The Do’s and Don’ts of Clearing the U.S. Visa Interview


The immigration and visa issuance process is a time intensive and scrutinized procedure.  After submitting to testing and documentation including a medical examination, police background check, fingerprinting, and application fees, photos and forms, it may feel strange that immigration officials do not have enough information to process your request.  The interview is frequently misunderstood.

Human trafficking is a growing problem for the United States, with women and children being sent to the USA from foreign countries.  Whether you are applying for a K1 Visa (or K2 Visa for a child), a tourist, work or student visa, you will require an in-person interview (along with providing the hard copies of your documentation to verify your identity).

The process is arduous but if you are prepared and understand what is required, a little organization will go a long way to ensure that you will have a positive interview and move forward favorably with your United States visa application.

Preparing Your Documentation

The amount of forms required is staggering, but each form must be accurately completed, easy to read and verified with the correct signatures in order to be processed.  A scanned copy of the documentation is sent ahead to the USCIS office months before the interview, which typically catches any errors or missing information to help expedite processing at the Consulate office.

Tip: Do double check (and triple check) your paper documentation and your forms.  That means going through each form to ensure that you have filled it out correctly.  Ensure that you have all the required identification needed for your interview and that it is all valid (not expired).

Onsite at the Consular General Office

When you arrive for your interview, remember that you are entering a high security government area that is designed to protect key officials and administrative personnel from threat and harm.  As such, when you prepare to enter an Office of the Consular General, you must be prepared for the security protocols that will follow.

Anticipate that there will be a line up no matter what time of day you show up.  Typically most people attempt to arrive early to avoid a line, but mornings are frequently the busiest time for a consulate office. Understand that even as you were provided with a specific time for your appointment, that scheduled time is not guaranteed.  Think of it more as an estimate.  You are required to be on time however, and being late even as little as fifteen (15) minutes for your visa interview appointment can result in a cancellation. Rescheduling of an interview can take anywhere from one to three months.

Some of the reasons that individuals have been denied access through security have included an excessively nervous, angry or anxious demeanor, suspicion of drunkenness or impairment by illicit drugs, the possession of a firearm or weapon (even a small pocket knife), or a flag on the identification of the interviewee.  If you are flagged with recent criminal activity, an outstanding warrant or any other issues, you may be denied entrance to the Consulate.

When you are admitted to the building you will follow other visitors to the appropriate administrative offices of the Consular General. When you arrive at the administrative office you will be issued a number and will be served in order of the number you have received (regardless of your appointment time). The wait here can range from an hour to three hours.

Tip: Don’t travel to your assigned local American Embassy or Consular General Office with a bulky jacket, a back pack or a bag with you. Purses, bags, jackets, car keys, personal devices and cell phones, metal objects, weapons, controlled substances and bottles of liquid (perfume or cologne) are not permitted.

The Interview

Depending on the type of American Visa you are applying for, you need to be prepared for some of the questions that the Consulate Officer will ask you. Remain calm; it is their job to sort out the people who have sincere reasons for requesting a visa versus those who are not complying with the law or hoping to gain access to the United States for malicious reasons or to circumvent the immigration system.

Tip: Do know the rules!  If you have applied for a visa, understand that the visa has a start date and end date.  Any suggestion that you intend to stay longer than your visa would allow can be grounds for denying it on the spot and flagging your application.

The American visa application process is a costly and time intensive activity, and it can frequently be a frustrating one.  Receiving a visa of any sort can take over a year, so plan ahead to avoid problems and expect delays. If you feel there are extenuating circumstances that would complicate your visa application contact Chicago immigration attorney for consultation on your case.

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