USA Visa FAQ
Are you going to apply for a visa to the USA and are preparing for your interview at the US embassy? Visafoto has collected answers to the most important questions about getting a visa to America!
- Part 1: USA Visa Category
- Part 2: USA Visa Application
- How to start a USA visa application?
- How to take a correct U.S. visa photo?
- How to fill out Form-DS 160?
- How to pay a U.S. visa fee?
- How to schedule an appointment for a U.S. visa interview?
- What documents should I take to the U.S. visa interview?
- Can I reschedule my U.S. visa appointment?
- Do children have to be interviewed at the U.S. Embassy?
- How can I get an emergency visa to the U.S.?
- What are the typical questions asked at a USA visa interview?
- Do I need to book a flight or accommodation before the visa interview?
- What to do if the U.S. visa is rejected?
- After the visa is issued
Part 1: USA Visa Category
Do I need a visa to travel to the U.S.?
You can do without a visa if you are a citizen of a country on the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) list. USA Visa Waiver requirements are as follows:
- You must be a citizen of one of the 40 countries with a visa-free agreement with the United States;
- You must hold a biometric passport with a minimum validity of six months;
- You must get an ESTA approval before your trip. ESTA is an electronic travel authorization system that allows you to enter the United States through the Visa Waiver Program;
- Your stay in the United States must not exceed 90 days;
- You should travel for tourism, business, or recreational purposes or be in transit through the U.S.;
- A return ticket is required;
- You must enter the U.S. on a ship or plane owned by companies participating in the Visa Waiver Program.
If your country of citizenship is not in the VWP, a U.S. visa is required for all purposes and lengths of travel.
U.S. visa category: how to choose
Depending on the purpose of your trip, the type of U.S. visa requested will vary. The most popular American visa class is the Visitor visa, or B1/B2. It is issued for tourist, visitor, and business purposes. You cannot work in the United States on this visa. You will also be required to prove that you have no immigration intentions. If your trip does not involve a long-term stay in America or any specific intentions, you will probably need to apply for a B1/B2 visa.
Related: USA B1/B2 Visa FAQ
If you are going to the United States to work, study, or immigrate, you must choose the right category for your case. We have provided a detailed list of USA visa types in this article.
Do I need a transit visa to the USA if I have a connection flight to an American airport?
Yes. A transit visa to America (class C) is required even if you do not intend to leave the airport. You will also need to pay a consular fee and pass an interview at the embassy.
How long is the U.S. visa valid for?
There is no official U.S. visa length set by the embassy. Depending on your nationality and the circumstances, you may be granted a nonimmigrant visa for between one and ten years. The most common duration of a B1/B2 visa is three and five years.
Part 2: USA Visa Application
How to start a USA visa application?
Below are instructions for obtaining a non-immigrant visa to the United States. Please note that the process is different for work, study, and immigration visas.
- Take a compliant visa photo (you will need it for your application form);
- Fill in the Non-immigrant visa Application Form DS-160. You can do it yourself at the Consular Electronic Application Center;
- Pay the consular fee
- Make an interview appointment (details below);
- Come to the embassy at the set time and pass the interview.
Further below, we consider each step separately.
How to take a correct U.S. visa photo?
You must get one in advance before filling out the visa application form. You will need a high-quality digital photo in a square format, 600x600 pixels in size. The picture background must be plain white. Later the same photo will have to be brought to the interview at the embassy in printed form. The size of the printed photograph must be 2x2 inches, or 51x51 mm.
You can use our U.S. visa photo converter to get a compliant picture instantly. Just take a picture of yourself against any background with decent lighting, looking straight at the camera. Remember to take off your headgear beforehand unless you wear it for religious reasons. Glasses are also not allowed on the American visa photo, even if you have vision problems.
Upload your portrait here, and Visafoto will instantly adjust its size, format, head position, and background. You will get a 600x600 pixel digital image for the DS-160 form and a 2x2 inch printable template.
How to fill out Form-DS 160?
The DS-160 questionnaire asks you to provide truthful information about your passport data, family, career, place of residence, and plans on traveling to the United States.
In this article, we have provided detailed directions for completing Form DS-160.
Be sure to keep your DS-160 confirmation number: you will need it when you sign up for your interview.
How to pay a U.S. visa fee?
The rules for paying the visa fee can be found on the website of the U.S. consulate of the particular country. As a rule, you should go to an accredited bank for this purpose. Be sure to mention at the bank that you need to pay the U.S. visa fee: they will issue you the necessary receipt. Consulates in some countries accept online payment.
The non-immigrant U.S. visa cost is US$160 (as of 2022). If your visa is petition-based, be ready to pay $190.
The American visa fee is not refundable. If your visa is denied, you will not get your money back.
How to schedule an appointment for a U.S. visa interview?
You can book your interview date online at Сgifederal.secure.force.com website. If you are applying for a visa for the first time, you should register a new account. If you plan to apply for a new visa with the same passport you used before, you must recall your login (email address) and password. The first step is to select "New application/Enrollment for interview." You will need to specify the type of visa requested, choose a consulate for the interview, and provide personal information. Here you also need to enter the "dependent" family members with whom you are applying. Please note that you can't include your friends and colleagues, but you can indicate your civilian spouse. You must also fill out a separate profile with personal and contact information for each person.
After you fill out your profile, the appointment calendar will open. The dates available for you to book an appointment are highlighted in bright blue. Once you have selected the desired day, you will be redirected to a page with Appointment Confirmation. You must print out this document and take it with you to the interview.
What documents should I take to the U.S. visa interview?
Make sure your packet includes the following required items:
- A valid passport;
- А printout of the appointment letter for the interview;
- А DS-160 form confirmation page;
- Visa fee payment slip;
- Expired passports (if any).
As additional documents, you will particularly benefit from the following:
- Documents explaining the purpose of the visit. Depending on the type of visa chosen, it may be an invitation from business partners, a travel itinerary, a letter of admission to an educational institution, etc.
- Certificate of employment or study issued on the letterhead of the organization;
- A copy of the marriage certificate. If you are married and have minor children, it is advisable to attach supporting documents to your visa application package;
- A bank account statement. It is important to document sufficient financial capacity to make the trip;
- Documents confirming ties with the home country: for example, a certificate of real estate or other ownership.
Can I reschedule my U.S. visa appointment?
If your circumstances change, you may reschedule your visa interview up to 48 hours before the initial date. You can do this no more than three times with the same receipt. Otherwise, you will have to pay the consular fee again. If you change your interview date, you will again receive a confirmation; the old one will no longer be valid, so remember to print the new one.
Do children have to be interviewed at the U.S. Embassy?
Minors under 14 years of age do not need to be present at the interview. Children's documents can be submitted along with their parents' documents. In this case, you should fill out a separate application form for the child and prepare a complete set of documents. When scheduling a date for the interview, you must list your child should be listed as a "dependent family member”. If you already have a valid U.S. visa, you can get a visa for your child without an interview.
How can I get an emergency visa to the U.S.?
The U.S. Embassy may reschedule your interview for an earlier date only in cases of urgent business travel, trips related to medical conditions, or the death of a close family member in the United States. If these circumstances apply to you, you should submit a written request to the Embassy. It should be accompanied by documentary evidence of the trip's importance.
What are the typical questions asked at a USA visa interview?
Since this issue needs as much detail as possible, we have prepared two separate articles on it:
Do I need to book a flight or accommodation before the visa interview?
No, it is not recommended. The refusal rate for a U.S. visa is quite high, and you risk losing money. In addition, the presence of paid tickets or hotels will give away your too strong desire to get to the U.S., which may alert the visa officer.
What to do if the U.S. visa is rejected?
Depending on the country of application, the average American visa rejection rate is 10%. If you do not pass the visa interview, you can reapply again, as, in fact, no refusal is final. There is no official deadline for resubmission: conventionally, you can submit your documents even the day after the unsuccessful interview. However, visa experts recommend waiting at least six months before trying your luck again. Analyze: what questions did they ask you at the interview, what did you answer, and what did your words seem unconvincing to the visa officer? What documents were requested from you? By thinking about the interview, you will most likely be able to understand why you were denied a U.S. visa and what you need to "work on" before your next application.
After the visa is issued
The moment you receive your passport with your visa stamped in it, your introduction to the USA just begins! Learn how to proceed when re-applying for a US visa and clarify answers to common questions.
Can I extend my U.S. visa without an interview?
This option is available for B1/B2 (tourism) and C1/D (transit and crew) visas. It is possible to renew an American visa without an interview if you apply within the next 11 months from the expiry date of the previous one. The visa requested must be in the same category as the expired one. Generally, you should apply for it in your country of residence.
Read more: U.S. Visa Renewal Guidelines
Before submitting the documents, you need to pay the consular fee again, complete the DS 160 form and print out the documents in duplicate. You can send your application packet to the embassy by an accredited courier service.
Is the U.S. visa valid on an expired passport?
Yes. You can use the visa on your revoked passport to visit the United States. To do this, you must obtain a new passport and show both documents when you enter the USA: a valid passport and a revoked one with a valid visa.
Can I restore my US visa if I lose my passport?
Unfortunately, there is no procedure to recover a lost US visa. The same applies to the extension - in this case, it is unavailable to you, so you will have to schedule a new interview. You will be asked about your lost U.S. visa at the interview - when it happened and under what circumstances.