A U.S. visa appointment is an ordinary part of getting a U.S. visa. Most visa applicants are required to complete a U.S. visa appointment prior to entering the United States on their immigrant or non-immigrant visa.
Generally, an in-person appointment is required for all U.S. visa applicants between 14 and 79 years of age. However, appointment status varies widely between applicants, and many applicants outside of this age range will still need to complete a U.S. visa appointment.
Most steps of the U.S. visa application process can be completed online. You can submit forms like Form DS-160 online, for example. You can also submit supporting documents – like a marriage certificate for a spousal visa – online. The appointment, however, is conducted in-person, and the applicant is required to attend the interview at a nearby U.S. embassy or consulate.
How Does a U.S. Visa Appointment Work?
After you begin the application process for a U.S. visa, you will complete a form (like Form DS-160 or DS-260) and submit that form online. Then, you will pay all corresponding visa fees and receive a receipt. Once you have the online form confirmation page and a receipt for your U.S. visa fees, you should be able to schedule an interview with your nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.
Generally, all visa applicants in the United States under 14 and over 79 years of age will need to complete a visa interview. However, there are many exceptions to this rule.
Typically, there are two types of visa appointments:
- S. visa fingerprint and biometrics appointment
- S. visa interview appointment
Sometimes, both appointments take place at the same time. You arrive at the U.S. embassy and have your fingerprints taken prior to the interview. In other cases, you may be required to wait a certain length of time between the two interviews. Some embassies require you to leave at least one day between your fingerprint interview and visa interview.
During the fingerprint interview, a consular officer may take your photographs and fingerprints. Or, you may need to provide your fingerprints and submit your own photographs. This is your biometric information. It may be verified when you cross a U.S. port of entry to enter the United States.
After your fingerprints have been taken, you will complete the in-person interview with a member of the U.S. consular staff. The consular officer will ask questions to verify the information on your visa application. The officer’s goal is to ensure you are coming to the United States for the reasons stated on your visa. For many non-immigrant visas, the consular officer will also seek to verify that you intend to leave the United States before your visa expires.
If the consular officer believes you are being truthful, and there are no other issues with your visa application, then your visa application should be approved.
If the consular officer believes you are being untruthful, or if there is other erroneous information with your visa application, then your visa may be denied after the interview.
The fingerprint interview and visa interview are the last two steps required prior to visiting the United States on your immigrant or non-immigrant visa.
How to Schedule a U.S. Non-Immigrant Visa Appointment
Scheduling a U.S. non-immigrant visa appointment is different from an immigrant visa. Typically, with a non-immigrant visa, the applicant is required to complete most of the steps on his or her own. You need to make your own embassy interview appointment, for example. This is different from an immigrant visa appointment, where the National Visa Center (NVC) may schedule the appointment on your behalf.
Typically, your non-immigrant visa application form will explain the process of scheduling a visa interview. Alternatively, you can call the NVC to inquire about visa appointment interview times. Generally, however, you can book an interview with your nearest U.S. embassy or consulate online after you have successfully submitted all forms and paid all visa application fees.
Whether you book your interview online or over the phone, you can choose from a variety of time slots and dates. Some U.S. embassies and consulates will have appointment slots available within the next few days. In other cases, you may have to wait weeks for an embassy interview – say, if your local U.S. embassy has a particularly high workload.
Prior to sitting down for your visa interview, it’s generally recommended that you have the following documents:
- A valid passport
- Confirmation page for DS-160
- Receipt proving you have paid all visa application fees
- Additional documents based on your desired visa (like travel plans for a tourist visa or school information for a student visa)
How to Schedule a U.S. Immigrant Visa Appointment
The scheduling process for an immigrant visa appointment (where you intend to remain in the United States long-term) is different. Typically, the National Visa Center will arrange an interview on your behalf. Then, the National Visa Center will contact you with all information about the appointment schedule.
The NVC will receive your visa application from United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) after you submit your immigrant visa application form online. The NVC will process the information and assign a case identification number to you.
Then, the NVC will setup a visa interview at a certain date or time at your nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. In some cases, the NVC will need to wait to schedule your visa interview – say, if the cap on the number of visas awarded each year has already been reached.
If your immigrant visa does not have a cap or limit, then the NVC will schedule your biometrics and interview appointments immediately.
You do not have a choice on when your embassy interview appointment takes place. Typically, the NVC schedules your interview for the next available timeslot at your local U.S. embassy or consulate. You are expected to plan ahead and make arrangements to make that appointment. If you absolutely cannot make that appointment, however, then it is possible to cancel or reschedule your appointment.
How to Reschedule a U.S. Visa Appointment
Generally, you will attend your U.S. visa interview at the time you chose or the time that was given to you. However, if you absolutely cannot attend your U.S. visa appointment, then you can reschedule.
To reschedule a U.S. non-immigrant visa appointment, you can call the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate (the embassy or consulate where your interview is scheduled to take place) and explain the situation, then ask to reschedule. Typically, they will be able to move your visa interview to a more convenient time.
If you are rescheduling your U.S. visa appointment, then you must provide a valid reason for the rescheduling. The United States embassy will take this information into account when processing your visa, so you generally want to have a good reason for moving your U.S. visa interview to a different date or time.
If you are rescheduling a U.S. immigrant visa interview appointment, then you must contact the NVC and explain your reason for wanting to reschedule. You will be asked to provide your case number or application number. Then, the NVC will ask which time is more convenient for you. The NVC generally wants to schedule appointments in the next available timeslot if you cannot make your current appointment time, although they might move an appointment to a later date upon request.
Immigration experts generally recommend that you do not reschedule your visa appointment more than once. Requesting a rescheduling more than once could cause your application to be canceled and you may be forced to re-pay your visa application fee.
How to Cancel a U.S. Visa Appointment
Most U.S. visa applicants will not cancel a U.S. visa appointment. It’s rare for an applicant to go through the entire application process, pay the visa application fees, and then cancel an appointment.
However, if circumstances change and you no longer wish to apply for an immigrant or non-immigrant visa to the United States at this time, then you can cancel a U.S. visa appointment.
To cancel a U.S. visa appointment, you will need to call the U.S. embassy or consulate where you are scheduled to complete your interview (for a non-immigrant visa). Alternatively, if you are canceling an appointment for an immigrant visa, then you will want to contact the NVC.
How to Waive a U.S. Visa Appointment Requirement
In some situations, you may be able to waive your U.S. visa appointment requirement. Certain visas do not require a U.S. visa interview for any applicants. In other cases, certain individuals – like those younger than 14 – are not required to complete an in-person interview.
Generally, you need to meet one of the following requirements to waive your U.S. visa appointment requirement:
- Be applying for an A-1, A-2, C-2, C-3, G-1, G-2, G-3, or G-4 visa
- Be under 14 years of age or older than 79 years of age
- Be applying for a renewal of a visa within the same category as your initial visa
If you are applying for a renewal of a standard B-1 or B-2 visa, for example, then it’s unlikely that you will need to conduct an in-person interview again unless your circumstances have changed. Additionally, those applying for governmental or diplomatic visas are not required to complete an in-person interview. If you are under 14 or older than 79, then your interview requirement may be waived.
To apply for an interview waiver, simply choose the interview waiver option when completing the immigration form online. Your local U.S. embassy or consulate will determine whether you have a valid waiver request. Then, your waiver request will either be granted or denied.
Some applicants may be able to waive the biometrics collection part of the visa interview or the questionnaire part. However, you might have one waived and not the other. You might not need to complete the questionnaire part of the interview, for example, but you still need to submit biometric data – like fingerprints – at a U.S. embassy.
Certain visa categories have no interview waivers whatsoever. Even if you would otherwise qualify for a visa waiver request, for example, you may not be permitted to waive if you are applying for an E-3, T, U, H-1, or L-1 visa. These visa categories require in-person interviews with every application – even if simply renewing your application.
Generally, if this is your first time applying for a U.S. immigrant visa, and you are within the age range of 14 to 79, then you will need to sit down for a visa appointment. It’s highly unlikely that your visa interview requirement will be waived.
By following the guide above, you can make the U.S. visa interview application as seamless as possible.