Millions of international travelers visit the United States of America every year for various reasons, including Indian citizens. But as many Indians know, the visa application process is not the easiest, nor is it simple.
There are many nuances to applying for a US Tourist Visa, and in this blog, I will simplify the entire visa application process for you. Let us start:
Do Indians Need A US Tourist Visa?
Most foreign nationals that wish to visit the US must apply for a relevant visa, including Indian citizens. An Indian passport holder that wishes to visit a friend or family or travel to the US for tourism purposes must apply for a US tourist visa from India.
There are several steps to getting your visa application approved for the US. And some of the steps include getting the correct documents, scheduling the interview, and the interview process, to name a few.
And yet, after going through all the steps, it does not guarantee you the US tourist visa for Indians. Hence, in this blog, I will cover everything you need to know about getting a US tourist visa from India to ensure that you understand the entire US visa application process thoroughly.
What Are The Types Of US Visitors Visa For Indians?
Indian citizens that wish to visit the US for tourism, travel, or business purposes must apply for a non-immigrant visa or a visit visa. This visitor visa must relate to the specific purpose of their visit. There are several types of immigrant and non-immigrant US visas available for Indian citizens.
The type of visas Indian citizens can apply for under tourist visas or non-immigrant visas are:
Category B1 Visa
If you wish to temporarily visit the USA for business, you can apply for a B1 visa. However, there are certain things you must remember about the visa, such as what activities are allowed with the B1 visa.
Activities that you can partake in the US with a B1 visa are:
- You can consult with business partners or associates
- You can attend business meetings, conventions, endeavors, or conferences
- OR attend scientific, educational, or professional conventions or conferences
- If you need to settle an estate
- If you need to negotiate a business contract
- If you have a domestic employee that would accompany you, then they can also apply for this visa type
Category B2 Visa
Similar to the B1 visa, you can apply for a category B2 visa that meets the specific purpose of your travel. For example, the B2 visa is primarily for tourism purposes such as:
- Travel or vacation in the US for tourism
- If you wish to visit friends and relatives in the USA
- If you wish to visit the USA for medical treatments or procedures
- If you wish to visit or participate in social events hosted by fraternal, social, or service organizations
- If you wish to attend or participate in unpaid musicals, sports, or similar events or contests
- To attend a recreational course of study that does not offer credit or a degree
Additionally, Indian citizens can also visit the US for a combination of B1 and B2 Visa purposes, for example, business meetings and tourism.
Other US Non-immigrant Visas
Other than the US tourist visa for Indians, there are several other types of non-immigrant visas (NIV) available for US travels, such as:
- Work visa types: H, L, O, P, Q
- Student visa types: F, M
- Exchange visitor visa type J
- Transit/ship crew visas types: C, D
- Religious worker visa type R
- Domestic employee visa type B-1
- Journalist and media type I
- The NIV processing fee is between USD 160 - USD 265
Understand that for the sake of this blog, we will primarily focus on the US Tourist Visa or B1 Visa.
Eligibility Criteria For A US Tourist Visa For Indians
Once you understand the difference between the US visitor visas available, it should be easy to decipher which category you must apply for. Though anyone that wishes to visit the US can apply for a US tourist visa in India, you must understand the eligibility criteria:
- You have a valid reason or a purpose for a visit to the US
- You only wish to stay in the US temporarily for a specific or limited period of time
- You have sufficient funds
- You must have all the required documents for the US tourist visa for Indians
- If you do not have the correct documentation, you will not get the visa
- You cannot provide fake or forged documents for US tourist visas for Indians
- You can only participate in activities allowed under the visa you wish to apply for
- You must have strong ties to your home country, i.e., India
- You must have the intention of coming back to the country
Documents Required For US Tourist Visa For Indians
The most critical step of getting a US tourist visa from India is getting all the correct required documents. A slight mistake in your documentation can result in your visa getting denied.
You would need to compile a file of the required documents that you would need for your online visa form and the US visa interview. The document that you MUST have for your US tourist visa application are:
- The confirmation page with the barcode for the US visa application form DS-160
- A valid passport for at least 6 months after you have left the US and carry your old passport
- Digital copies of your passport-size photographs that meet the photo requirements
- One 2 x 2-inch photograph (taken within the last six months)
- Printout of PAN card or Aadhar card if applicable
- Proof of sufficient funds such as bank statements with at least USD 266 for each day of your planned stay
- Proof of confirmation of your interview appointment
- Proof of visa application fees
Additional Documents For US Tourist Visa For Indians
Along with the required documents, you might have to provide additional documents that support the purpose of the visit. These documents would also help establish that you only wish to visit the US temporarily and will return to your home country.
Some of the supporting documents that you can add to your file to carry to the interview are:
- You travel itinerary such as proof of accommodation, flight tickets, etc.
- If you are visiting for medical purposes, you would need proof of medical condition or a letter of diagnosis from an approved doctor
- For medical purposes, you can also provide proof that you have appointments and arrangements for your treatment
- If your medical procedure is not paid, then you need proof of funds for your entire medical treatment and recovery.
- Travel insurance
- If applicable, an invitation letter
- Proof of the event you're visiting, such as tickets paid in full
- If you wish to visit graduation, a letter from the school or university
- If you have visited the US before, you can provide documentation on your prior travel or the visa copies
- You can provide proof that you have a strong connection to your home country and intention of returning, such as a job contract, lease, or property deed
- A letter that states your purpose of visit can be helpful
- Proof that you have never been convicted of any crime in the form of a criminal record
- Proof of employment such as your pay slips
- Proof of education for students such as report cards or proof of registration
How To Apply For US Tourist Visa From India
Applying for a US visa is lengthy, and the entire process can take months. There are several steps that you must follow before you can get your US tourist visa from India. Some of the steps are as follows:
Choose The US Visa Type
The first step toward getting a US tourist visa for Indians is determining the purpose of the visit. If you are visiting the US for short-term or temporary tourism or business purposes, you must apply for a B1/B2 visa.
However, there are several other non-immigrant visa types available that you can apply for. Different visa types would require relevant documents, and you must also check your eligibility.
You must gather all the necessary documents once you know which visa type you need.
To apply for your US tourist visa, you must fill out the online non-immigrant application form (DS-160). To fill out the form, you can only use Internet Explorer 11 or higher, Firefox, or Google Chrome 58 since Safari and Microsoft Edge are not supported.
Once you start the online application form, you will receive an Application ID which you must save as you will need it for your entire US visa application process. It looks like this:
As mentioned, once you decide which visa type you would like to apply for, you must gather your travel documents. It will be beneficial in providing accurate and correct information. Hence, as soon as you receive the documents, you must start compiling a file with all the necessary documents to help you with the application and the interview.
Hence, if the information you provided is not accurate or correct, your visa application can get denied, and you will have to start the entire application process again. The information that you will need to provide for the DS-160 is:
- Personal information
- Travel details such as where you will be staying and the person of contact or organization in the US
- If applicable, details on the person that will be traveling with you
- Previous US travel details, if applicable
- Your address and contact information
- Your work or educational details
- Your family details
- Your passport details
- Security and background details
Before you submit it, you must review it to ensure that the information is correct, and you can also print out the application form here. Once you have completed and reviewed the application form, you can Sign and Submit.
After submitting your DS-160 form, you will find your Confirmation of Submission, which you must save and print to add to your visa application file.
Additionally, once you have submitted the online DS-160 form, you will not be able to edit or modify it. Here is a guide that will assist you in filling out the online non-immigrant application form (DS-160).
Pay The US Tourist Visa Fees
After you have completed, reviewed, and submitted your application, you can pay your US tourist visa application fee online CGI Federal portal by creating an account. The application fee for Indian citizens applying for their US tourist visa is USD 160 or INR 12800.
Additionally, if Indian citizens do not wish to pay the US tourist visa fees online, they have numerous other payment options available. However, they will still need to create an account to print and carry the applicable US visa fee collection slip. Indian citizens can pay for their US tourist visa with:
- Demand Draft to the US Embassy/Consulate
- Credit card or Debit card
- Cash in Indian Rupees or Dollars at DRUK Bank, AXIS Bank, or Citibank
- National Electronic Funds Transfer (NEFT)
- Mobile Payments – IMPS
However, remember that you cannot pay your US tourist visa fee with a debit card or personal check. You must also keep the proof of payment in your file when you go for your visa interview. The US tourist visa fees are non-refundable.
If you are applying for a different visa, you can check the relevant fees here.
Schedule The US Visa Interview For Indian Citizens
After you have paid the visa fees, you must visit the CGI Federal portal to schedule your visa interview. Here you can choose the nearest state or city where you would like to go for an interview.
To make the appointment, you will need details such as your:
- Passport number
- Visa fee deposit reference number
- The barcode number on the DS-160 confirmation page
- You will also need to provide information on the visa type, personal data, dependents, document delivery location, and visa payment, and then you can schedule your appointment.
You will have to make two appointments, one at the visa application center or VAC and the second at the US Consulate General or Embassy. The VAC is appointed by the US government to collect biometric data, photos, and fingerprints of the US visa applicants before submission to the consular section. Whereas you will go for your visa interview at the US embassy/consulate.
Hence, you should make your VAC appointment at least 1 day before your consular visa interview. You must also print out your visa appointment letter.
For more information, read our detailed blog on how to schedule a US visa appointment.
Attend The US Visa Interview
Finding an interview date in India can be difficult due to the high volume of visa applications. However, you should not get discouraged and find the US visa interview slots nearest to you.
As I mentioned earlier, you might have to go for two visa interviews, one at the VAC and the other at the US consular. For the first interview at the VAC, you will provide your biometrics, fingerprints, and photographs.
And up until this point, you must gather all the required documents that you will need for the visa interview with the US government officials. At the interview, the US official will ask you questions regarding your trip, and you can provide them with relevant documents and information.
The main goal of the non-immigrant visa interview is to determine that the visa applicant does not wish to take permanent residence in the USA. And the applicant has strong ties to their home country and will return after their trip.
After your successful interview, you will submit your passport and documents to get your US tourist visa from India.
Track Your US Visa Application
You can travel your US visa application online on the online portal. Alternatively, you can also email or call to track your visa application at:
However, before you enquire about your visa application status via email or phone, remember that the visa processing time could take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. Therefore, it is advised that you wait at least days from the date of interview or submission of supplemental documents before you make an enquire.
US Visa Approval
Once your US visa is approved and ready for pick, you will be notified via the email address or the phone number you provided. YOu must pick up your passport within 14 working days of receiving the notification.
The passports that are not collected will be returned back to the embassy or consulate. Alternatively, you could pay INR 650 to deliver your passport via courier.
What Is The US Tourist Visa Validity For Indians?
The visa validity for each applicant may vary based on their merit and the visa application. However, visa applicants can be granted a visa for as long as a period of 10 years. It can be a single entry or a multiple entry visa, allowing the holder to stay in the US for up to 180 days.
However, there is no guarantee that all applicants will receive the same visa validity. You can check your visa validity on the visa sticker on your passport.
The US official in India would decide the length of your visa. Additionally, the immigration officer or border control officer at the US port of entry can determine whether you can stay the entire visa period in the country.
Can Indians Extend Their US Tourist Visa
Usually, Indian citizens are granted a US tourist visa for a stay of 1-6 months. However, you can request a visa extension for specific reasons you wish to extend your stay in the US. You must require the extension at least 45 days before the expiration of your visa.
To apply for an extension, you must meet the eligibility criteria and provide the necessary documents. Some of those documents are Form I-539, Form I-94, your valid passport, etc.
For more information on the US tourist visa extensions, visit the US Citizenship and Immigration Services website.
What Happens When I Land In The Us?
Once you land at one of the ports of entry in the US, you will need to have all the required documents with you. Then, you will start in the immigration queue, where a border control officer or immigration officer will ask for your passport.
They might ask you additional questions about your trip, like where you will stay or who you will meet. Of course, you must answer honestly and truthfully to all the questions and provide documents to support your claim.
Once the officer is satisfied, they will stamp the passport with an entry permit and allow you to enter the country. If the officer is unsatisfied, they have the right to deny you entry or the right to admission into the US. Also, remember that the US tourist visa does not guarantee or give you the right of admission into the US.
Learn more about the US immigartion on CBP website.
Can A US Tourist Visa From India Get Rejected?
To answer your question, yes, there are numerous reasons why your US tourist visa from India can get rejected. Some of those reasons are:
- You did not complete your DS-160 form
- You provided incorrect or fake information on your visa application form
- You did not pass your US visa interview
- You did not provide substantial proof that you will return back to India
- The interviewer was not convinced that you would leave the US
- You did not communicate properly
- You did not follow the steps
- You were previously removed from the US
- You have a criminal record
Can You Apply After Your US Visa Gets Rejected?
Though you can apply for a new US visa by starting over the entire visa application process, it is advised that you wait before you make a new visa application.
What Is Not Allowed On US Tourist Visa For Indians?
Once everything is done, and you have made your way into the US, there are some things you must not do with your US tourist visa. Things you are not legally allowed to do in the US are:
- Paid performances
- Work-related to press, radio, or any other information media
- Arriving as a crew member of an aircraft or ship
- Permanent residence
- Visitor visas are also not issued for birth tourism
And that is all, folks. I hope this extensive US tourist visa guide will help you through your application process. I wish you the best of luck with your US visa application.