Monday, June 9, 2014

My experience of a US Visa Application Process

Though there are many websites and informational blogs, both official and unofficial, to provide information on the US visa application process. I feel there are a few small but meaningful points left out. And also, experience differs from person to person. So if my experience helps someone who has a similar requirement as mine, I am glad that I am able to help out with my experience.

Our trip is a short one, applying for a visitor visa that comes under B2. We had the help of a travel agency to book our flights and hotel, and also help with the visa interview process. But they will just tell you what documents are required, help you fill the online DS160 form and pay the fees and schedule appointments. No one can promise or assure you a Visa, that totally depends on you, your documents etc. So if a travel agent promises you a visa, do not trust 'em.

The first step is to fill out the online DS160 with complete and truthful information. After that, you pay the fees i.e. INR 10400 per applicant (Not refundable, even if your visa is not approved). After this you schedule your visa interview appointment and biometrics appointment from the given date and time slots available. Now in our case, for some reason there were many options for the biometrics, but the only available visa interview date was 9th June, around 10 days after our biometrics. Since we stay in Mumbai, it doesn't matter to us from the point of view of gap. But if it were someone coming from another city, it would be quiet troublesome for them to travel twice.

We were given the biometrics appointment for 10 am and since no bags, mobiles, etc are allowed and we did not want to take the chance of leaving our stuff unattended in a car, we travelled only with our documents in a transparent folder, by public transport. On reaching Kurla station, it was already 9.40 am and I was a little tensed of missing the appointment time. A autorikshaw right outside Kurla station was awaiting a passenger, we asked him if he would take us to BKC. He asked where in BKC, we made the mistake of telling him US Embassy. He said he would go for Rs.180/- We told him that is too much, take less. Do keep in mind that we were in a hurry and couldn't see a rikshaw around. Tried to negotiate with him but he was resolved, saying that he won't get a passenger to come back etc. Time crunch left us with no option and he took us to the embassy. The only plus point here was that this bloke knew how the visa process works, so when we told him we want to go to the OFC center and not interview center, he confirmed by asking "Aapko fingerprint ke liye jaana hai na?", And took us to the right place. But it is really strange that the OFC and Consulate are situated 10 minutes away from each other. Why not have everything at one place or atleast in adjacent buildings, for the convenience of people?

We reached the OFC office sharp at 10 am and the board read - Now accepting 10 am appointments. The security asked for our passports, the staff took a look at our confirmation and appointment letters. Our travel agent, and even as per information given online, it was mentioned that we need to carry 1 passport size matte photo according to the size requirements for a US Visa. At the OFC we were told this is not required, so I assume we might need this for the interview. (Which I am yet to go for.) We entered inside, there is a reception where someone greets you pleasantly and checks your passport and puts a sticker on it. They ask you to make sure all spellings are correct in your form and passport. After this you proceed, where a token is generated for you and you sit in the waiting area till your token number flashes on the screens. It took less than 5 minutes for our numbers to come. There are different kiosks and you go to one according to the number flashing on the screen. Here you are asked for your full name. My husband was also asked for his date of birth (I wasn't asked). They ask you to look straight into the camera and take a image. Next you place your fingers and thumbs as instructed, for fingerprint process. Now the device used for me seemed to be dirty, my thumb print was not getting accepted even after 2-3 attempts. The lady had to ask me to wipe it using a cloth kept there, and then it was accepted in the next attempt. That was all. So basically it took us no more than 10 minutes from the entrance to exit. We were told be be prepared for an hour, so this was pleasantly surprising.

But this was nothing, the main deal is the interview. For which you need to carry your passport, confirmation pages and "supporting documents" according to your visa. Now this varies from case to case, and I even know that at times they might not ask you for all the documents and can approve or reject your visa just by the answers you verbally give. So it is a real challenge. I have been looking up websites, going through what others were asked, and of-course collecting all the documents I can. But it does seem unfair to me that we Indians have to go through such amounts of pains. My visit is going to be for 4 days only, and there is weeks of planning and preparations for that. They take such a hefty amount for the visa and don't even provide lockers etc, and even after paying so much (and also the flight and expenses that you bear), you are made to feel that someone is doing you a favour by giving you a visa.

Finally the day of the interview arrived, me and my husband woke up at 5 am since we had to leave from home at 6 am, we were told to reach the location well in advance. We were taken in along with all the other 8 am appointments, which I must confess, I was quite surprised to see that there are so many applying! I had no clue that so many people travel to the states. We entered the premises and were made to sit in a long queue. But the process is pretty fast, so even if the queue seemed long, it was not half an hour before we reached front of the line. Now I have no clue how their queue system works, but though our batch was in the front of the line, we were not let in for quite sometime, while people who arrived after us kept going in.

As far as the bathroom and water supply is concerned, there are washrooms in the entrance of this waiting area, but not one inside the interview center, so you better go now if you need to. And water is a basin system with no glasses etc, drink straight from the mouth.

We went inside around 9 am, where we joined another queue where our fingerprints were matched (with the ones taken during the OFC). After this, yet another queue from which we were dispersed to counters for the interview. Now what I thought to be a one to one sitting interview, was a standing one with a glass intersection in between, the officer talking on the microphone, with speakers for us to hear what she says. When our number came, she asked for our passports, and purpose of travel. We showed her the document that mentioned the same, since it was a sponsored trip. Next she asked us what to we do, my husband replied first, saying that he is into business. She then asked how big was his shop, at which he hesitated because this was not a question he had prepared. He was confused if she wanted to know number of employees or area of shop or what. He quickly recovered and stated that its a small shop. I think we lost our battle right there. Next I told what I do for a living and how much I earn. That was all, she gave us the rejection pamphlet and said "I am sorry, I know your visa fees have been paid for, but I cannot approve your visa at this point of time."

I was (and still am) in shock to know this. Because I thought we're going only for a few days, have already booked hotel and flights, have money to show in our bank balance, what could probably go wrong? What irritates me the most is the fact that they do not give you a specific reason for rejecting your visa. It could be anything from a list of their refusal reasons. And when you apply again, you need to have significant changes to your application if you want a visa. The disappointment was also from the point of view of 'rejection', next time I apply, I would have to state that I have already applied earlier and it was rejected, which would make them scrutinize the case further. And of-course, the visa fees are non-refundable.


  1. happens a lot of wd US visas !! A frnd of mine's visa application got rejected and they hv give the visa wen he re-tried ten days later !! answer confidently n u wl get the visa !!

  2. Hi, Maybe it gets approved after 10 days but what if it doesn't? A visa fee of INR 10500 per person non-refundable plus all the time and energy spent makes me want to reconsider it. If atleast they would refund the amount if your visa was not approved, so that you could try again.

  3. IskiUski is one of the online foremost jewellery shop in india with the latest jewellery design in Gold, Diamond, Silver. We offer wide range of gold diamond rings from various famous designers.


  4. Similar to other rooms, your bathroom demands extra attention as this is the place where you flush out the dirty things from your body. vastu shastra consulatnt in dubai

    Give a miscall us on :- 9899777806

  5. We are Provides Best Honeymoon Package in Kerala With Price from Delhi, Faridabad, Kerala Tourism Honeymoon Packages, Munnar, Honeymoon Destination and Places in Kerala with Excellent and Amazing Facilities.honeymoon packages in kerala, , munnar honeymoon package, kerala tourism honeymoon packages, kerala honeymoon, honeymoon packages for kerala, kerala honeymoon places, munnar honeymoon, honeymoon in kerala ,honeymoon packages kerala, kerala honeymoon tour packages, honeymoon package for kerala, honeymoon package in kerala, honeymoon destination in kerala, honeymoon package in kerala with price , kerala honeymoon packages