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What to Expect During the Visa Application Process

If you’re coming to the United States soon, you may need to obtain a visa to travel here. However, the process can be confusing, especially if you’ve never done it before. By learning more about what to expect during the visa application process, you can be prepared to apply and have a better chance of getting your visa. 

What Is a U.S. Visa? 

A visa is a travel document that your country will issue you so that you can come to the United States. This will be placed in your passport. 

Keep in mind that your country may not require you to get a visa to come to the U.S. under the U.S. Visa Waiver Program (VWP). There are 40 countries that participate in the VWP. You can find the full list on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s website

If your country is not on the list, then you’ll need to secure a nonimmigrant visa by following these steps.

Determine What Visa You Need

Typically, business and tourism travelers to the U.S. will need either a B-1 or B-2 visitor visa. The B-1 visa is for business travelers; for instance, you may need this if you are coming to the U.S. for a conference or to meet with prospective clients. A B-2 visa is for people visiting the U.S. on vacation, coming to the country for medical treatment, and attending social events. There are also transit visas available, but they are less commonly used.

Apply for a Visa

You will have to follow the steps based on the U.S. Embassy or Consulate you’re applying through to get your visa. But generally, you will fill out form DS-160, the nonimmigrant visa application form, which you can find online, get your photo taken, pay the visa application fee (fees vary but are around $160-$190), and then schedule an interview.

Go in for an Interview

During your visa interview, you will arrive at the consulate near you. You’ll need to show your passport, receipt for the fees paid, and your appointment letter. You will go through fingerprint verification and attend your interview. The representative may ask you questions and verify the validity of your documents. You will know immediately whether or not you get approved. 

How Long Can You Stay in the U.S.? 

When you’re approved for your visa, you will be able to stay in the U.S. for a certain amount of time. It all depends on the type of visa you have.

For example, with the common B visitors visa, you will usually get six months to stay in the U.S. and no longer than a year at a time. If you have valid reasons to stay, you can apply for extensions in six-month increments. 

In another scenario, let’s say you have a K-1 fiance of U.S. citizen visa. You will only get 90 days, with no exceptions. However, if you have a K-3 spouse of U.S. citizen visa, then you can get up to two years or until your spouse files the I-130 visa petition for you. You can extend your visa if you’re still waiting for an answer about your I-1130 visa petition from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). 

Contact a Florida Immigration Attorney

Do you have questions about getting a visa to come to the U.S.? Then contact U.S. Immigration Law Counsel through our website or by calling 1-800-666-4996. We deal with the government so you don’t have to. We look forward to assisting you.