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Ace the B-1 Visa Interview

One of the requirements for the B-1 Temporary Business Visitor visa is an interview with a consular officer at the US embassy or consulate of your residence country. This interview helps the US government verify that your trip meets the visa requirements.

You’ve compiled all the documents you need for the application and you’re ready for your interview. The hard part is over! The interview process is pretty straightforward, and with a little preparation, you will be ready to ace your interview.

We’ve compiled a list of pointers for each step in the process to help you get on your way hassle-free.

Before the Interview:

First thing’s first: get an interview scheduled

After you’ve completed Form DS-160, you can schedule an interview at the US embassy or consulate nearest you. Wait times vary depending on the US embassy or consulate, so make sure to consider wait times for an interview appointment, which you can always look up here.

Prepare for the Interview:

As we mentioned, the goal of the interview is to establish that you meet the visa requirements. Besides preparing enough documentation, you’ll also need to know about what you can and cannot do with B-1 status. 

The B-1 is incredibly flexible, but the interviewer expects you to plan your trip such that it complies with what the government calls permissible activities. In other words, the B-1 is great for:

  • Discussing investments and developing relationships with potential investors, advisors, mentors, business associates, and other stakeholders;
  • Soliciting potential sales and explore potential sales pipelines;
  • Interviewing potential staff and hiring staff;
  • Negotiating contracts; and
  • Participating in business conventions, conferences, or seminars as relevant.

Common Interview Questions:

During your interview, you will be asked a series of questions related to your trip. Most of the interview questions will refer to your documents so be sure to read through your documents before the interview. As long as your answers match your supporting documents, the interview will go just fine. The most important thing is to answer the questions clearly and honestly.

You may get asked some of the following questions:

  • Why do you want to travel to the US?
  • What company do you work for?
  • What do you do?
  • What is your annual income?
  • Have you ever visited any other countries?
  • Can I see your Business/visiting card?
  • Who will look after your business in your absence?
  • Do you have any children? Where do they live? What do they do?
  • Do you have any relatives in the US?
  • How long will you be staying in the US?
  • Will you be working while you are in the US?
  • Do you have any plans to extend your visa while you are in the US?
  • Do you have any plans to search for a job in the US?
  • Will you be attending school during your stay?
  • Who will pay for your trip?
  • Do you have any specific dates or plans for business events or meetings?
  • Will you return to [your country] after your visit?
  • How can you assure me that you will return home?
  • Who else is going with you to the US?
  • How many people are going with you from your company?

PRO Tip: Organize your documents in a specific order so you can easily find what you’re looking for. If an interviewer asks you for a document, then you will know where to find that document. It saves time and makes the interview process a lot smoother.

During the Interview:

We’ve also listed a few other tips to help you get through the interview without any issues. Basic manners go a long way!

  • Say hello to your interviewer when you walk to the booth for your interview.
  • Keep your answers short and simple. Avoid volunteering additional details about your life that are not relevant to the B-1 interview.
  • If you do not understand a question, it is okay to ask the interviewer to clarify their question. This is especially important because you want to avoid providing vague answers or say anything that conflicts with your documents.
  • Clearly describe your reason to visit the US, and confirm that your visit is temporary.

After the Interview:

Most of the time, you will receive an on-the-spot decision at the interview. There are two possible outcomes:

If your visa is approved, the consular officer will keep your passport for visa processing. It will be mailed back to you, along with the new B-1 visa sticker, to the address you provided in your DS-160 within a couple days.

If your visa is refused, the interviewer will return your passport and may provide you a refusal clause. You should reapply with sufficient documents again depending on the basis for denial. You can find more information about denials here.

Administrative processing

There is a small chance your B-1 application may need further administrative processing if your visa application is initially refused. Although this is uncommon for the B-1 visa, if your visa application is selected for administrative processing, you may have to wait an additional amount of time for a final approval or refusal decision. Be sure to apply as early as you can in case your application requires further processing.

To learn more about the B-1 visa, check out our B-1 FAQs and download your copy of the B-1 Documents Checklist.

If you’re unsure if your trip qualifies for the B-1, we can help you understand your options!

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About the author:

Allison Davy

Vice President Marketing, Legalpad

Allison helps startup founders from around the world navigate the complex U.S. immigration system so they can pursue their goals and purpose.