Why do you need a Visa to US?
There may a variety of reasons why you may feel the necessity to travel to the United States. The first thing you would require to visit USA is a Visa. A Visa is an official permit that helps you enter a foreign country and stay there permanently or for a specific period of time.
Based on the purposes and duration of your stay, the United States of America offers different classes and subclasses of Visas. The United States of America follows a strict process of Visa issuance. The majority of the Visa applications to the USA are non-immigrant Visa applications which allow Indians to visit the USA and stay there for a predetermined period of time. When it comes to apply for an Immigrant Visa that allows foreign citizens settle permanently in the USA, the country issues limited number of Visas.
Different types of Visas offered by the USA
The United States of America offers two main categories of Visas to Indian citizens Immigrant Visa and Non-Immigrant Visa.
Immigrant Visa: It is issued to Indian citizens who wish to stay permanently in the USA. The country issues a limited number of immigrant Visas to foreign citizens. (Can be linked to difference between difference between immigrant and non-immigrant Visas)
Non-Immigrant Visa: It is issued to foreign citizens who wish to visit the USA for specific period of time. There are different types of Non-immigrant Visas that are issued based on the purpose and duration of your travel in the US. Listed below are the different types of non-immigrant Visas offered by the United States
- Business Visa
- Employment Visa
- Tourism Visa
- Medical treatment Visa
- Education Visa
The United States of America offers nearly 20 subclasses of non-immigrant Visas to foreigners visiting the country for short term stays. They include - Religious worker Visa, Domestic employee Visa, Exchange visitor Visa, Student Visa, Ship crew or transit Visa , Work Visa (including H1B, H2A, H2B, LI, H4 etc.) and Media and journalist Visa.
Documents required for US Visa Application/ Interview
You need to keep the following documents handy when you apply for a US Visa:
- Passport valid for six months beyond the intended date of entry into the United States.
- Colored photographs.
- Marriage Certificate, if applicable.
- Evidence of financial properties.
- Divorce/death certificate of spouse, if applicable
- In case of family-based cases or dependent Visa, all original documents establishing the relationship between the petitioner and the applicant need to be submitted.
- In case of a work Visa, a letter from the prospective employer confirming the essential elements of the job offer needs to be submitted.
- Police Clearance Certificate.
- Certificate of birth.
- Court records, if applicable.
- Military records, if any.
Eligibility criteria for US Visa
A foreign citizen needs to meet the following eligibility conditions to get a Visa to USA:
- The applicant must have a passport that is valid for a period of at least 6 months.
- You should not have any past history of crimes or should not have any criminal case ongoing cases against them.
- Dependents/ spouses travelling with the applicant should apply for separate Visas.
- The applicant should have enough finance to support himself and dependents.
- The applicant should have a sound health and needs to go thorough medical test by approved physician.
- The applicant should have strong ties with his/her current country of residence.
- You should have a valid reason for travelling to the United States.
- You should not have any communicable disease like tuberculosis.
Steps to follow before you apply for a US Visa:
An applicant needs to go through the following steps to obtain a Visa to the USA:
- Select the type of Visa you are applying for
- Check your eligibility.
- Fill the online application form by putting all required information
- Appear for the Visa interview with all required documents at a select embassy.
Applying for US Visa
There are two ways of applying for a Visa online application and offline application. When you use the online method of application, you can submit all your documents and the filled application form electronically. But, when you apply manually or use the offline method of Visa application, you need to collect/download the Visa application for, fill it and send it to any of the US Embassy office located in India.
Procedure for applying for immigrant Visa: A US Visa applicant needs to go through the following procedure while applying for an immigrant Visa:
- You need to have a police clearance certificate issued by the Regional Passport Office. It remain valid for one year.
- You should have a sound health and complete the medical examination test conducted approved medical doctors.
- Then, proceed to complete the DS-260 Form with your Invoice ID number and Beneficiary ID number.
- Pay the Visa fees.
- Once you are done with the DS-260 form, you can book your appointment for Visa interview.
Procedure for applying for non-immigrant Visa
The US Visa application procedure for non- immigrant Visa is listed below:
- First select your Visa type. Based on the purpose of your travel, you need to choose your Visa category.
- Next, complete the Visa application form DS-160 carefully. Make sure all your details are entered correctly. Because, once you submit the form, you cannot make any change.
- Pay the fees applicable on your Visa type. You can pay it through NEFT, Mobile Payment and Cash.
- Now, you can schedule your Visa interview with the US Embassy. You need to schedule two interviews- one for Visa Application Centre and the other one for interview at the US Embassy.
Documents to be carried for US Visa interview
If you are applying for an Immigrant Visa, you need to carry the following documents to your Visa interview:
For Immigrant Visa application:
- DS-260 confirmation page stamped at the Visa Application Centre
- Current and all old passports,
- Police Clearance Certificate issued by the Regional Passport Office.
- Medical examination report
- Supporting Documents as per your Visa type
For non-immigrant Visa application:
- Copy of your appointment confirmation letter.
- DS-160 confirmation page stamped at the Visa Application Centre.
- Current and all old passports
- Supporting documents required for your Visa type.
How to schedule an appointment for US Visa
You can schedule your US Visa appointment online. What you have to do is to log in to your profile with the same credentials that you used to pay your Visa fee. The, you would see the dashboard where you need to click on the Schedule Appointment" button and schedule your appointment.
You need to schedule two appointments- one at the Visa Application Centre and other at the Embassy. Usually, the majority of Visa application interviews to USA from India are scheduled by the National Visa Centre or Kentucky Consular Center. Before you go for your Visa interview, schedule a Category 1 appointment with the Visa Application Center to get your fingerprint and photograph captured.
Its important you arrive at the interview venue 15 minutes before time. You can also cancel or reschedule your appointment as per your needs.
How to pay US Visa Fees
You can pay your Visa fees online by using NEFT, Mobile Payment and Cash. It is non-refundable. Individuals having diplomatic passports are exempted from paying Visa fees, irrespective of the purpose of travel and Visa type. Besides, the official passport holders are also not charged for official Visas. However, they need to appear for Visa interview at the US Embassy on any working day between 11am to 12pm.
The non-immigrant Visa fees can be paid in cash at select branches of AXIS or Citibank
Information needed for scheduling US Visa Interview
A Visa applicant needs to keep the following information handy while scheduling a Visa interview appointment with the US Embassy:
- Visa application fee receipt number.
- Passport number.
- The barcode number from the DS-160 confirmation page. It is a 10 digit number.
What if I need to take an emergency Visa interview appointment?
You can get an emergency appointment for your US Visa appointment. Emergency appointments are granted when a Visa applicant has genuine medical and humanitarian emergencies. It includes obtaining medical care, attending funeral, making some urgent business trips, and taking admission into foreign universities.
To avail emergency Visa interview appointments, the applicants needs to provide valid supporting documents. The applicant can take an emergency appointment by filling the DS-160 Form and purchasing a valid fee receipt before appearing for the interview.
In case, you fail to prove your reason for seeking an emergency appointment or it appears to the immigration authority that you have misrepresented the reasons for travel, it may adversely affect your Visa application and you may denied Visa.
The following conditions do not qualify for emergency Visa interview appointments to USA:
- Attending marriage ceremony.
- Helping pregnant relatives.
- Participating in annual business/educational conferences.
- Participating in pleasure trips.
US Visa Refusal
Your US Visa May be rejected under the following circumstances:
- Incomplete Visa application
- Supporting documents missing
- You fail to fulfill the eligibility conditions required for the Visa category.
- You have criminal records.
- Lack of adequate finance to support your trip to the United States
- Your intention of returning is not clear.
- Your passport does not have enough blank pages.
- If you country of residence does not have a good relationship with your destination country.
- If you have not used a Visa issued to your previously.
- If you dont have a legitimate reason for visiting the country.
- If you fail to submit adequate proof against your eligibility
What if I missed my Visa interview appointment for US Visa?
If you have missed your Visa interview appointment, you can reschedule a category 3 appointment.
How do I pay my US Visa application fees?
You can pay your Visa application fees by using your credit or debit card or send it via bank draft in favour of US Consulate General, Mumbai in case your appointment has been booked in the embassy located in Mumbai.
How to renew my US Visa?
You can renew your US Visa online by providing some key information like name, email-Id and phone number. The process of USA Visa renewal may take several weeks and it depends on how quickly you can get an appointment at the U.S. Embassy.
What is a work Visa? How do I get a work Visa to USA?
It is a kind of Visa that allows you to stay in the United States for a particular period of time and work there. Having a work Visa is a must to work in any foreign countries.
Usually, it is your employer who applies for work permit on your behalf by contacting the immigration authority of the USA located in India. The United States of America offers different type of work Visas based on the duration of your stay and the severity of your work.
If I apply for an immigrant Visa to US, does my child also need to attend the interview?
Yes. Your child also needs to attend the Visa interview at the US Embassy located in your country.
What if I don't have a police clearance certificate? Will I be allowed to attend my scheduled Visa immigrant Visa interview to USA?
No. You will not be allowed entry into either US Embassy New Delhi or US Embassy Mumbai, if you dont have a police clearance certificate. Having a PCC is a must to enter the United States.
Under what circumstances my immigrant Visa application may remain pending?
Your immigrant Visa application may be refused or it may be put on hold under Section 221(g), if your application lacks required information or it needs additional administrative processing.
What is a K Visa?
It is a type of US Visa issued to fiance or fiancee of a United States citizen to enter the United States. The fiance/fiancee needs to marry the US Citizen who requests for this Visa within 90 days from the date of entry into the United States.
How do I apply for a US Visa?
You can apply for a US Visa by online by submitting a complete application form supported by all required information.
What is the meaning of FNU in US Visa?
FNU stands for First Name Unknown. If you don't have first name or surname, your only name will be printed on the surname section of your Visa page and your first name will be printed as FNU.
What if my passport is about to expire in 2 months and I need to apply for a US Visa?
You need apply for a new passport, before you apply for a Visa to USA.
What if I have a valid Visa to US, but my passport is expiring soon?
In that case, you need to apply for a new passport and carry both the new and old passports with you when you travel to USA. You may be required to apply for a new Visa.
What do I do, if my US Visa gets damaged?
If your Visa to USA is damaged for some reason, you need to apply for a new Visa.
What if My Visa to USA was printed incorrectly?
If your Visa was printed incorrectly, please inform your concerned embassy office immediately and explain the error. It will take necessary steps to rectify the error.
I have a valid H1-B Visa and I want to change my employer. Is it possible?
Yes. It is possible to changer your employer. What you have to do is to inform U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
What do I do, when my Visa is lost or stolen?
You should immediately inform Indian Police and get a police report. Also, you need to inform the Fraud Prevention Unit stating all your details such as name, date of birth, nationality, a copy of your lost Visa, the reason of loss etc.
Can I get a replacement for my lost US Visa?
No, you will not get a replacement. The lost Visa cannot be replaced. You need to apply for a new Visa again.
What is an H1B Visa?
It is a multiple entry non-immigrant Visa issued to foreign workers to work in the United States.
What is a L1 Visa?
It is also a non-immigrant Visa that allows large multinational companies transfer especially skilled employees to the US on temporary basis.
What is H4 Visa?
It is type of Visa issued to the dependents of an H Visa holder. It is issued to spouse and children who can accompany you to US, but they are not allowed to work there.
What is an SB1 Visa? Who needs it?
It is a Returning Resident Visa. It is required by those who has stayed outside the United States for longer than one year or beyond the validity period or re-entry permit. They need new immigrant Visas to enter US and continue to be permanent residents of the USA.
How to apply for a Returning Visa to USA?
You can apply for a Returning Resident Visa by filling UP the Form 117 and booking a Category -2 appointment for your Visa interview.
Can I reschedule my US Visa interview?
Yes. You can reschedule your US Visa interview.
Do I need to carry my original documents to my US Visa Interview?
It depends on the Visa type you have applied for. However, it is better you carry all your original documents along with you.
What is Section 214(b) for US Visa?
Section 214 (b) is a part of the United States Immigration and Nationality Act, under which Visa applicants fail to qualify for a nonimmigrant status. This section states that Every alien shall be presumed to be an immigrant until he establishes to the satisfaction of the consular officer, at the time of application for a Visa that he is entitled to nonimmigrant status.It means that the Consular Officers have to assume that all Visa applicants intend to leave their home country and want to immigrate to the US. During the Visa interview, the applicants have to prove that this assumption of the officers is wrong.
Do I need a Visa to travel to USA from the UK?
British Citizens who hold a UK passport do not need a Visa to travel to the US, provided that their stay period is a maximum of 90 days and they have a valid return or onward ticket. Visa-free travel does not apply to people who wish to visit the USA for work or study. If you are an Indian citizen, which means you hold an Indian passport and wish to visit the USA from UK, you will require a US Visa.
News About All about US Visa
Website for US Embassy Launched
A new website for the US embassy in Delhi and its four consulates in Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad and Mumbai has been launched. This website is in English, Hindi and Urdu and will provide comprehensive information on US visa applications, studying opportunities and job opportunities for both US and Indian citizens. The website has been created on WordPress, a popular web blogging platform and is mobile-responsive. The website will take into account your mobile devices screen size and adjust the text accordingly.
US Launches New Initiative to Increase Cashless Payments in India
A new initiative titled ˜Catalyst: Inclusive Cashless Payment Partnership have been launched by USAID(US Agency for International Development) recently. This has been done to digitize the payment process and thereby increase the trend of cashless payments at specific locations. Various factors will be pondered upon such as smartphone penetration, economy etc before the locations are selected. Apart from this, the US Embassy has also decided to increase the number of staffs and reduce the waiting time for visa appointments. So, there will be additional number of visa appointments available till December. Applicants have been asked to take full advantage of this opportunity and to start booking now itself.
US Visa Awareness Programme Organized at GITAM University
The US Consulate General of Hyderabad, in association with GITAM University, organized a programme for awareness on US Visa procedures at the University campus. Vice Consul, Jose Maria Vega, and Education Advisor, Sraavani Pere, from the US Consulate were present at the programme.
In his addressable, the Vice Consul stated that students who were looking to pursue higher education in the US must prepare 18 months ahead of the visa interview. This would help in clearly understanding the visa procedures and will also be useful for arranging relevant documents for submission. Currently, most of the students attending visa interviews are unaware of the right procedures and are hence, being rejected visas. The officials also briefed students on the drift in the US education sector and provided tips on choosing good universities for higher education in the US.
The Principal of the GITAM University stated that the academic and research alliance that the University had with the institutions in the US will largely benefit the students in availing reduction in fees.
Indo-US commercial and strategic dialogue on August 30
India may talk about concerns regarding visa issues and also pitch for fast-tracking the talk for Social Security Agreement on August 30, during the second US-India S&CD (Strategic and Commercial Dialogue). An official said that India and US is likely to discuss issues so as to strengthen the bilateral economic relations. Also, both countries would deliberate on methods to promote entrepreneurship and innovation in both countries. India wants an early fulfillment of the Totalisation Agreement or the Social Security Agreement with the States.
U.S.A has previously entered into this agreement with many nations in order to avoid double taxation of income regarding taxes imposed on social security. Under these agreements, professionals from both these countries will be exempted from taxes regarding social security when they work for a short period in the other country. India has been voicing its concerns over the hike in visa fee by the US as it has an effect on IT professionals.
Hyderabad US Consulate Suffers From Lack Of Staff
As of right now there are only about seven officers who are handling a workload of interviewing about 1,000 people everyday. All of these 1000 people come for the same purpose which is to get a visa to the US. There is no doubt about the fact that the consulate is understaffed and it has been announced that the consulate will be increasing its workforce soon. They are also going to be getting a new building in the next 4 years which will allow them to have up to 52 counters to process applications, as opposed to the current 16 counters. Once the building is ready, the center in Hyderabad will become the largest of its kind in the country and hopes to speed up the processing of applications along with adding the capacity to handle more applications.
India Might Speak to WTO Over Hike in Fee for US Visa
India is planning on approaching the WTO (World Trade Organisation) to address the issue of the recent hike in US non-immigrant visa fees.
The US had hiked the fees for particular categories in the H1-B and L-1 visas by $4,000 and $4,500 respectively in December 2015.
The Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi is scheduled to visit the United States of America in the near future and if his visit is unable to resolve the deadlock, the Indian authorities have braced themselves for a long drawn out battle.
The government is currently attempting a resolution through bilateral talks, but they are also preparing a detailed argument backed up by data from the IT sector, who will be most affected by this.
The US has stated that the hike was not meant to hurt the Indian IT industry. However the Indian IT sector will be the most affected as this hike will apply only to companies employing over 50 foreigners or who have a large number of foreigners in their workforce.
5th June 2016
H-2A Visa Process Being Consolidated
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services are introducing an electronic visa process to reduce delays in processing of H-2A visas. These visas are issued to foreigners who come to the USA as seasonal workers in the agricultural sector.
The new process, which was launched on May 11th, is touted as a way to speed up the immigration process by sending information on approval to the Department of State by the close of the next business day.
Agricultural producers have welcomed the move, as it will help simplify the visa application and approval process for seasonal workers.
The producers had made an appeal to Congress regarding certain issues relating the subject, and the producers are appreciative of the efforts governmental agencies have taken to address the issues.
Among the concerns raised was streamlining the visa process so that the producers had adequate assistance at harvest time.
11th May 2016
Government Unhappy With the US Visa Fee Hike
Government says that the US is discriminating against Indian professionals following the recent hike in US Visa. The Telecom and IT minister stated that there should be no discrimination against Indians workings in the US. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has taken up the issue of the hike in Visa fee for H-1B and L-1 with the US government and the same will be discussed in Trade negotiations. There are about 6 lakh Indian IT professionals working in the US.
11th May 2016
Visa Fee Hike Bound by Legislation According to US
With regards to the recent hike in visa fees, which has had an adverse effect on Indian IT companies, the US has told the Indian government that the fees are unlikely to change any time soon as the hike is bound by legislation. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley stated that unless the legislation is reformed, a change is unlikely to be forthcoming, deeming the fee hike a discriminatory practice. The US Congress last year levied a fee of $4,500 on H-1B and L-1 visas in order to finance a biometric tracking system and a 9/11 healthcare Act. This has hit Indian IT companies strongly due to their requirement for acquiring such visas.
19th April 2016