How to Prepare for the B1/B2 Travel Visa Interview
Learn more about what to expect for your tourist visa interview and how to prepare with confidence
Attending a visa interview is one crucial step during the travel visa process. All first-time applicants must pass the interview in order to receive their visa, so it can feel nerve-wracking as your interview date gets closer. But not to worry — here are some helpful tips to help you prepare for your travel interview with confidence.
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What to Expect at the Travel Visa Interview
After you’ve filed your tourist visa application (Form DS-160), the next step in the process is to schedule your visa interview. Wait times for visa appointments vary by country, but generally speaking, you should have around two to three weeks to prepare for your interview once it’s scheduled.
Your visa interview will take place at the U.S. Embassy or consulate where you’ve filed your application. During the interview, a consular officer will ask you questions about your intended travel to the U.S., your life in your home country, and your immigration background. The consular officer may also corroborate information you’ve included in your application and review any supporting documents you’ve brought with you.
The average travel visa interview only lasts for several minutes — from around 90 seconds to three minutes for most applicants. In that short amount of time, you will be required to answer all of the interviewing officer’s questions, in addition to asking any questions you may have about the process, and receiving instructions on next steps.
In most cases, the consular officer will reach a decision immediately after the interview concludes, and you will learn soon after whether your tourist visa has been approved or denied.
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B-1/B-2 Interview Questions
We’ve gone over some of the basic topics that consular officers are likely to ask during the tourist visa interview, but if you’d like a more detailed list of sample interview questions to practice from, we’ve put together a separate guide with the most common B-1/B-2 interview questions asked. Get the full list of sample questions here!
B-1/B-2 Interview Tips
Focus on Proving “Nonimmigrant Intent”
One of the most important aspects of applying for a travel visa is proving you intend to return home after your temporary stay in the U.S.
Since the B1/B2 visa is a “nonimmigrant visa”, you must prove nonimmigrant intent to the U.S. government — in other words that you’ll leave the country upon expiration of your visa and won’t immigrate permanently to the U.S. The burden is on you as the visa applicant to establish that you will use your travel visa properly.
If you cannot prove that you will use the travel visa for its intended purpose, you may be denied by the consular officer without any right to appeal or review of your case. That’s why the visa interview is an important step in the travel visa process, as what the consular officer observes during this interview will inform their approval or denial decision.
The easiest way to prove “nonimmigrant intent” during the visa interview is to focus on displaying strong ties to your home country. When asked about your life, be sure to provide information about any employment, education, or family responsibilities you’ll need to return to back home. Information about return travel (when and how you will leave the U.S. after your trip) is also helpful in proving you only plan on staying in the U.S. temporarily. Boundless has a more detailed guide on proving these strong ties here!
The More Detail, the Better!
During your interview, be sure to answer the consular officer’s questions in as much detail as possible. The most important aspect of the interview is to answer each question truthfully and thoroughly, so the interviewing officer has a clear and comprehensive picture of your application.
For example, if asked where you plan to travel in the U.S., think of providing city names, rather than just states. If asked about employment history in your home country, explain your current role and responsibilities in detail, rather than just providing “yes” or “no” responses.
Offering details will help the consular officer better understand your background and visa intentions. Applicants who only provide vague answers are more likely to receive detailed follow-up questions from the interviewing officer. If the officer appears unsatisfied or confused by one of your responses, try to quickly rephrase or provide additional details to clarify. If you don’t understand a question that’s been asked, don’t be afraid to ask the consular officer to repeat the question or ask for additional clarification.
Keep the Logistics in Mind
Before you can nail your interview questions, you’ll need to prepare logistically for interview day. Be sure to arrive on-time for your visa appointment, so you have plenty of time to find the correct interview location and check in for your appointment. It may be helpful to check your U.S. Embassy or consulate’s website beforehand for more information on parking, waiting areas, and more.
It’s also best to dress professionally when visiting a U.S. Embassy or consulate, as you would for a formal job interview (think business attire). When you arrive, make sure you’ve gathered any additional supporting documents you may need to present to the consular officer during the interview. Overall, professionalism and organization will increase your chances of the interview going smoothly.