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General Instructions for Applying for a Nonimmigrant U.S. Visa Overseas:

For certain visa types, once your petition has been approved, it will be necessary for you to file an application with the United Consulate or Embassy abroad (preferably in your home country) in order to obtain a multiple entry visa for admission to the United States.

You will first be required to complete the nonimmigrant visa application form (DS-160) online on the U.S. Department of State’s website here:

  • Important Note #1:The DS-160 website allows you to save your application and answers. We highly recommend that you save your progress as you complete the form and also save all completed pages of the application so you have a complete record of your answers on this form for future reference. Saving the DS-160 form in this way is important if you encounter any issues during the visa process and will make it easier for you to complete future applications.
  • Important Note #2:Take care to answer all questions on the DS-160 accurately and completely; otherwise, you may have to correct your application and reschedule your visa interview appointment. If you provide false information on the DS-160, this may create adverse immigration consequences.

You will need to print the DS-160 confirmation page upon submission of the form to bring it to the Embassy when you attend your visa interview appointment. You usually only need to bring the confirmation page, not the entire form. Also, the form should be filled out at least 72 hours prior to your interview. After completing the Form DS-160 and submitting it online, you must visit the website of the appropriate U.S. Consulate to schedule your visa interview appointment.

Digital images are required for some visa categories, while physical photos are required for other visa categories. When completing the DS-160, the form will instruct you to upload your digital image as part of completing the online visa application form. The acceptance of your digital image or photo is at the discretion of the U.S. embassy or consulate where you apply. Please refer to the State Department’s website for applicable instructions (Photo requirements). Some embassies and consulates require visa applicants to bring one (1) physical photo, which meets requirements, to the interview. You should confirm when you make your appointment.

It is worth noting that it is possible that you will qualify for a personal appearance waiver, meaning you will not have to appear in person at the embassy for a visa interview. When you make your appointment on the website, it will inform you if you are qualified for the mail-in process and explain what you need to do. Each embassy is different; you will either need to send the visa application documents via mail OR the embassy may require you to drop the documents at the specified courier for delivery to the embassy. Note, you are required to be physically present in the country where you are applying. You will need to provide similar documents to those required for in-person interview as described below.

Please be aware that there is a filing fee associated with the process of applying for the visa at the United States Consulate, determined by passport nationality of each applicant. The visa application fee (MRV) can be paid by credit card through the appointment website or by telephone. The appropriate Consulate will furnish the latest fee information online.

At the time of the visa interview at the U.S. Consulate, you should be prepared to present to the consular officer the Approval notice (Form I-797). In addition, please check your passport to make sure it is valid for at least one year prior to making an application for a visa at the U.S. Consulate abroad. Your passport must contain at least one blank page on which the new visa will be placed.

When you appear for your interview, you must generally bring the following documents:

  • Valid passport (valid for at least one year, with at least one blank page)
  • Form DS-160 Confirmation Page only, with barcode
  • The Notice of Action – Approval Notice (Form I-797) issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
  • Proof of payment of the MRV fee
  • A copy of the visa petition filed with USCIS
  • Photos
  • And anything else that applies to your specific case

It would also be appropriate to contact the local United States Consulate to ascertain any local supplemental filing procedures or documentary requirements. Instructions regarding local filing procedures for individual Consulates may be found on the State Department’s website.

Please be advised that the granting of a visa at a U.S. Consulate overseas is by no means guaranteed, even after the approval of the petition by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Consular Officers have the discretion to inquire fully into the petition, as did the USCIS, and to satisfy themselves that the issuance of the visa is appropriate.

Consular Practice and obtaining a visa abroad can be a complicated, nuanced process. If you would like assistance with this portion of your case, please reach out to our firm so that we may be able to assist!