A visa interview can be a stressful experience ridden with anxiety, fear, and sleeplessness. As the capstone of a multi-year process, there is a lot hanging on the line for those applying for work or immigration visas. Having prepared for hundreds of interviews in the past, here are my top three tips to help you prepare for a U.S.A. visa interview.
1. Organize your documents for easy access. By the time you have an interview date, you will have received a list of documents to bring to the interview. Tips from the State Department are here: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/immigrate/the-immigrant-visa-process/interview/interview-prepare.html. The interview appointment, passport, and previous visas should be kept in a location for easy access.
For visitor visas such as the B1-B2, the interview process is focused on proving your intent to visit and return to your country of origin. Business travelers should have a letter of invitation from the organization they are visiting, and some indication of their ability to pay for their travel expenses. A business card/resume/credit card list/reservation may be sufficient as proof of funds for travel. Three tabs – the DS-160, a letter of invitation, and proof of funds/reservation—should be good for a business traveler. Similarly for pleasure travelers, three tabs should be sufficient to organize the DS-160, reservation/proof of funds, and anything to show an intent to return to his or her country after a short visit. This can be a letter of employment in good standing, or proof of ties like children, spouses, or assets.
For student/work visa applications such as the F, J, H, L, R visas, it is a good idea to place your documents in an interview binder with tabs that mark your most important documents. One of the tabs should be for your I-129 approval notice or I-20, and two copies of the original I-129. Another tab should be for the copy of the application (DS-160). You should also include a tab for your experience, where you include your degrees, certificates, training, and resumes. Your personal documents such as marriage certificate, and if you have children, birth certificates of your children, should be in a separate tab. Finally, in a separate tab you should have your sponsor/employer’s letter of support.
For immigrant visas, you may organize your required documents similarly in an interview binder. Instead of the I-129 approval notice, you can replace that with the I-130/I-140 approval notice and the I-130/I-140 application form. A copy of the DS-260 form should be included and marked as its own tab. Additional documents for an immigrant visa include the affidavit of support, in case of family, and letter of support in case of work, so that should be in its own tab as well. Personal documents such as marriage certificate and divorce certificates (if applicable), family photos, children’s birth certificate(s) should be in a separate tab. If required, medical examinations should be kept in its own separate tab.
2. Dress appropriately. Dress for visa interviews should be business casual to business for business visitors, student, work, and immigrant applicants. You should veer on the side of conservative and your appearance should reflect the category of visa for which you are applying. If you are a student, dress like a student going into an interview. If your visa application is that of an executive transferring into a U.S. office, veer on the side of business dress. If your you are a designer, dress like a designer. If you are an engineer, you may dress business casual. A tourist should appear like an international tourist who has money to spend in the U.S. and not likely to abscond into the U.S.
3. Get a good nights rest, if you can. It is important to be alert and focused. The interview is a place where your person, appearance, and any non-verbal cues about you are being judged. It is crucial for you present your best foot forward. However, if you cannot sleep, be sure to have a good breakfast and caffeine to help you be alert and attentive during your interview. Stay calm, collected, and focused on the interviewer and answer only the questions asked. You will do great!!!