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The Visa Interview: Helpful Tips

It’s time for the big day! Your visa interview at the U.S Consulate! Check out the below for useful tips to ace your interview.

The purpose of the visa interview is for the Consular Officer to confirm your identity and that you are qualified for the requested visa. The Consular Officer will ask you questions about your identity, your U.S. job, and your background. The interview itself will usually last less than 10 minutes.

Tip #1: Answer questions with short answers, but clearly, truthfully, and confidently. The Consular Officer will ask you for more details if they want you to elaborate.

Tip #2: Prepare an “elevator pitch”. Be ready to articulate what the company does and what you will be doing in the U.S. If you are applying for an O-1, you should review the O-1 petition and be prepared to talk about why you are extraordinary. For example, you founded a startup that raised $X million in venture capital funding, you have been featured in major publications such as X, and received key awards such as X.

Tip #3: Make sure you are familiar with the description of your job duties in the petition. You do not have to recite the job duties word-to-word, but your description should be consistent with the petition.

Tip #4: If you are applying for a visa other than H-1B or L-1, you will need to maintain non-immigration intent. What this means is that you must have the intent to depart the U.S. after a temporary stay. For example, if you are applying for an O-1 visa and the Consular Officer asks about your long-term plans, it is important to emphasize that you plan to eventually leave the U.S. However, you must answer questions truthfully.

Tip #5: In the unlikely event that your visa is not approved, stay calm and pay attention to what the Consular Officer is saying. After you leave, it is almost impossible to get information from the Consulate. Ask the Officer:

  • Would you mind explaining the reasoning?
  • What documents were missing?
  • What answers did you find problematic?
  • Could you please provide more clarification?
  • Last resort: Would it be possible for a supervisor to look at the application? A supervisor will likely not change the decision, but may give you more information.
  • Afterward, immediately write down everything the Consular Officer said.

Tip #6: Go into your interview confidently and positively! The Consular Officer is not looking for reasons to reject your visa, but rather just trying to make sure it passes the “smell test.”

What you need to bring to the visa interview

Visit the U.S. Embassy or Consulate website where you will be interviewed for country-specific instructions. For your visa, you will need to present:

For dependent visas, your spouse and children will need to present:

Sample interview questions

The below is some of the questions the Consular Office may ask you. This is not an exhaustive list, but it is intended to give you an idea of the types of questions you may be asked.

  • What is your name?
  • What is your current employment?
  • What company will you work for in the U.S.?
  • Have you ever been to the U.S. before? If so, when?
  • Where will you be living in the U.S.?
  • Where will you be working in the U.S.?
  • What work will you be doing in the U.S.?
  • How long do you plan on staying in the U.S.?
  • Have you ever been convicted of a crime? If so, what was the crime?
  • Who will travel with you to the U.S.?
  • [For O-1] What is your field of expertise?
  • [For O-1] What makes you extraordinary?

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.