USA Visa Application Process

How do you get a US visa? What is the process to get USA Tourist visa / Visitor visa / Business Visa

Following is a 6 step US Visa Application Process for most of the non-immigrant US visas.

Get Digital Picture
Complete US Visa Application
Pay US Visa Application Fee
Schedule OFC & Visa appointments
Attend the OFC (fingerprinting) appointment
Attend US Visa Interview

1. Get a Digital Photograph of each applicant :

US visa application is now online. Uploading your photo is a part of filling the form. You have to upload a digital photograph of yours taken within the last 6 months on the form. If there is an X on the DS-160 confirmation page, it is indication that the photograph has not uploaded successfully on the form. Then you have to reload it. You should also bring a copy of your photograph to the Embassy or Consulate on the day of your interview. You have to follow certain criteria to take the photograph. Minimum requirements for the photograph are:

  • It should be a 2 x 2 inch photograph.
  • Must be against a white/off-white background.
  • Must be in color.
  • Must show the full face. The picture of the whole face from the top of the head to the bottom of the chin must be in the picture.
  • Eyes should be open.
  • Must be saved in JPEG format.

If you mention that the photograph is required for a US visa, most of the professional photo studios are able to take photographs according to the above-listed specifications.

Please review the links below for more details on photo requirements:

Note: Failing to have a proper picture in the right format can delay US Visa application process or have adverse effect on your visa.

2. Complete US Visa Application DS-160 Form

The US Visa policies require that anyone who applies for a Nonimmigrant visa has to fill an US visa application form online. US visa application form is known as Form DS160. This form has to be filled online only. No printouts or other hard copies will be accepted by the Visa officials.

You can complete this application here at Dept of State web site.

Complete your visa application DS160 online.

After the successful completion of the form you will receive a confirmation page with a ten-digit barcode. Take a printout of this page. The confirmation page is required to schedule appointments at the OFC and Consulate/ Embassy. Your application confirmation page should be printed using a laser printer, dot-matrix printer, or ink-jet printers.

See a Sample Confirmation Page of form DS160.

It is Ok to let someone else fill the form for you. You must check and verify the information for its validity and accuracy.

Note: Your application confirmation page should be printed using a laser printer as ink-jet or dot-matrix printers do not print with sufficient resolution for the bar code to work.

Read more about DS-160 US Visa Application Form

3. Pay US Visa Application Fee

All the applicants including children have to pay the Machine Readable Visa (MRV) application fee. The fee is non-refundable and non-transferable and is valid for a year. The payment of fee does not guarantee that a US visa will be issued. After the payment of the fee a receipt will be issued. This receipt includes the date of payment. A year from the date of payment the receipt will expire.

As of now the application fee for B1/B2 category is $160 or equivalant to local currency. Please visit the USTravelDocs website for latest information on fee structure. e.g. there are 3 modes of payment available in India and 1 in Bhutan.

  • NEFT transfer
  • Mobile payments
  • Payment at Axis Bank or Citibank

See more details about US Visa fee

4. Setup OFC & Visa Appointments

After the payment of fee, the applicant is required to schedule 2 appointments. The first appointment should be at the Offsite Facilitation Center (OFC) to give the Biometrics information (fingerprints and photograph) and the second appointment at the Embassy or Consulate for the personal interview. This measure was introduced to reduce congestion and accelerate the US Visa application process.

Note: Depending on which country you live in or the country in which you are applying for the visa, the process of US visa appointments may vary. Please check with your nearest US Consulate/ Embassy for the appropriate interview and fingerprinting appointment process.

Schedule an appointment with your Consulate/Embassy much in advance of your travel date as there is a long waiting period in the US consulates in some countries. Also, please schedule an appointment for fingerprinting and photograph at least a day or two prior to your appointment at the Consulate or Embassy. This Biometrics appointment can be scheduled at any of the 5 Offsite Facilitation Centers. You can schedule the appointment online at USTravelDocs Website.

5. Attend OFC Appointment

The applicant is required to give the fingerprints and photograph at the OFC appointment. The Biometrics information can be given at any of the five OFC centers in the country. The OFC are situated in the same city as the embassy/Consulates.

Read more about OFC Appointment

6. Appear for the US Visa interview at Consulate or Embassy

All the visa applicants except minors and persons over the age of 80 are required to appear in person for Visa interview. The interview will take place at the Consulate or Embassy specified by the applicant at the time of filling the application. Only applicants are allowed inside the Embassy or Consulate. The applicants have to follow certain security measures at the Consulate/Embassy.

Watch the following video. It explains what happens during the visa interview inside the US consulate.

See further details on security measures and US visa interview process.

After the US Visa Interview

The applicants will come to know immediately after the interview whether their US visa has been approved, delayed, or denied. Your visa and passport will not be given to you immediately after the interview. The passport will be sent for further processing. You can pick the visa and passport from any of the pickup locations listed in the USTravelDocs website. There are no extra charges associated with this service. The visa fee includes the charges for this service.

You can pick your passport in person or ask a representative to pick up the passport. If you want to pick the passport in person then carry a government-issued photo ID and a photocopy of that ID. If you choose a representative to pick the passport and visa, then the representative should carry his or her government-issued photo ID, photocopy of that ID, and photocopy of the applicants government-issued ID in all the cases.

You can change the document delivery location. The deadline is before midnight prior to the day of the interview. You can do it online or by calling any of the Stanley call centers. This service is free of charge.

The passport can be tracked several ways: You can email to Enter the passport number in the subject and body of the email. Or you can also call Stanley to check the status of your application

Read more about what to do next after you receive US Visa

The application can be denied or delayed under 214(b) and 221 (g). Read more about US Visa Denial or Delay.

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