank you” when appropriate.
  • Expect to repeat yourself. Visa officers are trained to be skeptical about nearly everything you provide or say, so try not to take it personally if you’re asked about one facet of your life repeatedly until the officer is satisfied with your answer.

It may sound unbelievable after all the hoops you’ve jumped through, but by the end of the your visa interview, you will know whether your application is approved or denied.

What do I do if my visa is denied?

In the event that your visa is denied, you will be provided with information as to why the officer has found you ineligible to receive a visa.

If you are denied, do not get angry or defensive. Your response can be used against you if you pursue the process again in the future. Instead, thank the officer for his or her time and leave the building calmly.

A visa denial can be painful, so give yourself time to fully process this disappointing decision before moving on to next steps. Once you’re ready, visit the US Department of State’s Visa Denials page for more information.

After the interview: Plan your arrival to the US

Congratulations — you’re on your way to taking up study or work in the US. At the end of your interview, the US consular officer will give you information as to when your passport and visa will be delivered.

Once you’ve received your visa, you’ll need to move down a checklist of requirements that include paying further fees, obtaining required vaccinations and more.

For helpful tips on life in the US, opening bank accounts, studying in the US and more check out our guide page on moving to the United States.

Bottom line

Your visa interview with the US Consulate or Embassy is the payoff of all your hard work in following guidelines and forms to the letter. With a little patience and practice, you can avoid being caught off guard before, during and after this important last step in the process to obtaining your visa.

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