A Complete Guide On How To Schedule A US Visa Appointment

Written By: Nikhita Rathod

Aug 10, 2022

15 min read

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Visa Appointments

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Visa Appointments

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A US visa interview is a must for most foreign citizens to get their visa approved. You will have to schedule and go for a visa interview for a nonimmigrant visa, such as a tourist visa.

The first thing you should know about US visa interviews is that the US government interviews every applicant as a potential immigrant during the nonimmigrant visa application process. The applicant must convince the consular officer otherwise and prove that they will return to their home country. In addition, you must conduct the consular officer that you do not wish to stay longer than the validity of their visitor visa.

If you wish to visit your friends and family members living in another country and need a visa. Then you can apply for your tourist visa in a few easy steps and in a hassle-free way on Atlys.

Let us talk in-depth about the US visa appointment, how to get one, and all the nitty-gritty:

Can I Get US Visa Without An Interview?

Most people that wish to apply for an immigrant visa must go for an interview. However, there are certain cases when you can get a US visa without attending an in-person interview at the US Consulate. You can have your US visa appointment waived by calling the US Embassy Visa Application Center (VAC), the National Visa Center (NVC), or choosing an option on the online portal.

But this does not apply to all citizens from all foreign countries. You must first meet the eligibility to have your visa interview waived in addition to applying for a specific visa. Other factors that play a role are the age and even the country you are applying from.

Let us have a look at the conditions for a US visa interview waiver:

  • You are a citizen or national of a Visa Waiver Program country applying for a visitor visa
  • You must be applying for an A-1, A-2, C-2, C-3, G-1, G-2, G-3, or G-4 visa
  • You are a child under 14 years or a senior citizen over 79 years
  • You are applying for a visa renewal with the same classification for a Border Crossing Card, B-1/B-2, C-1/D, F, J, M, or O visa
  • Citizens of most countries cannot be exempted from a US visa interview for a nonimmigrant visa.
  • A citizen or national of a Visa Waiver Program country cannot get a US visa interview waiver for all visa types. They cannot get an interview waived when applying for a student/exchange visa or other nonimmigrant visas.
  • Applicants for E-3, T, U, H-1, or blanket L-1 visas can not get a visa appointment waiver and must make a visa interview appointment

To get your visa interview appointment waived, you will have to contact the NVC or the US Embassy VAC in your country.

What Are The Steps To Getting A US Visa?

We will primarily focus on the steps to getting a nonimmigrant visa for the purpose of this blog. An applicant can complete the visa application online. You might need your supporting documents to fill out the form on the website. You need to have a digital photograph to upload online and visa application fees.

You must take the following steps to get your US visitor visa:

  • First and foremost, you must gather all your required documents such as your valid passport, passport photograph, visa application fee, and other supporting documents such as your travel itinerary.
  • You must choose the correct visa category for your visa application. After completing your visa application form, you must pay the relevant visa application fees online.
  • The next step would be to schedule your visa appointment date and choose the US embassy near you for your interview.
  • You might also need to schedule a biometrics appointment.
  • Once you have scheduled your appointment date, you must attend the in-person interview.
  • After you have passed your interview, you must collect your passport with the visa.

Additionally, suppose you are applying for a nonimmigrant visa. In that case, you will be required to schedule a biometric appointment and a medical examination.

How Do I Schedule A US Visa Interview?

The first step toward making the US visa appointment is filling out the [Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application or DS-160)(https://ceac.state.gov/genniv/). Next, you must complete your online form and complete the necessary steps, including uploading the required information about your travel and paying the visa application fees.

Once you have carried out the required steps, the US Embassy Visa Application Center (VAC) will process your visa application form. The visa processing can take a few days or a few weeks depending on the visa category you applied for, the country you are applying and the purpose of the visa.

After the VAC completes the visa processing, they will contact you to make an appointment for your visa interview or biometrics. You might be required to make two different appointments for biometrics and a visa interview. It will depend on the country and visa category, and the VAC will advise you accordingly. In the case that you can have the biometrics done on the visa appointment date, then you do not need to make two different appointments.

You can make the appointment by calling or contacting the US EMbassy or VAC in your country. You can also make an appointment online by visiting theOfficial US Department of State Visa Appointment Service.

The visa application process can be lengthier for immigrant visas and requires different steps. The scheduling of the interview visa will depend on the National Visa Center (NVC). The NVC will organize the scheduling of your fingerprint and appointment for a visa interview. However, it is crucial that you check this requirement in the country you are applying from, as it differs in some countries.

How To Schedule My US Visa Biometrics Appointment?

Many visa applicants require to schedule an appointment for their biometrics but not all visa applicants. Therefore, if the visa category you applied for requires biometrics and you failed to book an appointment, your visa can be rejected. However, applicants from certain countries or specific visas need to make an appointment for biometrics.

A biometric is an individual’s physical characteristics captured to verify the person’s identity and check against other entries in the database. It is necessary in many cases because it assists the US government in enforcing legitimate travel by international visitors while maintaining the integrity and security at the borders. A biometric may include fingerprints, an iris scan, and a digital photograph of the applicant.

In some countries, applicants need to schedule a biometric appointment with the receipt number after making the online visa payment. For most nonimmigrant visas in other countries, the applicant’s biometrics might be taken on the visa interview date. Additionally, applicants that are younger than the age of 14 and over 79 years do not need to provide their fingerprints. As mentioned earlier, not all visa types need a biometric appointment.

After you have made the payment, you will be contacted regarding whether you qualify for a biometric appointment. If you are not contacted or do not qualify for a biometric appointment, you must schedule a regular interview date. After you have completed all the fields and created a password on the online portal, you will be able to see on the dashboard if you have qualified for the biometric. Once the “Schedule a Biometrics Appointment” tab is visible, you must click on it and make your appointment.

You must bring a printed copy of your appointment letter, your DS-160 confirmation page, one photograph taken within the last six months, and your current passport for your biometric appointment. In addition, if you are renewing your visa, you must bring your previous passport that contains your US Visa. In case you do not carry these items, you might not get the visa approved or accepted for biometrics.

Note that visa categories A-1, A-2, G-1, G-2, G-3, G-4, C-3, and NATO applicants are exempted from the fingerprint scan requirement.

Do I Need A Medical Exam For A US Visa Interview?

Applicants do not need a medical exam for some nonimmigrant visas, visitor visas, or short-term stays. For example, citizens of countries with Visa Waiver Programs with the US do not require a medical examination. However, suppose you are applying for an immigrant visa or a long-term visa. In that case, you will be required to get a medical examination from an authorized physician in the county you are applying from.

You must always check the requirements for your visa application. If a medical examination is required for the visa category you are applying for. Remember to do the medical examination at least 7 days before your interview date and by a physician accredited by the US Embassy. In your country, you can look for an authorized physician on the US Embassy website.

What Documents Are Needed For US Medical Examination?

For your medical examination, you will have to carry a few documents with you to your appointment. These documents could be current or past medical records, illnesses, or vaccinations. Here is a list of documents that would be helpful to bring with you for your medical examination:

  • A valid passport
  • Your visa appointment letter from the National Visa Center (NVC)
  • If you have changed your legal name, a document demonstrating the name change
  • 2 to 4 color passport photographs (depends on the country)
  • If you wear glasses, you must bring the prescription
  • Vaccination cards or immunization certificates
  • If possible, women can bring proof of pelvic exam and pap- smear in the last 12 months
  • Medical prescription of medicines you are taking with the name, dosage, and frequency
  • Medical records of any current or past illnesses

What Medical Tests Are Needed For US Visa?

Several tests will be required for the medical examination. You must go through all of these medical exams, and the physician will hand the report to you in a sealed envelope. The medical tests that you will undergo are:

  • A physical examination for all applicants includes an analysis of the eyes, ears, nose, throat, extremities, heart, lungs, abdomen, lymph nodes, and skin.
  • A medical examination includes a medical history review, physical examination, chest X-ray, and blood tests for syphilis.
  • For applicants aged 2-14 years, the interferon-gamma release assay (IGRA) test
  • A chest x-ray for all adult applicants aged 15 and above. Additionally, if a child was exposed to TB cases or had a history of TB disease
  • For applicants 18 to 44 years, a syphilis test is required.
  • For applicants 18 to 44 years, a gonorrhea test is required.

What Must I Do With The US Medical Examination?

After your medical examination has concluded, you must make an appointment with the physician to collect your medical records. You must collect your medical report on the appointed date. The medical report will be in a sealed envelope, which you MUST NOT open. Remember to check whether you need to collect the results as physicians in some countries send the medical report straight to the US Embassy or Consulate.

You must bring the sealed medical report to your visa appointment and hand it to the US consular officer conducting your interview. You do not need to bring your chest X-rays for the interview; however, you must carry them on your flight to the US. This is because the US Homeland Security and the US Customs and Border Protection officers might ask you for them at the port of entry.

The medical examination is valid for 6 months from the date conducted. However, if you have specific medical conditions, your medical examination report can expire in as little as 3 months. Additionally, you must also carry the medical report when you first travel to the US.

What Supporting Documents Do I Need For A US Visa Interview?

After making the visa appointment and completing your biometric and medical examination, you need to prepare for your actual visa interview. It is vital that you are well prepared and have all the required documents for the visa interview.

Remember that the documents mentioned below are the basic documents. Depending on the type of visa you applied for, the supporting documents might change. Different supporting documents might be required for each visa case, and you must check for them with the US embassy in your country. It would be beneficial for the visa interview to take all the documents you think will help your visa application process. The documents that you must carry with you on your visa interview date are:

  • A valid passport (same as used for the application).
  • The visa application fee payment receipt number.
  • The DS-160 confirmation page.
  • Confirmation page from the Form DS-260 Application for an Immigrant Visa email address.
  • Your original birth certificate and a photocopy.
  • Other supporting documents, based on the visa category you applied for.
  • US letter of invitation if applicable.
  • Your email address.

What Is The US Visa Interview Wait Time?

The US Embassies or Consulates get hundreds of thousands of visa applications each year. However, the US Embassy or Consulate provide the estimated wait times on their official websites.

The estimated times do not guarantee the availability of an appointment in the time frame, especially with the coronavirus pandemic.

Additionally, the visa processing also depends on the number of applications received and the staffing available to handle the applications. However, it is advised that you book an appointment for your visa interview as soon as possible. Early booking will ensure that you get the date and time for the visa appointment you want.

Another thing to note is that the visa processing time could be three days on the website. However, it depends on the types of visa, the specific visa case, and the circumstances surrounding the visa application. For nonimmigrant visa applicants, it is advised that they make a booking three months in advance of their intended travel date.

You also remember that the processing time for the visa application does not include receiving the passports and the documents or returning them via courier services. Generally, applicants are advised to wait at least 180 days from the interview date or submission of supplemental documents except in case of an emergency.

What Can I Expect At A US Visa Interview?

The wait time is over; after your visa application is processed and approved for the next step, you will be asked to schedule the visa interview appointment. You will be required to be present for the interview and pass it to get your visa approved.

Understandably, many things would be running through your mind before the interview. However, the following questions will help you understand the interview process better and ease your mind.

When Should I Reach The Visa Application Center For My Interview?

For the interview, it is advised that you reach the premises 15 minutes before your interview and not longer than that. You do not have to come to the VAC an hour early. You should stay hydrated and eat a meal before your interview. It is also normal to be nervous for your interview, and the interviewer would know about the nervousness.

What Should I Wear For The US Visa Interview?

You do not have to be overly formal for the US visa interview. You can wear something comfortable and semi-formal that would make an excellent first impression. However, wearing a formal dress, shirt, tie, and jacket is always appropriate.

What Happens At The US Visa Interview?

Upon entering the premise, you will be first subjected to a full-body scan and then guided to have your fingerprints scanned. Next, you will be directed to the interview room by the consular officer. Here you can expect to be asked a few questions about the purpose of the visit. Remember that all consular officers expect you to be a potential immigrant. Therefore, it would be best to answer the question to convince the consular officer that you have strong ties to your home country and will be returning.

What Happens After The US Visa Interview?

After completing the interview with the consular officer, you will learn about the outcome. If you have passed the visa interview, you will be granted a visa to the US. However, in case the visa is denied, you will not receive a visa and could be subjected to further administrative processing.

Once your visa is approved, you will receive your visa in your passport or a sealed packet containing documents. You must present the visa or the sealed package to the US Customs and Border Protection at a port of entry.

Can I Reschedule My US Visa Interview?

Usually, the applicant does not reschedule the US visa interviews because of the wait times and availability. However, rescheduling the visa interview is not unheard of. You must reschedule your visa interview date at least three working days prior to your appointment date.

You can reschedule a nonimmigrant visa appointment by calling the VAC or changing the date and time online. To reschedule, you must provide a valid reason for the US Embassy to take it into account.

You can reschedule an immigrant visa appointment by providing the NVC with your case number or application number. You will also need to explain why you wish to reschedule and provide them with an alternate time and date for the interview. You must remember that rescheduling will move your appointment further. Meaning the visa process will take much longer to get approved.

However, you can only reschedule twice in certain countries, excluding the original interview appointment to accommodate other applicants’ requests. After the initial appointment, the applicant can change the interview dates twice. Additionally, the applicant can only reschedule a new date after waiting 90 days following the second rescheduling attempt.

If you have any other questions or want to read more articles on the US, check out our US country page on Atlys.

Hopefully, this blog prepared you for your visa interview and gave you a snippet of what to expect. You are now ready for your visa appointment. Good luck!

Happy Traveling!

Frequently Asked Questions

Which US Visa Do I Apply, To Visit The US?

To visit friends or family who are US permanent residents or US citizens for tourism or business purposes, you can apply for a B1 visa, a B2 visa, or a combination of B1/B2 visas. In addition, you can check for other visa types here.

How Long Is A US Visa Interview?

The US visa interview is usually between 3-5 minutes, and it is a conversation and not a document review.

What If I Am Late For A US Visa Interview?

If you are late for the US visa interview and there are no other applicants, the VAC will cancel your interview. You will have to look for a new visa interview date and book a visa appointment.

What If I Do Not Attend My US Visa Interview?

If you do not attend your interview, the VAC can cancel your visa application, and you will not receive a refund for the visa application. Therefore, it is advised that you change the interview dates at least three working days before your appointment date.

Can I Cancel My US Visa Interview?

You can call the VAC or NVC to cancel the US visa interview by providing them with a valid reason.

What If I Canceled My US Visa Interview?

You can cancel your current US visa interview. However, the US Embassy or Consulate will not refund you the visa application fee.

Are There Restrictions To Rescheduling My US Visa Interview?

You can only reschedule the US visa interview twice after the first visa appointment in some countries. After the second rescheduling attempt is canceled, an applicant will only be allowed to reschedule a new date after a waiting period of 90 days.

How to Request an Expedited Appointment?

Applicants can request an emergency appointment or expedited appointment in case of serious illnesses, injuries, or deaths in their immediate family. You can make an expedited appointment online by visiting the US travel docs website. You will receive the approval for the interview via email, guiding you on the next steps. However, you must remember that the expedited appointment slots are limited, and getting an appointment can be difficult. And in case you do not receive an email with the approval, it means that your request has been denied.

What Is A US Visa Interview Waiver?

Specific visa categories are eligible for a US visa appointment waiver. This means the applicant does not have to go for an in-person interview to be able to get their visa. You can get an interview waiver by contacting the VAC or NVC in the country where you are applying for the visa.

Do I Pay Us Visa Interview Fees?

You will pay the visa processing and interview fees depending on the visa you applied for. For more information, you can visit the US travel docs website.

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