One of the essential steps in a US visa application process is the US visa appointment. A visa appointment is mandatory for all foreign nationals applying for a US visa. Visa applicants must appear in person on the day of their appointment for biometrics and visa interviews.
In this article, you will learn everything about US visa appointment, who needs to attend and how to schedule one.
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Understanding US Visa Appointment
A US visa appointment is the second and last step in the US visa application process. There are many unofficial terms for visa appointments. Applicants use these alternatives widely in forums and social media. Here are some of them.
- Visa slot
- CGI visa slot
- US visa slot
- CGI federal visa appointment
- AIS visa appointment
- DS 160 appointment
A visa appointment is mandatory for a US visa for two reasons:
- For better applicant screening: An in-person interview helps consular officers to meet and interact with the applicants personally. Officers can read their body language and identify any questionable intentions such as fraud, forgery, etc.
- To secure US borders: Capturing biometrics helps US border officials in knowing who is entering the country.
The visa appointment may or may not include an in-person interview with a consular officer. Those who require an interview must appear in person at a US consulate.
Nonimmigrant Visa Appointment vs Immigrant Visa Appointment
A visa appointment is mandatory for nonimmigrant and immigrant visas. But the prerequisites are different for nonimmigrant and immigrant visas. For nonimmigrant visas, you must complete the DS-160 form prior to scheduling your appointment. For immigrant visas, you must complete the DS-260 form prior to scheduling the appointment and a medical exam prior to the interview.
In this article, we will only discuss visa appointments for nonimmigrant visas such as the B1/B2.
Who are Required to Attend US Visa Appointment?
If you are applying for a US visa, you are required to attend an appointment at the US consulate. The visa appointment typically consists of a biometrics capture and a visa interview with a consular officer.
If you meet certain criteria, you may not need to attend the in-person interview. Let’s look at who is required and not required to attend the US visa interview.
If you require a visa to travel to the US, then you would require a visa interview for your visa. As part of your visa application, you must schedule an interview at the US consulate.
You may be eligible for an interview waiver if you meet the following criteria.
- You are under 14 years or over 79 years of age
- You are renewing your US visa
If you are eligible for an interview waiver can use the dropbox facility at the Visa Application Centers (VAC).
Even if you are eligible for an interview waiver, you must still schedule an appointment. Scheduling an appointment at the consulate is mandatory for all US visas.
How to Schedule a US Visa Interview Appointment?
Prerequisite: Complete DS-160 Form
Before you schedule US visa appointment, you must first complete and submit the DS-160 form. You would need a DS-160 confirmation number to schedule your visa appointment.
Step 1: Create an Account
The first step is to create an account on the visa appointment system. There are two different systems for scheduling appointments.
- US Travel Docs by CGI Federal: For applicants residing in Asia, Central America, parts of Europe, Africa and the Middle East
- AIS by GDIT (also referred to as Yatri): For applicants residing in North and South America, parts of Europe, Africa and the Middle East
Depending on your country of residence, create an account on one of the above appointment systems. Then fill out your details, passport information, visa category, visa class and dependents.
Step 2: Pay the MRV Fee
The next step is to pay the MRV (Machine Readable Visa) fee. The MRV fee is $185 for a nonimmigrant visa such as the B1/B2.
After the visa fee payment, you will receive an MRV fee receipt number. Once you enter this fee receipt number, you will be taken to the appointment page where you can pick the date and time for your visa interview.
Step 3: Schedule a Biometric or OFC Appointment
US visa interviews in some countries require a separate biometric appointment. This can be at the same US consulate where you will attend your interview or it can be at a facility away from the US consulate called an Offsite Facilitation Center (OFC). Sometimes an OFC is also referred to as a Visa Application Center (VAC).
The biometric appointment at the OFC or VAC must be at least one working day prior to the interview.
Step 4: Schedule Visa Interview Appointment
After you have selected the date and time for your biometric appointment, you will see a calendar of dates available for interviews. Pick a date and time that works for you and complete the process. Print the appointment confirmation as you would need this to attend the interview.
How to Cancel a US Visa Appointment?
You can cancel your visa appointment from your account dashboard in US Travel Docs. You can click on the “Cancel Appointment” button on the left menu bar in your account dashboard. From there, follow the instructions to cancel your appointment.
Keep in mind that you cannot cancel more than two times per MRV fee. If you cancel more than the allowed number of times, you will have to pay the MRV fee again.
How to Reschedule a US Visa Appointment?
You can reschedule your visa appointment from your account dashboard in US Travel Docs. You can click on the “Reschedule Appointment” button on the left menu bar in your account dashboard. An appointment calendar appears on the screen. Pick a new date and time and click on the “Schedule Appointment” button.
Keep in mind that you can only reschedule up to 2 times. Also, you can only reschedule up to 48 hours before your interview.
What Documents Do You Need to Carry for the Appointment?
On the day of your appointment, you must carry the following mandatory documents. Without the mandatory documents, you will not be allowed into the consulate premises.
- Original passport (and any old passports that demonstrate your travel history)
- A print of your appointment confirmation
- A print of your DS-160 confirmation
- Visa fee receipt (if you have paid the visa fee at the local bank)
- Two 2×2 inch photographs (if you haven’t uploaded your picture while filling out DS-160)
- One additional ID (to gain access to the building premises)
Apart from the above mandatory documents, you can also carry supporting documents such as the ones below.
- Your employment, business or student proofs
- Your financial proofs
- Purpose of your trip (conference tickets, travel itinerary or other documents to support your trip)
How to Attend a US Visa Appointment?
The procedure to attend the visa appointment varies from country to country. But following is the general overview of the visa interview procedure.
Step 1: Arrive at the US Embassy or Consulate
You must arrive at the consulate on time. If you arrive early, you will be asked to come back at your appointment time. Standing and waiting near the building is not allowed.
Arrive just 10 minutes before your appointment time and line up in front of the building entrance.
Step 2: Security Check at the Entrance
There will usually be a line of applicants outside the entrance. Join the line and wait for your turn. When your turn comes, present your appointment confirmation to security. Go through the metal detectors and scanners. Deposit your additional ID proof, cell phone and keys.
Step 3: Document Check and Biometric Validation
After the security check at the entrance, walk into the building. Present your documents to the staff at the counter for your document check and fingerprints.
Next up would be your visa interview. The staff will direct you to the widow or consular officer for your visa interview.
Step 4: Visa Interview
Present your documents to the consular officer. Answer all the questions in a clean and concise manner. The visa officer will tell you the result of your visa at the end of the interview. They will also tell you how and when to pick up your passport.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How long is a US visa interview appointment?
The length of the visa appointment is usually 30 minutes and the interview itself is about 5-10 minutes. Appointments at crowded US missions such as in India or the Philippines can take longer.
Does US visa dropbox need appointment?
Yes. An appointment is mandatory even if you are eligible for dropbox. You must schedule an appointment to select a date for your biometrics and dropbox location.
What if you are late for the US visa appointment?
If you are late for your visa appointment, you will not be allowed into the consulate. You will be considered a no-show and you will have to reschedule your interview for a later date.
What if you do not show up for the interview?
If you do not show up for your interview, you will be considered a “no-show”. You will be barred from scheduling another interview for up to 120 days.
Do you need a medical exam for a US visa interview?
No. A medical exam is not required for US nonimmigrant visa such as B1/B2. Medical exams may be required for immigrant visas.